Real Men Do Get 'Boyzilians' and 'Manscape'
"Guys try it and look and go, 'It's better than the mess I had down there.' "
Typically, trends that start in L.A. and New York City work their way from the coasts inwards to the rest of the country. So, if a recent story in The New York Times is to be believed, bikini waxes for men — also referred to as a “boyzillian,” “he-wax” or “S.B.C.” (which crassly stands for sack, back, crack) — aren’t solely for metrosexuals anymore.
This type of waxing, comparable to the woman’s version known as a “brazilian,” has gained in popularity and aims to eradicate or minimize hair in the pubic region. The male version is officially known as a sunga and was hilariously experienced and chronicled by the late, great Christopher Hitchens in a December 2007 Vanity Fair piece.
"What we’re finding is, it’s everybody,” Bliss spa president Mike Indursky told The New York Times. “It’s the gay community, it’s the straight community, it’s very conservative guys, it’s very liberal guys. All different age groups are coming in. In keeping with the theme, Bliss promotes a service called the “Ultimate He-Wax” for $125.
“It’s much, much bigger than we ever thought,” added Indursky.
On the subject of “much, much bigger,” the desire to achieve that illusion accounts for another reason many men are attracted to lower-level waxing. “It accentuates it, because there’s nothing to obscure the, you know, implement down there,” said Ramon Padilla in an article in The New York Times. Padilla is the director of Strip: Ministry of Waxing Salon in SoHo.
Face to Face is another Manhattan salon, albeit one which caters predominantly to men, in the Flatiron district that provides a like service called a “South of the Border” for $70. Face to Face takes it a step further though and also offers a “pejazzling” option (similar to the female version of “vajazzling” which entails the adornment of colored crystals in various patterns and designs — hearts, names, rainbows, etc. — to the newly de-tressed nether-regions.)
The sale and selection of at-home personal trimmers for men has also skyrocketed and is an alternative for men who desire a manicured look yet don’t like the pain of waxing or feel modest over disrobing for an aesthetician.
Kristi Crump, marketing director for personal care products for Phillip’s Norelco North America, told The New York Times, “It’s not a niche. Lots of men out there are doing it. We were surprised, but now we know it’s a big trend.”
Crump further stated that her company had seen their sales of at-home body groomers soar by 22 percent, and according to a survey conducted by Phillips Norelco, the highest usage of these products occurred in the bikini area.
Mimi Freitag, a massage therapist and friend in the Austin, TX area told me, “When men get older they develop Lloyd Bridges’ eyebrows on their chest and ears…and it’s grey and unruly. I work on several men who have it on their backs. They are as embarrassed as we are for them. One of them gets his wife to use Nair. [It] doesn’t work as well as wax and [is] very uneven.”
I also recently checked in with Arlie Morgan, the owner of a Clarendon shop called Sisters3, an “epilation and lingerie boutique.” Voted the best place to get a bikini wax in the July 2011 edition of Washingtonian Magazine, Morgan seemed like the right person to query on the trend.
Beth: What areas are guys going hairless? What's the most common waxing region request you get from your male clients?
Arlie: Most common area waxed for gentlemen is by far the back.
Beth: How do men deal with the pain of waxing compared to your women clients?
Arlie: Men are far more sensitive to pain than women. They groan, yell, verbalize whereas women laugh and talk through the pain.
Beth: Who are your clients? Just male models and swimmers or what type of men? What are the demographics of your typical male waxing client?
Arlie: Shockingly, most common male client is a 40-something dad that is going to the beach and pool with the kids. They didn't used to have hair on their backs and are self-conscious about it.
Beth: Are their particular names or acronyms for the types of waxing services you offer for men?
Arlie: We like to call it "manscaping" for our gentlemen friends.
Beth: Can you walk us through the approximate cost and steps involved for a male client who comes in for a "boyzilian" or a "he-wax?"
Arlie: We've literally only done about 5 brazilians for men in a little over 5 years. The cost would be $100 for a full brazilian.
Beth: What does upkeep entail? How often is follow-up required?
Arlie: Men are very prone to in-growns as their hair is much more coarse than a woman's, they would need to be vigilant about exfoliation in whichever region they have had waxed.
Beth: Do you do any "pejazzling"? If so, what type of design requests do you get?
Arlie: Nope! But good question!
Even though “manscaping” is painful and requires pricey maintenance, repeat customers abound.
“Guys try it and look and go, ‘It’s better than the mess I had down there,’ Indursky of Bliss told the New York Times.
He added, “And it is. You feel more confident. It actually makes you feel more masculine, instead of less masculine, to get waxed. It sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s not.”