issue 1The year was 1985. Ronald Reagan was President of the United States, and Mikhail Gorbachev took office as general secretary of the Soviet Union’s communist party. Madonna launched her first concert tour, while “Amadeus” won the Best Picture Academy Award and the Record of the Year award went to Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It.”

A massage therapist born in 1985 will be 30 years old soon—and although she won’t recall any of that year’s events, her professional life has been guided in part by another significant milestone took place in 1985: From a home in Kealakekua, Hawaii, Robert Calvert (1946–2006), a former massage therapist and massage school owner, his wife, massage therapist Judi Heyamoto (now Calvert), and a team of 12 volunteers launched the first issue of MASSAGE Magazine. At that time, there were no other magazines serving the massage field.

In 1985, massage therapy was not the well-known health care modality it is today. It was not yet used by sports teams, at hospitals or in integrative practice. People who practiced massage were generally referred to as masseurs and masseuses. The Massage Therapy Foundation was five years away from its inception, and the Touch Research Institute wouldn’t be established for seven years. Massage was almost unregulated as a standalone health care profession, and state laws that did govern massage tended to be adult-establishment laws or massage parlor codes.  The watershed report, “Unconventional Medicine in the United States—Prevalence, Cost, and Patterns of Use” by David Eisenberg, M.D., which alerted allopathic medicine and the media to the popularity of complementary and alternative medicine, would not be published for another eight years.

But the world was ready for a massage publication. From its first issue, MASSAGE Magazine ushered in a level of consistent connection and communication that the massage field had never experienced before. The first issue, published in black and white, included articles on shiatsu and reflexology; a profile of Aunty Margaret Machado (1916–2009); and an essay on why athletes should start receiving massage. Advertisers supported the magazine for access to the publication’s growing niche audience, and readers consumed profiles of bodywork innovators, industry news, and feature articles about issues in the massage field.