The 90′s were a time when New York women celebrated a newfound ability to have sex just like men. But where some saw liberation, others saw just another exercise in humiliation. The sex was often better, but the intimacy still seemed lacking. Some level of deep exchange was just not present in a “Did you come?”–”Yes,did you?” encounter. Despite platoons of men entering therapy, few seemed able to offer more than steely technique or self-involved psychodrama in bed. What’s a girl who wants sex and intimacy to do?
Pay for it.
Enter Jason, who doesn’t want to use his real name, for reasons that will become clear. A 24-year-old yoga teacher and licensed massage therapist, Jason has developed a lucrative sideline in what he calls “sensual foot pampering.” He’s up to 15 regular clients, several of whom live near him on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. He makes house calls. And his fee-$40 an hour-is recession-friendly, just $10 more than a pedicure. If there is a missing ingredient in the sex lives of New York women, Jason seems to be one answer.
“Each sensation was so different and seemed to run through my whole body,” one of his clients told The Observer . “It was like he was loving my feet; he was making love to my feet with his face. And I was like, ‘Thank God!’ I didn’t owe him anything but the money I had to pay him.”
What, exactly, does Jason do? As his client relaxes in a comfortable chair or in her bed, he begins by giving her a foot rub. When he feels the timing is right, he kisses her feet. Then he nibbles, licks and sucks. His hands never stop massaging her feet. Jason says that sucking on a woman’s toes can create enough sensory stimulation for her to have an orgasm.
Which is how Nikki (not her real name) got interested. “A friend at work told me about Jason. I thought she was crazy at first,” said Nikki. “I didn’t understand what she was talking about. She said it would be fulfilling. She thought it might help me with my depression. I was like, ‘Yeah, right, it’s just another thing.’ Then she told me that I’d feel like my toes were having an orgasm-like I had 10 penises and I was getting a blow job on all of them.”
Nikki is 31 and petite, with breast-length ash-blond hair and pretty Italian features. She works in sales. On a recent Sunday, she wore a white faux-fur-trimmed jacket, a blue baby-T emblazoned with a red rhinestone star, jeans and black Steve Madden knockoffs. She said she’s originally from “down-home Brooklyn” but now lives in Gramercy Park.
A year and a half ago, she said, she was dating obsessively, not wanting to be alone, even though none of her dates was “any more appealing than the glass of wine on the table.” She got depressed, stopped dating and started having one-night stands.
“I had good raw sex, plain boring sex, and then I had some bad, bad sex,” she said. “I was searching for answers.”
She read books with titles like Finding Your Path and Seat of the Soul. She paid 150 bucks for something called a holographic patterning session. “She did weird stuff with pens,” said Nikki. “She wrote her name. She wrote my name. Then she muscle-checked me. It was ridiculous! But she was really into it.”
On the advice of her friend from work, Nikki called Jason. Right before her first session, she was extremely nervous. She cleaned her whole apartment, took a shower and drank white wine.
Jason arrived. He looked very young. Very innocent, peaceful, clean. The fact that he was young helped. They chatted for 45 minutes and she drank more wine. Then they began.
“I was totally enthralled with how he was into it,” she said. “One toe felt penis-like, one toe was more clitoris-like, and the pinkie one was kind of tickly.”
She’s become a regular. “It’s, like, real intimacy,” Nikki said. “Something is being exchanged .” She added that seeing Jason has helped her stop acting out sexually and lifted her depression. “When you find a way to connect yourself with human life and life energy and flowing, depression doesn’t happen,” she said. “The more healthy flow you have in your life, the better.”
Jason’s evident enthusiasm for what he does seems to be the hook. Lisa (not her real name) is a 32-year-old nurse with bobbed brown hair and gray eyes who lives on the Upper East Side. We met on a recent night after she had attended a hospital fund-raiser; she wore a navy knee-length skirt and a striped sweater.
She said she’s had a foot fetish-for her own feet-for 11 years, ever since a college sleepover guest snuck “down there” early one morning while she pretended to sleep. It became her primary fantasy. She tried to get boyfriends to do it-she’d maneuver her feet up toward their faces during lovemaking-but even if they gave it a shot, they didn’t seem to enjoy it, and she always felt like they were doing her a favor. She went to a fetish club once, but found it disgusting and left right away. She visited foot-fetish Web sites, but all of them catered to men. She was starting to feel like a freak, so she gave up. Then six months ago, a friend gave her Jason’s number and she promptly tucked it away. Shortly after Sept. 11, she gave in and booked a session.
The first time Jason came to Lisa’s apartment, they sat and talked for a bit. She asked him if he honestly enjoyed doing what he did, and he said yes. That’s what she needed to hear.
