“The Client List” Controversy
A lot of my professional colleagues in the massage therapy world are getting upset over a made-for-TV movie turned TV series called “The Client List” on Lifetime. The movie “The Client List” was about a massage therapist who was facing the loss of her home, possessions and was financially struggling. She went to work at what she thought was a legitimate spa where massage was an offered service. Two days into her employment there she quickly realized that it was a prostitution ring, where the “therapists” dressed up in costumes and provided ancillary services not legally found on most spa and massage menus. Faced with a significant amount of financial pressure, she resorted to prostitution in order to make ends meet. But then greed set in… and then drugs… and so on. You get the picture.
I have watched the movie myself. There was nothing shocking about it, as this goes on in everyday life. In all actuality, the screenwriters portrayed the situation fairly tastefully, despite the distasteful nature of the behaviors and actions being displayed in the film. There are businesses everywhere that practice or operate under the guise of a seemingly legitimate business. There are pizza joints, laundromats, dry cleaners, restaurants, and even spas. Massage therapists are not above all other careers and business locations – our career and way of making a life gets poked at (pardon the pun) all the time. “Happy endings” and the use of the word “masseuse” gets us all fired up alone but with good reason. We’ve worked hard to distinguish ourselves as health professionals. But, what’s the point in getting all worked up over a TV show when doctors, dentists, surgeons and “playing nurse/doctor” get the same amount of attention on TV shows?
All careers are sensationalized from time to time on TV. There’s really no point in getting all worked up over this. It’s TV. It’s sensationalism… and it’s how Lifetime makes their money and satisfies their viewers. Many massage therapists are concerned that the general public is going to think that as a result of this TV show, that all massage therapists are prostitutes and that spas and massage clinics are where men/women get “happy endings”. Personally, I don’t think they give the general public enough credit.
Frankly, I think the most of the general public is smart enough to know the difference between shady shops and true professionals. There’s enough information on the internet to do research on a company or spa before you make an appointment there. Referrals are another way to find a great massage business.
So I’m not getting upset over a silly TV show, and I hope my clients won’t either. Heck, I may even watch it. If you choose to watch it, know that this happens all over the US. There are several spa owners out there that were facing financial plight that resorted to this behavior and means of doing business. Just recently, a spa owner in Brockton, MA was prosecuted and lost all three of her licenses for her three locations. In fact, there are some shady massage businesses just over the highway in Blaine. My employees and I have a pulse on massage beat and know which ones are legit and which ones aren’t. It’s just a matter of time before they get busted and of course, we look forward to that day.
Let me just say one thing – this stuff will never happen in my shop under my watch. We as massage therapists will continue working hard to hold the profession to a higher standard and caliber of service. We do a great job working in an ethical and moral manner which we’re all very proud of. I think our clients recognize the value we bring to the table. And I would like to think that in their support of small business, they would pay full price for our services to ensure that we don’t face financial struggle like so many spas have, so that we can continue offering a safe environment for them to relax in.
Thanks for listening to my perspective. Let’s all lighten up about this show. Make some popcorn and watch it if you want. Or watch something else. I highly recommend Erik Dalton videos. LOL