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The Shadow and the Gold 4-10-24

Reflections on M4M bodywork


Ten days from tax time and I find myself updating "About Me" on Masseurfinder and reflecting on my vast and varied career as one who touches people for a living. 


When I read between the lines of my life as a masseur (aka massage therapist, healing 'ho, practitioner, M4M bodyworker, etc) my feelings vary as much as the work I have done and continue to do. In fact, my feelings are as varied as the humans I have worked on! I love touching men and sometimes women. Massage is the greatest gift a person could give another. Wealth pales, youth fades, six-packs come and go, while health remains the one constant in our all lives. Massage nurtures health. It can alleviate pain and provide comfort to the world-weary and sometimes to those simply seeking a good time. I weary of all the labels society tries to put on massage and the insistence of Americans in particular to constantly segregate massage therapy from healing from pleasure. Massage is such a marvelous art and skill that it can be all things! It is amazing how, with touch-in all its totality and wonder-we Americans are so obsessed with labeling it and classifying it. Often, while completely missing the point. This is my point; touching is a wondrous thing, whether healing, comforting or giving and receiving pleasure. Wow. I wish words could convey all the meanings and possibilities of massage without all the judgments. It can't, And let's get real, you can't TALK about massage, you have to experience it to really get it. That's probably the biggest reason why words can't describe the intrinsic, somatic (of the body) experience of touch and also why massage so easy slips into the categorical cliches of merely service, therapy or sex-work or a combo plate of all three. Massage is and can be all of these things. Who am I to judge the relief healing hands can bring to a person in pain, OR to a person who is lonely, isolated, horny or, yes, broken-hearted, recovering from grief or the pain (yes pain) of sexual anorexia? Who am I to say "It's all good" but oops, I'm gonna say it folks, as long as you do not harm--yes! It's all good. (Exceptions of course, the Harvey Weinsteins and the Jeffrey Epstein who use massage as a tool to manipulate, confuse or control other people. That it definitively not what I'm talking about here. I repeat, the professional masseur's first Golden Rule should be (like the Buddha said) DO NO HARM.


Interesting that I say this as just last night I was a potential victim in a violent street incident involving a car-load of young, white guys (probably from Long Island or New Jersey). It didn't go beyond a few seconds of my being uncomfortable, slightly scared and having my ego bruised, right here on 6th Street in the East Village! Why does this even surprise me when a few weeks ago two people were shot in my home turf-Tompkins Sq. Park-where I practice my unicycling? But it did happen. Immediately afterward I had to re-evaluate how I dress and conduct myself in my 'hood. I love that one can be completely casual down here. And it's so easy to forget that living in the East Village can indeed feel so free, we take our freedom for granted while other neighborhoods (only minutes away) are rife with their proprietary bigotry, hate and fear. I'm grateful for the wake-up call. And it's nothing new that punks from the boros love to infiltrate the East Village (especially on the weekends) to act out and prove how tough they "aren't."


Not long after that eye-opening experience, around 11:30 PM I got a call from some fellow claiming to be from the Bronx (646-701-8314) insisting in a text on talking to me live to book a session later that night. He sounded like a prankster, playing a joke and (laughing) among friends (you could hear the background laughter) in his voice mail. This kind of homophobic prank is not new to me and again a sign, a warning that I (and all bodyworkers) must still exercise caution and vigilance with all client inquiries for massage. I've said it before, most men are angels but there is always that one possible "terrorist" and that's really all it takes to remind us that we do not live in a safe world and that shit can and will happen at any time and that just because the Media pretends to love queerness, tons and tons of people DO NOT, both in New York and the world at large, so the lesson here is always be mindful. 

Interestingly this call was followed not 30 minutes later by a text from (516-754-0893) saying "I'm 15 and need my gluts massaged." I'm grateful this caller was so outrageous (or stupid) in his humor as to clearly indicate (identify themself) as yet another prank caller. That was easy-peasy. The danger is the callers who hide it well. Needless to say both callers were blocked using the phone app “CallApp.” Which by the way I also use successfully to block my current stalker (a very frustrated and confused Latino Man) who was a client for years but who has now transitioned into an abject psycho. (20 calls in the past few days, Oye Vey!). CallApp is my go to app because just simply blocking calls (no shows, time-wasters, goofballs who call to book then cancel 5 min later -- "AJ", yes you, today!) still allows a plethora of these human vermin to leave messages. With CallApp, the rats can't leave a message and one isn't tortured by hearing their voices LOL. I love it.

Again the lesson, when doing M4M massage always, always, always be vigilant, never let your guard down. Overall I know from a few females I've spoken to "in the biz" that truly queer (or gay for pay) bodyworkers by and large have it much easier than our female counterparts in this business where violence toward women is a much more frequent practice when horny man doesn't get his way. So here is my "whew" for relief!

I'm so grateful for these latest experiences as I have just rejoined ABMP (Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals) and re-instated my malpractice insurance. One cannot allow oneself to be vulnerable in this business. ESPECIALLY NOW when the city is more violent, dirtier, harder and more unforgiving than ever before. I liken this current Adams low-quality of life climate to the days of Mayor Dinkins and that's pretty damn scary for me as a queer-bi senior. Why? Because the current rough and ready lawlessness is a symptom of having both of these incompetents as mayors. *I was Gay-bashed back in '93 and it wasn't pretty. Took me years to recover and it was just a symptom of the lawlessness that reigned during that time and the "Get outta Dodge" syndrome that currently rules the current urban NYC environment. See my link here for my gay-bashing share 

Please don't get me started on New York's insipid bail reform laws. I do NOT believe in defunding the police. That is simply an idiotic concept if there ever was one!


I am in awe when men say to me "I can't believe people would do that--" My tried and true response--"What's not to believe???? Hitler existed!" And still exists today in the hearts of some people and in any mind where cruelty and the urge to do evil exist. Lord have mercy...

God bless, take care, keep the faith, be strong and call me for a great massage!


Steve Orr, LMT


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