Sex

Utah Moves to Clamp Down on "Pimp" Massage Therapists

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Tim Cosgrove Utah

Life in Utah is about to get more stressful. The Utah House has just passed a bill (HB 114) that would facilitate crackdowns on unlicensed massage parlors.  

Unlike Minnesota, which is trying to deregulate some occupational licenses, Utah wants to expand licensing to include more massage therapists. Currently, a masseuse doesn't need a license as long as a massage doesn't manipulate "soft tissue." This loophole allows practitioners of Reiki, sensual massage, and more spiritual relaxation to bypass Utah's stringent licensing requirements. To be fully licensed, a massage therapist needs at least 600 hours of training and must pay $10,000 for lessons on "human anatomy." 

The bill comes after accusations that unlicensed massage therapists are fronts for prostitution. HB 114's main sponsor, state Rep. Tim Cosgrove, has blasted the "soft tissue loophole," saying "It really has been nothing more than a veil to camouflage the solicitation for prostitution or other illicit activity."

Ergo, HB 114 would re-define "massage therapy" as

providing, offering, or advertising a paid service using the term massage or a derivative of the word massage, regardless of whether the service includes physical contact.

Reiki practitioners and other alternative masseurs would now need to be licensed. In addition, limits on advertising would inhibit these businesses from promoting on Craigslist and backpage.com. 

Not complying with the law would lead to steep legal consequences. In Utah, operating without a license is actually a worse crime than prostitution. The former is Class A misdemeanor and can lead to 1 year in prison and/or a $2,500 fine. Meanwhile, prostitution is a Class B misdemeanor, with 6 months imprisonment and/or a $1,000 fine as possible penalties.

As The Salt Lake Tribune notes, since these businesses would be illegal if they didn't have a license, cities and local jurisdictions would have power to shut them down. Indeed, a city official from Murray, Utah, praised the proposed law for exactly that:

Investigating them "puts our officers in professionally delicate situations and personally delicate situations," he said. "We're just really hoping we have to run fewer stings in our community."

Unsurprisingly, there is also a "baptist and bootlegger" dynamic at work here. The head of the Utah chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association supports the bill, since it doesn't go after "professional" masseuses. Cracking down on alleged prostitution in Utah provides the moral cover to eliminate the competition. Of course, if prostitution were legal and occupational licensing were abolished, there would be no need for the crackdowns in the first place.

Katherine Mangu-Ward on Craigslist "erotic services." Reason on prostitution and occupational licensing

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  1. What about massages that turn soft tissue into hard tissue? Are those OK?

    1. As long as no money is exchanged. Gifts are presumably ok though.

    2. What about massages that turn soft tissue into hard tissue?

      Correction: I meant massages that turn soft tissue into hard tisssue, then back to soft tissue again. The kind that sends the customer away with hard tissue . . . well, that would be a sad way to end a massage.

    3. We simply can not have people touching each other’s soft tissues!

      1. The U.S.A. needs to criminalize prostitution in order to maintain our huge number of pussy-begging manginas.

    4. If your tissue is still soft when that kind of massage begins, you better find another masseuse. Or some blue pills.

      1. The yellowish pills are better than the blue pills.

  2. In Utah, operating without a license is actually a worse crime than prostitution.

    Reminds me of when the People’s Republic of Boulder passed a law making it a misdemeanor to smoke tobacco in restaurant, meanwhile marijuana remained a petty offense.

  3. If licensed masseuses would just offer a happy ending, they would be better able to compete in a free market.

  4. No mention of Cosgrove’s party? I wonder why that is.

    1. Are you accusing Reason of shilling for Team Blue?

  5. I think it moved.

  6. ” Of course, if prostitution were legal and occupational licensing were abolished, there would be no need for the crackdowns in the first place.”

    It is legal – if you are elected to office.

  7. Whenever I get pissed at PA’s alcohol laws, I remind myself that at least I’m not in UT.

    Though I really don’t get the idea of massages in the first place (except as a front for prostitution). I don’t find strangers touching and rubbing me to be a particularly relaxing thought.

