This page is a reproduction of the original article which aged off of AlterNet around July, 2019.
Oct. 18, 2017
There’s a guy who lives somewhere in Manhattan. He’s in his mid-40s, clean-cut, of average height and weight. He’s known as Doctor M, or "the Doctor," and according to the ladies who filter in and out of his apartment, he has a magic touch.
Most women require more than what penetrative sex offers to achieve orgasm. That’s a fact Anne Koedt made clear back in 1970, with her book, The Myth Of The Vaginal Orgasm. The Kinsey Institute decided to revisit things back in 2010. And then again in 2017. Women, we know, are more likely to orgasm through a variety of sexual acts, especially those that don’t involve a penis. Digital stimulation happens to be one of the most effective methods, although depressing stats surrounding the orgasm gap seem to suggest that it’s often overlooked.
The good news is that the conversation hasn’t been entirely wiped off the table. Women continue to blog about all kinds of fingering fun. In 2016, a pair of entrepreneurs even developed an interactive web platform to help encourage this kind of play. If you look to other outlets, like porn, you’ll see how it factors into female fantasies of sex and pleasure.
According to the RedTube analytics team, women are 23 percent more likely to search for “massage porn” than men. Genital touch has been well reported as an effective approach to the female orgasm. What we haven’t heard so much about is what women are willing to do to get it.
Doctor M has been doing his thing for awhile now. He started his business, aptly named Her Private Pleasures, 10 years ago. He’s what some sex nerds would consider a “sexological bodyworker,” meaning someone who helps others improve their erotic lives through a series of somatic exercises. But because certifications are rarely offered outside of the state of California, he calls himself a sensual touch therapist instead. According to him, the gig keeps him busy almost every night of the week.
“Sensual touch therapy is a very different experience compared to sex with a partner within the confines of a relationship,” he told AlterNet via email. “This biggest difference is that it’s designed to be one-sided. Without the expectation of reciprocation or the pressure of wondering if their partner is enjoying themselves, women are finally free to focus solely on their own pleasure.”
All sessions start out with some “soft whispery touch” designed to arouse the senses. From there, he’ll lube the ladies up with “liberal amounts" of coconut oil on back, neck, shoulders, arms and legs. Then, he’ll head down to the more erogenous zones, the breasts, butt and “delicate lady bits.”
Emily, a 46-year-old single mom, has been making trips to Doctor M for the past two years. She lives about 40 minutes away, but works nearby, which keeps the checkups convenient. The first time she went to see the Doctor coincided with the end of a very long relationship, one that ended with a year of no sex. “I wanted and needed to feel something,” she explained.
Emily found out about Doctor M on the internet. “I looked up what I could find about him. Articles, anything. It actually took me about four months before I decided to reach out to him because I was a little scared of going to someone’s apartment for this purpose. I did it in the day, which felt safer to me,” she said.
The internet gives people like the Doctor a platform to put himself out there, and it gives women—who would typically be discouraged from going to a stranger’s house for some pussy play—more of a chance to vet them.
The Doctor has a blog where prospective guests can locate his regulars and hear what they have to say about the experience. It’s actually what he attributes to his expanding client list. “The best barometer that my work is valued is the number of repeat guests, in addition to the many dozens of women who ‘pay it forward’ by sharing their positive experiences in online testimonials,” he says.
Brooke has been involved in the industry for around 15 years. Unlike the Doctor, who works exclusively with women, she typically works with men. Female clients, she says, are more of a rarity. Society still holds a tight leash on female sexuality; specifically the unmarried, recreational brand. But there’s also the fact that sex work exists in a legal limbo. Those involved in the industry know to look for certain red flags before booking a client. Having a woman call in is one of them.
“[Law enforcement] knows providers are more comfortable with women,” Brooke explained to AlterNet. According to her, officers attempting a sting operation will often have a female call to book an appointment, saying, “Oh, it’s my husband’s birthday, I’m doing this for him.” Since those in the industry are familiar with this set-up, many remain wary of ladies looking for a massage.
Sarah* started The Cauldron, a sensual body rub establishment for the "discerning hedonist,” in 2013. Recently, she’s seen an influx in the number of ladies legitimately calling in, which has helped her loosen up about women wanting to book a session.
Vanessa works at All American Body Rub, another Manhattan-based establishment that employs only female models and masseurs. “In the past two years, there’s definitely been an increase in females coming in for erotic body massage, which I think is really cool,” she said. “It’s a different era, it’s a different time. I think that’s reflected in this industry.”
While most of the women she sees identify as lesbian or bisexual, there is one group that comes in for mostly experimental purposes – the millennials. “We actually get quite a few female college students that come to see us. I would say most of them are experimenting and finding their ‘edge,’” she noted.
While it’s true women of more recent generations are growing up under a different set of sexual limitations, it’s hard to say if a more liberated world is really to thank for the surge in women seeking erotic services.
“I think a lot of it comes down to publicity," said Brooke. “There’s almost a kind of coolness about it,” she added.
In other words, it’s worth asking if women feel a genuine sense of sexual autonomy these days, or if the sexual massage industry is simply trending. Doctor M says he sees more 20-somethings than any other age bracket.
Still, any development that results in more women having more orgasms is worth celebrating. And there does seem to be something especially effective about the body rub business.
“Doctor M has given me some amazing orgasms,” Emily said. “He seems to hit the perfect spot in the right direction with just enough pressure… I can think of one time in particular where he was using a softer touch, first in a circular motion and then kind of back and forth or up and down yet still maintaining that same gentle pressure. I think I had the orgasm of my life. It was amazing."
* Names have been changed.
This page, originally published October 18, 2017, is a reproduction of the original article which aged off of AlterNet around July, 2019.