Friday, March 02, 2007

Chair massage freaks me out

Am I the only one who thinks this is bizarre? I took this picture a while back when I did my post about the Tanque Verde Swap Meet:

It's a dude getting a Chinese chair massage in public. I have nothing against massages, Chinese or otherwise, and I'm perfectly willing to stipulate that this type of massage may be pure heaven. It's the whole out in the open part that gives me the willies.

It seems the chair massage phenomenon has invaded every shopping mall I visit. At the Park Place Mall here in Tucson, they're set up right next to the food court, and there's always three or four Asian guys standing there by their chairs loudly trying to lure you in. When you sit down to eat, you just can't look away.

Watching people get their massages is extremely uncomfortable. I always feel like I'm seeing something I shouldn't. And even if I force myself to turn away, I can still sense them there. They sit in the chair, stick their face in that toilet seat-looking thing, and the masseuse freakin' pounces on them.

Some people just sit there, like they're unsure of how to react. They sit in the chair, and the moment the guy touches them, you see them stiffen up. It's like they suddenly realize they're actually doing this in public, and they just want it to be over. And when it is done, they stand up, smile uncomfortably at the guy, and they rocket out of there like they've been chucked from a catapult.

Other people don't care. They're moaning and groaning and gyrating and you just know they're imagining that the little Chinese dude is really Angelina Jolie. I half expect to see them slip the guy another twenty for a happy ending.

Am I out of line thinking massage should be private? It has to stop somewhere. The next thing you know, we'll have open-air pap smears with hawkers out in the aisles of the shopping malls, luring people in with their colorful speculums and promises of fuzzy stirrups.


  1. I remember seeing one of those when I was back for Christmas. It was in the entrance of Wild Oats and there was not enough room for the chair. No personal space for the people involved, or the customers walking in and out. You almost had to turn sideways to pass. I was embarrassed for everyone involved. Even me.

  2. Yuck! I feel the same way! They do this at the mall here too. It feels ugly watching them get a massage....I can only imagine how it would feel being massaged in public...Yuck!

  3. Mama of five3/03/2007 10:36 AM

    That's quite a leap from chair massages to pap smears!

    *still laughing*

  4. Mentioning that the facial pad looks like a toilet seat kinda ruined the experience for me.

    But seriously, no one has a padded toilet seat anymore, do they?

  5. We were just at the mall, and sure enough there was the "Chair". Empty and the poor guys was playing with his palm pilot, but it was there none the less. lol

  6. I'm totally with you here...a massage (dressed or partially nude) should be in private. I actually get 1 massage a month, but it's in a private room at a spa.

  7. I don't get massages. I don't like strangers touching me.

    On a less psycho-sounding note, the (sports) masseuse working on my brother's friend complained that he wouldn't relax and loosen up. He later confessed to my brother that he was holding in a fart.

  8. My mom and dad have a padded toilet seat in their bathroom. My mom says it's for my dad, to ease the pain from his hemorrhoids, but I think it's because she likes the way it feels on her butt.

  9. First of all - there is quite a difference between pap smears and fully clothed chair massages.

    Second - I dont see the relationship between enjoying a chair massage and "happy endings". Massages are not erotic in nature. The only kind of person who can think therapeutic massages are erotic in nature is the person who has been so deprived of kind, healing touch that they associate all of it with sex.

    Which is a sad commentary on our culture.

    I would hazard the guess that if a person has trouble not looking at someone getting a chair massage it is triggering a longing and need inside of them that scare them.

    I would prescribe plenty of kind, healing massages - private or not - as the person may prefer.

    Because whats so uncomfortable? The person is fully clothed - nothing out of the ordinary is shown. Someone else is touching them in a completely a-sexual manner.

    Whats the big deal????

  10. I totally agree with the 3/1/08 anonymous comment. While chair massage may not be for everyone, it definitely benefits those that appreciate it. You are focused on the people that do the illegal/totally inappropriate acts that have absolutely nothing to do with professional massage.

    I can understand where you're coming from about the idea of getting a massage at a place as a public as a mall, right next to a food court. I probably would not be the most comfortable either just because I want to feel completely relaxed, not concerned with all the distracting noises I'm hearing aroud me at a busy mall. However, I still feel that if I really needed a muscle kink worked out, I could get that done and not feel weird about it just because I'm not on a massage table.

    By the way, the appropriate name is not "masseuse" (sexual implication--which does NOT relate to licensed professionals in the field) but rather "bodyworker" or "massage therapist".

  11. I've had dozens of chair massages in places like Whole Foods and other natural groceries and in some hip indie bookstores. These massages are about stress reduction and health maintenance, not pap smears or happy endings. Why are you projecting sexual things onto a nonsexual massage?

  12. I stopped at one of those chair massages in our local mall recently and it was so nice to be able to get a kink in my shoulder worked out right then without having to spend the extra time making an appointment and then traveling to a spa.

  13. Chair massage is not a comfortable thing for me at all, I don't like chair massage, I like traditional massages only!


  14. I know exactly what you mean. Seeing people get hair cuts through the window of a hair salon or barbershop is pretty gross too. All those hands touching hair, gee, get a room! Also watching people eat food in food courts! That whole salivating and chewing thing is so disgusting. Can't they go behind closed doors for that, too? And watching people swim in public beaches, that's a whole other thing I can't stand. Even with swim suits on I can still see most of their disgusting human...bodies! Perhaps we should ban all public touch, evidence of bodies or human contact related services so we don't offend others!

    Obviously I am spooning up some snarky sarcasm at ya. I don't mean to belittle your obviously traumatic reaction to watching other people get stress and muscle tension relief. I am having fun with you. Your post is kinda snarky so I figure you can take a joke.

    From what you posted, it sounds like you would be uncomfortable with people watching you relax or get massaged. Perhaps your experience with massage has been painful or sexual. I am sorry if that is the case. Many people are shy about others seeing them in vulnerable positions. (And I do know people that can't handle watching others eat, for what it's worth.)

    Everyone is different in regards to their boundaries and feelings about touch, intimacy and acceptance of their own humanity. And bodily functions.

    I do admit, I am one of those people that will get a chair massage anywhere anytime. And I do ohh and ahh and don't care who watches or what you think. I often don't have time to go "behind closed doors" and take my clothes off for a table massage. (Hey, wait a minute, isn't that creepier than chair massage in public?!)

    I rely on chair massages to get me through the week. And most of the chair massages I get are "in public", in grocery stores, malls, airports, whatnot.

    So if you see me, or one of my fellow massage afficiondos's, all blissed out and drooling in public on a massage chair while a massage therapist works my tight and sore muscles. Just. Look. Away. And let me continue my much much needed snooze.

    When I see you eating in public, or swimming or getting your hair cut, I promise to do the same!

  15. You may not like it but Chair Massage has been enjoyed by millions over the past few years.

    That alone is testimony to it's popularity.

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