Where does happy ending massage come from?
In literature, a happy ending describes a story where the heroes achieve the best possible outcome and wrap up loose ends while forest animals look on in approval. In the world of erotic massage, however, a happy ending is entirely different, illegal in most places, and definitely not suitable for innocent animals.
Erotic massage has been around for centuries. Ancient Greek doctors prescribed it to patients, for instance, and it remains an important part of contemporary Tantric practice. Calling a hand job or blowjob at the end of a traditional message a happy ending, on the other, um, hand, is a 20th-century innovation. Erotic massage moved away from the realm of medicine and spirituality and into fly-by-night massage parlors, brothels, and prostitution fronts, and by 1999, a Weekend Australian article had described a massage parlor as providing “a guaranteed ‘happy ending’" and the term was born.
The slang term spread in the 2000s, when happy ending messages became stereotyped as a service offered at Asian massage parlors or in late-night Bangkok backrooms. And, law enforcement occasionally make headlines by busting illicit erotic parlors (and their customers).
Happy ending massages are often the subject of popular humor. A 2005 episode of the TV comedy Robot Chicken, for example, played on the stereotype of the Asian masseuse offering a happy ending. The happiness came not from a sad, spiritless hand job, but from the hot, deep-fried goodness of egg rolls. Yum.
Who uses happy ending massage?
Massage providers who offer erotic services may use happy ending to discreetly offer their services, and their clients may use the phrase to request said services. Word to the wise, gentleman: Don't go to a regular massage parlor and ask or expect a happy ending.
ME: is this one of those "happy ending" massage parlors?
MASSEUSE: sure is
MASSEUSE: *closing oversized storybook* ...and they all lived happily ever after
ME: *snoring peacefully*
— Andrew 🐙 (@DrCephalopod) May 12, 2018
Happy ending is also a euphemism for people online who are seeking out erotic massage services and reviewing them on forums like Rubmaps or the now-defunct Backpage.
I'm going to open up a happy ending massage parlor for women only. I'll find a loophole in the law.
— Natalie Nightwolf (@NattyNightwolf) July 1, 2018
Outside of illicit erotic massages, romantic partners may refer to happy ending massages in the privacy of their own homes. No need to know more about that.
I gave my wife a massage and offered her a happy ending. So now I’m in the living room vacuuming.
@KentWGraham, June, 2018
Apparently "My happy ending" by avril is an inappropriate song to sing in a massage parlor... who knew.
@TyA11en, July, 2018
A state lawmaker from Queens is trying to close the curtain on happy-ending massage parlors with a bill requiring spas to register with the state to weed out those that are fronts for prostitution.
Carl Campanile, Alex Taylor, & Gabrielle Fonrouge, New York Post, October, 2017