By Victor Ayeni
With the massage therapy industry booming in various cities across the country, many practitioners are frequently solicited and compelled into offering erotic favours in exchange for money by their numerous clients and they are often subjected to abuse if they decline, VICTOR AYENI writes.
As Gaiya Habila alighted from his car late evening of a certain day in April 2022, he looked around his surroundings to be sure he got the home address of his new client correctly.
A warm, gentle breeze unsettled the dust particles which paved the street in the Ungwan Rimi area of Kaduna State, as Habila knocked on his client’s gated entrance.
The 30-year-old, a professionally trained masseur, was no stranger to providing therapeutic techniques such as Swedish deep tissue, chair massages and aromatherapy on a home service basis.
But this time around, he drove down to the area in response to a night massage session booked by a lady who was probably in her late 30s or early 40s.
The booking had come late due to her busy schedule.
Yet, nothing prepared the native of Jaba Local Government Area of the state for the salacious twist to the service he was expected to render for the night.
Describing his experience to our correspondent, Habila said as he walked into the woman’s living room, she was seated on the sofa and grimaced in discomfort as she complained of shoulder and back aches.
He said, “She related with me officially when I got there and her complaints were quite normal given the nature of her work. I went on with the session and after about 25 minutes, I noticed she was asleep and snoring and I was happy.
“It was not until I was almost done with the massage that she suddenly blurted out to my surprise, ‘Is that’s all?’. I answered in the affirmative with a smile.
“In a seductive tone, she asked me to have sex with her because she was sexually aroused and promised to pay me more in exchange for it. I told her, ‘I am sorry, I don’t do happy endings’ and urged her not to be offended.
“But this woman kept on begging me for sex, saying my massage made her horny. I kept to my words of ‘no happy endings,’ and she eventually accepted, paid me, but never called me again.”
Due to the gender restrictions and the fact that some clients prefer masseuses (female) to masseurs (males), Habila usually gets an average of three to six massage bookings in a month, sometimes less.
Interestingly, during his interview with Saturday PUNCH, he complained that in the three years since he started the business, he had received more sexual advances from male clients than female clients.
He recalled an experience in which he was booked for a late evening session by a client.
When he arrived at the man’s place on Birnin Gwari Street, Barnawa, he warmly welcomed him with a toothy smile.
“I was shown a place to set up and I proceeded. During the session, he asked me to masturbate him straight up and I told him respectfully, ‘I am sorry, I don’t do that.’ His countenance changed and he said he won’t pay the agreed amount because he wanted what he described as a complete package.
“I explained that it wasn’t what we agreed on but he insisted, so I finished the session without the hand job and he gave me a part payment. I could tell that he wasn’t pleased but I just smiled and left,” he stated.
On another occasion, it was suggested that Habila would have to sexually pleasure a group of men.
He said, “I got booked by this client in Ungwan Rimi and we agreed on a location and price. So, I prepared and arrived there in the nick of time. When I got there, I was surprised to meet a group of four guys in his house and the man that booked me introduced them as his friends. So, I was a bit relaxed.
“But as I was about to start, he asked, ‘Hope there will be a happy ending?’ I told him ‘no’. I noticed the negative reactions on his friends’ faces, and one of them asked me again, ‘So, you mean you don’t give happy endings?’ I repeated, ‘Yes, I don’t’ and continued setting up my equipment. The client then said if I won’t give them happy endings I should leave his residence, and I did.”
A wild pursuit of happiness
According to the slang terms section of Dictionary.com, “a happy ending is a massage that starts with the usual full-body rubdown but ends with a sex act,” usually masturbation or oral sex.
For decades, body massage has been regarded by experts as offering health benefits such as improving blood circulation, reducing anxiety, lowering stress hormones and increasing the happiness hormone in the body.
However, many men and women who flock to massage parlors seek another layer of bodily happiness – sexual favours offered by masseurs or masseuses in exchange for money.
