What I learned while working within the gay massage industry
People who know me often ask what it’s like to work in the gay massage industry. When I’m not feeling chatty, or have heard that question too often, I merely shrug: ‘it’s a job like any other’. However, it is true that every industry has its peculiarities. So here’s the How It’s Made of gay massage.
Live like an athlete
You don’t have to have perfectly defined muscles to be a good masseur, but it is a highly desirable quality for sensual massage. To have a chiselled physique you have to have a really rigorous training and diet regimen. The ‘no smoking, no drugs’ part may be obvious, but it also involves forgoing treats, and requires daily time in the gym with a personal trainer. Some of the masseurs are qualified personal trainers or nutrition specialists themselves, which does help.
Great looks and massage skills may not be enough
‘What would you advise someone who wants to be a masseur?’ I asked masseur Ethan.
‘I had a friend who asked me the very same question’, – he answered, – ‘let’s call him Tom. He is in excellent shape and drop-dead gorgeous, 10 out of 10 on the physical front. But he could never be a masseur because he has a fiery temper, he is sometimes late and doesn’t react well to criticism.’
The opposite is also true sometimes. Someone can have excellent interpersonal skills but lack the physique. I would say that if you are committed, in great shape and have good interpersonal skills, go for it.
Other skills you’ll need
For a masseur
Dedication is a big one, because if your standards slip, it’s very noticeable. You have to bring the same energy and interest to each session. The ability to inspire confidence and put people at ease is important for obvious reasons. Perceptiveness is also key. A masseur has to anticipate what a client needs, what would be good for him and what would not work.
If you’re taking the bookings
Sometimes it can feel like a matchmaking service. Some clients don’t have a clear idea about what they want from the outset, but by listening and asking the right questions you can work out what would be the best fit for them. Sometimes you need to be a priest or a therapist, when the person you’re speaking to has residual guilt or issues with their sexuality. And you must never panic. A couple of massages might be taking place at once, one masseur might be stuck in traffic and another client might be unable to find the address. You just take a deep breath and do what you can.
A strange case of a massage that didn’t happen
Danny remembers a time when a massage booking didn’t end up in a massage.
‘A few years back, one client turned up for a massage but I immediately sensed that he was tense, unusually so. I led him to my living room, offered a beverage. I advised him not to have a massage that day. I didn’t charge him anything, we just had a conversation. He had come out to his family only a few months prior, and what he needed was someone sympathetic to listen to him. He is a caring, intelligent and considerate man, and now he is a regular and a good friend. Later he thanked me for not going through with the massage that day, as he realised he was not ready and the experience might have been too much for him’.
The most important thing that I’ve learned is: when things go wrong, let everyone know as soon as possible, and be truthful. It doesn’t guarantee that everyone will be happy, but you will get absolutely nowhere by trying to ‘fudge’ the situation. It’s a small industry and trust is everything.
When your landlord turns up without warning
Masseur Danny remembers a tricky situation:
‘One time the landlord decided to turn up for an unannounced visit half an hour before a massage, he needed to check the boiler and the plumbing. The client had booked his massage a week in advance and was already on route to my place. We contacted him, explained the situation and apologised for the inconvenience. He was very nice about it. Although he wasted time travelling and did not get the message that day, he booked for the following week. ’
When the client’s straight friend drops by
One the other hand, sometimes clients will find themselves in unexpected situations and have to cancel bookings. Masseur Christopher remembers such a time:
‘One time a client made a booking and just as I arrived at the hotel he texted to say that a friend had turned up and he could not turn him away. He was apologetic but had to cancel the massage. He did not want his friend to know that he was having a gay massage. He offered to pay for the massage regardless but I refused to accept money for it. Instead, I said that I completely understood, that I would be happy to reschedule and wished him a good day. He has since become a regular. Being polite, flexible and understanding works both ways.’
Best and worst things about working in gay massage
I can easily list the things that make for a bad day in my job. I do encounter homophobia every so often, as well as racism and other -isms. Which might sound strange, why would anyone call a gay massage agency if they’re homophobic? There’s a very small percentage of callers who will ask crude, sexually graphic questions, or ask to trade photos and videos. There are some people – including self-entitled heterosexual women – who call at 1 AM and think that everything is for sale.
Masseur William remembers one such situation:
‘I received an enquiry that said, ‘Hi, can I confirm that you have good oral skills and can I rim you’. I’m not easily shocked but the level of crudeness surprised me. I replied that I don’t offer sexual services but he was insistent, offering more and more money’.
But then other parts of the job make it all worth it. It’s the great majority of people who contact us, people who view a gay massage as a beautiful shared experience. The best thing about this industry is? There isn’t a dull day.