January 2005

Julie Boulanger

la marquise

A Merry Massaging Christmas

I have always been good at giving massages. Ever since I was a teenager, I have been renowned for my massages. Sleepovers at my place usually turned the basement out looking more like a spa then a den. Yet considering that I generally enjoy receiving more than I do giving them, this talent has plagued me. Those sleepovers would eventually conclude with three girls sprawled out over couches, far too relaxed to return the service.

Unfortunately, this scenario as not much changed with age and couplehood. While my man gets the full-monty massages, complete with soft music, candles, incense, oil and any other sensory-edifying objects my imagination can come up with, I usually end up with “quickies” by a masseur who complains throughout of his own inadequacies. This holiday season I have decided to take matters into my own hands, again, and to offer my self-conscious workman with the tools to renovate our pleasure dome: Kenneth Ray Stubbs's Erotic Massage: The Tantric Touch of Love. And what I good idea it was!

The first great thing about this book is the illustrations. Gone are the days of tacky massage photos with outdated hairdos and bed covers. Kyle Spencer, a San Francisco artist, has lent her hand to the project with clear and tasteful black and white illustrations. This makes the first glance oh-so much more appealing. Also of note is the book’s cohesiveness. Stubbs offers massage techniques through illustrations and explanations, beginning with the back and working his (our) way to the back of the legs, the front torso, arms and hands, the male and female genitals up to the face. The whole book flows from one massage to the other, offering a complete choreography. I doubt that anybody can learn it all in one sitting and then administer a heavenly full-body massage, but by examining one section after another you acquire the types of movements and can create massages according to your personal, or your partner’s, preference. Stubbs encourages his readers to explore massages while offering these basic techniques.

You might be wondering where the “tantric” comes into all of this. I am not yet fully aware of what tantric sex implies. I do know that one of its underlying philosophies is that of sexual communion through the exploration of pleasure, which involves the spiritual through the stimulation of the chakras. Tantric sex is pleasure-oriented, not goal-oriented. This applies to Stubbs’s book in two main ways: first, the flow previously mentioned seeks to stimulate body energy. The simple strokes are sometimes combined with breathing techniques, both aiming to enhance relaxation and sensual communication. Second, he includes techniques such as “Laying on of Hands” at the beginning and the end of the session, which is similar to a yoga class’ final relaxation. You might not feel like it’s very important because it doesn’t appear to be part of an active work-out, but the time it takes to center yourself and to tune into your body is just as important as the stretches and the positions. By encouraging his readers to take their time so that both the person giving and the one receiving the massage can connect with the flow of each other’s bodies, Stubbs portrays the Tantric.

This tantric approach is not for everybody. I’ll admit that the book’s first few pages, from the Introduction to the Preparations pages, are not its highlight. The information shared might be important to help an amateur set the appropriate tone, but anybody who has a mildly romantic nature will find them redundant. Also, the verse structure in which these pages are written feels like it’s trying just a bit too hard to sound wise and profound. Aside for these first 25 pages, Stubbs succeeds in explaining tantric motions without sounding too spiritual or, as one of my friends would put it, too fruit-cake-ish.

Stubbs does not put too much emphasis on the genital massages, again going along with the notion of exploring pleasure rather than attaining orgasm. He basically explains a few manual techniques, some more tantric than others. The genital section accounts for one-fifth of the book and is incorporated into it as a section that can bring equally pleasurable sensations as the other massages. I was pleased to find in these pages the g-spot massage explained exactly as I have to countless male friends. Such confirmation of my personally techniques is flattering, and confirms to me that Stubbs knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the female body. If this aspect of massage is what you’re looking for, I would encourage you look at Amazon.com for his other books. You will find that a few of his other publications specifically cover genital massages and other oral delights.

Of my entire critique, I judge that most important of all is the fact that my boyfriend really liked this gift. He feels this book gives him clear and good explanations of what to do. Basically, when it comes to the massage table he’s become more self-assured, hence more willing to practice. What better way for a gift to keep on giving? So merry Christmas to me and a Happy New Year!

Erotic Massage: The Tantric Touch of Love by Kenneth Ray Stubbs
Jeremy P. Tarcher
ISBN: 0874779626
112 Pages