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Posts Tagged ‘legitimate massage’

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Future massage “parlor” in Chicago?

I’ve been posting about Chicago’s zoning changes for massage businesses for the past year. For those unaware, Chicago’s City Council voted to restrict new massage businesses to C Districts (also known as isolated industrial corridors and used car lots). Which makes no sense to my fellow massage therapists, clients, and friends.

However, for some people, the only experience they have with “massage” is when they live or have lived  near a “massage parlor” (or what turns out to be a house of prostitution). In that case, I can see why they would want to move “massage parlors” to the same areas as other “adult services,” such as strip clubs, tattoo parlors and the like.

How do you know if a massage business is legitimate?  I am providing a few tips and then a method of reporting massage businesses that you think may not be legitimate.

How to Identify Potential Massage “Parlors”

(aka houses of prostitution that front as massage businesses but are not legit massage businesses):

• Often advertise things like “Beautiful girls,”  “European and Asian beauties,” “sensuous massage.”

• Advertise on “adult” sites that offer strip clubs or sexual services like the ones I found on a site described as a locator for strip clubs which lists 57 “massage parlors” operating in Chicago.

• Are often open 24 hours a day or have late evening hours (beyond 8pm).

• May employ massage therapists without Illinois Massage Therapy licenses.

• Tend to have covered windows which are not visible from the street.

• Provide “happy endings” or sexual services along with or instead of a legitimate massage.

How to Recognize Legitimate Massage Businesses

• Tend to advertise things like “Licensed Massage Therapists,” “Members of AMTA or ABMP”NCBTMB,” “Pain Relief,” “Therapeutic Massage.”

• Have ads that do not mention anything about the massage therapists’ looks or clothing.

• Tend to have more standard business hours, say from 10am to 8pm.

• Do not provide sexual services of any kind.

• Will respond by ending a massage session, if the client is sexually inappropriate or asks for sexual services of any kind.

Note: The list of behaviors for legit and non-legit massage businesses is not a hard and fast rule. Some legit massage businesses may have hours later than 8pm and some non-legit massage businesses may advertise pain relief as a way to camouflage their real services. This is a big part of why it is so difficult to prosecute and differentiate between the “parlors” and legit massage businesses.

So what can you do if you think there is a massage “parlor” (aka non-legitimate massage business) operating near you?  You can report the business to the City of Chicago. There are two main ways to report a massage business you think may not be legitimate: anonymously or via your Alderman’s office.

Reporting Suspicious Massage Businesses Anonymously

The advantage of this reporting method is that you can be anonymous. The disadvantage is that you don’t have an easy way to track the response and resolution of your complaint.

1. Call 311. You do not need to provide your name or contact information.

2. Provide the name of the business, the address and the reason you believe it is not a legitimate business or that you think the business should be inspected.

3. Check the business operator’s Massage Establishment License status to see if they have a license or if the license has been revoked here.

Reporting Suspicious Massage Businesses Via Alderman

1. Call or visit your Alderman’s office. Tell the staff at your alderman’s office that you want to ledge a formal complaint or investigation into a suspicious massage business.

2. Provide the name of the business, the address and the reason you believe it is not a legitimate business or that you think the business should be inspected.

3. You can keep in touch with the staff of your alderman’s office  to follow up on the progress of your complaint.

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Massage in Frankfurt, Germany
Image via Wikipedia

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Whilst researching around the internet, I found a link to a chat room thread that exemplifies one of the problems massage therapists face to this day: the misconception that massage therapy is a sexual service. In this thread,  a young man inquires how to go about getting sexual services from a “legitimate massage therapist.” Which is really an oxymoron.

All too often, men (and some women) think that massage IS a sexual service and get confused as to what they are getting when they schedule a massage session. This makes it tough on those of us that are legitimate massage therapists. How do you know if your massage therapist or massage center is legit or a cover for prostitution?

Massage is Not Prostitution, But Massage “Parlors” Are Often Fronts for Prostitution

Because prostitution is illegal, prostitutes and massage parlor operators look for creative ways to mask the real intent of their product: Sex for hire. And what better way to conceal your true product than to market it under the name of a similar product or service: Call it “massage.”

Massage parlors don’t typically use licensed massage therapists. Why bother? Licensing for massage therapy requires at least a year or so of schooling, including anatomy and kineseology, at a cost of about $10,000-$12,000. And in Illinois, massage therapists get fingerprinted and go through a criminal background check–tough to pass if her or she has a record of convictions for prostitution.

Who Are Legitimate Massage Therapists?

Which brings me to my point. How do you know the difference between a legitimate massage therapy center and a massage parlor? Let’s run through a legitimate massage therapist’s goals, training and ethics to demonstrate how we differ from massage parlor masseuses.

Massage Therapy Goals

Legitimate massage therapists are people that like to help other people, non-sexually. We aim to relieve muscle pain, relax your nervous system and give you a period of time in which you and your wellness is the focus (which is tough to find these days between work, family, fitness and social obligations).

Legitimate massage therapy gives clients a safe space to relax. Licensed massage therapists are trained to respect client’ boundaries, be non-judgemental and compassionate.

True, there is a wide range of skill levels between licensed massage therapists, and some are far better than others, but overall, legitimate massage therapists strive to provide a clean, safe and relaxing massage session for clients.

Massage Therapy Ethics

Legitimate massage therapists agree to abide by a code of ethics that prohibits sexual massage. In fact, if a legitimate massage therapist is convicted of giving sexual massages, aka prostitution, she/he can lose their massage therapy license, face disciplinary measures from their professional association and be barred from performing professional massage.

Massage Therapy Training

Licensed massage therapists train in massage techniques as well as proper draping techniques to ensure your genitals are never exposed during your massage. In massage therapy school, we learn about skin conditions and how to avoid contagion.We learn about good hygiene and general health conditions. We undergo extensive testing in each massage class as well as at the end of our training in order to obtain our massage therapy licenses.

In Chicago, legitimate massage therapists must apply for and maintain current licenses with the State of Illinois. Any massage therapist that has been disciplined for performing sexual massage can have this license revoked. You can look up the validity of a massage therapists license online here. Your can also request that your massage therapists show you his or her state license. In addition, in Chicago, every Massage Therapy “Establishment,” from the Working Well Massage chair massage station at Whole Foods to the big spas, must have a Massage Establishment License.

Where Do I Find a Legitimate Massage Therapist?

You can find legitimate massage therapists on massage locater services such as ABMP, or Massage Today’s websites.  Link to my previous post, “How Do I Find a Good Massage Therapist?” here.

A massage therapy session can be a wonderful, positive, relaxing experience. Or it can be a way to relieve muscle pain, heal from injury or help you better cope with stress. What it’s not is an open invitation to harass, proposition or fondle the massage therapist!

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