A 2018 study by the non-profit Polaris Project estimated that the illicit massage industry in the United States of America generates about $2.5bn in revenue a year.
Although definitive data on the beauty spa and massage business industry in Nigeria do not exist, it has become a thriving and ubiquitous enterprise for many youths across the country.
Far from operating in stripping malls and dingy backrooms, as it was decades ago, nowadays, massage therapists may not need to wait all day for their clients to visit beauty spas in bustling cities.
With the appurtenances of the Internet, they could be part-time students or workers, full-time mobile professionals, or simply operate from under the various shades of anonymity provided by social media.
Findings by our correspondent show that dozens of personal and company accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, offer body massage services with the extra thrill of happy endings.
However, several other therapists add caveats to their posts and fliers, notifying their potential customers that they do not offer any form of sexual favours.
Creepy clients, spiked drink
A Lagos-based mobile massage therapist and nail technician, Fasiat Busari, got her certifications in body massage in 2019 and introduced this to her beauty services.
Following this disclosure to the public, she began to receive inquiries from potential clients if she also offered erotic side perks.
Speaking with Saturday PUNCH, Busari said she decided to state a ‘no-happy ending’ clause on her social media bio-data and reiterate it every time an intending client reached out to her.
Unfortunately, in spite of her strident measures to maintain her professionalism and uphold her piety, her encounters with two creepy male clients still send shivers down her spine.
She said, “The first happened on 26th December 2020. This client reached out and suggested that there were other people involved. Usually, I would move with an assistant but it was a festive period and due to the request being impromptu, I couldn’t get an assistant.
“I went alone. I informed a friend ahead and gave the necessary details about the client and those close to him that I could get from his social media page.
“I usually prompt the security guards at the location ahead too to let them know what I was there for and get assured of getting security if need be. I ensure I scrutinise and do deep findings on every client before accepting a booking.”
On this fateful day, when Busari arrived at the location, the third person who reached out to her was absent, so she proceeded with the massage session for the other two clients.
The man did not arrive until late in the evening and given the time frame, a separate room was booked for the masseuse to pass the night.
She continued, “He got back and made arrangements for my meal and I retired into ‘my room’ to eat the food that was ordered for me. I poured my drink, which was strawberry yoghurt, into a cup.
“I already took the first gulp when this client came in to check to see if I was comfortable. Somehow, he dropped a pink crystalline powder in the form of a tablet, molly, into my drink. Being observant and of course being wary of my environment, I noticed the oddness about his body movement but I wasn’t sure what was amiss.
“He left the room. I was going to continue my drink, after drinking a bit, when I noticed something unusual which could have passed as the drink formed at the bottom of the cup. At that point, I knew my drink was spiked.
“I quickly requested salt from the facility attendant and made a mixture with water to rid the one I might have ingested. I texted him, asking why he added something to my drink, and his response was ‘Yes, it is molly. You shouldn’t have seen it.’”
Describing the night as a long one, Busari discovered to her chagrin that the separate room which was supposedly booked for her was actually intended to be shared with her male client.
When she challenged him over this, the man pleaded, but it was merely surface contrition, one that failed to hide his predatory intentions.
“He wanted to start touching me and I threatened him. I made him know I had every information I could use to nail him and ruin his reputation and career if he tried anything with me. He went to sleep and I had to stay awake all night.
“I was only fortunate the situation didn’t degenerate. He could still have had his way with me. Some other people might not get lucky,” Busari added.
Busari’s second negative experience happened on June 26, 2021.
When she got the booking, she reached out to one of her assistants but he was not available.
“I decided to go alone. Of course, I reiterated to the client that it was going to be a ‘no-happy ending’ massage and they should source other massage therapists whose core line is in offering such if that’s what they wanted.
“During the session, I noticed my client was doing everything to get in a sexual mood, so I applied pressure at intervals and engaged in conversations to get his mind distracted.
“While at it, he asked me to apply the massage cream on his privates but I declined. He took the cream and started pleasuring himself in my presence. I left for the restroom; the sight was irking, so I stayed long there to give him time. When I returned, he was done with his business.
