Presenting a ground breaking and "terrifically exciting" 11,000 word article, published on November 3, 2012 in a Sexuology yearbook - on the internationally controversial topic of Massage & Sexuality. "Integral and Transpersonal Sexology; Human sexuality and Intimate Relationships from an Integral, Transpersonal and Somatic Sexological Perspective" Edited by Dr Tara Long.

Massage & Sexuality.

Ideal and Practice, from Sport massage to Sexually-tinted Tantric massage


An Exploration of Taboos in the Border areas of Massage

This is Chapter 0a): Abstract and Introduction

Author: Drs. Kees Kaldenbach. Amsterdam. Click for Dutch version.


On this page you will find the text and links to the full text HTML page divided into 2+6 chapters, without visible footnotes,

Plus a downloadable PDF file of the entire article, complete, with footnotes: Kaldenbach-massage-sexuality.pdf


Table of contents

0a) Abstract and Introduction chapter

0b) Definitions of the following six kinds of massage

1) Sport massage / Swedish massage

2) Medical Massage / Physiotherapy

3) Chinese / Japanese rub massage and pressure point massage

4) Holistic Massage

5) Erotic Massage - and finally

6) Tantric massage ; thesis; conclusions.

For each field I present these sections: Brief descriptions, Best practices, Perceptions, Schematic map.

This is Chapter 0a: Abstract and Introduction




Massage and sexuality have overlapping elements but also distinct elements. This article focuses on experiences in massage and the area of taboo regarding the overlap in massage and sexuality in three different countries I have visited: Netherlands, South Africa and the USA.
Within these three countries six areas are highlighted:
1) Sport massage / Swedish massage
2) Medical Massage / Physiotherapy
3) Chinese / Japanese rub massage and pressure point massage
4) Holistic Massage
5) Erotic Massage
6) Tantric massage.

After an introduction a) with more or less objective descriptions of these six types of massage follows a

section b) expressing the viewpoint and the best practices of massage professionals.

This section is followed c) by some views and experiences by clients.
One finding is that the boundary between massage and sex is sometimes not easy to make, and that massage and the erotic and in some cases are inextricably linked.

Finally d) there is an attempt to construct a model of the field and some thesis. The thesis is mainly ethical in nature, whereas the article itself is mainly descriptive. Very little indeed has been published on this taboo subject. This article presents a first rough impression, exploration and survey of an untouched area, where no author has yet dared “to get one’s fingers burnt”, and the article does not strive to be exhaustive.



Text found on a website: “… one of the biggest non-sexual pleasures that a human body can experience is massage”

Text found in a flyer: "Have a professional massage in the comfort of your own hotel suite for health and relaxation. Please note this is not a sexual service and inappropriate calls will be reported."

The first of the two quotes above highlights the glory of massage and describes the pleasure of massage as essentially separate from sexuality. The second text advertises hotel visit-with-massage, and emphasizes health and relaxation, but then if necessary, threatens to bring in the police.
These quotes succinctly illustrate the current tension in Western society between the worlds of massage and sexuality. They show the need for the masseur (m/f) to clearly position himself or herself.
Massage is a specific and specialized form of desired touch, given spontaneously or professionally on demand. For most mammals and humans touch and skin contact is essential from birth for the proper development of attachment, and for a pleasant and balanced inner and social life.


For this article an initial exploratory study has been done on the situation in three countries, the Netherlands, South Africa and the USA. Each of these three countries has its own particular history in terms of attitude to physicality, massage, nudity, touch and sexuality. The contrasts explored here between these three countries shows how these very different cultures deal with ideal, practice and taboo.
The taboo on the combination of massage and sex strongly emerges, because a partial overlap exists (the intimate setting, the nudity, the touch, possibly pleasure) and because there are also a - culturally defined - big difference with sexuality (sex only in intimate relationships, in conjunction with genitals, erotic excitement and possibly an orgasm).


In the USA for many centuries, starting with the Pilgrim Fathers, there has been a majority puritan ideal of chastity. There, massage may have played a minor local role as a direct import from countries of origin.
In the years 1910-1920, the sex industry in the U.S. disguised itself behind the label massage parlors. Thus the term massage was 'stolen', and massage became a front for the sex industry. As a counter-movement in that era legislation was created to strictly separate the two fields of massage and sex. A result in the USA has a current system of strict rules for body covering and other strict professional rules in this fairly prudish country. Prostitution is banned in most states, but there is still a place for sexual counseling. In the USA countercultures also exist that are more European oriented, particularly in California (the Esalen massage center) and masseurs working in the main cities of the East Coast. In Hawaii lomi-lomi massage is practiced. In Canada the situation is also somewhat more relaxed and enlightened.

