Does it really exist or is it just myth? The answer might surprise you.
Chances are you've heard the story: an unmarked door leads to a dimly-lit massage parlor where women with strong hands and tolerant smiles await a train of libidinous male patrons. The "happy ending" massage tale is all too common, a mixture of truth and urban legend that captivates male imaginations even in an age of casual sex and unlimited Internet porn.
The rest of spa culture, meanwhile, is dominated by women. There are more than 14,000 spas in the U.S. bringing in around $10 billion in annual revenue, and their predominantly female clientele average more than 100 million visits per year. With all that time spent around low lighting, soft music, and heavy rubbing, it can be tough not to think of sex.
But until recently, the female version of the happy ending massage has remained doggedly taboo.
Luckily, any "rules" restricting female sexuality are dying as fast as Sex and the City repeats can slay them, and it was only a matter of time before women embraced the notion that "quick releases" aren't just for men. And with competition among spas getting ever more intense, customers are starting to demand more than just Enya and free herbal tea with their Shiatsu, according to massage therapists.
"It's such a well-known thing for guys, and women are finally getting more comfortable asking for it," said Anna, a self-described "massage healer" who has worked at several upscale spas and performed happy endings on female customers. (Names have been changed to protect the less-than-innocent.) "Women are finally getting comfortable with the idea that it's OK to feel erotic in what's already a really erotic setting."
The bottom line: We like massages and we like orgasms, so why shouldn't the two sometimes come hand in hand? The answer is that they can and do, though the logistics can get complicated.
"With men, there's no subtle approach when it comes to a happy ending," said Tyler, a 6'4" hunk of tattooed muscle who has worked as a masseur at several New York City spas. "Some will ask outright, plus they have this appendage that's obvious and gives you a clear idea of where they want to go. But with women, it's so subtle. There's really no way to know if they want sexual contact, even if there's moaning and heavy breathing."
For many women, the idea of point-blank asking a hot masseur to "finish me off" sounds about as appealing as a full-body exfoliation with Brillo pads. And as Samantha learned in the now-notorious Sex and the City episode, making demands can result in humiliation.
So if you're into it, how do you avoid embarrassment and still come out fully satisfied?
The key, according to veterans like Amy, a 32-year-old model/actress who's had happy ending massages in two different states, is clear but subtle communication.
"It's all about giving the right signals," she says. She first discovered erotic massage during an in-room rubdown at an upscale Miami hotel. "Initially [the masseur] kept it very clean, but I was really turned on and I let him know it by moaning and saying how good it felt. He started slowly touching my thigh, then going higher, and it turned into a game of how far each of us would take it. One thing led to another and he ended up finishing me off, which was great."
Occasionally, a spa's reputation for sensual goings-on will precede it, as with New York City's famed 10th Street Russian Baths. An East Village fixture famous for its massive steam rooms and "women only" days, it once drew celebrities from John Belushi to Frank Sinatra, and now attracts a cross section of New Yorkers from Russian sexagenarians to downtown fashionistas.
"At first you're on your stomach, so they're just massaging your back," said Trish, a 29-year-old marketing manager who frequents the Baths. "Then they turn you over. [My masseur] started massaging my breasts. My nipples got erect, so that must have sent him a signal. He started rubbing me on the pressure points around my hips. He never actually touched my clitoris or vagina; it was just all around the area. I did [have an orgasm]; afterward, people kept stopping me on the street to say, 'Oh my God, you're glowing.' "
Chemistry with your masseur is a key factor, and one that can't always be controlled. But if it's present, the possibilities are endless.
"I was going through a divorce and feeling like hell," said Alexa, a 30-year-old attorney. "So I went to a high-end spa for a massage, and the only person available was a guy. I was nervous; I'd never had a man massage me before. He ended up being so hot. I was turned on the whole time, but nothing happened.
Then I went back two weeks later. I was on my stomach while he massaged my back, and when I turned around, topless, we started making out. He said, 'I can't do this, it's unprofessional,' so we stopped. But when I went back a third time, we ended up having sex in the massage room. After that, we started dating."
Nonetheless, it's important to remember that the risks can be high for massage therapists. Every state (save Nevada) considers prostitution illegal, and in some states it can lead to months of jail time. Also upping the ante is the gray area surrounding sexual assault, generally defined as nonconsensual touching of the genital area.
So how hard is it to find that perfect massage combination of chemistry, timing, setting, and mood? I hit the massage tables to find out.
Stop number one was Cornelia Day Spa on Fifth Avenue, which is now closed, was known for its Chanel-clad clientele and handsome male staff. I booked a Swedish massage and showed up with high expectations. But after 60-minutes of awkwardness peppered with a few moans that provoked no response besides "Is the pressure OK?" I decided to call in reinforcements.
I dispatched my sexy and adventurous friend, Joanna, on a spa mini-marathon, with instructions to request a male massage therapist and, if possible, end each massage with a big finish.
