I took the plunge. Colleagues of mine advised me to never mention Thai Massage therapy and the “three-letter-word” in one breath in order not to tarnish the image of it, or – God forbid – make anyone think that Thai Massage could be anything other than a snow white unblemished healing therapy.
I happen to be a long time professional Thai Massage therapist and instructor, and I do belong to the snow white camp. But I also live in Thailand and it is obvious that there are a quite a number of places that use Thai Massage as a front for sexual services.
During the Vietnam war tens of thousands of US soldiers came to Bangkok for a vacation, and Thai Massage in the gray zone, or should I say in the red zone, became a booming business.
I have heard, mostly from Europeans, that Thai Massage has a seedy reputation in their countries. Let’s set the record straight. It is not Thai Massage that lends itself as a front for sexual services, it is ANY massage!
I have traveled all over Asia, and I have yet to see a country where I wasn’t offered non-professional massage.
This is not an exclusive phenomenon of Thai Massage or Thailand. It is just that Thai massage is better known and more widespread than, let’s say Vietnamese or Burmese massage.
If you browse massage ads in any major city, you will find plenty of clearly non professional offerings, if it’s San Francisco or Munich or Tokyo. Massage in general has always been used as a lead-in by the sexual industry, and this is unlikely to ever change.
This does not reduce its tremendous and well established benefits. A knife can be used to butter your bread or for criminal purposes, and massage can be used as a professional healing therapy or a sexual tool.
There is no point in judging or condemning the latter since sexual desires will certainly never disappear, and neither will prostitution. We just have to live with the fact that massage can be used in more than one way, and all we have to do is decide which way we are interested in.
So whoever insists that massage be an exclusively professional system just has to go live on another planet, because on this one it is just not going to happen.
In my more than sixteen years of practicing Thai Massage professionally, this has never been an issue for me. No client ever raised it and I never even had to talk about it.
Professional Thai Massage therapy and Thai Massage or any massage as a sexual come-on are simply two different worlds running on two separate tracks.
There is no need for the two to cross paths, and there is no need to moralize about the rights or wrongs of them. Fire can cook your meal or burn your house down – it does not make the fire good or bad, it is just how it is being used.
On another note, massage does feel sensual – it is supposed to feel that way. But sensual is not the same as sexual. The difference is in the intent. We instinctively stroke our babies, our children and our lovers.
Who would not appreciate having a spouse or partner who is able to give you a wonderfully sensual massage! And yes, massage also has a perfectly legitimate place in our bedrooms.
Nobody really objects against massage being used as a sensual or sexual tool. It all depends on the context. Professional massage can be sensual but needs to be totally non-sexual.
Sensual and sexual massage can be great relationship tools for couples. And sexual massage as part of prostitution is something that will never disappear as long as there is demand. And there has never been any shortage of that.
Sometimes professional massage and social encounters overlap. Here in Thailand even totally professional Thai Massage is often more of a social event than in western countries.
The massage mats are all lined up in one room on the floor, and the therapists chat with each other and with their clients. For many Westerners, this is a good setting to meet Thai women, and vise versa.
Many relationships and marriages started out in a professional massage shop. I am an authority on that subject since I met my Thai wife in a massage shop in Thailand, and thirteen years later we are still together and happily married.
The author, Shama Kern, has been practicing and teaching Thai Massage for 16 years. He is the founder and director of Thai Healing Massage Academy and the creator of 20 online Thai Massage video training courses.