How did we get this way? How did massage end up being the code word for sex workers to hide behind?
July 14, 1894 – Immoral Massage Establishments British Medical Journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2404432/pdf/brmedj08960-0029.pdf
“WE have received communications suggesting that an association should be formed for those who have gone through a proper course of instruction in massage and obtained certificates of proficiency, and asking our assistance in the preparation of a list of good and satisfactory workers.
The suggestion is, however, beset with difficulties. We understand that a good many ” massage shops,” the advertisements of which are frequently inserted in one or two of the fashionable daily papers, are very little more than houses of accommodation. A very common plan, we are informed, is for some man with a little capital to open an establishment of this kind, and then to advertise for half a dozen young lady assistants to do the work. Their remuneration is nominal, but they are at liberty to accept presents from the customers, who pay the principal from half-a-guinea to 2 guineas for each visit. If the young lady is willing to make herself ” agreeable” she is retained on the staff, but if she has conscientious scruples she is discharged and someone is found to take her place. This is so well understood that young men about town often make a tour of these establishments. Many of these girls have certificates, but
they, as a rule, have spent their last penny in getting instruction, and, little by little, drift into a mode of life which is often most distasteful to them. The men are often not much better, and it has become a fashionable fad for certain ladies of position to frequent the rooms of a young and good-looking
masseur. We are given to understand that the subject has attracted the attention of the police, and that quite recently one of the best known of these places has been raided and stopped. Certificates in “massage” are given, even by qualified medical men, after the most perfunctory course of instruction. The women are told that they can make a good income, but as soon as they are squeezed dry they are turned out to shift for themselves. Some of the stories of the unfortunate victims which have come to our knowledge are almost incredible. These facts have been conveyed to us privately and on reliable authority, but we fear much difficulty would be experienced in getting these young women
to testify in a court of law. Our impression is that the legitimate massage market is overstocked, and that no woman, unless she has a private connection, has the slightest chance of getting a living by massage alone-at all events in London. We are afraid that nothing could be done in the way of registration unless the ground could previously be cleared of what is undoubtedly a great social scandal. It would be difficult, at all events at first, to refuse a place on the list to any woman who has a certificate from a legally qualified practitioner, and yet in many cases such recognition would mean neither more nor less than a recognition of prostitution. This may seem a very strong statement, but we cannot well discredit information which has come to us from very various and well-authenticated sources.”
July 21, 1984 – British Medical Journal publishes a reply to the Immoral Massage Establishments statement.
1894 the British Medical Association (BMA) inquired into the education and practice of massage practitioners in London, and found that prostitution was commonly associated with unskilled workers and debt, often working with forged qualifications. In response, legitimate massage workers formed the Society of Trained Masseuses (now known as the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy), with an emphasis on high academic standards and a medical model for massage training. Wikipedia. Massage Parlor
Members of the Society were required to pass examinations and were subject to routine surveillance.
Physiotherapy and the shadow of prostitution (PDF): The Society of Trained Masseuses and the massage scandals of 1894 David A. Nichollsa,, Julianne Cheekb a Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand b University of South Australia, Australia Available online 25 October 2005
In good hands : the history of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, 1894-1994 – full text archive.org
1895 The Arena Volume 15 There are establishments where the girls are kept as you would keep any other wares for sale, and there are houses where no girls are kept, but where couples repair for indulgence. There are houses that are run only at night and others that are incessant in their operation. There are houses that hide behind a “ Furnished Rooms” sign , others that show a dressmaker’s plate, others that advertise massage treatment, and others that make no attempt to conceal their character, but brazenly announce “ Miss Tillie” or some other such name on the door or window https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Arena/YrBOAQAAMAAJ?q=massage+brothel&gbpv=0#f=false
1900 The Society of Trained Masseuses was incorporated and become the Incorporated Society of Trained Masseuses. Massage Passport: History of Massage: Professional Societies, Organizations, and Associations
1900 – 1945 and beyond. “From the beginning of the twentieth century to beyond World War II, two key drivers of large-scale sexual exploitation, specifically of East Asian women and girls, were the aggressive agenda of the Imperial Japanese Army and the proliferation of US military presence throughout the region of East Asia. Throughout the early 1900s, Japan engaged in multiple wars across Asia and the Pacific (Min, 2003). At the time, Japan had a longstanding history of legal prostitution (Min, 2003). To support the extensive war effort, the Japanese government began the mass mobilization of women for military sexual slavery (Min 2003; Tanaka 2002). Government-controlled “comfort stations” were instated as early as 1904 during the Russo-Japanese War (Min 2003; Soh 2008). A “comfort station” was a euphemism for a military brothel, where young women and girls were forced or coerced into prostitution (Min 2003; Soh 2008; Yoshiaki 1998).”