“It felt like his mouth and tongue were really talking to me,” she said. “It felt like he was really into it. You know how some people are so mechanical and they just go through the motions? It felt like Jason was into me and exploring me . Like he was really listening. It felt like he was there . Not to say that Jason is someone I’d want to have as a potential boyfriend. But you know, it’s the way a girl should be treated.”
The first session tends to make women nervous. Which is why Lauren, a 26-year-old fashion-events planner, asked a friend to join her. She’d heard about Jason from a colleague who told her that she was using a trainer who was into “reflexology” and “other foot work.” She thought that Lauren would be a good candidate for what he did. So Lauren called Jason to book an appointment; he explained that he had “a foot-fetish thing.”
Jason guided Lauren and her friend through some basic yoga poses, followed by meditation. Then he gave them a good hour of reflexology, which included toe sucking.
Now, a year and a half later, Lauren feels comfortable enough to see Jason alone, on average three times a week. Except for a few close friends, she tells people that Jason is just a yoga trainer and reflexologist. During the session, she likes to wear a short Pucci nightgown and silk leggings with bare feet. She said she likes to vary the program: sometimes more yoga, sometimes more meditation, always toe sucking. She said it has reduced stress and helped her sore back.
“It’s been really erotic, and it’s been enough for me to get totally wet,” she said. “And there’s nothing I could do about that. At times, it’s been really, really good for me. It’s released a lot of energy that’s pent up. Maybe it’s a bit of foreplay, but it doesn’t go that much further.”
Lauren hasn’t told her boyfriend about Jason because she’s concerned he’d get jealous, although she added, “I think some guys would probably enjoy it, to know that their woman is getting pleasured like that.”
She said she knows seven other women, mostly from her office, who also see Jason.
“I am not a trained reflexologist,” said Jason, “but I do invariably hit some pressure points as I go along.” Jason is half-Indian, half-Hawaiian, but was born and raised on Long Island. He is 24 and single. His eyes are large and brown, his features exotic and warm. He listens carefully and seems almost compulsively honest. He still can’t quite believe women pay him to practice his foot fetish, which he’s had since the summer when he was 8. That’s when a 12-year-old neighbor used to come by his house and take off her shoes. He just couldn’t take his eyes off her beautiful feet. By the time he turned 13 and everything was “functioning properly,” it started becoming a more sexual thing. He thought he was nuts.
Before Jason started his foot-pampering business, he taught yoga and offered a combination of Swedish and shiatsu massage. He tended to avoid the feet during massages. Then an attractive, curvy, blond 33-year-old yoga student of his booked him for a private massage at her place.
“I started to massage her. It seemed like she was getting excited, but I wasn’t sure,” said Jason. “I put a towel on her and asked her to flip. She flipped over and left the towel off. So her breasts were exposed. Then I started massaging her feet, at which point I think we both got into a more sexual state. I was getting turned on. And she was getting turned on and started moaning. I was biting myself. I was like, ‘Should I do it? Should I not?’ I wanted to use my mouth on her feet because she had nice feet. I was kind of getting green-light signals, and I was just biting myself. And then I just went for it. And she totally got into it. I just stayed there, and then I asked her if I should continue and she said yes. Then I started going up her leg with my mouth. And then she wanted me to have sex with her. I stopped at that point. Afterward she paid me, and I was like, ‘What are you paying me for?’ She said, ‘What you did with my feet was amazing! Here, take the money.’”
The blonde called back to book another session for herself and also to arrange a foot session for a 21-year-old friend. How much would he charge for just the feet? Jason decided on $40, even though he charges much more for a massage-when it came to feet, he preferred to see many women as frequently as possible. The second client referred five new clients. “A lot of girls say that they’ve always wanted to try something like this. It’s amazing,” said Jason.
Four of his clients openly masturbate during the sessions. Three others orgasm without even masturbating. Jason doesn’t know about the others, who only tell him that it was a great pleasure. He also has several regular massage clients who don’t know about his specialty.
One regular foot-pampering client, a redheaded, green-eyed model who lives in the East Village, called him once at 5 in the morning. She said she had four girlfriends at her place, they’d been up all night dancing, would he come over and do their feet? He jumped in a cab.
“I showed up wondering, ‘Are these girls really going to be into it?’” said Jason. “They were all fucked up on something-maybe Ecstasy. And they were all like, ‘My turn! My turn!’ They kept calling me over to do them. I couldn’t believe this was real.”
He said he thinks women enjoy his foot work because he pays full attention to their pleasure. He gets into it, breathes with it and puts his energy into it. He said he sees it as transferring a sensual, erotic energy-as opposed to sleazy-over to the women.
Lauren sees no reason why she should ever stop seeing Jason, even if she gets married. “I’m a lucky girl,” she said. “I don’t feel like it’s anything close to cheating. And it really does help my body.”
Lisa said that when she finds a boyfriend, she will probably stop seeing Jason. If a guy really loves her, she said, then he’ll love her feet, too. And then, she said, she won’t need Jason.