All my life I’ve been a massage slut.

Instead of pledging fidelity to one practitioner or technique, I’ve been a total tramp. Picture: Thinkstock

Instead of pledging fidelity to one practitioner or technique, I’ve been a total tramp. One day I’d be getting my gear off for a Balinese hot rocker (in Ubud, everybody must get stoned), and the next I’d be baring my Chinese acupoints like no-one’s business.

I blame my addiction on once having lived near the massage epicentre of Nimbin where the oils are always essential and the “body work” is usually accompanied by quartz healing feathers powered by reincarnated dolphin vibrations.

One sarong-wearing masseuse here used to insist that I meditate on my past life blockages in her private isolation tank before she’d begin wildly kneading the air slightly above my body. (Her hands-off approach did nothing for my shoulder spasms, but my word the nitrogen, oxygen and argon in her room were chilled out.)

Since then, I’ve sampled techniques from around the globe. I’ve had my hair pulled in Korean jjimjilbangs, been slapped and walked on in Turkish bath houses, and was once basted in curry paste beside an Indonesian river.

Now, after all this commitment-phobic massaging around, I’ve found myself settling down in the most unlikely of places: the weird, Asian-operated, makeshift massage station in the middle of my local shopping centre.

You’d think the complete lack of privacy would not be conducive to relaxation. But I find the white noise of hermetically sealed capitalism oddly soothing and soon forget that I am being pinched and jiggled only centimetres from complete strangers who could – but for some reason don’t – stare as they push their trollies past on their way to the $2 jewellery shop.

The full extent of my attachment to this no-frills set-up became clear last weekend when a well-meaning friend gave me a massage gift voucher at an über expensive day spa.

Talk about a disaster. The “therapist” involved was just so annoyingly fussy. When she wasn’t fiddling with the tinkly piano music player, she was obsessively moving little towels around to ensure that no more than five square centimetres of my body was nude at any one time.

“How’s that pressure?” she asked every second or so. “On par with that exerted by the average dressing gown,” would have been the honest answer. 

The whole experience was so irritatingly stressful, I had to run straight back to the no-name place to unwind. “Holy shiatsu,” I said to my favourite unapologetic pummeller.  “I think I’ve become a massage monogamist.”

She just gave me her usual sullen look and began jabbing me in the bum with her elbows.

It was so good to be home.

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    • Al says:

      08:03am | 06/09/12

      Don’t worry Emma.
      Rather than claiming to be a “massage monogamist” I would suggest it is more a situation of actualy discovering that all those expensive and specialty massages do no more for a person than the cheap ones.
      The only concern would be re: qualifications and any serious injuries being treated (as opposed to relaxation or muscle tightness).
      The majority are full of shit and offer no additional benefit for the additional money paid, so why would you pay the additional money?
      The usual answer from people is “because xxxx told me it was wonderfull” or “because it is an ‘exclusive’ spa” etc.
      BTW: I actualy studied a diploma in massage therapies, studying numerous techniques (theoretical and practical) and realisticly, when it came to benefits, there were only 2 that stood out as effective:
      Sweedish - (read non-therapeutic, just relaxation); and
      Remedial. (Which was at least as effective as a lot of the more ‘specialised’ massages like Shiatsu etc.)

    • Richard says:

      08:09am | 06/09/12

      Yep, a real, satisfying massage must balance along the fine line between pleasure and pain like a tight rope walker. Chinese deep tissue meridian massage is my clear preferences, both to perform and receive, but it is better when done with oil instead of over the cloth like they do in supermarkets. Modesty/body consciousness is not a handicap most massagees suffer from these days anyway.

    • Peter Thornton says:

      08:55am | 06/09/12

      I had to re-evaluate the giggly wonderfulness of Rhinestone gurus. Most are feloniously dishonest, delusional and coldly exploit others by using cult-like ways of indoctrination that somehow align the word spiritual with any convenient definition.

    • Meph says:

      09:18am | 06/09/12

      “white noise of hermetically sealed capitalism”

      That has to be one of the funniest things I’ve read all week!

    • nihonin says:

      03:11pm | 06/09/12

      As long as you are happy with the ending the massage was good no matter how bad wink


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