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The Parlour Game: a behind-the-scenes tour of Toronto’s thriving rub ’n’ tug industry

The Parlour Game

Over the last decade, spas have proliferated across the GTA faster than Starbucks

Ivy glows like a 1930s starlet. She’s 27, with high, round cheekbones, rosebud lips and luminescent skin. She has worked at three erotic massage parlours, or so-called rub ’n’ tugs, in the GTA, where female attendants offer men “sensual release,” code for a session ending in a hand job. She agreed to tell me her story on the condition that I not reveal her true identity. For her customers, Ivy puts on a breathy Marilyn Monroe voice and wears retro baby doll nighties and stilettos. She mimics her high-pitched greeting for me: “How are you? I can’t wait to get started.” Her act appeals to her clients—typically white professionals who came of age when women like Ivy appeared in every car and scotch ad. Walk-ins can choose from the half-dozen women on shift, though many men pre-book Ivy based on her photo on the spa’s website.

Inside one of the spa’s five private rooms, Ivy and her client get more intimate. The space is cozy in a utilitarian way, with a shower stall in the corner and a padded massage table in the centre. But for a few boom-chicka-wah-wah details—mirrors on the ceiling, candles, lights turned down loooow—it could be an ordinary massage clinic. The client disrobes, showers (a city bylaw requirement) and lies facedown on the massage table.

Ivy spreads oil on his back and engages in small talk. “You having a good weekend?” “Have you been here before?” Nothing too heavy or revealing—she learned years ago that guys don’t want to hear about her master’s degree or an argument she’s had with her sister. They like her to be attentive, sweet, a
little helpless.

As she moves her hands further down his back she pays careful attention to his body language. If he spreads his thighs, Ivy knows she can start reciting “the menu”—the unlisted special services. The $40 door fee, which goes to the spa owners, gets him a standard half-hour massage; anything extra goes to Ivy. For $40 more, he can have a “nude”: Ivy gets naked, then gives him a basic massage ending in “hand release” (that is, his climax). For $60, he can get a “nude reverse,” which means he can massage and fondle Ivy in return. Sometimes the client might request something off-menu: to be tied up and whipped with a wet towel, for example. Or he might ask about “extras”: oral sex or intercourse. Fetish stuff isn’t Ivy’s favourite, but she’ll do it. Extras are a firm no.

The premium service is a “body slide,” for $80, which is something like a full-contact horizontal lap dance that requires an enormous amount of dexterity and stamina. Ivy will slip out of her nightie while the client turns over onto his back (“the flip,” in industry parlance). Assisted by massage oil, she lays herself face to face with him, stimulating his penis with her calves or thighs, or swivels to face his feet, so she can use her hand or breasts. Refined over hundreds of sessions, Ivy’s vocabulary of techniques and positions provide the visuals and friction of sex without penetration. On Internet message boards, men who frequently use escorts and visit body-rubs will review spa girls and criticize clumsy body slides. A good review can bring in dozens of new clients. Ivy’s reviews praise her talent for moving fluidly through multiple positions, as well as her movie-star bone structure and style. She extends the buildup so that orgasm occurs in the last five minutes of the body slide, with the guy “finishing” between Ivy’s hands, breasts, legs or feet. After years of doing slides, Ivy can time an ejaculation down to the second.

When the deed is done, she might spend a few minutes with him, hugging or chatting idly while he winds down. Some men want to be left alone, so she makes her way to the shower. Unless he’s paid for one of the more expensive 60- or 90-minute sessions, she’ll have to wrap it up quickly; spas depend on the speedy turnover of customers (some even charge attendants for keeping a client overtime). On the wall, above a table of massage oils, there’s a clock. She’s been watching it the whole time, though discreetly. The client might tip Ivy (anywhere from $20 to $60 is the norm), which ups the chances she’ll remember him the next time he comes in. Clients love it when attendants recall their names and what they like; some spa workers even log details in journals. With $80 for the body slide plus tip, she could make $120 in a half-hour session, easy, and, if she works three eight-hour days, often about $2,000 a week.

Once the client is gone, Ivy collects the towels and hauls them out to a back room where the women do laundry, gossip and check their email. Then she waits for the next guy to walk in the front door.

Over the last decade, spas have proliferated across the GTA faster than Starbucks. Many are concentrated on Finch near Keele (referred to by insiders as Finch Alley), as well as in the downtown Chinatown and in the strip malls of East York and Scarborough. The strip mall locations are ideal for men on the way home to the suburbs after work (the busiest time for many spas is around 5:30), and for customers who don’t want to be spotted.

  • Rico_Featherbutt

    It seems this industry is up and coming.

  • David Jervis

    Sounds fantastic, the massage and beautiful woman alone. I gotta try one!



  • carta

    I feel bad for Ivy’s boyfriend. Yeesh, thats nasty

  • Sofia

    As the wife of a sex addict who spent his lifetime working in Toronto and using women for his own needs…i must say that the hundreds of thousands of dollars I have discovered he spent on strippers, porn, escorts, travel, gifts, flowers, spa treatments etc. will be exceeded now by the money he is spending on his recovery for alcohol, porn, sex, food, shopping addictions….he does not get how to connect and love another person without control!

