Liza Lim is the owner of Revive Touch, a massage and wellness company that is the official massage partner of the World Poker Tour (WPT) and event management and consultancy outfit Living it Loving it (LILI).
Liza has been a massage therapist since 1999 after receiving her training from the world-renowned educator, Seymour Koblin, creator of Zen Touch Massage.
She leads a team of women from all over the world and has provided massage services to the games greatest poker players, A-List celebrities and pop stars; and this makes her the perfect candidate to have a female perspective on poker.
Do you find that the levels of sexism changes dependant on where you are working in the world?
I absolutely feel more sexism in certain parts of the world; however, I think this is truer of an older generation no matter where I am. It seems that the younger, more progressive man is not going to debase women. I love being surprised when I meet a man of noble qualities that supports women who are feeling uneasy when receiving sexual remarks.
In terms of sexism, how does poker measure up to the other industries you have worked in?
Before working in the poker industry, I worked in a community of empowering women for five years so I would give an unjust answer. I think that there is more of a sexist attitude wherever women are pushed to be more sexual, and I do see that more in the poker industry. However, I do see many female poker players and presenters that don’t play this card and are well respected in the poker community.
Are you, or your girls, subjected to sexist comments when working in the poker industry?
Usually, the comments I hear are not bad ones, and instead they’re complimentary, although I don’t understand half the languages that are spoken around me!
I do hear the occasional remark of happy endings because the massage profession has a bad reputation brought on by the sexualisation of the massage parlor industry. It doesn’t help that there are massage parlors that practice in sexual favors, because it creates an attitude in some people that they go hand in hand. I just don’t focus on that. I focus on my work and how to deliver the best service I can for my clients.
I notice that the girls wear make up to prettify themselves when working. Does it bother you as a woman that you have to do this?
Sometimes, it does feel like a chore, but mostly it’s my ritual of just presenting myself well when I’m at work. When I’m fresh out of the shower, I just want to go, but I know at the end of a 10 – hour day, that make-up will be my best friend. Make-up also helps me feel like I’ve put time in to take care of myself and it’s very important for me to feel good when I get out on the floor to work.
Do you feel under pressure to be someone you are not in order to fulfill your role in the poker industry?
My role in the poker industry is to be professional, friendly and take care of my clients. It’s who I am, so I don’t feel the pressure, but my role did change when I started doing poker massage to having my own business because I did feel the need to be more professional and to be a role model to my team.
When I first started in the poker industry, I was really lost because, as I mentioned, I worked in a female dominant community and then jumped into an environment that was male dominant, a complete 180. I saw masseuses using their sexuality to get clients and I don’t particularly agree with that. I wanted to create something else that is more fitted to my values, and I convey this to my team as well. If you play an inauthentic role, and you do it for quite some time, people will find that it doesn’t bring them happiness.
From a business perspective how does it feel to be a female owner of your own business in a heavily populated male business environment?
I quite enjoy the challenge of having a business, albeit every experience is not a great one. Even though there are more men in this industry, I deal with men and women equally. I would say that the harder part is not being female, but trying to produce something of more quality when it comes to providing a massage service. Even though it’s a service that many poker players partake in, not everyone in the poker industry respects those giving massages until they talk to us and realize we have brains too.
If I told you that I believed female masseuses are more likely to get more work than male masseuses what would you say to that?
I would agree with that which is why you see more female masseuses than men. There are lots of men who are closed to the idea of another man touching them. Then again, it depends who you are and how confident you are. I have a friend who I worked with at Commerce Casino in Los Angeles and we would have competitions on who could get the most clients. Some days he would win, because he is an amazing body worker.
What is your view on the hyper-sexualized nature of the poker industry?
Sexuality is the number one selling point in many industries, including most entertainment industries. I realize that the people behind the poker companies are doing just that. Using sexuality to sell their product, even though it has nothing to do with poker, entices the population of men but it may deter a few women and even some men. At the end of the day, it’s going to be the quality and care that a poker company provides for their clients that’s going to sustain in the end.