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April 22nd, 2009
02:35 PM ET

Confessions of a Craigslist masseuse






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Gabriel Falcon
AC360° Writer

She agreed to talk to me. But there were ground rules. I couldn’t reveal her name. I promised not to disclose exactly how much she charged.

I found her posting under the “Erotic Services” category of Craigslist. Click on the headline and an image of a naked woman appears on the screen. It seems to be a stock photograph.

The woman who put up the ad offers a sensual massage. She works out of her home in Los Angeles. And she is mindful of the murder of Julissa Brisman, the aspiring actress who also solicited massages on Craigslist. A medical student is charged with killing her. Police believe they met on the popular online classifieds site.

In the wake of the Boston killing, was the Craigslist masseuse I spoke to concerned about her safety? Does she believe she may be at risk of violence?

This is what she told me during a phone interview:

She is in her 30s and sees an average of 2-4 clients a day. She gives her massages in the nude (she said it paid better than wearing a bathing suit or thong).

But she won’t do “full service” massages. Full service is code for sex. She knows other masseuses willing to engage in prostitution. But it’s something she’s not comfortable with doing.

She started posting ads on Craigslist because she needed money for rent. She can earn several hundred dollars a week. One client gave her $500 for one visit. The men who see her are generally married professionals. “They don’t want any trouble,” she said. “And they don’t want sex because they don’t feel like they are cheating on their wives.”

Some have asked for sex. But she said she always says no. She also said she’s had to lower her prices because of the recession. She said she has another professional business.

She has some rules about who she will see. One involves age. She said “I tend to see people 30 and up. Younger guys, they have problems, they have emotional issues connecting….if they sound too young, I don’t take them.” She said a 15-year-old boy once responded to her Craigslist ad.

She receives dozens of calls a day and lets each one go to voice mail. She’ll choose who to give a massage to based on the sound of their voice. “It’s just instinct,” she said.

She doesn’t do outcalls, meaning going to the client’s home or a hotel. And she doesn’t work at night. Why? “At night, there’s a different type of person looking than the day… the later you work, the more you are inclined to meet someone who is unbalanced.”

But still she has no problem letting strangers into her home. It’s a risk she’s willing to take. She compared it to flying on an airplane. “What are your chances of getting into a crash?” she said.

At home, she also feels more in control. She’s never been threatened by a client, and she said she was shocked about the murder in Boston.

“I only do it when I feel like it,” she said. “It’s not something that I’m ashamed of.”


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Kim

    These women who advertise on craigslist as a "Masseuse" are prostitutes. What type of therapeutic professional works in the nude? Furthermore, what happily married man goes to a nude masseuse for services. This is prostitution with a code name, "Masseuse".

    April 27, 2009 at 10:00 pm |
  2. Mel Mac

    Here, here Heather. The women who provide these erotic massages and call themselves massage therapists are the very reason that real, trained, highly skilled massage therapists are accosted and propositioned on a regular basis. The profession of massage therapy is a very beneficial preventative medical practice and these borderline prostitutes are out there creating an image that puts many real therapists at risk. Sex is not part of massage. There is nothing sexy about a real massage, its therapy, period. Furthermore to go to hotels and or invite STRANGERS into your home is beyond stupid, its like running headlong into a speeding car. It is sad that we live in a society that still asks women to degrade themselves to make money and that we live in a society that there are actually women who condone the selling of their bodies.

    April 25, 2009 at 5:34 pm |
  3. mike cain

    the girls who offer massage service know what they are doing, thats their profession

    April 25, 2009 at 12:13 am |
  4. nisie

    stupid, stupid girl. I am sorry, but I am a struggling female as well, but would rather get by on whatever I can to survivie, recycle cans, get pay day loans, do market researchs...anything other than sell my ass on line. Craigs list is a hype, and most people who advertise are putting themselves at serious risk. Sorry, but its true, and to do anything out of your house is insane. She is inviting stalkers, psychpaths, murderers and robbers...and how does she know she won't be raped. Anyone can take advantage of you if you are naked and by yourself giving "massages". Look for her in the next headlines.

    April 24, 2009 at 7:00 pm |
  5. Janet S

    It is an insult to licensed and registered massage therapists everywhere when the media and public use the terms "massage therapist" or "masseuse" when referring to women who sell adult entertainment and escort services. A massage therapist is a highly-trained health & wellness professional. In most states, massage therapists must complete hundreds of hours of education, pass a board examination, and be licensed by a state board (usually the state's medical board). The stigma of "massage" meaning anything beyond mind/body health is insulting, and apparently–dangerous! I hope the media can help educate people to note the difference.

