Friday, December 3, 2021

French wellness firm turns sauna into an erotic sex shop

Written by By Ellen C. Wulfhorst, CNN

Over the last decade, the spa industry has slowly shed its white-bread, hedonistic reputation. At rehab clinics, for example, popularity is rising among the city’s transients. Which is why, as a founder of a self-described “tech and innovation boutique spa,” Ross Labuang feels most positively about the #MeToo movement, because he sees it as creating a widening gap between top talent, and the majority of the workforce, made up of whiteness.

“White privilege was born out of not having people like us, so now we’re forced to reckon with it. I feel super proud, and not just for myself, but for all the employees that I work with,” says Labuang, founder of Impatient in Bath, a wellness center and “Cinderella Resort.”

“I’m extremely lucky to have an amazing staff, who are all gorgeous, but we’re also very different,” he adds. “When I saw that I was in a position to create positive change, I was more than willing to do it.”

An erotic spa

Now, Labuang and his staff have succeeded in drawing in minority female spa-goers with a new spa that looks more like a kinky sex shop than a facilities catering to luxury. The Personal Massage Gallery in Bath, England, features a champagne-fondling table, and specializes in leather-carved and pink heart-shaped massages, all priced at a staggering 700 pounds ($930).

Only, unlike everyone else’s massage tables, they’re fully covered.

The shop, now fully staffed with black female employees, creates a greater sense of dignity and individuality for its customers. “To understand and embrace what really life is, you have to take out of context everything you’re used to,” says Labuang. “If you watch too much TV, you’ve got a really narrow and exclusionary idea of what life is.”

Creative ripples

That sentiment doesn’t only apply to customers, however.

In fact, the expanse of a coworking space in Canada, all rented out for rent by Labuang, has turned his staff into media icons for bringing diversity to the luxury spa industry.

“I realized that the luxury spa industry has a huge target market and a wide cross-section of people that want to be treated, but it doesn’t include a lot of diversity,” Labuang says.

That’s when he and his group gathered in a room above their spa, among a crowd of journalists and PR professionals, to model vibrators on kink sites, and to enter the spirit of the barre class concept, “The Burning Sides.”

“It took a lot of us to get there, but now, we’re throwing away all the expectations that this industry has had for a long time,” Labuang says. “It was so refreshing to see all the industries working together to fight to change the status quo.”

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