Phone listings lead to misconceptions
Certain phone book advertisements are contributing to a stereotype the massage industry has been fighting so hard to change, local therapists say.
In letters addressed to the South Lake Tahoe City Council, several therapists complained about ads listed under the “massage” heading that represent legal prostitution establishments in Nevada. They are asking the city to create a law to delete the “massage” heading and list only “massage, therapeutic” in the local telephone directory.
“Historically, men’s clubs have been advertising under massage long before it ever became an issue for massage therapists,” said Nancy Egan, owner of ProMassage in South Lake Tahoe. “I don’t know why they should advertise under ‘massage’ any more so than under ‘bakeries.'”
Because the Pacific Bell phone book is not printed in Nevada, the businesses cannot legally advertise under “prostitution.”
And according to City Attorney Dennis Crabb, the city has little authority in the matter. Telephone issues are handled at the state level.
“What these folks are doing in Nevada is legal in Nevada,” Crabb said. “There are interstate commerce issues and First Amendment issues to deal with, which we’re not aware any city has ever attempted to do.”
He said people should first contact the phone company to lodge their complaints about the advertising.
“I’ve always felt that the phone company, when they had customers come to them and could accommodate them, they always have,” he said.
But for those who are serious about wanting the headings changed, Crabb suggested they go to the state level. In his staff report for tonight’s City Council meeting, he recommended the council forward concerns about telephone book advertising to the city’s state representatives.
Meanwhile, massage therapists say prostitution advertisements mixed with ads for massage businesses is misleading to the public and further degrading the image of the massage profession.
“Although most of us are really just doing legitimate therapeutic massage, the largest ads are for the ‘gentlemen’s clubs’ in Nevada, who all offer ‘outside calls – 24 hours,'” wrote Martha Kennedy, owner of A Touch Above Massage Therapy. “I wonder what sort of image a person gets looking at this in our phone book? I have had people come in who are just as concerned about finding a real massage as I am about finding clients who want them.”
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