What a Man Who's Paid to Touch Women Discovers About Female Sexuality
A sexological bodyworker describes what he's learned about the power of sexual energy.
Sexological bodyworkers give whole body massages to help you get...wherever you need to get. I mean that in the prurient way. If you want to have an orgasm, you are certainly welcome to and will be aided in that way, but the sessions are more about exploring issues in your life, your sexuality or general spirit. It's kind of a mashup between a therapy session, a spiritual quest and an extremely thorough spa visit.
It sounds weird, and it is. But also not. But then a lot about sexological bodywork occupies a space that's uncharted and in between.
Bodyworkers, who can get professional certification in California, Switzerland and Canada, among other progressive spots, aren't sex workers or prostitutes. They don't fuck you or go down on you, but what happens during a session can be quite sexual. Incredibly deep personal moments might pass between you and your bodyworker. They are often strangers, yet they see you in your most intimate vulnerable state. The whole thing up-ends so many ideas we think we know about sex, gender roles and relationships that it's hard to know how to even think about it.
"Tantric bodywork is a beautiful and brave act of care and self-care,” writes Tantric Bodyworker Matthew on his web page. “If and when you decide to receive this type of touch and attention it is an acknowledgment of yourself as a sexual person regardless of your sexual preferences or the level of sexual activity in your life.”
Matthew is based in New York City and has been doing bodywork for three years, working with mostly women and a handful of couples. (He's happy to work with men, but says men generally prefer a gay bodyworker.) His clients have ranged a from a no-nonsense high-powered businesswomen to a 75-year-old woman whose husband had not hugged her in 15 years, much less made love to her. “This was a woman whose body was starving for touch,” he says.
Every encounter is different, depending on what the women want to work on or what might arise during a session. One woman who had initially asked him to skip over her breasts because she'd never had much sensation there, ended up having a “massive emotional outpouring and suddenly had a lot of sensation in them.” Matthew says, "She had a crying orgasm that was more about grief than it was about pleasure for 20 minutes. It was really powerful to witness and for her to have."
Jill Hamilton: Why do people come to you?
Matthew: Some are adventurers who want to have a powerful experience involving sexual energy. Others come because they feel like there are things that are stuck in their lives and they feel like it has to do with their sexual energy. Some are desperately missing touch and aren't skillful at receiving it or asking for it. Some want the experience of being held by a strong and trustworthy masculine energy where they don't have to worry about any other sort of hooks being involved. And others come because there's trauma that they want to release.
JH: Tell me about some of your clients.
M: One woman wanted to fight me, but she wanted it to be mixed with bodywork so she could express her full rage in a semi-sexual space with a man. For 90 minutes this woman came at me with full unmitigated physical rage. I had to catch her, restrain her, hold her down, then pin her down to do bodywork on her.
And working with a woman with ALS, that dropped me to my knees. I cried in that session at least a half a dozen times. I mean, I lost my mind. It was amazing.
JH: How so?
M: By her own description, her body is so alien. It is so human—hips and arms and legs just where you would expect them. And yet those very same trusted landmarks are so withered, so twisted, so weak, so fragile, so exquisitely sensitive, riven with tension. She speaks in a slow and choked whisper. This woman, who I hardly know, who drives a wheelchair with the better of her two hands, trusts me with her life. Part of her life in this state is how vital touch is, how vital feeling desire and sexual hunger course through her deepest channels is. In witnessing that I see her strength become manifest, physically and otherwise. Witnessing that is a joy and a heartbreak at the same time.
JH: It's all so intimate. How do you make sure you're not mucking about with people's neurochemicals? (Touching a woman's nipples, for example releases oxytocin, a bonding hormone.)
M: I try to set that up at the beginning by framing the space and saying what we're there for. At the end, I close the space with a small ceremony cutting the ties, because there are ties that are connected and it would be foolish to say that there aren't. But there can be great love and admiration and affection without there being an anchor that ties us to each other.
JH: How about on your end, how do you not get attached?
M: I feel very humbled that any woman who's essentially a stranger to me feels compelled to literally bare themselves and put themselves out there in that way. So I cannot help but be moved and to love the women tremendously. But just because you love someone doesn't mean you're going to have a relationship that shows up in a particular way. I've had what the culture would say are spectacularly beautiful women in front of me and I've also had women who the culture would say are not beautiful and I've loved them just the same.
JH: Don't you get turned on?
M: Of course. I've worked with women and thought, “Oh my god, this woman is beautiful and smart and interesting,” but it's not my job to insert myself there. You can get turned on and be like, “Oh right, I'm turned on, this body is turned on, it's expressing itself in a particular way, mentally or physically.” But I'm not here to fulfill that. I'm here to be of service.
JH: Is there anything you've said no to?
M: I guess I'm sort of up for anything. I'm not a prostitute so I don't sleep with people. I tell women, "I have a universal touch rule: You can touch me anywhere you want." I've had women pull my hair, grab my legs, touch my genitals—because they just sort of need to. I've had women bite me, pound my chest or my back. All that's fine, they can do all that. But I don't have universal touch privileges. With one woman, I was working near her head and she said, “I just want to kiss you for a second.” The woman—who I never saw again—just needed to feel that connection of lip to lip. That was fine, but I'm not going to turn that into a makeout session because that really starts to change the dimension.
JH: How do you not kiss back?
M: To have someone kiss you and not kiss back, who's super beautiful and totally sexually open? You could take advantage of that really easily. But I don't have sex with people, that's not what I offer. I'm not a rent boy, I'm not a prostitute. And I have no problem with those, but that's not what I do. The one thing that I have in this space is my integrity, so to break those boundaries would essentially shatter whatever delicate gossamer thing that I have established.
JH: Women get turned on by being desired; how does that work here?
M: I think that I can express desire without having to, like, tug my cock or talk dirty. My admiration and devotion to the work is my desire, and that comes through. But that doesn't mean that I'm there to fulfill it for my desire to feel good. I'm expressing it because it needs to be expressed. That's the nature of desire, it's a circular energy.
JH: You really get to see into women's dark weird shit. What have you learned about women?
M: I definitely get dark weird shit for sure. I have learned how to hold space with whatever comes up, to witness it, and not judge it or try to fix it.
JH: How can people find someone who's not a maniac?
M: Mostly I get referrals, so they already know that I'm not a maniac. The only thing you can really do is talk to your weirdo friends and find someone who can refer you to someone. There aren't a lot of people who do this so if you live in Paducah, there may not be an option for you. You may need to go to a big city.
JH: What about this work does it for you?
M: I find it really beautiful and really humbling. I love doing this work because I adore the deep humanity of it. A chance to deeply see people and be seen at their most raw and most tender and to show up the same way. I am moved by the power of sexual energy in all of its forms and wild expressions.