“Surprisingly, he asked that he needed to have an orgasm the second time. There was no way I was witnessing that, so I packed my items and left. It has been a bumpy ride,” she narrated.
She noted that the stereotype built around all massage therapists as offering erotic/nudity massage services explains why she gets more happy-ending bookings than normal massage bookings.
This frequent request for sexual acts, she stated, is why she now refers such clients to those who operate ‘happy endings’ as a core business line.
Describing her ordeal to our correspondent via Twitter, a Port-Harcourt-based massage therapist and anatomist, Glory Thomas, said she was physically assaulted and almost raped by a man who invited her for a session.
“This was someone I knew for a while but I fought my way out of the situation. He ridiculed me for wearing fake shirt and wristwatch and I was pressed to the bed and offered money for two minutes of pleasure. When I refused, he hit me.
“My wristwatch cut and I had scratches on my hand. I still wasn’t paid but I didn’t care and I remember reporting him to the guys who introduced him to me. He texted to warn me to stop accusing him falsely,” she wrote.
Thomas’ massage price list flier, which was sent to our correspondent, read, “Important notice: This vendor does not offer erotic massage or happy hour. Please be respectful. Thank you.”
Yet, in a more recent encounter, she narrated her sordid experience with a client whom she regarded as a friend.
“When he booked me, I sent him my price list and he started asking if I thought the money was the problem, saying after all, we were friends and it should be done freely. I made it clear that I do this with all my friends because business is business.
“On the morning of the massage, we spoke and that was when he disclosed that it would be at a hotel and not his house because his family was home. This was a red flag but I didn’t want to seem unprofessional by cancelling a few hours before, so we met up.
“The massage lasted about 40 minutes and when I was done, he got up to go to the bathroom and I started to pack up my things. While I was seated on the bed, he came in and came straight to the bed and tried to lick my armpit. I stopped him.
“He tried to emotionally blackmail me, asking why I hated him so much that I said no to him and was defiant about it. I replied to him that I had to leave because I had somewhere else to go. He asked for my account number and I gave it to him and left in a hurry.
“I got home and told him I hadn’t seen the alert. He read my message but didn’t respond. I knew then he wasn’t going to pay because I refused to sleep with him. I sent another text a day later, telling him I hope his conscience would judge him; I blocked him and deleted the chat,” Thomas added.
Lured with Euros
On June 6, in a series of tweets, a Twitter user, @josh_uglyasf, said in 2018, while living in Lagos and doing massage therapy, he got calls from both genders from across the city.
He tweeted, “Those who knew me knew I was pretty good at my job but one of the things that limited my clientele base was ‘no happy endings.’
“I was doing home service, so I got a call from a celebrity (his manager) actually to come for a massage. I didn’t know it was a celebrity until I got there and I was amazed. I’m not one to be star-struck, so I went to the space shown to me and set up.
“Baba came in naked and laid on the massage table. It wasn’t weird because I know a lot of people who are comfortable going nude for a massage and it is even better to have it that way. A few minutes into the session, baba’s little soldier was standing and rock hard.
“No, I said to myself. ‘What is this?’ I was uncomfortable, but I was to be paid for a job, so I continued. Things went south when he tried to grab my hand and place it on his little soldier. He smiled, while I frowned. He insisted but I refused.
“He actually said it was a privilege that I should grab it. I realized that he wasn’t joking, so I stopped, expressed my displeasure and wanted to continue but Baba said I must do it.”
After a lot of back and forth and the therapist refusing the celebrity’s N100,000 offer for oral sex, @josh_uglyasf said he left the house.
But this was not the last of the solicitation for sex.
The masseur said he went to attend to another male client on the mainland but as he entered the compound, the man locked the gate.
“This got me suspicious but I didn’t give it much thought. We went in, had the deep tissue that lasted over an hour and when I was done and about to go, he was like, ‘Is that all?’
