The Real McCoy

McCoy's massage parlor guides are comprised of funny, fussbudget prose and genteel, old-world attitude toward the "charms" of the "ladies" he has visited.

George McCoy is a man with a mission. He is a relentless consumer advocate, alone on an unstoppable crusade to tell the truth about....Britain's massage parlours. "I am firmly of the opinion," states the no-nonsense McCoy, "that the quality of service that one receives in these establishments varies enormously." Stop the press!

I first stumbled upon the work of McCoy in a local used bookstore, where, for a bargain $2, I picked up a copy of McCoy's British Massage Parlour Guide No. 5 (1999-2000, which includes McCoy's Post-Football Match Massage Guide as a free bonus). Since then, although he still issues the paperback guides, Mr. McCoy has gone digital. Curious souls with £20 to spare can request access to the Members Only areas of McCoy's website, which contains Mr. McCoy's expert opinions on "over 1,800 individual working ladies, parlours, escort agencies, private flats and houses, dominatrixes, parties etc. etc. which can be sent directly to your address."

On his website, McCoy explains how he got into this unusual business. Back in the '80s, he explains, he used to be in the record industry, principally dealing in vast quantities of overstock vinyl records, a lot of which he exported, particularly to Germany. As someone who "enjoys adult entertainment as much as the next man," McCoy fondly recalls getting stuck for the weekend in Hamburg or Frankfurt, "fascinating cities, with a fascinating range of adult entertainment." He noticed it was easy to pick up a thorough guide to "the entire adult entertainment situation throughout Germany," and in 1995, when his vinyl business collapsed, McCoy decided that a guide of the same kind he found in Germany would be useful in Britain, too.

Photo from McCoy's Guide.com

Websites describing "adult" services are invariably up front and in-your-face about what's on offer, and how much it will set you back. What makes McCoy's guides so special is the author's funny, fussbudget prose and his genteel, old-world attitude to the "charms" of the "ladies" he visits, waxing lyrical, for example, about a "mature but sprightly Brazilian lass who strikes me as potentially very energetic", or the exotic delights of "a Jewish lady from Liverpool". He also manages to be unfailingly polite while leaving little to the imagination. One establishment has a staff that are "friendly and cheerful, but neither young nor shapely", another is run by a "cheerful yet mature, well-rounded and heavily tattooed workforce".

McCoy's Guides make fascinating, even compelling reading. His reviews describe not only the "ladies", but the whole experience, including the qualities of the facilities, the size of the shower, and availability of easy parking. If the photographs on his website are anything to go by, these establishments -- places with names like Vixens, Angels, Caesar's (and Ceasar's), describing themselves as "Elite Health Clubs" or "Executive Spas" -- are cramped, seedy back rooms in urban or suburban homes, gussied up with mirrors, leopard print fabrics, small Jacuzzis, and sordid-looking "VIP rooms". Yet McCoy is relentlessly upbeat. "Where credit is due for facilities, cleanliness, value, choice, quality etc. it is duly given," he asserts, giving extra credit, for example, to an establishment that offers "an isolation suite, if you fancy being locked up on your own", and "a parlour that featured in the ITV program "Vice: The Sex Trade".

Photo from McCoy's Guide.com

"Where there is clearly room for improvement, we say so," claims McCoy sternly, though his criticism is generally mild ("This unique parlour in a container still has the noise problem when it rains," "apparently, the fantasy shed out back is no longer in use.") And sometimes you wonder what poor George has done to be treated so rudely. "As often as not when I turn up there, they are too busy to see me", he comments of one parlor. Another is "run by as unfriendly a couple as I have ever come across," of a third, he complains: "the door is slammed in my face whenever I try to visit the establishment." And when even the unfailingly polite McCoy describes an establishment as "pretty tawdry", well, watch out.

Another endearing feature of the guides is that McCoy seems oblivious to the nudge-nudge, wink-wink irony that prose on this subject could so easily fall into. He always seems to have a straight face. "Mature Massage" is described as "only a stone's throw from the new Relief Road." Of another establishment, he comments, "Paradise has its ups and downs."

Sometimes, you get the feeling that things are changing too fast, even for a suave man-about-town like George McCoy. "Alas, the charming black lady who used to run things is no longer around," he comments on one establishment. And of another, he confesses: "I had the shock of my life when I discovered it had become a gay sauna by the name of Atlantis." Still, he has a touching faith in the power of his fame. "Incidentally, some of the superstars can be a bit like prima donnas," he says. Tell them you expect to be treated as George said you would, and you should have a massage to remember."

Photo from McCoy's Guide.com

Oh, and in case you get the wrong idea, the 1999-2000 Guide includes a proviso in the Introduction: "In some cases, it has been rumoured that the masseuses have offered sexual services in addition to a standard massage." Goodness me. What does McCoy have to say about that? "With no personal experience of such activity," he concludes, discreetly, "the publishers could not possibly comment."

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.