Imagine this: You’re lying in a dark room, Enya’s melodious voice envelopes your mostly naked body, and an attractive Swedish woman rubs you down with lavender-scented oil. Sounds delightful, doesn’t it? Now imagine this: You’re in a freshman dorm room, your face firmly planted in a secondhand couch with stains in the shape of mid-western states, and you’re paying for something that is billed on flyers around Old Campus — and on Facebook — as a “back-gasm.” That maybe sounds less delightful.
This is the experience of “Le Massage,” offered by Rico Rodriguez, the head of an expanding massage enterprise. Yet despite well-oiled hands and well-composed new age mix-tapes, the question remains: is it worth paying $1.50 per minute for “Le Massage”? Freshman opinions differ.
“I do not want to be touched by Rico Rodriguez,” William Alden ’10 said. Upon hearing Rodriguez’s going rate, Alden exclaimed, “Who does he think he is?”
Rodriguez, though, seems to think that he has a lot to offer. During a recent interview, he sat confidently strumming a guitar and bantering with his suitemates — suitemates that settled in to observe the massage Rodriguez bestowed upon me. They said it is hard not to be swayed by Rodriguez’s stated motivation.
“I like to touch people,” Rodriguez said. “I like to make people happy. Touching people and making people happy make me happy.”
One can only hope that there is some correlation between the touching and the happiness. Richard Espinoza ’10 seemed to think that there would be.
“I’m almost at the point of paying someone to touch me,” Espinoza said. “I’m so lonely.”
Rodriguez, who said he has been paid to give three massages at Yale, keeps the secrets of his operation veiled. He is particularly elusive when it comes to discussing his training in the art of massage.
“I was raised by wolves in Alaska,” he said.
This is also a tradition that he hopes to pass on to other Yale students. Rodriguez said he is in the process of training “two padawans, two grasshoppers,” whom he is teaching the “not-so-dark arts.” One of these characters, T.J. Smith ’10, described his Mr. Miyagi as “an overall badass.” The other student remains nameless. When probed, Rodriguez explained that the identity of the other apprentice is “top secret,” and “on the down-low, the low-down.”
So Rodriguez is a reputable, highly-trained craftsman with skilled if needlessly anonymous assistants, but what is the “back-gasm?” Smith offered a visceral explanation.
“It’s a sudden flow of pure ecstasy [that] starts coming out of the shoulders, and makes you feel not only that you are in love with whoever’s giving the massage, but that you want to engage in sexual conduct with them, that you want to marry them,” Smith said.
Rodriguez tried to compare the “back-gasm” to similar experiences.
“You know that statue in Rome?” Rodriguez asked. “Someone’s ecstasy … the Virgin Mary … never mind.”
So the experience of the “back-gasm” may be indescribable, but Andrew Udelsman ’10 tried to help pin down a description.
“Was it as good as a sneeze-gasm?” Udelsman inquired, then went on to delineate types of “-gasms.” There may be something awkward about paying a fellow student for any type of “-gasm,” and Rodriguez inadvertently affirmed that awkwardness.
“I was thinking of charging $5 for ‘Happy Endings,’” Rodriguez said wistfully. “But the cops probably wouldn’t have liked that.”
When questioned if the phrase “willing to negotiate price” on his flyer meant that Rodriguez would accept non-monetary payment, the masseuse clarified.
“It means that I’m willing to accept sexual favors,” Rodriguez added. “Don’t put that down, I’m kidding. All right, you can write that if you also write that I said I was kidding.”
The back massage itself was incredible. Rico Rodriguez has magical hands — as long as they stay on your back. When I was offered the work-in-progress “face-gasm” massage, I didn’t know that I was going to feel like I was undergoing all of Joan Rivers’ years of facial plastic surgery at once, without anesthesia.
But trust me, the “back-gasm” is worth the money. Just make sure to pay in certified national currency.