The Historical Roots of Human Trafficking (pp. 65-66). Springer International Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Sept. 8, 1929 – WYNNE WOULD CURB MASSAGE LICENSES . A revision of ordinances that will establish more strict requirements for granting massage licenses and greater supervision over masseurs will be asked of the Board of Aldermen this Fall, Health Commissioner Wynne announced yesterday. Times Machine
Sept 15, 1929 – “WAR ON MASSAGE FRAUDS DECLARED BY DR. WYNNE. Health Commissioner to Ask Stricter Regulation of the Profession AN effort is to be made this Fall, the Health Department has announced, completely to restore the practice of massage in New York City to its former status as a reliable technical aid to medicine. More than fifty percent of those hired as masseurs were no more than ordinary rubbers. There are more than 1300 licensed masseurs in New York City, 700 of whom are women. ” Times Machine.
1945 – “After WWII, the United States continued Japan’s prior practice of sexual exploitation in Korea (Vine 2015). With the rapid increase of US military presence in Korea, the demand for commercial sex noticeably increased. Official agreements were made between the United States and Korean governments which resulted in the creation of camp towns surrounding US military bases (Moon 1997; Vine 2015). These districts were designated to provide entertainment and boost morale for US troops stationed abroad, and only US citizens and those who worked in these areas were allowed entry (Hughes et al 2007; Moon 1997). Former Japanese “comfort stations” were soon known as “rest and relaxation” centers, and “comfort women” were then referred to as “entertainers,” among a host of other euphemisms. Although prostitution was and still is illegal in South Korea, the commercial sex industry was rampant in these camp towns (Hughes et al 2007; Moon 1997). Women and girls, predominantly from Korea, the Philippines, and China, were brought into these camp towns to meet the sexual demands of US military men (Hughes et al 2007; Min 2003). Although different than the “comfort stations” in notable ways, these women and girls experienced similar legacies of exploitation by members of the military. In basic economic terms, the bodies of vulnerable Asian women were (still) the “product” being sold, but now the US military filled the role of the customer, with the South Korean and US governments securing the market (Vine 2015). The official government treaties favored and protected the United States and its servicemen, and soldiers committed sex crimes against women without penalty, in effect receiving total impunity for their actions (Hughes et al 2007). Despite “zero tolerance policies” of the US government, military servicemen rarely receive any legal consequence for crimes committed while stationed abroad (Demick 2002; Fukushima & Kirk 2013; Tabassum & Cornwell 2012; US Department of Defense 2019).”
The Historical Roots of Human Trafficking (p. 67). Springer International Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Oct 25, 1972 – East Side Massage Parlor Raided 2d Time in a Week: Times Machine
Dec. 19, 1972 – “MASSAGE’ PLACES FACE CRACKDOWN. Mayor and Council Leaders Join to Support Controls on Lewd Establishments. Mayor Lindsay and the City Council leaders joined yesterday to support proposed city legislation that would require licensing of all so-called massage parlors that do not belong to recognized medical institutions. Times Machine
Jan. 16, 1973 – “Assembly Adopts Curbs On Use of Word Masseur. Bill Aimed at the City. The Assembly today approved a bill that would restrict the use of the word masseur or masseuse to those who meet the standards of education, experience and moral character now required by the state for licensed masseurs and masseuses.
Under the bill introduced by Mr. Levy and passed by a margin of 119 to 25, the word “licensed” would be dropped from the law and the standards would govern all masseurs and masseuses. Violation of the law would be a Class A misdemeanor, with a maximum punishment of one year imprisonment.