    1. What is she’s hot?

      1. A hot woman who’s willing to rub me is probably going to rob me too.

    2. If you ever had lots of tense muscles you would understand.

    3. Though I really don’t get the idea of massages in the first place (except as a front for prostitution). I don’t find strangers touching and rubbing me to be a particularly relaxing thought.

      In other news: Tulpa tries his hand as a news reporter.

  8. The offical statement from the Pimp Massage Therapist Association.

  9. They should call this Huggy Bear’s Law.

  10. Currently, a masseuse doesn’t need a license as long as a massage doesn’t manipulate “soft tissue.”

    What am I missing here? How can any massage be performed without “manipulating soft tissue” given that the entire skeleton is encased in it??

    1. You don’t understand. It’s “soft tissue”, not soft tissue. Read as “naughty bits”

      1. Yes, I assumed that what it means; it’s just not what it says. Given that it is a law, it probably should say what it means or mean what it says. As it is, it precludes any type of massage that I can imagine.

      2. I’m pretty sure that there is no legal massaging of naughty bits for money in Utah, with or without a license.

    2. Google reiki (it was mentioned in the article)

      1. I did. So in Reiki they use their palms. Woo woo! Don’t see how that answers the question.

        1. In Reiki, they manipulate a made up energy field rather than actual body parts.

          1. Oh OK; thanks. That’s hilarious – making an absurdity absurd is not that easy.

          2. I knew an idiot who took “Reiki Healing” classes who claimed his instructor could control the energy field to such a degree that he could recharge batteries. He told me he was sometimes able to get a few more turns out of his cordless drill by using the same technique. I started to explain the concept of battery rebound but realized quickly there was no hope. This guy would also talk your ear off about chemtrails, lost alien civilizations in south america, some sort of secret off limits alien excavation in the Grand Canyon, and numerous other crazy topics including Orgone energy and Nikola Tesla inventing some sort of free energy device. Lots of chuckles.

            1. My friend’s wife is a “Reiki Master”. He has a PhD in materials science. I just don’t get how he can even talk to her; the gulf is too great.

  11. Is this the sort of thing Utah is aiming to stamp out?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikqkLWz_JBw

    (Careful if you’re at work)

  12. Is this the sort of thing Utah is aiming to stamp out?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikqkLWz_JBw

    (Careful if you’re at work)

  13. Currently, a masseuse doesn’t need a license as long as a massage doesn’t manipulate “soft tissue.”

    QUE?

  14. For you folks with the “soft tissue” questions: The other kinds, not currently subject to idiotic licensing, do not manipulate soft tissue. They are holistic rubdowns meant to mentally relax. They are not designed to manipulate the soft tissue to relieve actual physical tension. And yes, some probably are fronts for prostitution, bot that I give a fuck.

    But, there is a difference in Reiki actual massage.

  15. I’m going to assume it’s Republicans that are mostly responsible for passing this. You know, the party that loves small business and hates job-killing regulations.

    1. In Utah, it’s the Republican-Mormon Party vs. the Democrat-Mormon Party, and their sole goal is to attract the more radical members of their tribe. There is not a socially liberal politician in that entire state with any influence at all.

    2. “Rep. Tim Cosgrove, D-Murray, wants to close that loophole…”

      Yep, it’s all those evil Republicans, because TEAM BLUE would never push for intrusive government!

      1. Republicans hold a super-majority in the Utah legislature, so they aren’t even agreeing on what to have for lunch without GOP support.

        1. I think we can agree that socon Mormon politicians in Utah, D or R, can be odious about social issues.

  16. can lead to 1 year in prison

    We gots to keep the prison guards employed, but we don’t want inmates who might actually scare them.

  17. I got a handjob from Marie Osmond once. Does that count?

  18. What about being tied up when I get a Brazilian? I can still get that, right?

  19. It’s interesting how the function of the regulation would be a clear violation of the right to free speech, except that the person exercising the speech is asking for money. Somehow speech becomes non-speech when you’re advertising for a business.

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