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Posts Tagged ‘National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork’

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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