    April 23, 2009 at 11:08 am |
  6. Patrick

    What I don't understand is, "Why is this even worthy of discussion?" Those involved placed themselves in this situation by CHOICE. There are far more major important topics to be concerned about. Really people, this is NOT news worthy. It right up there with "Octomom." Bad CHOICES.

    April 23, 2009 at 7:51 am |
  7. Evans Odote

    It is crazy what people can do for money! Inviting a stranger to your home is like holding the cutting edge of a sharp sword.it is just a matter of time before you get hurt.

    April 23, 2009 at 5:59 am |
  8. Lora

    Re: Accused CraigsList killer.

    For more than 40 years my cousin, Jack Bokin, also effected the appearance of an "all-American boy-next door." Jack was a husband, a father of two teenage children, a plumbing contractor and a homeowner.

    When Jack was arrested in 1997 and charged with the attempted murder of a 19-year-old prostitute, his wife, children, neighbors and friends were all stunned. In 1999, a San Francisco jury convicted Jack in a series of brutal sexual assaults on four women, three of them prostitutes. He is now serving a 231-year prison sentence.

    My online article about Jack's life and crimes, "The Secret Life of a Sexual Predator" is on the Crime Magazine website.

    April 23, 2009 at 2:07 am |
  9. angie

    my boyfriend is always looking at craigslist but he says he is just curious. i think this is ruining our relationship of 5 years. He does not go out at night but during the day i dont know all his moves. He is retired and very good looking. Should I be worried? I think hes addicted every day he looks.

    April 22, 2009 at 11:23 pm |
  10. william sholar

    I have been convinced for years now that the average person, of sound mind and body, are one decision away from being like Mr. Markoff.

    April 22, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  11. Irina B

    If Markoff gets convicted guilty, okay that is his problem he killed the girl. But also if the girl thought that advertising her services on craigslist is playing safe we can all say that is wrong. In other words she was attracting killers.

    April 22, 2009 at 11:01 pm |
  12. David

    Read about sociology sometime you little runts! Maybe you'll learn something about how people end up prostitutes. That's what they are.

    April 22, 2009 at 10:57 pm |
  13. Robert

    i use craigs list all the time never had a problem with any girl i just screen them base on ther adds and make sure their not cops

    April 22, 2009 at 10:57 pm |
  14. Miss J

    "But still she has no problem letting strangers into her home. It’s a risk she’s willing to take. She compared it to flying on an airplane. “What are your chances of getting into a crash?” she said."

    Oh c'mon! with that comparison. That's silly.

    I think I'd much rather run drugs across the US/Mexico border than have several crazy lunatics come to my apartment each day for a "massage."

    April 22, 2009 at 5:29 pm |
  15. Heather,ca

    In response to Unclean

    If giving a massage to a client in the nude was standard,professional,legal operating procedure in this country you, we wouldnt be talking about it. But its not on any level. It is prostitution. For the simple fact that a massage does not require the person giving it to be nude. Thats for the sexual enjoyment of the client. If everything she is doing were standard operating procedure and legal and backed by all regulatory associations and state boards she wouldnt be operating out of her home and advertising on craigslist and wouldnt be hiding. But she is for obvious reasons and Im sure her married clients appreciate that.

    April 22, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  16. Manny HM

    Prostitution is supposedly the oldest profession.
    It's business, pure and simple.
    These women should be given protection (from killers and illnesses) and they should pay taxes.
    Did you ever read about prostitutes being beaten and killed in Reno, Nevada or Amsterdam where it's legalized ? NO ! Because these serial killers wouldn't stand a chance. They select places they think they can probably get away with murdering helpless victims.
    Society should consider itself very lucky that he was caught before he got his M.D. license. He would have joined the ranks of Harold Shipman in the U.K. and Michael Swango here in the U.S.
    Let me add however that he is at present innocent unless proven otherwise in a fair and expeditious trial.

    April 22, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  17. GF, Los Angeles

    To: TheUnclean giving nude massages is a form of prostitution. She's selling her body whether intercourse, oral copulation, etc. happens or not. Legitimate masseuse's do not give massages in the nude. I highly doubt that "nothing" beyond a massage happens when a girl advertises in the "Erotic" section of CL.

    April 22, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  18. Randa

    Is this woman NUTS? She compares letting strangers in to her own HOME to flying on an airplane? She is definitely not playing with a full deck. A plane is a PUBLIC meeting place. These "clients" now know where she lives..Also, if she is "not ashamed" as she says, then why not give her name? She may as well..she has given her address to her clients.
    What a desperate measure for a most assuredly, desperate, troubled woman.