State law defines the “massage” as “applying a scientific system of activity to the muscular structure of the human body by means of stroking, kneading, tapping and vibrating with the hands or vibrators for the purpose of improving muscle tone and circulation.” New York Times
Feb. 8, 1973 – Council Group Backs Massage Controls. Tighter controls over massage parlors and higher rates for towing disabled autos were backed yesterday by the City Council’s Committee on Consumer Affairs. Times Machine
March 20, 1973 – “Lindsay Signs Bill Requiring Licenses In Massage Parlors. Mayor Lindsay signed into law yesterday a bill intended to wipe out sex from massage parlors. At the same time, enforcement officials geared to cope with anticipated subterfuges to keep prostitution going under the guise of other types of legal businesses.
City permits for masseurs and masseuses will be issued by the Consumer Affairs Department to persons who have received a state license after having 800 hours of instruction from accredited massage schools or to anyone of good moral character who furnishes medical certificates showing him or her to be free of communicable diseases and to persons who are registered at accredited schools. Violators will be subject to a maximum punishment of 90 days in prison and a $500 fine. Landlords who lease to illegal massage parlors can be fined $100 for every day the parlor is in business.” Times Machine. Full Text.
Aug. 26, 1973 – “Professional masseurs, who use massage to soothe and relax other people, are themselves anxious these days about how the public views their profession. Years of bad publicity generated by the so‐called “massage parlors” have hurt business, they say, and most are hopeful that a new state law will help improve the public’s image of massage. Mrs. Gertrude J. Fuller, director of the American Institute of Professional Massage, who is also secretary of the New York State Society of Medical Masseurs, agrees, saying that the bad publicity is “only a temporary thing.”” The Article further talks about the Swedish Institute, one of the oldest massage schools and then says: ““What most people don’t know is that the city had an excellent law,” he said. “Then in 1968 the state law took over and said you don’t have to be licensed if you don’t want to. That’s when the massage parlors opened up. “Massage was always the lowest rung on healing‐profession ladder to begin with, and this has kept it there. I don’t think the new law is going to help it any.”” Times Machine. Full Text.
Jan. 17, 1974 – “To Topless Masseuses, Job Has Cool Aspects. Eight former topless masseuses are seeking a State Employment Security Commission order giving them their old jobs, back pay and the right to unionize and eat submarine sandwiches. The women contend they were dismissed by the American Massage Parlor in Ann Arbor after organizing in October to fight what they called harassment by management.” Times Machine.
April 17, 1973 – “licensed Masseurs Sue City to Exempt Them in New Law. State-licensed masseurs and masseuses, up in arms over a city law scheduled to go into effect tomorrow, a law actually aimed at massage parlors, have filed suit in State Supreme Court to prevent the law’s being applied to them.” Times Machine.
Dec. 22, 1973 – HODAS IS CLEARED IN TWO BOMBINGS. But Two Are Convicted in ‘Massage Parlor’ FiresMartin J. Hodas, the reputed “porno king,” has been acquitted of charges of fire-bombing two competitive “massage parlors” on West 42d Street. In testimony at the trial, it was alleged that the two businesses were fire‐bombed after their owners failed to comply with orders allegedly from Mr. Hodas that they not lower their prices for a 15‐minute “massage.” Times Machine.
April 17, 1974 – ” Bar on Massages Dropped. The city of Philadelphia told a Federal court today that it would not enforce a city ordinance forbidding massages by persons to those of the opposite sex. The Velvet . Touch massage parlor filed a suit in United States District Court after several of its. masseuses had been arrested for violating the ordinance.” Times Machine
June 9, 1974 – “Prostitution Is Flourishing In Rich ‘Exurban Market. A ‘Local’ Isn’t a Bus Run. The business of prostitution, embracing modern marketing techniques and skirting the law, is branching out from its downtown closet into Middle America. Like its cousin the blue movie, today’s brothel is likely to be right around the corner — in the form of a massage parlor, lotion studio, nude photo club, sexual intercourse school, escort service, dial‐a‐massage, sauna bath house or some other thinly disguised supermarket for sexual services.” Times Machine.
