As the saying goes, there’s a first time for everything – and this was my first time experiencing a sensual massage. I went to Skinmap, which offers sensual massage and sex coaching for all genders in Brighton, with a very open mind, although somewhat nervous – not knowing what to expect. One’s mind meanders imagining possible scenarios and settings. I was hoping that I’d leave feeling suitably pleased and relaxed. I wasn’t disappointed.
Skinmap is a sensual massage practice run by Dr James who set it up after coming out of a long-term monogamous, vanilla relationship, and meeting his current partner who broadened his sexual horizons. Upon my arrival, James talked me through the journey:
“I couldn’t help thinking that there was something missing in my previous relationship in terms of intimacy and exploring sex and touch. Coming out of that I didn’t think what a rubbish relationship it was, rather what a learning experience this could be for me, to push me towards something different.
“I’m a swing jazz dancer so I booked on to a class. It’s there that I met my new girlfriend who is from the Czech Republic. Very early on in our date she was talking about sex – in a very matter of fact way. She told me about a very good sex club in Prague, and how she’d been introduced to it and that it’s the most normal, safe feeling place she’d ever been to. Way above any bar and nightclub because it was run by a couple who knew what they were doing. You didn’t misbehave in the way you could in a nightclub.
“This planted the seed in my mind. I had no concept of what a sex club was, except that perhaps it was dangerous and everyone jumped on you and tried to have sex with you the minute you walked in the door. Anyway this was a lovely place – the couple greeted us at the gate and showed us where there were things to eat throughout the evening, with a bar area. It was a real eye opener.
“The minute I got my kit off it was like I was in my own skin. My girlfriend said I’d looked amazing, and glowing. It was safe and we did what we needed to do. Which actually was lot of voyeurism and playing with each other and taking in the energy of the place. Also on that trip she suggested that we go to a tantric masseur. After three hours of it I came away thinking that’s what sex should be like.
“We came back and we both wanted to explore this further. Because it’s nice when you meet like-minded people and are being guided by a partner. So I started visiting sex shops and buying sex toys and I got out there, plus I live in Brighton for god’s sake. It’s all been there under my nose all the time.
“One night we went up to London for an event: eight couples in a room with a massage table. We thought they were really normal people just like us. All of the stigma was breaking down. Sexologist Colin Richards – who’s been running sensual massage workshops for couple for 15 years – explained to us about sensual massage as a social activity. Because massage doesn’t have to be a genital touch; it can be as far as you want to go. It’s a very gentle leading.
“If the energy is there you feel it building, both of you. You can communicate about how far you want this to go when the other person is face down and it can be an equally nice experience.”
Prior to my own massage I asked James about the differences between a regular massage one would experience in a salon or gym, and a sensual massage in a private setting. How would he explain it to a novice?
“There is a huge crossover between regular massage and sensual massage. The principles are the same in that it is: arousing touch. Arousing is the word that is applicable either way. Sensual massage is pleasure first, whereas conventional massage is pain relief first. Both are therapies.The big crossover is in the modality to what you’re actually doing.
“Pain relief is looking to focus on muscle groups and the application of pressure on muscles. Whereas with sensual massage, we’re not really looking at muscle groups, we’re looking at the layer above that: the skin
“In my sensual massage practice I will first ask clients if they have any aches or pains they’d like attending to. Then I will put some proper body work focus on those areas. But it’s not primarily about a full body work deep tissue massage. From the start, the sensual massage is very much about awakening the senses.
“One of the early things I do is get up on to the edge of the table and do some deep presses into the back. That’s a grounding technique. That’s about developing a sense of trust and connection with the masseur. Ultimately, sensual massage is about tease and touch – with a consensual agreement, so that you’re both in the fantasy. There’s a general tease and anticipation that I’m building all the time.”
Dr James accepts clients of any gender and sexuality, and is very clear in explaining the experience. My massage was very good. James has incredible hands, and an expert touch. The location is discreet and just a two to three mins cab ride from Brighton centre. The setting is intimate and conducive to a sensual massage.
I particularly liked the use of the feather, the intimate caressing all over the body, and the feel of the sheet being slowly removed from my back – the sensation was quite something.
I felt at ease and relaxed throughout. Dr James is a vivacious character who is very good at understanding the needs of others.
For more info on Skinmap, CLICK HERE