‘Why I want to experience my own happy ending’
TODAY I realised that I've been single now for almost ten months. Ten whole months!
That's about 42 weeks of sleeping alone, 300 days of spending 'date night' scrolling through Netflix by myself and 432,000 minutes of being able to wear the daggiest, most un-sexy underwear that money can buy … not that I'm counting, of course.
It's worth noting that this isn't ten months I've spent casually dating, or having sexy, carefree flings. This is ten months of total solitude: no dates, no one-night stands, no passionate kisses on the dancefloor. I have spent ten months letting my body hair grow with wild abandon, letting a me-sized groove appear in the dead centre of my mattress, and keeping up with new sex toy developments with the crazed fervour of an apocalypse prepper readying their basement bunker for the end of the world.
It's taken me a while to admit this to myself, but I think I'm finally ready to say it out loud: I'm looking for my happy ending.
… Not of the romantic sort, mind you. I'm not searching for professions of love or a sunset proposal. No, I'm after a happy ending of the more common kind: the kind you can get for a few hundred dollars, the kind that takes only an hour out of your day.
The kind of happy ending that men seem to be able to get anywhere, as easily as buying milk or picking up the newspaper.
I want an erotic massage.
While my heart may not be quite ready to step back in to the romance game again, my body sure is, but the thought of trying to rustle up a quick hook-up using a dating app still feels a little scary.
After spending so many nights crying in to my pillow post-break up, I don't really want to feel emotionally or intellectually connected to another human just yet. I'm genuinely terrified that my heart will get broken again as soon as I open it up to someone.
So for now, I'm keeping it firmly locked away; but that doesn't mean I'm immune to wanting intimacy or touch or pleasure. And as someone who's given plenty of erotic massages in my time, I know that they're a really great way to experience that intimate pleasure in a commitment-free environment: paying a professional for an erotic massage is a great way to do something totally self-indulgent and pampering without worrying about having to call the other party a taxi the next morning.
Of course, I'm not about to storm into the next massage parlour I see, waving around a wad of hundreds and demanding an orgasm. No, I have to find the right provider for me - and that's proving much trickier than I thought.
To begin with, the masseuse I see has to be comfortable giving a massage to a woman, and so far my research has shown that this is rarer than I first expected. While plenty of friends have told me apocryphal tales about their friend's friend who works as a masseuse and sees only female clients; the vast majority of independent masseuses seem to cater to men, while almost every massage parlour out there only caters to female clients if they come in as part of a couple, with a man. While the couple's massage is certainly nothing to be sneezed at, this is an adventure I'm embarking on solo.
I'm also cautious about exactly where I would go for this massage. I've spent years working in the adult industry and know many fellow escorts, masseuses, and dancers: I'd probably feel a bit awkward sitting in the lounge at a massage parlour, watching a whole bunch of my friends stroll past on their way to start their shift.
While I wholeheartedly support all of my friends in the industry, I wouldn't want to make any of them uncomfortable by appearing in their workplace while they're on the clock - and choosing them as my service provider would probably be stretching the friendship for both of us.
No, the experience I'm seeking is almost identical to the experience I've given many men in the past: an intimate greeting in the introduction room of a parlour, a quick exchange of payment with an efficient receptionist, and then through to a dimly-lit room with a warm shower.
A tease, a tickle, a climatic ending; a tip for the masseuse, and then back into the shower before I step out into the real world again.
For any man above the age of eighteen who's willing to spend the time and money, this is a simple experience to have. There is an endless amount of legally-run massage parlours across Australia that invest countless amounts of time and money into perfecting their premises, and services, so that even the fussiest of men leave feeling like royalty. But few promise the same experience to women, and I can't help but wonder: why?
Is it because, even in these enlightened times, we still can't imagine women being interested in chasing a sexual thrill in the same way that men do? 'Porn for women' was PornHub's most searched-for term in 2017, while sex toys and adult novelties marketed towards women make up a huge part of a rapidly-growing, multibillion-dollar industry.
There's no doubt that women are keen consumers of adult goods. But it's probably also worth noting that both porn and sex toys are things that we can enjoy from the security of our own homes: laying prone on a massage table is a leap outside of the comfort zone for many, and when so many of us share horror stories of being harassed and assaulted by men, it's understandable that many women would feel a reluctance to strip down in front of a male masseuse.
Still, as someone who has administered so many sexy massages in the past, I believe in their power and I feel no shame in admitting that I would love to see what the experience is like from the receiver's perspective.
I'll continue searching, in the hopes that my dream of a happy ending is more than just a fairytale.
- Kate Iselin is a writer and sex worker. Her work has appeared in Penthouse, The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, and at her own blog, Thirty Dates of Tinder.'