Strip and rip!
Having the hair removed from your balls with hot wax is an increasingly popular male fashion trend. But it’s not for the faint of heart…
by ALLISON MARTENS
“Shave and a haircut: two bits!” the barber used to say. But if the evidence from aesthetics circles is to be believed, male clients are now looking not only for the shave and the haircut, but also for a wax job for their two bits.
An increasingly popular fashion accessory for men is a meticulously waxed thatch – if enough remains to call it that – of hair down there. Regarding the new wave of male clients, one New York aesthetician confessed to Newsweek magazine earlier this year: “It’s not their backs I’m waxing. It’s their balls.”
Though such grooming was primarily the domain of gays, heteros who can stand having their crinkly bits handled with less than the usual requisite amount of tenderness are slowly warming up to the idea. J. Sisters Salon in New York City, who introduced North American women to porn-style pubic hair in the 1980s, started to offer the service – coined a Brazilian Sunga Wax – just last year. According to co-owner Jonice Padilha, the salon does about five of them per day.
But waxing a guy’s balls? Somehow waxing an area so sensitive, where the skin is less than perfectly taut – and encases the family jewels – seems scandalous at best.
A natural progression
Nevertheless, one Montreal waxophile, Yan (who didn’t want his last name used), says his girlfriend is an enthusiastic supporter of the practice. “I’m the first guy she’s gone out with who does this. At first she asked why I do it. Now, she asks when I’m going in to get it done again.”
For this 23-year-old flight attendant, waxing his boys was a natural progression. After having his chest, armpits and even legs done regularly, he finally mustered up the courage to ask his aesthetician about doing the deed.
That was about a year ago, and he’s been making monthly visits since to aesthetician Lysanne Gingras, who operates a hair-removal service out of a salon near Concordia’s downtown campus. “To try it is definitely to adopt it,” she says. The sprightly self-described “hair maniac” says her business is continually growing as more guys – gay and straight alike – get it done and then send their buddies to her. As far as she knows, she is one of only a handful of people in Montreal who will go near a guy’s scrotum with hot wax, and she has clients who come from as far away as Toronto.
The idea of waxing definitely sounded enticing to Patrick O’Reilly, an acquaintance of mine who has shaved his balls with unwavering faith and devotion for the last five of his 28 years. “It’s a sexual thing. Everything feels better and it’s more comfortable, cleaner and more sensitive,” he says, adding that he gets plenty of comments about his hairless pair. “The girls really like it. They just think it’s great! And they’re far more willing to pay a lot of special attention to that area, if you know what I mean.”
O’Reilly had grown tired of his twice-weekly shaves – which averaged about 40 minutes each – and sought a semi-permanent way to raze his pubic area. For Pat, waxing looked like the way forward. After an unsuccessful and ridiculously painful patch test done with a home waxing kit, Pat decided he definitely needed professional help.
Laughter and pain
In his initial search, the only place he found that would wax men was Physotech Plus. Located in the Gay Village for over 20 years, it is Montreal’s only full-service salon that caters exclusively to men. They’re happy to give you a picture-perfect bikini wax. But as he would find out, they don’t do balls.
Owner Pierre Lacroix says he performs about two to three bikini waxes a day, and has noticed that straight guys have started to get them only in the last two to three years. While some guys get waxed for sexual reasons, he says many who come to Physotech are bodybuilders, models, swimmers or others who require a follicle-free physique for professional reasons.
But as for waxing testicles, Lacroix says it isn’t a good idea. “When you apply the wax, the skin there is too loose – it’s not firm, like a muscle is. So when we put the wax on and then go to pull the hair off with it, the skin is going to move and stretch too much and it will be too painful. In addition, the hair in that area is very thick and coarse, so it has big roots and is very difficult to pull out with wax.”
Even though a ball-wax wasn’t on the menu at Physotech, a nervous Pat spent the next 20 minutes splayed out in a softly-lit room filled with relaxing music, holding his bits in various positions to get the hair whisked away from his “bikini” area, perineum (the area between the scrotum and anus) and for extra good measure, the crack of his buttocks.
Pat’s session was punctuated with surprised gasps of pain, bursts of laughter and the odd four-letter expletive. Before emerging from the room with a moist glaze over his eyes, he was told that sex was verboten for the next 24 hours. This, says Lacroix, is “to allow the pores to close and prevent infection.”
As for hair on the testicles, Lacroix recommends trimming it with a small set of clippers with a No. 1 blade for the closest crop. Laser hair removal is another option that can provide good results, he says, but is best for those over 30 years of age whose hair growth patterns have stabilized.
Safe for the scrotum?
Lysanne Gingras, however, maintains that waxing the scrotum is safe and that it’s simply a matter of technique. “It’s a team effort. You do have to stretch the skin very carefully in order to remove the hair. It’s a delicate process, but with the help of the client, it can be done.”
Unlike Lacroix, who uses warm wax, Gingras uses hot wax. While his wax is a clear honey-like liquid that rolls on easily, the wax she uses is of a thick, creamy consistency that must be applied with a spatula and looks like Silly Putty when it dries on the skin a few seconds after application.
