I've read that Dr. Green once set a Guinness World Record for giving the longest massage. I tell him that I'm skeptical. All he had to do was touch someone lightly for hours, and, technically, that was a massage -- right?
"That would still be a massage," he says. "But to set that record, it had to be 50 hours of deep-tissue massage. I got 5 minutes of rest per hour, which I could accumulate. So I could take three hours and have 15 minutes [of rest], or four hours and take 20 minutes. The Guinness Book of Records made the rules. I didn't really sleep. I worked on 185 people for 15 minutes each. In hour 36, the man who owns Bodywork Emporium -- his name's Shane Watson -- well, he came and I worked on him, and he said it was one of the best deep-tissue massages he'd ever had in his life."
How did Dr. Green do it?
"I trained," he says. "It was April of 1995, at the Convention Center downtown. It was done as a fundraiser for scholarships to massage school at Body Mind College."
Does the record still stand?
"I don't know," he says. "That was the second record I set. First I did it for 25 hours, and then I did it for 50. Maybe somebody's done it for longer since then, but I don't know."
I ask Dr. Green to tell me his massage philosophy in a paragraph or so.
"Three words," he says. "Healer, heal thyself."
Can he explain?
"You can't give what you haven't got. The program that I developed, which has always been different, is based not so much around the idea of teaching, but the idea of obtaining. You can teach someone something, but it makes no guarantee that they will obtain it. You can stand up there and do a song and dance and lie on the board and demonstrate, but that doesn't mean that your students obtain anything. It just means that you've presented information. So I've always had my students go through processes, repetitive processes, that create an obtainment. It's like practicing the piano; you have to go through various forms of practice to really obtain something."
I ask Dr. Green questions about the massage industry in general. Since he's already kind of brought it up, what about holistic healing's underbelly?
"When yoga became popular," Dr. Green began, "so did everything else in the spa and massage business. The industry skyrocketed, almost overnight. And that's why now, in this city, where there were only a few massage schools, now there might be 10 or 12, maybe more. That all happened within the last five or six years. It's a new trend, but it's happening everywhere -- yoga, spa, and health. The legitimacy of massage is less of an issue. There's so many people getting massages. The 'happy ending' isn't on the agenda for the vast majority. Now, we do tell our students -- we've always trained them -- how to deal with sexuality in massage. And we're extremely clear. No! No, it is not acceptable in any way, shape, or form. If there's any indication of it, stop the massage. That is not okay. If you want that, you need to leave. There's no negotiating, no compromising, it's just a clear and strong boundary and limit. No. Because there's no negotiating with someone who wants that. They just try to manipulate the situation."
Indeed, a quick assessment of the local massage industry reveals how difficult it is to sort out the legitimate, "therapeutic" side of the trade from the illicit, "sensual" one. When I Googled "massage San Diego" recently, the top hit on the list proclaimed, "Hot young blond San Diego Masseuse or San Diego Massage Therapist for therapeutic and sensual nude rubdowns."
In the yellow pages of the San Diego phone book, "massage" is broken into three categories. There's "massage," which is mostly, and obviously, sexual in nature: Private Moments, Forbidden Pleasures, Alluring Beauties, Tiffany Knows. Then "massage schools," with ten listings. Then "therapeutic massage." In all, the subject takes up seven pages, with over 30 ads and almost 150 individual entries.
Ads in the back of the San Diego Reader for massage services contain either nonsexual clues -- "professional," "certified," "legitimate," etc. -- or subtle sexual hints -- "both pleasurable and therapeutic," "instant gratification," "my own special touches," and so on.
And on craigslist.com, no punches are pulled. It's either "My clients love my sessions because I combine full-body sensual massage and therapeutic massage" or "Strictly non-sensual and non-erotic!"
One local therapist, who advertises "integrated massage" and confirms that she does provide "happy endings" upon request, agreed to talk to me for this article. To protect her identity, we'll call her Gigi.
Gigi is a certified massage therapist who completed her training at Mueller College of Holistic Studies in University Heights in the early '90s. She keeps her certification current and actively pursues continuing education in massage.
"I've been practicing massage on and off for about ten years," Gigi says. "It's always been my second job. I've had several main jobs, in the legal field, health care, the art world. Now, I give about ten massages a week, out of my apartment."
Gigi charges $100 for a 90-minute massage, $70 for an hour, and $50 for a half hour. She says she advertises solely on craigslist.com. She also gets clients by word of mouth.
"I like doing Swedish massage and shiatsu," Gigi says. "I like the more soothing techniques, rather than the more therapeutic, like deep tissue." But "most of my clients don't come in wanting sensual massage. Ninety percent of the time it just sort of happens. You know, there are clients where it never happens, and there are clients where, once they turn over...it sort of, you know...they request it. And what do you do? Do you say 'no'?"
They teach you to say no. The law says to say no.