Mark TitusFreelance Writer
A masseuse attending to a customer. - Junior Dowie/Staff Photographer
The name sounds innocent and the offers sound inviting, but what really goes on behind the door of a massage parlour? Relaxing massages or subtle prostitution?
With the rise of the sex trade, these businesses have taken on much popularity. On a daily basis, the classified advertisements of regular tabloids are packed with women portrayed in suggestive positions, selling the services of these establishments.
This reporter sought to have these and other questions answered by paying a visit to some of these operations in one of Jamaica's premier tourist destinations. My first stop led me to this popular spa that was strategically located in the commercial district of the town, and has been in operation for over twenty-five years.
The facility was well kept, and had a cosy lounge, jazz music played quietly in the background creating that perfect ambience for relaxation; there was a bar to the left of the reception area. I walked over, ordered a drink and sparked a conversation with the bar tender. Soon an elderly lady, who I would later learn is the manager, came from behind a curtained area.
When I asked about the services that were offered, I was told that only three types of massage were offered. "Apart from facials, manicure and pedicure, we offer Swedish massage for $3,000, deep tissue massage for $4,000 and aroma massage for $4,200," she said. "Each session lasts for an hour and you pay before you begin."
"If you work long hours, I think you should try the deep tissue," she advised, while offering me a brochure. When I asked about extra services to 'spice up' the experience, she said not in her place of business. "The moral decay in Jamaica is a cause for concern; I will not contribute to it," she stated, "Even if I must die of hunger."
Seeing her anger, I hastily introduced myself and told her the real purpose of my visit.
"My staff is paid $4,000 weekly and they are allowed to accept tips, we offer a legitimate service and we will not be compromising our standardfor the sake of a few extra dollar."
"There were days when the lobby would be full, but as the saying goes, sex sells, but it certainly will not be sold under this roof." She said emphatically.
Old fashioned parlour
On leaving the 'old fashioned' parlour, I saw a group of men standing by a bar and after hearing what I was searching for, one handed me a card. "Make sure you tell them say a Reds send you," he said "I am a regular, so I get points on my frequent user card based on the amount of new customers I introduce to the place."
When asked how often he goes there, he responded, "Every time my wife starts her foolishness, which is very often. From judge to druggist frequent there," he replied to my concerns of safety.
The 'parlour' was nestled among some of the posh houses in an upscale residential area of the town and occupied a two-story dwelling house; the glass windows and doors were tinted, foiling any attempt to see on the inside.
I got an immediate response, when I pressed the buzzer at the door; the place was extremely clean, the operators were meticulous in their preparation. When I stepped into the lounge pornographic movies were being shown on two televisions erected on the wall. A young lady in her mid-twenties approached me, introduced herself and asked me what sort of service I was looking for. I told her I would start with the simplest, which I learned was the therapeutic massage, for a duration of 45 minutes and at a cost of $2,500; it was also the cheapest.
Instructing the receptionist to call the girls that were not engaged with other clients, she escorted me to an area where a group of 'masseuses' in very revealing attire came from different directions.
Given the opportunity to select my masseuse, I took my time before selecting a nervous-looking young girl, who seemed uncomfortable in her skimpy outfit, with the hope that I could capitalise on her nervousness and get the necessary information that I needed.
While massage therapy involves the act of rolling, pressing, kneading and rubbing, using the hands, it has been described as a body rub given to improve blood circulation, restore balance in the body, relieve pain and relax muscles. However, only the therapeutic massage had any thing to do with the relieving of pain or the relaxation of muscle. All the other 11 services offered had a strong sexual connotation to them.
My masseuse shyly introduced herself to me before escorting me to a room upstairs, where she advised me to undress. I detected her inexperience, while she went through her routine, but chose not to ask any questions ... yet.
During the exercise, my 'therapist' informed me that she is available for any other services I wished to experience.
While her offerings sounded inviting and would be any ordinary man's dream experience, her edgy mannerism and youthfulness, caused me to ask her about herself. She had been working as a trainee for the past two months, hailed from rural St. Thomas, and says she is dying to complete her probation to be able to collect her full salary.
"How much different is your salary on probation in comparison to full employment?" I asked.
"$15,000 per week on probation, and between $30,000 to $35,000 when you are confirmed," she responded reluctantly.
When I realised that my masseuse was just 17 years old, a mere two years older than my first child, I hastily got dressed and left.
A full body massage, including the rubbing of the genitals with the hands until the client reaches a climax, is called a sensuous massage and comes with a two thousand dollar price tag.
The Ffrench massage involves the masseuse giving the client a strip tease or a lap dance for 12-15 minutes, and then gives the client a sensuous massage for $3,000.
The Wet Set massage is done in the shower. The masseuse uses bath oil and shower gel to give the client a massage lasting 10-15 minutes, which is followed by a sensuous massage, the cost is $4,000.
The Thai massage is a body-to-body massage, which consists of the masseuseoiling her nude body and using it to massage the client for $5,000.
For $4,500 the masseuse will use her mouth to eat fruits from the body of the client; this is called 'Tropical Seduction'.
'Cloud Nine' comes in two parts; the first includes two masseuses giving the client a sensuous massage for $6,000, while the second requires the two masseuses massaging each other while the client watches for $7,000.