Illustration by Erin Taj

What’s It Like Running a Rub-and-Tug Parlor?

We talked to a masseuse and master of happy endings to find out

Like much of the sex work economy, rub-and-tug parlors are typically hiding in plain site—either in a strip mall or an office building advertising a “full body” experience (without referencing the main attraction) or on websites like Backpage.com, where the only key word to suggest what’s really on offer might be “hands only.” Dyann Bridges is one of the many entrepreneurs making her living within those secretive spaces, charging about $180 an hour for massage — happy ending optional — and catering to a clientele with a bit of a MILF fantasy. (At 49, she doesn’t look a day over 30.) Though it took a bit of prodding to get her to reveal her age, Bridges was more than willing to open up to MEL about how she makes it work running a rub-and-tug business.

Let’s talk about how you made the transition from massage to erotic massage.
In terms of massage therapy, I was certified a long time ago — about 17 or 18 years ago now — on the West Coast. I actually avoided the sensual element for a long time, for most of my career. I only added that in the last, I would say, three to four years now.

I didn’t want to do it on my own, because I didn’t really know what I was getting into. I actually called an agency. I was in my 40s — well into my 40s — when I did this. The guy who owned it was a very open-minded Chinese man, about 50. He treated me very well. He thought I performed a good massage and thought I was attractive. He had girls of all shapes and sizes. They were all beautiful in their own way. He had an office where clients would call to book an appointment. It was a 20-minute walk from where the massages were actually performed. He was very smart about protecting himself. Not so much with the girls though.

The massage rooms were in an office building near 35th close to the Empire State building. The landlord knew what kind of business the Chinese man had and came one day when a young woman was arrested for negotiating sexual favors with a client before the session started. I can promise you they all did that even though it was not advertised as such. Not only that—none of them was a licensed therapist, which is usually what the law gets them on. Asian houses are especially prone to this. The landlord finally said, “Enough.” And so it was.

From there, I just started my own practice. I bought a location up in Westchester now. The guy that I started with, he finally closed the place, but I’ve got another place that I rent by the hour downtown.

What does your massage room look like?
The Manhattan space does not belong to me. There is a guy who has a room and a list of therapists he uses and rents to them by the hour. It’s a modest room but set up for massage: a massage table, a radio/cd player for music, paper sheets for the table and face cradle and cleaning supplies. We bring our own oil.

In Westchester, the massage space is in a room in an apartment in a very large old house. It’s a residential area. The space is similar in the sense that the room is set up exclusively for massage, with a massage table, music and a soothing calm décor. The nice thing about the Westchester local is that I can use hot stones there and light candles. Something I can’t do at the Manhattan local. It really sets off the atmosphere.

What’s your average session like?
My sessions are mostly a therapeutic massage with a hands only release at the end. I start off in a bra and yoga pants. At the end I remove the bra. That’s it. No frilly lingerie. No full nudity. No light fetish or dominatrix stuff. However, I will let the client touch me most everywhere except between the legs.

Many guys will not book a session if I am not fully nude. Some men like to look at everything while they are “finishing” even if they don’t necessarily want full on sex or even just a BJ. I didn’t realize until I started doing this work, though, that I am a niche within the sensual body-rub industry. I get guys from their 20s to 70s looking for a mature woman who is trained at doing massage who will at least partially undress and give them a hands-only ending. Some guys are content with just this little extra and don’t want any more sexual content. They have their boundaries, too.

How do you promote your business in a city where it’s not legal?
The only real advertising I have is Backpage, where I get 90 percent of my business, and SEO from my website. Craigslist has really cracked down on body-rub ads. There was a time about a year and a half ago I would put up ads, and they would be taken down within an hour. I emailed to complain. No answer. My ads kept disappearing.

I used to have a profile page on MassageAnywhere.com which has a lot of sensual massage therapists. However, it’s much more heavily regulated. You have to be very, very discreet. I removed my profile page because someone looked too closely at it. I was sent an email saying we need you to prove you are not doing anything illegal and we want your state license number.They had highlighted and copy and pasted a sentence where I suggested it was “hands only.” They wanted an explanation and what did I mean by that… blah, blah blah.

So, I just deleted the profile page, including the 12 or so excellent reviews I had on it. Sometimes I run a coupon special through LocalSaver. That gives me a boost in business, but not cash.

Would you ever retire?
As far as retiring, I’ll say this: Massage is one of my chosen professions that I trained to do. However, I have never really wanted to do the ending. I’ve offered it as a way of consistently building a private practice so I could have the flexibility until my online endeavors were rolling along. That has proved to be much more difficult than I first realized.

Either way I will probably always have a hand in massage even if I don’t take clients myself. I have been looking for a location where I can gather 5–10 women like myself… older, trained and offer an ending. It would be exclusive and special. A place real gentlemen would want to come back to regularly. I feel I’m on a type of “mission” in that sense.

This type of massage should not be illegal to perform. I think it should be akin to alcohol regulations or Nevada prostitution laws. Keep it in a private location, make the owner get a business license and collect taxes. It’s been around forever and won’t go away any time soon.