work in the 70s
Eyelashes & Fresh Towels
By nineteen seventy-seven, I had been
working at the massage parlor for just under a year, learning the sex
trade from a safe spot. The place was clean, pretty
groovy in its décor and best of all, there was a bouncer.
I started as a front desk hostess.
I’d book the girls’ time slots and make sure they all cleaned
up their session rooms after they were done. I
inspected and reported and made sure laundry was done. I
worked reception with this other woman. I remember
how beautiful she was with long dark hair and bangs that framed her eyes
in the most exotic way. She had a very sweet smile
and greeted the “guests” as though they were all her favorite.
She’d been working there two years when I started, her savings going
toward paying the tuition for the degree she was taking.
The place had more red shag carpeting
than I had ever seen or ever saw again. It was the
seventies. Shag was still stuck to walls and
headboards. The lobby was actually cool though, with
tiffany swag lamps and nice settees; very clean and inviting.
The rooms were each a theme or so they
strived for the idea of a theme. Mostly it had to do
with color schemes. Each room had a shower, cleaned
thoroughly after each client had gone. There were always plenty of clean
white fluffy towels and glass doors for maximum sanitary conditions.
The place, at any given time, was spotless. No
mold or damp towels or musty smells anywhere; clean and inviting and
very non-sleazy. To have it otherwise was business
suicide in those days.
Most of the session rooms were done in
dark blue walls, massage tables and or waterbeds (it was the 70s), soft
flowing draperies and pretty rolled towels. (I once asked the other
receptionist why the towels were rolled. She laughed
and said she’d asked the same thing. She said she
was told it was because you could unroll them faster than unfolding
them. She assumed I knew why they’d need unrolling
fast. I did.)
Clean white linen lay over the table,
waiting for the next body, the next illicit act.
Part of my job was to make sure the
gentlemen knew what we required. Payment up front, a
shower was mandatory and use of condoms at all times.
Of course the House didn’t “know”
about any sort of sexual behavior. We were a massage
parlor. We gave body rubs. If
anything else occurred, that was strictly between the young lady and her
client. We assigned them their ladies unless they
asked for a specific one. The girls weren’t allowed
to sit out in the lobby. They were in a staff room at
the back. Fairer that way.
The women all got along, but you could
feel an underlying tension. Even though we sorted the
clients among them equally, they knew why they were here and it was all
about the money. Most of the time, they laughed and
enjoyed each other’s company. They redid hair or
nails or gossiped about the latest client. We kept
them quiet, but sometimes it felt like a den mother’s job.
I remember one woman who was about ten
years older than the average woman there and was gay. She
detested men but you wouldn’t know it by her earnings. She
did well. She had those weird false nails that were
so long you wondered if she did herself a mischief when she wiped.
She was bleached blond and wore false eyelashes that were way too
long for her face. There was always lipstick on her
teeth. Red lipstick. She never
wore any other color.
She had her regulars. We
always figured it was the masochists who asked for her. She
was brutally rude to men in general and some of them just ate it up.
She made very good money and I came to know her well enough to
know she had the most generous heart. If one of the
women didn’t get any “tips” on a shift she worked, she made sure
she bought that woman dinner or paid her cab, whatever was needed.
She ended up marrying a gay guy we all
knew. A sweetheart who wanted to appear straight to
his parents. She had her reasons for wanting to be
married…much the same as his. They were perfect
together. As far as any of us knew, the marriage
Her eyelashes would always be lifting at
Lots of us still wore false eyelashes
back then. There was a trick to it and some never got
the hang of it. They ended up with clumps of glue or
ends that lifted. Some of us really got it right and
they'd end up looking damn near perfect. One of the
women taught me how to apply them with a method that never failed me.
It’s funny, the things we remember.
The details. I haven’t worn false eyelashes since the beginning
of the 80s. But if I had to put on a pair, I know they’d go on right.
- Sex Scrolls
Do not reprint without permission
Part 2 Can
you hear me now?
Part 3 Shag