Despite their names, they are used at about the same temperature. Because the so-called hot wax is thicker and hardens a bit once put on the skin, it coats the hair better and gets a better grip on it, facilitating removal. Women would recognize it as the one used when they get Brazilian waxes, as it is best suited for pulling out coarse, stubborn hair such as that in the pubic area.
At any rate, although he was pleased with the results of the bikini waxing, there won’t be an encore for Pat. “I don’t think I’ll be doing it again because of the pain. Shaving seems to work, even if it is a pain in the ass.”
Yan agrees that “it hurts,” but added that he’s “definitely been through worse.” For him, the benefits, such as lower maintenance (because hair is pulled out at the root, it doesn’t grow back as quickly) and finer regrowth make it all worthwhile.
Pat was also unnerved by the small amount of bleeding he experienced. With some clients, and depending on the type of waxing being done a small amount of blood, usually just a minuscule drop from the odd pore, is not uncommon.
“It comes with any kind of waxing, especially if the skin is very sensitive or you have eczema,” Gingras says. “But with first-time waxers, the hair follicle is often surrounded by something similar to a whitehead, so when you rip it out it can cause a bit of bleeding.” As one waxes more regularly and the accumulation of gunk that can surround the hair is removed, this becomes less of a problem, she says.
The pervert factor
A contentious issue surrounding the procedure is who should be doing the waxing. J. Sister Jonice Padilha said she wouldn’t offer the service unless a man was wielding the spatula. This is primarily to thwart the parades of misled perverts looking for a good time, but also for overall comfort. “If a woman were to have a guy wax her, she probably wouldn’t feel comfortable. Men understand one another, and a man can anticipate another man’s needs better than a woman can,” she says.
Gingras, who has been waxing for four years, will wax men and says she’s seen and heard a lot. “You can usually tell by the demeanour of the client as soon as they walk in the door whether they’re here to get hair removed, or just to get off.” But, she adds, the removal of the first strip of wax quickly separates “those who are there to have an ‘experience’ from those who want to get the job done and get out.”
She says she has learned to apply wax to one small area at a time. This allows those who are in the wrong place or find it too painful to make a swift and graceful exit. In the past, a few men who decided mid-process that it’s not for them have headed for the door with wax still clinging to them.
And another minor challenge awaits: “Whether they want to or not, they frequently get erections,” says Gingras. “It’s usually not because they’re excited or that I’m doing anything, it’s just the body’s natural reaction to being touched in that area.” But if the situation gets out of hand, she says her solution is to place a cold, damp towel over the area and leave the room for five minutes before continuing.
For those who get squeamish at the thought of being waxed by a woman, Gingras says it’s not that big a deal. “It’s just hair, whether it’s on your back or on your testicles.”
A male Brazilian with Lysanne Gingras takes about 45 minutes and costs $34. Her studio is located at Normand Coiffure, #102 – 1645 de Maisonneuve W., 934-0309. Basic bikini waxes at Physotech Plus (1657 Amherst, 527-7587) start at $18 and go up with the amount of hair you want removed.
Good or bad idea?
An informal survey on ballwaxing
Although there are other reasons, it would seem the primary motive for men to wax their balls is to enhance their sex lives: perhaps because everything looks bigger down there when not obscured by a web of hair, or they think it increases their chances with the ladies. But what do women think about it? An unscientific survey conducted upon a panel of girlfriends revealed mixed feelings.
Lee, 21, student
“If we’re expected to, then guys should wax also. But it doesn’t have to go that far: a trim is good enough. I think it’s only fair that equality should extend to the nether-regions. And besides, who likes it when you’re going down on someone and you choke on a hair? If someone is going to put their mouth on you, you’d better clean up the area.”
Kelly, 28, artist
“Regardless of how you get rid of it, I prefer that there’s no hair there: it’s totally better for sex. It feels much better. But I guess it’s more of a cleanliness thing, especially for oral: the hair doesn’t get in the way and it smells better.”
Aude-Agathe, 25, waitress
“Bad idea. In my opinion, the skin on a guy’s balls is too thin and over the years, it would stretch them out. And can you imagine getting an ingrown hair on your nut? That area is just way too sensitive to screw around with. Shaving is good enough to get the job done.”
Angèle, 25, flight attendant
“Why not? I think it’s great when there’s no hair. I prefer that when I give fellatio, it’s nude down there. It’s cleaner, and I find it’s more erotic.”
Milena, 25, artist
“I don’t think it’s a good or a bad idea – it’s an individual choice as to whether someone feels that they need to do it for themselves. There’s nothing wrong with the procedure or having it available. After all, it’s common for women to it done. So if you want to do it, ‘Go boys, go!’. But as long as it’s done by a professional. I definitely wouldn’t try this one at home.”
Melissa, 25, sous-chef
“I don’t like the idea at all. I like my men big and scruffy – I like to be the little feminine one. But then again, it’s not really a problem for me because my boyfriend isn’t all that hairy anyways.” – AM