    I would say be cautious…sex can be a drug of choice for people who have addiction issues…I know for a fact that after 20 years of hiring prostitutes, he ended up venturing into sex with shemale escorts etc. All while he and I and three kids to have a normal family life…he has been a master manipulator and obviously is an addict!

  • Erotic Massage Spas

    Awesome post! Emily is such a great person. All she cares about is the well being of her Muse (girls), her customers, and running a professional erotic massage parlour. Muse Massage Spa definitely sets the bar high for other massage parlours in the GTA.

  • reeepadoo

    No, it sounds like hes a dirtbag. Real men that start families and have children don’t do those things. Also no straight male would have sex willingly with a tranny. “addicted” or not.

  • GoodTimez4All

    You know, the fellahs are going to get the normal flack for being perverts, and the fine spa workers are gonna be called the common name of, whore…which is completely wrong. I believe on both ends this is a good thing. One, a profitable industry and on the other side a happy client that goes home happy. No drug addictions, no spousal abuse, etc. I’d promote it! It works.

  • LoveLadyLand

    How about for the wife of the sex addict? I’d call that an addiction as well as spousal abuse….
    Fine for straight guy, but what happens when you meet a nice girl and want to have a real relationship, but you’re hooked on this type of sexual activity?

  • Iown You

    Through my research, I’ve found that the typical client is not an addict. The typical client falls into the categories of:

    1. Married and not getting sexually satisfied at home.

    2. A single man who is terribly unsuccessful with women, and uses this as his sexual outlet because he has no other options.

    If you remain selfish and only consider things from the female point of view, then you’ll never truly understand the motivations behind why men do this.

  • Kanadastan

    He must have earned a lot of money to be able to afford to spend the “hundreds of thousands” of dollars while still providing for your and your children’s needs, so what’s the problem? The money he was spending was HIS OWN. You sound like the typical wife who likes to complain about her husband, while happily spending more money than you make. You obviously failed to satisfy his sexual needs…but that’s another story

  • Kanadastan

    Got news for you buddy. I am a “real” man..whatever that means. I have been married 24 years and I have a son who is in 3rd year university. I work and pay taxes. I have no criminal record. I don’t do drugs. I don’t even smoke. I work out three times a week, own a house and two dogs. I like to have a few beers on the weekend. Pretty “normal” wouldn’t you say?
    But…guess what? I like to go to massage parlors at least once a month. My wife likes to spend money on clothes, concerts and other entertainments and this is MY hobby. Why does that make me a “dirtbag”?


    Feminism is to blame for the demand of sexual services, but hey, escorts and body rub attendants are waay more fun than having a stuck-up, entitled Westernized woman who would have affairs behind your back and then have the audacity to file for divorce and force a man to cough up $$$$$ in alimony fees.

    Most Westernized wives of the school of feminism are trouble. One day I will find my Asian bride and we will live happily ever after until feminism comes along….so I’m proud to be a MGTOW= Men going their own way.


    Quit reading feminist novels and expecting men to make $1,000,000,000,000,000,000s of dollars a month as shown on TV and celebrity news.

    Most Western women, especially of Eurocentric orgin, nowadays are BITTER and are more dirty than hookers and massage attendants.


    I’m divorced and single..I’m not “unsucessful”, but look at the current generation of feminism and what that has done to most women…I’d stay far from these women in marriage. My ex-wife took a lot of $$$$ from me while she was having an affair with who knows if he had any disease.


    Another victimization story from feminists?! Sheesh! Go lament to your marriage counsellors and he must be some rich fella to spend so much money on escorts while raising a family….Too bad for you! You do not know how to tame the sexual urges of your husband. Speak to a marriage counsellor!


    You’d be surprised even feminist sloths are dirtier and they portray themselves as the hallmark of purity.


    Feminism movement has brainwashed women to become money-grabbing career-oriented slackers while men can’t relate to those career women…nor would men risk marrying them because of the financial implications.

    So…go for an escort once a week…It may be cheaper in the long run than facing a divorce and paying alimony!

  • BDMonger

    You’re too late, my friend… Asian women are no longer very different from Western women in that respect!

  • Politically Incorect

    We want Brothels ,we want Brothels ….!!! Just like in Germany and Holland and Greece and Austria , make it legal and safe !!! No big deal ,is just sex .

  • Politically Incorect

    Better pay for a hooker once in a blue moon then have a Canadian wife . Its cheaper and less stressful. MGTWO FOREVER BROTHERS !!!!!

  • Politically Incorect

    Women keep saying that eh ???!! I still you chose to have 3 kids with that sex addict guy ?! Explain . You chose to get prego and have those 3 kids .

  • Qrk A

    I would disagree with the article that only men visit the massage
    parlours, particularly Muse, because if you talk to the attendants they
    will tell you that they get many couples in for massage. I and my
    boyfriend have been, and we would certainly go again.

  • guest