Dec 11, 1975 – “Zoners Ban ‘Massage Parlors’ in Times Square In an effort to force so-called massage parlors out of the Times Square area, the City Planning Commission unanimously approved a zoning amendment yesterday that would require “physical culture or health establishments” to be either in hotels having more than 200 rooms or in community facilities.
The commission’s vote to zone out the so‐called massage parlors marks the first time a municipality has attempted to employ land‐use controls in Its fight against what authorities have labeled houses of prostitution in disguise. Licensing of the parlors has been Vied, but has failed.
Under the amendment approved yesterday, the only physical‐culture establishments permitted outside large hotels or community facilities are those having regulation‐size swimming pools, tennis courts or similar equipment. This language is intended to leave untouched legitimate gymnasiums, reducing salons and steam baths. ”Times Machine . Full Text
Dec. 15, 1975 – “Massage Parlor Fight on Coast Snagged by Curb on the Police LOS ANGELES, Dec. 14 A stumbling block has arisen to a controversial but apparently effective new effort to shut down so-called massage parlors and other sex shops, which the authorities say are really bordellos, by stationing uniformed policemen outside to stop and question patrons.” Times Machine.
March 5, 1976 – Luxor Baths Being Secretly Converted Into a 9-Story Luxury Massage Parlor Shoes Left Behind Clue to Occupants Arrests Promised The nine-story Luxor Baths, long a famous Times Square gathering place for men in show business, the sporting set and the garment industry, is being converted secretly and illegally into one of the most lavish “massage parlors” in the country. Times Machine.
July 1977. 4 Groups Are Key Landlords For Midtown Sex Industry: A review of real‐estate records by The New York Times showed that the 30 establishments—“massage parlors,” book and peep‐show shops with film‐viewing machines, live sex shows, topless bars, movie theaters featuring explicit sex films and hotels catering to prostitutes—make up about one‐quarter of all such places in the midtown area. NY Times
Nov. 19, 1978 – “Drive Against ‘Massage Parlors’ In New York Is Gaining Strength As a result of a new zoning amendment passed by New York City’s Board of Estimate, the clock has begun to tick in the city’s newest effort to wipe out so-called massage parlors. The amendment defines an “adult physical‐culture establishment” as any establishment, club or business that offers or advertises massages, body rubs, alcohol rubs, baths or similar treatment by members of the opposite sex. It excludes from this definition establishments that provide services by a licensed physician, licensed operator of electrolysis equipment and those that offer instruction in the martial arts or organized athletic activities. It also excludes barberships or beauty parlors that offer massage to the scalp, face, neck and shoulders only.” Times Machine
August 12, 1979 – “Therapy Association Combats Current ‘Massage’ Connotation. HARTFORD, Aug.10—”Protein is a poison—when you get bitten by a snake, it’s pure protein,” said Jo Willard, as the audience at the 34th annual convention of the American Massage and Therapy Association listened in rapt attention. But the massage therapists also wanted to talk about the confusion between their craft, which they call “the oldest of the healing arts,” and another profession, which is known simply as the world’s oldest.