    April 22, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  19. Abe

    I understand the whole "home field advantage" theory, but I just can't imagine how it'd be a good idea to invite a seedy dude to your home.

    that screams bad judgment. everything else, I'm ok with.

    April 22, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  20. megan

    Why is everone crucifying Craigslist for this crime? The police have classified Markoff as "a predator". Assuming their classification is correct, one would think if Craigslist didn't exist, he would have found another way to meet his victims and may have been much more difficult to catch. Personally, I'd like to see every criminal case stem from Craigslist meet-ups because then we are almost guaranteed to catch the perpetrator. It is very difficult to contact someone over the internet without detection. There is no such thing as anonymous unless you go to really great lengths to hide your identity (fake email set up on public computer with no surveillance camera or witnesses anywhere in the vicinity, never logging into that account from a computer that could be traced to you in any way, etc.).

    I'm actually quite surprised so many people claim this guy to be such a smarty. I mean, he basically led the police right to himself. He wasn't even remotely concerned with covering his tracks. Sounds like a big dummy to me.

    April 22, 2009 at 4:27 pm |
  21. TheUnclean

    WTH people! A massage is not prostitution, sex for money is prostitution and there is a big difference; which you already know.

    I have several female friends that do alternative modeling, some that are exotic dancers. If you have ever actually bothered to talk to a person in these fields, or know someone, then you understand how dangerous and difficult these professions can be.

    Just because you do not agree with what someone does to make a living is not grounds to dismiss them as people or make BS statements about them.

    That sick bastard that preyed on these woman (if he is found guilty) is to blame, not the women trying to earn a living.

    April 22, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  22. GradStdnt2

    Massage done professionally within guidance from the NCTMB is a balanced profession. What this woman is doing is taking it across the lines of propriety. This just gives everyone in the profession a bad name. We don't all provide "happy endings" or nude massages.

    April 22, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  23. Sivan

    LOL I'm pretty sure the risks of being raped (and then possibly murdered) while you are massaging someone in the nude is higher than getting into a plane crash. At least have someone else in the house, perhaps with a video monitoring system too, in case the guy is a freak. How naive.

    April 22, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  24. batoloco

    sexy massages... that's a type of mild prostitution in my opinion... I hope she doesn't have kids in her home while perfoming her services... good luck to her and I hope she gets a job that doesn't involve bringing men to her house.

    April 22, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  25. Daryl

    This is a sad thing that happen and I want to send my deepest sympathies to the victim family for what happen to her. It just shows that doing this line of business is very dangerous and can be deadly.

    April 22, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  26. Elaine

    I noticed when the Craiglist suspect was in court yesterday, he looked like he had blue eyeshadow on,I found this strange,I watch him on all the other channels also, I wonder if there is more to this man's habits than gambling...............? Murder seems strong, just for gambling debts...........

    April 22, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  27. cheryl

    I don't blame this woman, because she obviously needs the money, but why take just a few clients per day? She should take as many as possible, save her money & then find a job she isn't ashamed of & doesn't leave her so vulnerable to danger. My daughter works at a Mexican restaurant & makes really good money. Also, she really shouldn't do this while home alone. She could be raped, beaten, or set-up for a later invasion, etc...

    April 22, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  28. ghost

    funny how things work- i attended a conference in boston 20 years ago and ended up sitting next to a woman in the bar at the copley plaza westin who was "working". one thing led to another, but i declined. she was very sweet about it and gave me some advice- dont do anything later in the evening- thats when the rough trade comes out and the rough girls go to work- i guess thats the operating word even now......

    April 22, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  29. concietta

    I'm going to defend Craigslist because I use it as well to find friends and sometimes for dating. Craigslist itself isn't the problem, it's the people who use it and abuse it. It can be a great resource to meet people, but you have to be smart, especially when you are a woman. I learned that when I sent my picture to someone who ended up using it to advertise me as a hooker! Now, I never send my picture out on the internet or use my real name – EVER! – and I definitely would never ever invite a total stranger to my home unless I've known him and gone out with him publicly for a couple of months and even then he needs to pass a background check in order to get a dinner invite from me.

    The majority of the people on the site are NOT bad people – I've met nice friends through CL. But there are unsavory people who prey on women who advertise these "massages" because a) let's face it, they're not the most intelligent women in the world (if they were, they'd care more about their safety) and b) it's anonymous.

    Don't blame the site just because some of the people who use it aren't smart enough to protect themselves.

    April 22, 2009 at 1:57 pm |
  30. concietta

    She's not ashamed of what she's doing, but she won't give her name. Okaaaaay....