Her first stop was Great Jones Spa, a relaxation Mecca for the downtown set.
"It was definitely a 'my husband is a venture capitalist, I eat vegan and live in a loft' kind of crowd," said Joanna, who made sure to request "the best man you have" for her Swedish massage. The result was Andy, a pony-tailed Adonis with bicep tattoos and a winning smile.
As he massaged her thighs, she flirted with comments like, "That feels so good" and "Feel free to keep going." At first, her advances brought no response, but after a while he treated her to a polite, non-judgmental lecture about how "going there" was against the rules, and he loved his job too much to put it at risk.
I was feeling a little rejected," Joanna said. "But after it was over, he rushed out to the waiting room to introduce me to his girlfriend — apparently she was nearby — and asked if I wanted to 'hang out' with the two of them sometime. So I felt better, though I said no."
Next was the ultra-opulent Mandarin Oriental Spa, known for its lavish views and obsequious service.
"I felt like I could throw a fit over the temperature of my Pellegrino, and it wouldn't be out of the ordinary," Joanna observed. This time, her method consisted of suggestive moaning and pulling the strategically placed towel away during the "inner thigh" portion of her deep tissue rubdown.
Her masseur, immaculately groomed and very clearly gay, resisted her advances, saying simply, "I love my job here, and I'd do anything to keep it." Afterward, he pulled her aside and said, "Honey, I think what you need is to visit the Vitality Pool."
"I couldn't figure out what he meant," she said. "Then I saw the Vitality Pool." Located in the ladies-only "Heat Experience Room," it consists of a tub filled with room-temperature water, a bench made of metal bars, and intense water jets that shoot up straight from the floor.
"As soon as I sat down, I realized what he was getting at," said Joanna. "There's no point of having an open bench in a hot tub where jets shoot up between your legs other than to have an orgasm. It took me all of two minutes of sitting there to climax, then the woman who went in after me looked like she took 30 seconds."
While the experience was refreshing ("I definitely left with a glow") we still had two spas down and no results. Then, Joanna got a tip in the Mandarin's plush relaxation room.
"I started chatting with this woman in her mid-30s, who looked like she went to spas all the time," she said. "When I mentioned I was going to another spa tomorrow, she told me, 'Oh, you have to go to Cornelia. You should ask for Tron; he's fantastic.' Her voice didn't sound like she was describing a massage."
The next day, Joanna arrived at Cornelia Day Spa primed for victory.
"The second I saw Tron, we had instant chemistry," she said. "He was definitely hot. I flirted with him all the way from the waiting room to the massage room, and we chatted about our lives. When we got inside, I talked about how I hated having underwear and towels constricting me during massages, and he said, 'I'm comfortable with you having them off.' About 15 minutes into the massage, I let my hand graze his thigh and I could see his erection. Finally, he turned me over, and it was on."
Kissing turned to heavy petting with a strong dose of grinding, until he was on top of her on the table. Joanna recalls the make-out session as being totally comfortable. But after the first few minutes, she broke away, saying, "I'm sorry, this is so inappropriate."
His response: "Sweetie, you are my reward for the two men who asked me for happy endings earlier today. I told them no — but for you, I won't tell if you won't." When she coyly asked if she was the first woman who'd expressed interest in more than a massage, he sidestepped with, "Well, you know how it is."
The impromptu liaison went on for the rest of the hour, and another 30 minutes beyond.
"It was very romantic and totally mutual. It didn't feel like I was just being serviced," she recalls. "He asked after a while if I wanted to have sex, but neither of us had a condom," said Joanna. "I considered giving him a blow job, but then I was like, 'I'm paying for this!' "
Her advice after a successful venture?
"You have to be open to having that kind of experience and not exactly be subtle about what you want." When it comes to massage sex, the chances are high that you'll encounter fuzzy boundaries and ephemeral guidelines, and one woman's violation may be another's fantasy.
But just as with a female presidential candidate, whether you think happy endings are the pinnacle of bliss or the apex of vileness, it's still nice to have the option.
My erotic massages help women who are in sex-deprived marriages — or simply want a release.
Erotic happy ending massage stories are pretty common — a mixture of truth, half-truth and urban legend that captivates the imagination of men, even in this age of casual sex and unlimited Internet porn. Most of these stories are about women providing such services to men as the high point of a massage.
According to IBIS World, there are an estimated 21,000 spas in the US where a predominantly female clientele spend over $10 billion dollars annually in services. These women average over 110 million visits per year, so it's not surprising that juicy tales of women receiving happy ending massages are increasing.
The truth of the matter is far more women receive erotic or sensual massages than the public is aware of.
Some women are seduced by the massage process and decide to have an erotic experience then and there while others set out to ﬁnd a place where they can get a happy ending. Some women present themselves as "ripe and ready" for an explicitly erotic experience by indicating their desire through body language and other thinly-veiled alluring behaviors.
