While aimlessly wandering around St. Marks Place, I found myself standing outside of a massage parlor called “Body Works,” and just like Christian in Clueless, felt like I could use a little R&R. I had been under a lot of stress for the past few days and thought it was just what I needed to come into some peace and tranquility. Not only do I believe that I was treated in a Happy Ending massage parlor, but I felt like I was being tortured in the East Village version of Hostel by a very mean and angry Asian lady. Maybe she didn’t put dinner on the table in time last night and got a beating on Chinese New Year or maybe she wasn’t making enough tips for the day and her pimp boss was going to give it to her… But in the mean time, she had to take out her frustration – and that unfortunately was on my frail and precious back.
I don’t know anything about massages: where to go or how they’re really supposed to feel. I never really liked them truthfully because one time when I was a young teen some Chinese guy tried to touch my boob when I was getting a massage. I swatted his hand before he could get a proper reach around but the damage had been done in terms of what I thought of massages after that. I tried to recreate my interest in massages many years later while indulging in a sub-par Swedish massage at the Shore Club in South Beach, which only fell short of my expectations of what a $300 massage was worth. I was doomed to never know how to find a happy medium between pleasure and pain during a massage or any other aspect of my life if you want to get deep.
I decided to put my past experiences behind me as I walked into Body Works for some muscle exploitation. I also needed to charge my phone, which is a shitty Blackberry that is constantly dying (March 15th, when I am eligible to upgrade to an iPhone couldn’t come sooner).
I was put off immediately when I saw two men who only seemed to be working there, especially when one tried to lead me into a room. I had been hoping for a small grandmother of an Asian woman to be tenderly treating me like the Katsu chicken she breads every evening for her seven grand children, and her son-in-law that she never liked but he brings good money to the family with his organized Poker games in Union Square on Saturday evenings – the locations are constantly changing based on tip-offs to the police by the losing Ukrainians who have long and shameful subway rides home to Brighton Beach empty-handed. The winnings had been going to a 23 year-old 6’3” Chinese-American boy named Jeremy Lin, who was a Harvard graduate and frequently involved in the poker games until he recently started playing basketball for the New York Knicks. Now that Jeremy has stopped assisting with hands for the Taiwanese poker players, things have gotten very heated in the masseuse household because of the loss of their Katsu breadwinner. The masseuse no longer can afford to bread her family’s dinners with Panko breadcrumbs and has disconcerted her family by her use of the more affordable Italian breadcrumb.
After I was led into the blue-lit rooms, which were furnished with a single cot and separated by flimsy curtains, I decided to stay to see what the Body Work experience would have to offer. A woman instructed me to take off my shirt and bra and lay face down on the mat. She came inside a few seconds later, put a towel over my back and began an excruciatingly painful 30-minute persecution to my back. Immediately when I felt her over-the-top pressure statements with her fists, I knew this couldn’t possibly be what people loved about massages. This wasn’t a routine massage. It felt terrible. I wanted to speak up, but I didn’t. I let her continue because maybe this is what my back needed. Maybe really hard massages result in a well-worked back. What did I know? She moved all over my body, not with style and elegance, but with resentment and rage. She pinched my Achilles tendon like a live Crab fighting off Iron Chef host, Takeshi Kaga
as he assists Nobu Matsuhisa in dumping many Blue Crabs into a hot-pot of boiling water as one of his assistants is in the bathroom (the camera doesn’t catch this moment).
I couldn’t possibly take the pain she was inflicting on me any longer and managed to whimper, “Can you…um…not do it so hard?” She said something in a language I could not understand to another woman who was probably mid stroke on a middle-aged man’s penis. She didn’t change her pressure- if anything it got worse. Wondering if she misunderstood me, I opened my eyes since the prospect of relaxation was no longer feasible, and looked thru the hole you put your face in. I noticed under the table was a box of tissues, a bottle of oil, a bottle of lotion, a bottle of cream, several towels, and some hand sanitizer. It seemed pretty clear what these tools were for; I’ve been in guy’s bedrooms and seen their little “stations” next to their computer or nightstand.
It suddenly made sense. She doesn’t like to massage girls; she likes to massage guys with happy endings and big tips (literally). By the way she massaged me, it was clear she grew up massaging domestically raised Wagyu crossbred with Angus cattle Cattle on a tiny village in the Kansai region on Honshu Island in Japan to make Kobe Beef. It was clear she was used to massaging larger and thicker animals and men, not smaller boned young ladies who enjoy bad boys with tattoos and the Real Housewives series on Bravo.
After an unsettling 30-minute “repose” she pounded all over my back with such vengeance that I thought she was going to crack a rib. She proudly stepped back from the table and stood there watching me as I got dressed, which I found very weird. Then, I made my way to the bathroom and noticed a completely naked man who looked very cozy being rubbed down with an abundance of lotion. He was clearly the one I heard “ooohing” and “ahhhing” throughout my beating, which had been making me question what type of soothing rub down he had requested. In the bathroom was a washing machine with a bunch of small towels that were probably used to clean up semen.
Needless to say, I walked out without a happy ending. Will I ever experience the massage I’ve been looking for? I sure as hell hope so.