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Come June, one of Nerve's most enduringly popular features will return. I Did It For Science follows the sexy, occasionally humiliating, and often hilarious adventures of two Nerve writers who'll try anything once — as long as it's for science. All-new installments, by a fresh pair of writers, will hit your screen in just a few short weeks. In the meantime, enjoy this refresher course: a classic installment by original reporter/victim Grant Stoddard. Click here for more.
Trying to find a massage establishment that offers a "happy ending" is no easy task, especially if you're not intimately familiar with a city's seedy underbelly. Luckily, Isabella just happened to know a "friend of a friend" who was aware of such a place. As directed, I went to a faceless building in midtown Manhattan, feeling more than a little sheepish. Although the thought of being interfered with by a beautiful, skilled masseuse was exciting fodder for my teenage dreams, by the day of reckoning I was a bundle of nerves.
I walked into the building's lobby and was greeted by a rotund man in a crumpled blue shirt that sported a blob of every condiment in the Heinz rainbow. I asked where the massage place was.
He gestured to the basement, his verbal skills compromised by the two or three knishes he seemed to be masticating simultaneously. I headed down a flight of stairs that ended with an unmarked gray door. This led to another flight, and another and another. Curiouser and curiouser, I thought as I opened the final door into the softly lit lobby of a spa. The room contained a counter and a plush leather sofa that snugly accommodated four attractive Korean women between the ages of twenty and forty. "Hello," chirped the most senior both in age and standing, and she hopped up to get behind the counter. "Hi, I'd like the full massage," I stuttered, placing a clumsy and unnecessary-in-hindsight emphasis on the word "full." The younger women smiled at each other and me with a kind of curiosity that I would encounter on several more occasions this afternoon.
I was asked if I had been to the spa before. It was then that I became conscious, nay, extremely paranoid that anything I said could blow my cover. I said I hadn't. "Seventy-five dollar, cash," said the woman, who handed me a fresh towel, a crisp robe and a locker key affixed to a comically large chunk of lumber. "You follow me," she ordered and led me into the men's locker room. I use the words "locker room" loosely, as I'd never seen its like before. The "lockers" were made of an ornately carved, heavy dark wood; the floor was granite. A large marble sink and counter was covered with expensive soaps, aftershaves, deodorants, razors and shaving gels. I don't know what this says about the circles I run in, but this was the fanciest joint I'd ever seen! In the middle of the attractively lit room was a low bench with twenty pairs of sandals underneath it. "You shower, lock locker real good and keep key all time," the woman commanded. I nodded a little too much. She left the room, and I got changed. Looking around the changing room for signs of any other clients, I spied a pair of large black dress shoes tucked into the row of sandals. I hardly recognized my reflection as I stared back at the kimono-wearing dork in the mirror. I was just a ponytail and a copper bracelet away from becoming Steven Seagal.