Friend and colleague Tommy Wayne Kramer commented recently on the baffling proliferation of Asian massageries in Ukiah, something I myself have mused over and discussed in my, respectively, reflective and sociable moments. On first debussing from the big house after a seven-year absence and taking their measure, I thought wow, the economy really must be in fine fettle if the class of men likely to patronize such establishments can once again afford rental 'tang. Bully for Ukiah.
I'm torn, morally and philosophically, on the subject of prostitution. My feelings are purely in the abstract, having no personal experience with it beyond the tacit, dilute version practiced in the drug world of tit for tat. On the one hand, I agree with the empowerment view that women's bodies are theirs to do with what they wish, and if they choose to hire out their charms to any fool with the requisite o'goblins, then that's their business. On the other, I sympathize with the assertion that women in the industry are more often than not there pursuant to some childhood trauma, likely sexual, and therefore participation equals exploitation. On the third and supernumerary hand, I think it's just icky. Maybe it's just my ego talking, but the idea of having sex with someone who wasn't absolutely thrilled to be there does nothing to prime my pump. Plus, there's the pre-engagement protocols and post-coital snugs and pillow talk to consider. Call me a romantic sap, but reducing the act to the act itself wouldn't be much more satisfying than executing a manual override. Clearly I am not the target market for the industry, though I understand there is a new trend in the field called "the girlfriend experience" where, for the price of a pre-owned midsize sedan you can get a professional to act out the role of girlfriend for a period of hours or days or even weeks, depending on what you're able to afford. I don't know if the package includes asking every ten minutes what I'm thinking about, clogging up the shower drain with hair, telling me that if I really knew her I'd know what was wrong, or a thousand other little details that I would require to achieve any reasonable degree of verisimilitude in such a situation, but they probably cost extra. Besides that, I guarantee that about fifteen minutes after dropping her off I'd be outside her bedroom window holding aloft a ghetto blaster and dripping real tears. My brain doesn't know from acting and I've been known to fall in love inside of a half an hour, anyway. I just can't feature it. Now, Tom did not come right out and say that there was any slap-'n-tickle shenanigans going on at these alleged therapeutic centers, but more raised a suspicious journalistic eyebrow, as is his right and responsibility. Had it been me cocking mine own gimlet peeper their way, I'd have openly speculated about not only play-for-pay but white slavery, illegal fireworks, the Yakuza, bootleg kimonos, and secret ninja training facilities. Tom works for the straight press and is therefore constrained by things like "journalistic integrity" and "acceptable standards," concepts we out here on the fringes will have positively no truck with. Our speech is a little freer than yours, and if lawsuits threaten, I say: Sue us? You'll have to find us and catch us first, suckers. There were a couple of responses to Tom's veiled implication, one from a George Dorner who reported being hustled out by a Yakuza enforcer and possible ninja trainer. George probably had that cop-look about him and was lucky to escape with his life. Another, anonymous writer appeared to be shilling for one of the joints, reporting a professional and satisfying experience in the way of legit massage, but also asked the question, "Is there a definitive way to know? (if the massage has the potential to venture into the comprehensive, reaching a ‘happy ending’)"
Yes, sir, there is. Go inside and instead of adopting the innocent mien of a pain-wracked citizen seeking relief at the capable hands of a trained massage therapist, acquire a sweaty, lustful leer and dart your eyes suspiciously to and fro. After perusing the menu, inquire about "extras." If this doesn't get you anywhere, ask about the availability of any whistlin' bungholes, spleen splitters, whisker biscuits, honkey lighters, husker do's, husker don'ts, nipsey daisers, or kitty chasers (if this reference escapes you, this column is too lowbrow for you — I suggest you toddle over to David Yearsley's patch, where you'll find enough incomprehensible analyses of esoteric entertainments to occupy your pointy intellectual head for years to come). Still nothing? They may indeed be on the up-and-up.
As anyone who's had one can attest, a foot massage is one of life's great pleasures, and although I consider them only properly administered by one's significant other (for a definitive discussion of the subject, see the brilliant and deathless cinematic masterwork Pulp Fiction), that's something I might pay for — though I can't guarantee I wouldn't fall in love afterward. I guess the bottom line is, maybe we have some Asian-style professional smashing crackin' off, and maybe we don't. I vote in favor, not because I ever see myself participating, but an alternative to those ghastly cranked-out street sirens currently hawking their dessicated, shopworn nethers can only be good for the community as a whole.
In closing, I'd like to poke Jerry Philbrick with an "attaboy" for coming up with a rhyme for Newsom (gruesome). Very clever of you. However, "gruesome" as a descriptor of our esteemed, sagacious, and forward-thinking guv is disingenuous and just flat wrong. The man is objectively handsome; in fact I'd go so far as to say we have the best-looking governor in the country, reason enough to get a bear flag tattoo. I realize it's not a perfect rhyme, but Gavin "Toothsome" Newsom is both more fitting and original. Also, I would like to remind you that a sentence requires at least a subject and a verb. Freestanding nouns and adjectives do not a sentence make. I myself like to append clauses and parenthetical asides until I'm not even sure what the hell I was originally talking about, but I wouldn't recommend the practice to an amateur. Just try, after any capitalized beginning, to formulate and express a clear thought using accepted parts of speech. Happy Ranting!