"Well, yeah," Gigi says. "But, you know, you kind of get to know your clients, and you feel safe, and one of the first things they teach you in massage therapy school is to feel comfortable with the human body. So, to me, it's very mechanical. There's nothing sexual about it. It's just an area of heightened pleasure. Very similar to if you're massaging the feet, for example. There's a tremendous amount of pleasure, for most people, when you massage feet. So, you know, to me, there doesn't seem to be a lot of difference."
Does Gigi only massage men?
"Once in a while I massage women. Not very often. But I've never given a sensual massage to a woman. It just makes me uncomfortable. It's more invasive. It's like giving a prostate massage. Which I don't do either. I mean, I have. But not in the context of a professional massage. Only in a more personal context."
When was the first time Gigi crossed the therapeutic/erotic line?
"I think it was in 2002," she says. "I had stopped doing massage for a while. Then I started getting into it again, out of necessity. I needed a part-time source of income. And it must have been the changing times -- because I'd never encountered, in all the years I'd been doing massage, that guys would want that. It seems, these days, guys need it more. Or maybe it's the area. I don't know. I'd been practicing up in San Francisco before. I just don't know why it's become more common, these happy endings. It's a recent phenomenon."
So, what about that first time? How did Gigi suddenly find herself giving a total stranger a sensual massage? Did some guy just bring it up?
"Literally, brought it up," she laughs. "And I think he was very attractive, which gave me no qualms about it. I mean, I think I'm pretty picky about who I do that to. I don't do it to everyone."
Does Gigi talk up front with her clients about sensual massage?
"No," she says. "Not over the phone, I mean. In person, I'll discuss it with a client."
And does she use a drape when she gives massage?
"I give the clients a choice," she says. "Really a big indication that a client wants perhaps something more than a regular massage is when they take all their clothes off, with no inhibitions. They just jump onto the table completely naked. There are guys that keep their boxers on, and then you figure they want a regular therapeutic massage. So I take the cue from the client."
Gigi works solely within her apartment, on a fold-up massage table in her living room. "I do love what I do. It really is as therapeutic for me as it is for my clients. It's a very meditative experience. It's more than just someone rubbing somebody else. You know? There's nothing more fundamental to human connection than touch. And I think I take it to a different level when I do my massage, because I allow my clients to feel very comfortable and to experience not only rest for their bodies but for their minds as well. Because I integrate it all, you know, the light touch, and the soothing strokes, and it all lends itself to an experience, not just a session of rubbing aches and pains away. It's more of an exchange of energy. You know, some people talk about tantric stuff. And I'm not into that. But I think what I do kind of falls in the same realm, because there's a spiritual aspect to it."
But what about the people, including the law, who differentiate between the genitals and the rest of the body?
"I think people are conditioned to think that way. But, essentially, we're all sexual beings. And there's absolutely no reason for people to feel awkward or weird about it. Most people like sex. Most people like pleasure. And I think it's a worthwhile pursuit to seek it. Or provide it."
Will Gigi do anything to seek and provide pleasure?
"I never do more than the happy ending," she says. "And I keep my clothes on. It's when you start doing more that it becomes dangerous and nonhygienic. Then I think you're starting to contribute to something else. Something that's not healing and not massage."
And what does the local law enforcement have to say about what is healing and what's not massage?
San Diego Police Lieutenant of Vice Operations Carolyn Kendrick has 28 years of experience at the police department, and her own mother is a retired holistic health practitioner. Her vice-operations unit has seven administrative officers on staff and regulates over 50 industries.
"In the city of San Diego," Kendrick says, "a holistic health-care practitioner [HHP] requires 1000 hours in education. And under the auspices of that title, an HHP can touch you anywhere on your body, as long as that person that they're working on is consensual, and they're not offended in a sexual manner. If they say they are, then that practitioner needs to cease right there. If not, then we could move forward if that person wants to issue a crime case on that. So an HHP can touch you anywhere on your body. That's the nature of their art or their remedy. And that requires the 1000 hours. Then you step down to the 500-hour requirement for a massage therapist. Now, a massage therapist is not free to touch you everywhere on your body. They have to go by certain guidelines, and they also usually work under an employer's guidelines, whereas an HHP can work outside of someone's guidelines or direction."
Besides the hourly requirements, there's also a national certification exam, a criminal background check, and the requirement of 12 new hours every year of continuing education relating to a holistic health field. If a practitioner is found to be in noncompliance with any of the requirements, then his or her license will be revoked. If he or she then continues to practice massage, criminal proceedings could follow.