The so‐called “massage parlor,” they said, is usually a front for prostitution or other illicit sexual activity.“ Our objection is that they go in disguise,” said Jim Morton, whose card notes that he is licensed by the State of Nebraska to operate his Omaha studio. He said that, like most legitimate massage therapists, he wanted to avoid confusion with “massage parlors.” Times Machine. Full Text
1980 Texas laid a critical legal foundation for the protection of massage therapist occupational licensing
across the country – a decision that would have broad implications for the industry. In 1980, a case came before the Fifth Circuit of the US Court of Appeals. The case dealt with a recent occupational licensing law in Texas pertaining to massage therapists. Three years previously, on July 21, 1977, the state legislature had passed a statute that permitted the “commissioners court of any county . . . (to) adopt regulations applicable to the practice of Licensing massage therapists, massage and operation of massage establishments…” (Harper v Lindsay, 1980). This meant that Commissioners Courts, the governing bodies of a county, could pass local ordinances regulating the industry and could potentially create a myriad web of licensing laws within the state. In total, 22 plaintiffs then filed a suit that challenged the Texas statute and claimed that “certain provisions of the county’s massage parlor regulations exceeded the legislative authority of the Commissioners Court, and that enforcement of the regulations would violate plaintiffs’ constitutional and statutory rights.” This case became known as Harper v Lindsay (1980). Instead, the US Court of Appeals largely upheld the Texas statute on the grounds that the legislature had the authority to protect the public health and safety – a precedent that
dates back to the first US Supreme Court case on occupational licensing, Dent v West Virginia (1889). Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy Vol. 10 No. 1, 2021 pp. 1-14 2045-2101 DOI 10.1108/JEPP-06-2020-0034
Harper v. Lindsay – from casetext.com
June 28, 1981 – “MASSAGE-PARLOR BAN EXTENDED WESTBROOK ”HOW gross do we get? There’s a silent majority out there and we have to decide just what we want – we’ve got to speak up,” said First Selectman Donald P. Morrison after 150 members at last week’s Town Meeting voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance banning massage parlors.” Times Machine
Feb 8, 1987 – WHAT’S NEW IN MASSAGE: DON’T say ”masseuse.” Massage practitioners who are moving their vocation into the mainstream say the term has unfortunate associations with prostitution. They prefer ”massage therapist” or ”bodywork practitioner. ”With the emphasis on health and wellness, massage therapy is one of several choices people are making to improve their quality of life,” said Robert King, president of the American Massage Therapy Association, the industry group that has the strictest training requirements for membership. The association has seen its membership grow from 1,100 in 1980 to 5,335 this year. The number of massage-therapy schools it has approved has also jumped, to 47 from 11.” Times Machine. Full Text.
1988 – National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) created by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). which provided the seed money for startup. The NCE was originally started as an AMTA entrance exam and quickly moved to becoming a national exam which we all know is not so national. See also: History of National Certification Board in Massage and Bodywork. The purpose of creating this organization was to bring more credibility to the profession.
Feb 16, 1992 – “Local Laws Irk Massage Therapists “WE’RE really taking a beating,” said Tina Yoxtheimer, a massage therapist in Bridgeport, with a shrug of resignation. The city’s Common Council had just enacted an ordinance requiring her to apply to the Police Department for a permit to practice therapeutic massage.” Times Machine. Full Text
Sept. 17, 1995 – NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: FLUSHING. Pickets Help Uproot Suspected Brothel, but Battle Goes On. Times Machine
June 22, 1996 – Massage Finds New Believers “After decades of being relegated to the margins of hedonistic exercise for the pampered and bored — or worse, a wink-and-nod cover for prostitution — massage, one of the oldest health treatments, is out of the parlor and finding enormous popularity among millions of Americans, from athletes to the aged.
With many of its techniques rooted in 4,000-year-old Chinese beliefs, massage is being used as a counterbalance in the lives of the exercise-exhausted and stressed-out. Indeed, the various styles of massage are quickly becoming as familiar to many as the best brands of low-fat yogurt. Even the Internet is loaded with thousands of Web sites and bulletin boards touting the “regenerative” virtues of massage. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, the oldest and largest group representing massage therapists, there are 120,000 to 150,000 massage therapists in the United States. (The industry has discarded the terms “masseur” and “masseuse” as not sounding professional.) Membership in the 52-year-old organization — now 24,000 — more than doubled between 1990 and 1995, it said.” Times Machine
2000 – United States Trafficking Victim Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000. The Act was reauthorized in 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2013
2017 – Polaris Project Report: Human Trafficking in Illicit Massage Businesses Report (PDF) (No longer found on the Polaris Website but found in other places.)
2017 : Federation of Massage State Boards Report on Human Trafficking Taskforce Report. (PDF)
2019 – First Convening held by The Network Team
“Six anti-trafficking organizations co-hosted the National Convening to End Trafficking in the Illicit Massage Industry in the Washington, D.C. area.21 This 2-day conference hosted 240 attendees from 30 states.” The Historical Roots of Human Trafficking (p. 79). Springer International Publishing. Kindle Edition.
September 2022 – A Toolkit for Identifying Human Trafficking and Fraud in Higher Education (PDF)
2023 – January. Second Convening held in Los Angeles, CA. by The Network Team