“I said, ‘Yes sir,’ except you have specific pain you want me to pay attention to. Baba smiled and said I shouldn’t be naive and that I know what he was talking about. I didn’t want to drag it, so I told him point-blank I don’t do happy endings for any gender. I’m a professional.
“Baba brought out £500 cash and said he understands but he just wants me to give him head (oral pleasure) and he would give me the £500 and also transfer N500,000 to me. This was the point I was confused about what I would do with my integrity and faith.
“This is almost N1m and my rent is a little above this money; only to just collect and add small money to it. I thought for a while and before I could respond, he said even if I can’t give him a blowjob he would accept a hand job and will give me just the £500.
“I won’t lie, I was tempted because this is something I’d just use my hand to do and go like nothing happened. But I couldn’t because I know I won’t be able to live with it plus I understand how addiction starts. So, I refused to do it,” he added.
The therapist said his client became angry over his refusal and was beginning to act violently.
In a move to escape, he quickly booked an Uber with his phone.
“The Uber guy came and started banging on the gate as I begged him to do. That was how I escaped and that was the day I officially quit being a massage therapist,” he added.
Why we give happy endings – Masseurs
Sharing his experience with our correspondent, a digital marketer, Tobi Abdulrasheed, said two massage therapists have tried to give him happy endings.
“It happened the first time in Ibadan in 2020. I was stressed as a result of the jobs I was doing at the time, so I spoke to one of my lady friends and who told me that I could use one of the spas in Bodija. It wasn’t far from where I lived so I booked a session.
“Two massage therapists (a guy and a lady) attended to me and I slept off while they were at it. I thought someone was stroking my manhood and I opened my eyes and saw that it was real. The lady who did it apologised and said she felt I was enjoying it but how would I enjoy something I didn’t ask for? I warned her and left the place.
“My second experience was at a spa at Oke-Ira Nla in Ajah, Lagos. This time around, I was not awake so when the lady started to stroke me, I told her to stop and she also apologised. I believe this is something these folks do to their clients,” he said.
When contacted, a part-time masseur in Lagos, Francis Uduak, told our correspondent that he was not averse to giving happy endings to his clients as long as there was prior understanding that it would happen.
“So far my clients are mature persons and I clearly make it known to them the services I offer because we all understand the code. We are all sexual beings and it is hard to see someone turn down an erotic offer given to them.
“Most of the time, the happy endings I give is to actually massage the genital for the client to ejaculate, but so far there is nothing serious. It is understandable that sexual hormones will rise due to massages which deal with physical touch.
“The truth is, as long as the client is sexually aroused, he would want to ejaculate and in the case of a female, she would mostly want penetrative sex. But I always tell my clients that I render great body massage services; I don’t render sex for pay,” Francis explained.
When our correspondent contacted a masseuse with the Facebook name Benita Adakre, she admitted that she offered happy endings because many of her customers requested them.
“Yes, I give happy endings along with other bodywork services. About 80 to 90 per cent of clients have sex with the masseurs or masseuses because almost everyone wants sex happy ending.
“People may like to pretend that they don’t want it, but when you massage their body tissues properly and you reach their sensitive areas, you will see their bodies respond. There are people that are turned on by massages and there are some that are not,” she wrote.
On his part, a professional Lagos-based masseur, Kayode Banwo, told Saturday PUNCH that in the 11 years since he joined the profession, he had only offered sexual treats to willing clients whom he felt comfortable with, regardless of their gender.
He said, “I cater to both male and female clients. However, I get more male clients than females partly because most people only see male clients in my videos and that’s because only a handful of male clients permit me to record our sessions.
“I don’t give all my clients happy endings. In fact, I hardly mention it to clients except for those who request it. Then, we have a conversation about it and if I feel comfortable enough, I grant the request within measure. I still have my rules concerning happy endings and I believe it has to be mutually consented to by both the client and the therapist.
“I once had a client who wanted to kiss me and fondle me; I was able to calm the person and it just resulted in a hand job so that I can get my money out. The females are not left out either. One practically touched me while I was giving her a massage and wondered why I wasn’t aroused.
