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Dear Gil: I have been coming to Vallarta for ten years on vacation. This year I noticed that there seems to have been an explosion of massage studios all over town. I am wondering if they are legitimate establishments, or are we talking about the “world’s oldest profession”? Could you please advise?
Stressed at the Sheraton
Dear Stressed: According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the world’s coldest profession is being Santa Claus. Second place goes to frozen food warehouse workers. And pulling up the rear, as usual, are the Republican members of the United States House of Representatives.
Now I must make a small confession, Stressed. I deliberately misread your question, because, even though millions of desperate people depend upon Dr. Phil and I to solve their most intractable problems, on this particular occasion I find myself, answer-wise, at a complete and shameful loss.
But fear not, Stressed: I have resolved to make an in-depth study of the matter, and I promise to get back to you in a timely manner.
I divided my exploration of the PV massage industry into two parts. The first phase was conducted strictly over the phone where, armed with a list of likely suspects culled from the journalistically challenged pages of Vallarta Sleaze, I set to work.
My first call, to the Barbette Massage and Escort Service, was answered by a woman named Lola.
“Hola, my name is Lola,” she said in a dazed monotone, “You have a very sexy voice.”
Since I had not yet spoken a single word, Lola’s assertion left me open-mouthed with wonder. “How did you know?” I asked.
“I’ve been trained to satisfy your every need,” she replied, sounding like one of the brainwashed soldiers in the Manchurian Candidate.
“Listen, Lola,” I said, “I’m not interested in sex. I want a straight legitimate massage. Something therapeutic. Lola? Lola?”
Convinced now that I would not get far over the phone, I shaved, showered and toodled over to the Cambodian Massage Studio. In this establishment’s tiny reception area I was greeted by a young woman dressed from head to toe in a conservative starched white uniform: white hair bonnet, white dress, white stockings and white shoes. To me, she looked more like a nurse than a masseuse, but perhaps that was all part of the act--you know, Stressed, one of those “let’s play doctor” type games emotionally regressed individuals find so stimulating.
“I am interested in a legitimate massage,” I told her.
“That is all we do here,” she said in excellent English.
“No hanky-panky at all?” I asked with a coy wink.
“Hanky-what?” she asked in confusion.
“You know,” I said, raising my eyebrows suggestively. “Don’t you provide any special services?”
“We give therapeutic massages here,” she said emphatically, “and that is all we do.”
“Okay,” I smiled, “let’s say for the sake of argument that you’re telling the truth. What type of massage do you specialize in?”
“Cambodian,” she replied.
“It is a deep-muscle massage,” she explained.
“Would that be anything like a deep-dish pizza?”
“No, this is an Asian-style massage, not Italian,” she said indignantly.
“Asian-style,” I mused aloud. “I suppose that involves the use of chopsticks then?”
“Never mind. I was also wondering, will I have to take all my clothes off?”
“Yes, but you will be covered at all times by a sheet.”
“What about the masseuse?” I asked. “Will she be covered by a sheet, too?”
“There is no need to cover the masseuse with a sheet,” she replied sternly, “because the masseuse will be wearing all her clothes.”
“That doesn’t seem very fair,” I complained. “But let’s say I decide to get one of these Cambodian deep-chopstick massages anyway. Do I have to bring my own towel?”
“No, we provide the towels.”
“And the lotion?”
“Yes, and the lotion.”
“And the condoms?”
“Yes, and the…no, I told you, we are not that kind of place. If you’re looking for something like that, you should go over to Betty’s Massage Studio on calle Colombia.”
“All right, I’ll go check it out. But I have to tell you something: those white pantyhose you’re wearing are absolutely exquisite. Any chance I could try them on?”
Over at Betty’s Massage Studio I was greeted by another young woman all dressed in white: white mini skirt, white halter top and white stiletto heels. She was quite attractive, though a tad on the top-heavy side for my tastes, and definitely not Cambodian.
“Hi, I’m Betty,” she bubbled buoyantly.
“Hi, I’m Tom Cruise,” I told her. “So, uh, what kind of massage do you give here?”
“Any kind you want,” Betty replied agreeably.
“How about a Polish massage?” I asked.
“A Polish massage?” Betty frowned, “what’s that?”
“Well,” I said, “first, we each put on clean bowling shirts, and then we take them off.”
“What’s a bowling shirt?” Betty asked.
“Never mind. Listen, Betty, what I…”
“Are you really Tom Cruise?” she demanded suddenly.
“Of course I am.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“I can prove it, Betty. Watch this.”
Stepping onto the couch, I began to hop up and down like a pogo stick, shrieking, “Isn’t she beautiful! Isn’t she great! I love her! I love her!”
By the time I had jumped back onto the floor, Betty was already on the phone to the police. I missed the beginning of the conversation, but did catch her saying, “…lunatic. Hurry up!”
“All right, Betty,” I said, “let’s cut to the chase. “I’ll give you a thousand pesos. What do I get in return?”
“A thousand pesos? Wait a minute.” Betty hurriedly picked up her phone and speed-dialed the police again. But before she could get through, a uniformed patrolman strode with miraculous promptitude through the door.
“What’s the problem?” he demanded sans preamble.
“There’s no problem!” Betty and I cried in urgent unison.
“We got a call,” the policeman said, “that there was some kind of disturbance here.”
“No, it was just a misunderstanding,” Betty said sweetly.
“That’s right, officer,” I added amiably. “Betty thought I came here looking for a Polish massage, when what I was really after was a Polish sausage.”
In as much as the words for sausage (salchicha) and massage (masage) sound nothing alike, the patrolman was understandably confused.
“So, what you’re saying,” the cop said suspiciously, “is that you were really looking for a gay massage parlor.”
“Well, now that you mention it,” I said, slowly backing out the door, “I’m really not sure. But I’ll tell you what, officer. Let me contact Stressed at the Sheraton, and I’ll get back to you.”