I am responding to your article on touch in the Sensory Overload edition of your publication ("There's the rub," by Wayne Garcia, March 21). As a massage therapist and instructor in the field, I feel a huge responsibility to inform you of how detrimental this piece is to the entire field of massage therapy. Let me say now that this e-mail has nothing to do with the judgment of the adult entertainment business, but rather the absolute need for the separation of these two very different worlds.
There are several things in this piece that are offensive to the field and need to be addressed; however, I will target the one that is actually dangerous to the therapist and most confusing to the customer of both an escort service and a massage therapist. You have juxtaposed the illegal escort and prostitution services in this area with a legal licensed health care provider, putting legitimate therapists in a line of fire that we have struggled for years to move away from.
What is truly frustrating is that this confusion is acknowledged in the piece during the interview with the male escort. Instead of using this chance to shed light and to demystify this problem, it is perpetuated and accelerated. From the layout to the titles to the content, this article puts massage and adult entertainment in the same field.
Let me make one thing very clear: There is no such thing as a sexual aromatherapist! With the comment about non-sexual aromatherapists, you imply that there are ones that do perform sexual acts. I can agree that the terms have been hijacked to dodge the radar of police and authorities, but a true therapist, no matter what the modality, only uses a non-sexual touch and intent.
Can you not see the issues you may have perpetuated when writing this? Already legitimate therapists doing house calls have to go through a phone interview with potential first-time clients to protect themselves; do you see the repercussions this irresponsibly written article has?
What I also find disheartening is that I usually think of this publication as being somewhat progressive and enlightened; this article seems to lack all of that and is basically written with a reckless tone. I'm hoping this letter will educate you and possibly inspire you to follow with a more accurate article on body work. There are plenty of independent therapists working in a variety of modalities in the Tampa Bay area that are not shady and are very legitimate, performing miracles and changing peoples lives on a daily basis. I believe at the very least an apology to these people and their patients/clients is more than appropriate and is actually quite necessary.
Robert Chambers LMT
Editor's Reply: We felt that Wayne's story very clearly stated the licensing requirements and other elements that distinguish legal massage therapists from the "touch" business represented by the male escort. In our view, both articles addressed the confusions directly, in such a way that clearly stated that there is a difference between legitimate massage therapists and illegitimate "spas."