South Africa

South Africa has three large, distinct cultures. Among black populations in South Africa (Zulu, Xhosa, etc) massage plays virtually no role. Covering the body and prudery are now widely established and have become a basic rule. Sexuality has now emerged as a major problem because few blacks talk about it and many men and women do it secretly.
For the Indian population, who form part of the "coloreds" a general restraint in sex and nudity exists as well at present, but an ancient Hindu tradition of massage has been preserved. For Muslim coloreds there is a great reticence.
For the whites of Dutch and British descent, massage is largely uncharted territory. After a century of isolation and being cramped (also under the influence of the Calvinist church) from 1994, the era of the Mandela government, it reached a period of enlightenment; the acceptance of diversity in sexuality is even enshrined in the Constitution. In general, South Africa remains a conservative, neat, prudish land. Again, sometimes massage is a front for sex trade.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands is a thoroughly petty-bourgeois and commercial country with a culture that was once heavily Calvinist but at the same time, due to its harbors, outward looking and with an open interest in the outside world. Curiously, Swedish massage was developed in Amsterdam by Metzger around 1870.
Since 1962 the contraceptive pill has been widely welcomed and large numbers of people have left the Christian churches. The Netherlands thus experienced a relatively extreme wave of social and sexual revolution – resulting in a large degree of freedom and hedonism in word, image and lifestyle.
Sex workers can work openly in the Netherlands and do not need to hide under a different label. However, due to reasons of privacy and for the need of anonymity sex workers still prefer to hide. In the open, sex is sometimes disguised behind other labels.

Hunger for Touch

In the ordinary everyday mainstream Western countries studied here: The Netherlands, South Africa and the USA, there is very little room for meaningful touch between people - especially for positive touch contact between people who know each other superficially. For most people a welcome touch on the bare skin is a scarce commodity. Associations: Keep your distance. “On my body no polonaise” being a standard Dutch colloquial expression.
This is the prevailing code: only among relatives is a bit of touch and cuddle allowed. Perhaps this is also true in a team sport; when a goal is scored, one can hug team members. Finally, in a crowded bus or train perfect strangers can be pushed around, but that is probably it. Keeping distance between human bodies is the norm.

Fig. A. Pod of hugging hippos at St Lucia, South Africa. Photo by the author, 2010.


Indeed, touch is easily associated with getting too close and with having sex - with all the restrictive social codes that belong to sexuality. Traditionally in the Netherlands, South Africa and the USA there is a relatively severe deficiency regarding touch for a large percentage of the population, especially when we compare the situation here more touchy-feely, physically warmer cultures around the Mediterranean and elsewhere in the world.

Therefore, men and women in the Netherlands sometimes consciously seek a little more warmth and touch when meeting in a busy cafe or nightclub. A passing hand on the shoulder while going past a colleague in the workplace can also be accepted, with a smile and a kind word. That form of touch is intended to express appreciation, sympathy, confirmation, friendship and the feeling of being good colleagues. The maximum people would allow would be an arm thrown over the shoulders of the other person.

Body Massage

For a large dose of good, abundant touch, body massage is the accepted way of achieving this in the Netherlands, South Africa and the USA. Massage on bare skin has become a socially reasonably acceptable and effective way to compensate the current deficiency.
This how a massage works: by appointment, in a confined space, for financial compensation, the masseur carries a range of massage types and techniques such as kneading, long strokes (effleurage) and pressing. The whole experience answers to a set of implicitly assumed or explicitly mentioned desires, expectations, security agreements and demarcations.
Massage has the quality of intimacy. Being separate from others, behind closed curtains or doors. In that seclusion something beautiful goes on between masseur (m / f) and client. The room where the massage takes place is separate. The masseur is also required to maintain confidentiality. The client decides later whether - or with whom they will tell about receiving the massage. It is a touchy subject.

Six Types of Massage

At first glance it all seems so clean and uncluttered. In the field of massage in the Netherlands, South Africa and the USA these six fields of massage can be broadly distinguished:

1) Sport massage / Swedish massage
2) Medical Massage / Physiotherapy
3) Chinese / Japanese rub massage and pressure point massage
4) Holistic Massage
5) Erotic Massage - and finally
6) Tantric massage.

This list of fields in massage raises many questions. Are these six areas of massage clearly divided into separate compartments? Are sexuality and massage disconnected areas? To answer that question we begin with

a) six general, more or less objective brief descriptions of each of these six areas.

Next, what are b), the Best Practices in each of those six areas, and what is the professional experience of the masseur / masseuse, particularly on border areas? What are the variations and deviations?

What is c) the perception of the client communicated, in each of those six areas, particularly on border areas between massage and sex?

Can finally d) a visual schematic map or a model be presented to show these issues of sexuality and border areas of massage?

These are basic questions this article will address.

