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Bald Is Beautiful

Brazilian waxing lets you say goodbye to your pubes—painfully


The classic beauty rule “no pain, no gain” has officially moved down south to the nether-regions of the body, compliments of Brazilian waxing.

Over the past few years, Brazilian waxing has found new popularity on the American waxing scene, attracting not only celebrities, but soccer moms too. This torturous form of a bikini wax removes every last strand, snippet and speck of hair from the buttocks, vulva, areas adjacent to the anus perineum and other places that mean nothing to me. Suffice it to say, there ain’t no hair anywhere.

The Brazilian features a thin “landing strip” of closely trimmed pubic hair, though this too can be chopped off (or harshly peeled, whatever) upon request. The waxes that leave the small strip are usually called a “G-Wax” or plain old “Brazilian,” while the completely bald look is referred to as “Hollywood” or “Sphynx.”

The habit of removing pubic hair (any or all of it) didn’t become a recognized practice in America until the 1990s, when bikini waxing began being offered as a standard option at most beauty salons. The process of waxing derives from Middle Eastern hygiene rituals, originating in Arab, Turkish, Persian and Albanian cultures.

Although waxing in these regions has existed for centuries, waxing the complete genital area was developed mostly in predominantly Western cultures. The Brazilians really mastered the technique in the 1980s (as if we needed another reason to love/ hate the ’80s) for women who wanted to wear thong bikinis without the worry of stray hairs.

The J. Sisters International Salon is popularly credited as the business that brought the Brazilian to the United States—specifically Manhattan. The seven Brazilian sisters, besides having delightfully alliterative names (Jocely, Jonice, Joyce, Janea, Jussara, Juracy, and Judseia Padilha), own a midtown salon whose walls are reportedly plastered with celebrity photographs, signatures and statements glorifying the Brazilian wax.

The approximately 20-minute process begins with a complete disrobing of the lower half of the body, though a paper thong is sometimes provided for the prudes. In order to prevent hot wax from sticking to the skin, talcum or baby powder is spread around the area. Next, the wax is globbed on and allowed to harden before the waxer folds back a piece of the strip and tears it off in one quick, scream-inducing gesture.

Tweezers are used in the last step—it’s numb by then anyway, right?—and any remaining hairs are torn from the area. To top off the torture, rough loofah use is suggested to prevent ingrown hairs. Purchasing a hair inhibitor may also prevent fast growth; waxes generally last three weeks.

The immediate pain usually lasts between a few seconds and several minutes, depending on the level of skin sensitivity. The after- effects, however, are sometimes just as harsh. Stubble-induced itchiness (which can be extremely uncomfortable) haunts Brazilian waxees incessantly after about 20 days. Rumor has it a bare vajohn can also feel unpleasant during oral sex if your partner has a beard. Many attest to the increased sexual interest after waxing, though the creepiness of a partner being turned on by the simulated appearance of a 12-year-old deters some.

These criticisms may seem reason enough not to commit to the 20 minutes of anguish, but be assured that there are many benefits of going Brazilian. Take it from Gwyneth Paltrow—

she told the J. sisters that Brazilian waxing “changed her life!”

Die-hard followers insist that the lack of hair increases sensuality and makes them feel clean and sexy. Christina Valhouli, a writer for and Brazilian-wax survivor, swears by the genuine fun a post-Brazilian body can be.

“I love my pubic crew cut even more after a week,” she wrote in a 1999 article about waxing. “Just walking down the street is fun because you glide. Running errands is a blast, and I would cheerfully walk 20 blocks for a cup of coffee. Plus, getting waxed is one of those hidden female pleasures, like wearing trashy lingerie under a business suit. It’s your little secret that makes you walk around with a smile, and puts an extra swagger in your step.”

These are all good reasons to make the Brazilian commitment, but my favorite reason, by far, comes in the form of a piece of non-clothing called the “pubikini.” Rudi Gernreich, the fashion designer who brought the first topless bathing suit into popularity, also designed the lesser-known and much less-celebrated pubikini—a small piece of fabric that hugs the hips and butt but leaves the pubic region free to breathe. Hey, if you’re going to go through with it, why not show it off?

Brazilian waxes usually cost between $50 and $100; Jean Paul Day Spa and Hair Salon in Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany offers a full Brazilian for $60. For those who are modest when it comes to the pube waxing art, an American bikini wax (a thin triangle of hair is left) or French bikini wax (“a racy runway strip”) serve as popular, less painful, alternatives.

Of course there is hope for those who choose to designate their no-no spot an off-limit area. According to the Web site Fashion Icon, porn and fashion magazine insiders claim that an “au natural” look is making a comeback, “not just in terms of cleavage consciousness, but as the bikini-line grooming wave of the future.”

As for the future of the hairless phenomenon, men have caught the Brazilian-wax fever: They’re called “boyzilians.” —Carlene Willsie

—Carlene Willsie

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Copyright © 2002 Lou Communications, Inc., 419 Madison Ave., Albany, NY 12210. All rights reserved.