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Public eye: Lisa Dunn, 36

New York street interviews: Stories from the sidewalk as told by real New Yorkers about their lives in the city that never sleeps.

Photograph: Allison Michael Orenstein
Lisa Dunn, 36

16th St between Irving Pl and Third Ave

What do you do? I’m a massage therapist. I’m from New Orleans and had a thriving business there, and I’m rebuilding it here. I’ve been here just over a year.

From one crazy city to another. Totally. New York is way crazier, though. It’s just…challenging on so many levels. New Orleans is very community-based, and I’m sure that exists here, but it’s harder to tap into. That’s what I’m working on right now—creating a network of people again.

I can see how it would be harder here than in a town of chatty Southerners. That can be overbearing about New Orleans, though. I appreciate the privacy here. They’re kind of opposite places. Even the weather—there, we get summer for months, it’s hot as hell, and everyone is miserable. Here, just as you get used to the weather, the season changes.

Will you stick it out here? Yes, I’m committed to staying. There are things I love about it—I’m being exposed to more, and I’m taking a lot of massage classes now that I hadn’t had a chance to take before. I just recently took a visceral-manipulations class.

That shit is crazy—that’s the organ massage thing, right? Yeah, basically. Isn’t it amazing to think that we ignore those parts of our bodies all the time?

Are our organs really yearning to be massaged? [Laughs] If you have a fall or something, it can disturb everything, and you can get scar tissue that ends up pulling your organs in certain directions. Or if you constantly overeat, your intestines and stomach can move out of place.

Gross. You must find that New Yorkers have different problems from New Orleanians. Tenser shoulders? Yeah, totally, and more tight calves from walking. Also, in New Orleans, people want to hang around and chat. Here, they want to jump on the table, have me beat the shit out of them and leave. That’s not my way at all. [Laughs].

Are requests for happy endings an occupational hazard? You know, no one has straight up asked me for one, and of course, happy endings are not part of my business. But I have had weird things, like, guys will want to take their clothes off before you leave the room, or you walk back in and they’re standing there naked. [Laughs] People are weird.

More from Lisa

“I see myself being a village healer one day.”