A remark about methodology. As the subject of this article is more or less a taboo subject in the world of masseurs, literature is sparse, as is shown by various internet searches and data mining.
Therefore, in 2010 during field research a great number of masseurs and clients were questioned by the author. Due to the taboo nature of the subject the results remain anecdotal and impressionistic in character. Please do not expect a coherent theory!



1., read on 8 November 2010, spelling corrected. 2. Flyer, Jacquie, Cape Town, South Africa.

3. “Hands Off - The Validity of Local Massage Parlor Laws” [notes]
University of Richmond Law Review
, Vol. 10, Issue 3 (Spring 1976), pp. 597-645
10 U. Rich. L. Rev. 597 (1975-1976). 
In Michigan, USA there is government control regarding massage as “...a legitimate public purpose: To discourage 'surreptitious' prostitution at massage parlors," to ensure that only "serious practitioners of massage" would operate parlors, and to decrease the likelihood that parlors would be used…” Source: Tracey D. Weaver, ‘Constitutional Law’: The Wayne Law Review, Summer, 1998, 44 nr 613, and Annual Survey of Michigan Law, 1 June 1996-21 Can 21 1997.
There is also worry in Great Britain: Albert J. Velarde:
‘Becoming Prostituted - The Decline of the Massage Parlour Profession and the Masseuse’,
British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 15, Issue 3 (July 1975), pp. 251-263.

4. ASEP- Association for Sexual Energy Professionals
ASSECT- American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists
ACSB- Association of Certified Sexological Bodyworkers.
Jaiya is one of the sexual wellness workers: her web site is

5. Source: Sheremata, Davis. "Low-down on rub-downs: massage parlours sell fantasy, but also a little sex." Alberta Report 24.7 (Jan 27, 1997): 36:
Canada: Edmonton vice squad detective Terry Sopka says the some of the parlours are fronts for prostitution. "We probably have 200 massage services in Edmonton, and I'd say in 10% of those you could get a sexual service," he says. "We drop in on them once a week or every two weeks, and I think that serves as a deterrent. Mostly we make sure the people who work there have a massage license." Det[ective]. Sopka says licensing is the main focus of his department, which laid 40 charges in 1996 against massage parlours for using unlicensed masseuses, charges that carry a fine ranging from $400 to $10,000.” 6. Information from source G, South Africa, January 2011: A young (colored) Muslim in Cape Town is a masseur and has huge problems with his Muslim family because it is considered to be inappropriate for a Muslim to hold such a job. The prime issue is probably the contact with a client who is naked on the table. Perhaps for the family the mental association with sexual contact is a decisive objection.

7. That is to say, prudish as seen from The Netherlands. “We like to put clothes on in South Africa”, a statement from a staff member of the Africa Museum, Johannesburg, December 2010, questioned by the author about the lack of nude studies in a large photograph exhibition.

8., p. 9. In this paper E.W.K. Bartels and J. Stam describe his luxury massage practice in the Amstel Hotel, visited by royalty. Metzger also gave healing massages for free to poor people.

9. This list is not complete but fairly representative. 10. This article is descriptive in nature. The term deviations is used here in the sense of using other, less standard paths, not necessarily of acts that should be condemned.



Table of contents

0a) Abstract and Introduction chapter

0b) Definitions of the following six kinds of massage

1) Sport massage / Swedish massage

2) Medical Massage / Physiotherapy

3) Chinese / Japanese rub massage and pressure point massage

4) Holistic Massage

5) Erotic Massage - and finally

6) Tantric massage ; thesis; conclusions.

For each field I present these sections: Brief descriptions, Best practices, Perceptions, Schematic map.



Published November 5, 2012

Field of: Sexology.

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This is in English. Click for an Dutch version, Version Française.


Photos: Jeroen Leclercq,




Reaction, questions?

Center for Applied Massage Art - Kees Kaldenbach, Haarlemmermeerstraat 83 hs, 1058 JS Amsterdam (near Surinameplein, ring road exit s106, tram 1 and 17). Telephone 020 669 8119; cell phone 06 - 2868 9775. Open seven days a week.

Masseur Kees Kaldenbach is collaborating with a number of masseurs and masseuses in Amsterdam. He is also active as a masseur in the finest and most luxurious hotels.

I give this massage at various addresses: at my home address (see above), or atyour own home or at your hotel.

Lichaam & Ziel [Body & Soul] is registered at the Amsterdam Chamber of Commerce, number  3419 6612.



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Psychological Bulletin, January 2004 highlights


Psychologists at Illinois University have researched effectiveness of massage therapy. A series of visits to the masseur may reduce depression, anxiety and pain. Even single visits may help alleviating anxiety and pain and may reduce hypertension and a high heart rate.

Psychological Bulletin, January 2004