    April 22, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  31. concietta

    Honestly, how many Ted Bundys do we have to have in this world before women start wising up? Oh, he's good looking so he can't harm me. Oh, he's a medical student, so he's nice. Please! And she won't go to THEIR homes, but she has no problem letting total strangers know where SHE lives? And my favorite is when she says she uses her "instinct" by going by a man's voice. Yeah, serial killers don't know how to make their voices sound charming. What a moron.

    Hey you know what? You reap what you sow. If you're this stupid, then don't complain when something bad happens to you. And if this woman thinks she's not selling sex, she's out of her mind. If she's not, then why get naked? Idiot.

    April 22, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
  32. JC-Los Angeles

    More power to her; providing an honest service, that's more than Bernie Madoff, countless corporate executives and most members of our esteemed Capitol Hill group can claim.

    April 22, 2009 at 1:36 pm |
  33. Yolanda Tamez

    I have worked as a massage therapist for 14 yrs. now. I advertise on Craigs List as well. Being that I am self employed Craigs List seems to be the modern way of advertising without having to pay. All you have to do is reboot each week. I have been ripped off over and over by companies who charge you for ads, you don't agree to, and get stuck holding the bag for an ad you never wanted or you we completely misled. This is what had brought me to Craigs List. I have had many calls from men who have wanted me to go the the hotel rooms. I opted not to do this even when I knew I could have really used the money. Massage therapists need to work on some kind of check list, and hotels, need to have something in place as well, when a legetimate massage service is being provided, that will ensure there safety. I have opted not to go for this exact reason. You have no idea what you are walking into. Men come into my business on occasion, and act like they are expecting something more. A law should be passed as well, like the stalking law, for stalking a business, for illecit behavior. I hate when a man acts like they have the right to expect, or behave in an unlawful manner. Sad but happens all the time. We continue to preserve, our good names, and profession. I feel bad for these girls, who were taking advantage of because they were massage therapist. It could have been me. We are just trying to make a living, and we are being victimized ourselves providing this service. Hotels should be aware that a service is being provided to help to insure the safety of the therapist, provided it is legitimate. So they can know where they are at, check on them and let the patron be aware that the Hotel is aware as well of the service. The service being provided should not happen any way. With this happening it has to be done. thanks

    April 22, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  34. Scooby

    Heres a woman who probably has a camera in her home to tape these "massages" someday someone may get blackmailed and a massage. It might start for her protection, but greed will succeed and some poor guy is going to be stuck with his pants down and wallet emptied.

    Anyone dumb enough to pay for a "pull my pud" session needs to learn how to yank thier own crank and save a buck.

    April 22, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  35. Greenwich Diva

    Hey, she knows all the risks that are involved and she is doing what she needs to do to pay her bills.

    Good luck to her.

    April 22, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  36. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    “At night, there’s a different type of person looking than the day… the later you work, the more you are inclined to meet someone who is unbalanced,”---–and what she does---well-–I don't think that is a balanced profession--do you? This is the pot calling the kettle black.

    April 22, 2009 at 1:13 pm |
  37. Emily, NYC

    Very interesting article and insight. I suppose the masseuse chooses to turn a blind eye to the inherit dangers involved. She's doing what she has to in order to pay the bills. Unfortunately, it only takes one wacko out there to do you in. It's like a game of Russian Roulette.

    April 22, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  38. Lora

    Great piece Gabe!

    April 22, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  39. bb

    I met my b/f of 3 yrs on CL. We are still together, happy healthy and in love. Funny thing is that he works via posting ads on the List and has clients proposition him on a regular basis. (he is a goodlooking guy!)
    Anywho, thank you anderson for your tweets and keep'n me informed

    April 22, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  40. Heather,ca

    Lets just be honest, thats cheating. I hardly call it medicinal. To think they couldnt ask their wives to do the same thing. Talk about lying and cheating.

    You cant think her neighbors dont suspect something. Its one thing to work out of your home and you have a sign, but for what is basically erotic massage, its only a matter of time. Just because she hasnt had problems now,doesnt mean it will never happen. You would think that she would want to be licensed and make real legitimate money instead its like this in her home no protection. Craigslist has turned into a take your chances thing.

    April 22, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  41. GF, Los Angeles

    These women who advertise their "massage' services are very naive to think that nothing will happen to them whether they do during the day or night or at their home or the paying customers home or hotel. I'm sure there are many stories of these women who have been beaten, raped or robbed but they don't report it.

    This unidentified woman may not be having relations with her clients but she places herself in danger every day by doing this. I just hope she doesn't have family in that house because they're placed in danger as well. Any one of these men can come back for a home invasion or worse.

    April 22, 2009 at 12:39 pm |