I know this because I'm a male, sex-positive pleasure provider and I facilitate happy endings for women for a living.
My experience in this ﬁeld spans several years. It started when I was a massage therapist and found that several of my female clients, most between 19 and 49 years old, indicated to me that they wanted something more than a regular massage.
One of my ﬁrst surprises was from Ali*, 22, from Maine. It was a hot spring day and she visited for a deep-tissue massage because of college term tension. After the initial intake procedure, I informed her about the standard options for the massage session. I left the room and returned a few minutes later to ﬁnd her lying on her back, uncovered, with a suppressed smile on her face, her perky breasts and nipples fully exposed.
Obviously, this was not one of the massage "options" I gave her and I was a bit taken aback and asked if she wanted the massage uncovered. She said that's what she prefers so I proceeded the massage session as she liked it but asked her to lie face-down and placed a hand towel over her midsection.
By the middle of the massage, she was perceptibly moving her body and making low erotic noises. I fed her lascivious desires with slow, deep, long-ﬂowing strokes, teasingly caressing her erogenous parts from her head to feet, my intuitive hands responding as her body throbbed with libido, a libido that was obviously looking for some kind of climatic expression. After an hour, she turned face-up.
Not surprisingly, there was a wet spot where her mid-body was, on the black silky cotton sheet that covered the massage couch.
Her perky breasts and nipples looked like they were bursting with pleasure, ﬁrm like pink grapefruits. Ali was ready to climax. As inexperienced as I was at the time, I assumed she wanted intercourse and was about to oblige when she ﬁrmly took my hand and indicated she wanted a digital orgasm. (The phrase "happy ending" was not yet in vogue.) Almost two hours had passed, and she had a huge orgasm and she left me with a surprisingly big tip for a college student.
My career as a provider of happy ending/pleasure for women had just begun.
Over the next several years, I had many more experiences of women indicating in different ways that they wanted to engage their feminine sexual energy in the massage session. These women do not ﬁt any stereotype and came (no pun intended) from a broad social spectrum in more or less within the age group I mentioned above.
Katie* was 34, of Italian/German background, and came in because of back pain and tension headaches. It turned out she was in a relationship with a guy who never took the time to really explore and appreciate her physical needs and desires. She came in for a 90-minute massage and I attended to all the tight and sore places on her neck and back.
After the ﬁrst sixty minutes, Katie's body started to signal her sexual center. There's something about extended touch and caress that tends to release the most potent chemicals of the sexual centers of a woman who's in need of physical and emotional attention.
By the end of the session it was clear she was enjoying the touch experience beyond its remedial value; Katie desperately wanted to orgasm. She apologized and asked if she could masturbate. I offered to help and she quickly asked me to suck and gently bite her hard, brown nipples while she stroked her clitoris to an explosive orgasm.
After a few years of increasing occasional request from women for erotic massage, I decided to give up my massage practice and focus exclusively on providing pleasure for women.
I have learned a lot about the art of erotic touch. I actually hate the term "happy ending." It's a vulgar, cheap phrase suited for the sleazy "massage parlors" that cater to men who are looking for a quickie in 15-, 30- and 60-minute sessions. And from what I understand of the female psyche, most women ﬁnd the "happy ending" model of an erotic engagement outside of a romantic relationship to be repellent.
As a matter of fact, "repellent" was the exact word Laura* used to describe "happy ending" massages when she called to make an appointment for my 90-minute erotic body rub. Laura was a former corporate executive, 39, married with 2 kids.
She was a woman with much passion for life but still trying to ﬁnd her own grounds about her sexuality and her right to enjoy gratification that she wasn't getting from her husband of 12 years. She confided that "he ﬁnds my breasts and vagina very easily, sometimes I let him have his way, much to my dismay, despite my pleas that I need more than his cock inside of me for a few minutes."
On the day she called me, Laura was still ambivalent about the "adventure" she was contemplating but ultimately went for it due to her sexual deprivation that was slowly killing her soul, body, and mind.
She needed to feel, she said. I rubbed her irresistible light brown body until she was relaxed and receptive and my intuitive hands were in sync with the deep desires that welled up inside her. I teased every hot spot on her body until she was saturated inside out with love hormones and viscous tasty juices.
It was over two hours of unconditional erotic touching when she broke out in spasmodic vibrations and intense writhing until she climaxed with a suppressed roar from deep inside her and finally rested in a comfortable snuggled position until she was back to earth again.
There are many more juicy stories but the point is that "happy endings" for women are sex-positive and a great learning experience that can benefit marriages.
In fact, one of my clients even told me her husband announced to his friends that "This is the massage guy who prepared my wife for me the other night. We had the best sex together in several years. I don't know what his magic is but when she got home that night, she came at me like a wild animal."