“I just had a mental tussle and I had just succeeded in controlling my erection just before she did. I was glad that happened because I saw the disappointment in her eyes. I did my job, washed my hands and left her place.”
Commenting on the cases in which clients sexually harass practitioners, Banwo blamed this on the mixed signals given out by some of his colleagues and the infiltration of the profession by sex workers.
“A number of ‘therapists’ have also sold themselves short. Why would you post semi-nude images with men’s erect manhood and ladies wearing thongs to advertise your therapy? Many sex workers have infiltrated the occupation and they make it seem like it’s a norm for a therapist to perform sexual acts with clients
“It’s like baiting a line and wondering why a fish is biting. They know what they are doing. Later, they will come crying on social media that they have been sexually harassed. That is not to say we don’t have some silly clients who just can’t take no for an answer, but at the very least, massage therapists should not put themselves in such situations
“As therapists, we need to be first safety conscious. Both sides have a responsibility. If a client wants it, ask politely and if you are declined, don’t harass the therapist. If a physical therapist is not willing to give happy endings, don’t put out any suggestive images or videos. And if you are scared of men touching you as a guy, stick with women,” he added.
Proactive sexual harassment laws needed
Commenting on whether there are sufficient clauses in Nigeria’s laws to tackle sexual harassment, a legal practitioner, Adekunle Manuwa, said what qualified as sexual harassment would depend on where the incident occurred.
said, “First, it will appear that persons cannot enter into a contract to have sex/sexual activity. Such an agreement cannot be enforced in our courts in Nigeria for being immoral and repugnant to public policy.
“Now, whether the scenario painted will qualify as sexual harassment will depend on the jurisdiction, where the incident occurred. The foremost federal statute book determining criminal culpability is the criminal code, which is operative in the southern parts of the country.
“Unfortunately, the criminal code does not define or make any specific provision on sexual harassment. Offences of a sexual nature that the criminal code punishes are rape, indecent conduct and other sundry offences concomitant to these offences.
“Although there are some provisions that deal with ‘assault’ and by extension sexual assault, however, these provisions envisage that an offender must have made an overt act before he can be liable. Thus, if the client did not make any physical overtures to the masseur other than a verbal proposition without more, he may not be liable.
“On the converse, this is not the position with the penal code, which operates in the northern parts of Nigeria. There are copious provisions punishing sexual harassment in the penal code.”
Citing the criminal code of Lagos State, Manuwa added that states needed proactive laws to effectively punish sexual harassment.
He said, “In recent times, most state legislatures in the south have taken the bull by the horn by trying to cure the obvious lacuna created by the criminal code by enacting proactive laws to encapsulate with particularity and punish sexual harassment cases.
“For instance, the Criminal Code Law of Lagos State, 2011 vide Section 264 (1) thereof says, ‘Any person who sexually harasses another commits a felony and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for three years. Subsection 2 goes ahead to define sexual harassment as ‘Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favours and other visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which when submitted to or rejected – (a) implicitly or explicitly affects a person’s employment or educational opportunity or unreasonably interferes with the person’s work or educational performance.’
“From the above provisions, you will agree that the client in the given scenario is in serious trouble! The provisions will also punish lascivious lecturers too.
“Meanwhile, in Ogun State, there is the Violence Against Persons Law 2017 which has similar provisions on the issue of sexual harassment with the Criminal Code Law of Lagos State.” On the website of the Professional Association of Spa and Cosmetologists in Nigeria, a listing of services offered includes physical therapy.
It also states that its goals and objectives include “to set standards of operation in the beauty and cosmetology sectors in Nigeria, ensuring safety and quality.”
When our correspondent called the phone number provided on the website repeatedly, it indicated that the line was switched off.
Also, a text message sent to the line to inquire how many massage therapists were registered with the association and its plan to tackle sexual harassment in the industry, was not replied to as of the time of filing this report.