No sex please... we're real masseurs
Masseur Christa Grenz was looking forward to putting her skills to the test and making a success of her new health and beauty shop in Sliema.
Scores of people responded to her newspaper advert, but there was one nagging problem: the caller on the other end of the line was quite often a man requesting a "full body massage... with extras".
Ms Grenz is one of several masseurs having difficulty practising their legitimate business, since a number of men seem to be mistaking legitimate massage parlours for upmarket brothels.
The problem seems to be so widespread that some masseurs are calling for legislation to distinguish genuine masseurs from parlours that are acting as fronts for prostitution or erotic services. Some masseurs have even installed emergency buttons if men become too demanding.
Illegal 'massage' parlours have sprouted in different parts of the island providing men with a safer - and what is perceived to be cleaner - alternative to soliciting prostitutes on the street. But all this comes at a cost to the legitimate therapists who have to put up with sexual requests.
A number of adverts appearing in the print media border on the sensual, promising 'a special female massage' or 'satisfaction guaranteed by friendly and versatile therapist'.
Meanwhile, legitimate masseurs often have to contend with men who transmit cryptic messages to check whether sexual favours are part of the package.
Ms Grenz, a 47-year-old German, is at the end of her tether: "I am not only surprised, but also annoyed by the number of men calling for all the wrong reasons," she told The Sunday Times.
"When certain men hear that I provide a Swedish massage, they immediately start fantasising about a 1.8 metre tall blonde who will provide them with all sorts of services.
"I don't know who these men are, but it's so embarrassing. If these men knew a thing or two what a masseur really does, they wouldn't ask for this kind of thing. Some of them will ask what I will do after the actual massage. Others will ask if they will feel totally 'relieved' at the end. I can only tell them that I don't know what they're talking about."
Ms Grenz has also had to contend with men turning up for their massage without wearing any underwear. Some massage parlours have even taken the extreme measure to decline all massages for men.
Therapist Jean Bannon said that at least 60 per cent of those calling, after she places a newspaper advert, request an erotic massage. The vast majority of these appeared to be well-educated, she said.
"They are always inquisitive as to what really constitutes a full body massage. Some will ask for extras. Some men will express surprise if nothing else is available."
Ms Bannon said she is aware of a number of underground 'masseurs', operating in the Bugibba and Paceville area, who will offer a variety of extra services for €103.50 (Lm45).
Questions sent to the police last Wednesday asking if any illegal parlours have been investigated, have not yet been answered.
However, it is not just men who make special requests. A male masseur in a major four-star hotel, who preferred to remain unnamed, said that several of his female clients asked him to go a step or two further.
"Every month I do get at least three to four women, normally foreign, who will even ask me to sleep with them."