What Is Asian Massage?

Woman Receiving Massage
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Asian massage has a long and proud history. Massage was practiced in China as early as 3,000 B.C. evolving into Amma Therapy, Tui-na and acupressure. Buddhist monks created Thai massage 2,500 years ago. And Japanese shiatsu was developed by Namikoshi Sensei in the 20th century, after he used "finger pressure" as a boy to heal his mother. All these traditions can be grouped under Asian massage, or Eastern massage.

 The easiest place to get authentic Asian massage is in cities that have large Asian communities like New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Asian massage tends to be stronger than Western massage and use acupressure points. It can "hurt so good" and you often feel results from one session. Korean spas, frequently found in the same urban centers, are another good place to get quality Asian massage. Prices can range from $40 for inexpensive bare bones Asian operations to $120 for day spas with more amenities, like locker rooms, robes and saunas.  

Erotic Asian Massage

But Asian massage has come to mean something quite different in recent years—a "happy ending massage" or even "full-service," found at "spas" that look seedy, dark and unwelcoming. They might have neon signs, or covered up windows, or handwritten signs that say "Asian massage," or "full-body massage".

These are erotic massage parlors, where customers come for sexual massage.

How does it work? Customers pay a "house fee" that ranges from $60 to $120 an hour (depending on what city you are in) for a massage (30 minutes to one-hour) and sometimes a shower.  

If the customer want "extras" he pays an additional $60 to $120. This is often negotiated as a "tip" with the masseuse.

Why Not Get An Asian Massage?

While it may seem like there is nothing wrong with getting a happy ending massage, there are several reasons to reconsider.

  •  These "spas" are houses of prostitution, and it's illegal.  They are sometimes raided, and customers can be arrested.
  • You may think the masseuses are there because they want to be, but most are recruited overseas with the promise of good jobs.  They pay a recruiter for the job—essentially bonding the women in debt—and then upon arrival in the United States, are coerced into trading sex at massage parlors. 

According to a study by the Urban Institute on the commercial sex trade in Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Miami, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., the compensation at these erotic massage parlors varies.  Sometimes the women get 1/2 or the service plus tips (assuming their debt has been paid off).  Often the house keeps the "house fee" and the woman keeps the "tips" for "extras."  While it wasn't work they initially chose, many of the woman keep doing it even after their debt is paid because the money is good for someone with few jobs skills and minimal English.

The report also said that the Asian massage parlors are highly organized, sending women to work on a circuit between different cities, primarily Dallas, Flushing, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, California, Philadelphia and Atlanta.

 The purpose of shipping the women from massage parlor to massage parlor is "to keep clients interested," the report found.