Damn, the spa industry is huge. As in, $13 billion annually in North America alone. The problem is, a person can only get so many hot-stone massages and third-eye oil drips before feeling the urge to punch the masseuse in the babymaker. For the love of Pete, how do these businesses differentiate themselves? The answer: by getting weird. So, in the spirit of keeping Portland you-know-what, we set out to find the most bizarre spa practices in the area and weigh the good, the bad and the ugly. Enjoy.
Pointe Day Spa, 4800 NE Belknap Court, Hillsboro, 640-6404, or thepointespa.com. $75 for 55 minutes
An underwater massage conducted in a fancy hot tub.
Well, No. 1, it's popular in Europe, and we all know what that means: Instant coolness, people. Also, it's supposed to be exceptionally versatile, offering everything from lymphatic drainage to muscle manipulation. Finally, if an S&M fireman fantasy is recurring on the shelf of your mental sex library, you can pretend you're being blasted with a fire-killing, high-pressure hose.
Hello! The Euros, those freaks.
How exactly this is relaxing:
Kinda like Space Camp with Lance Bass, the water creates a weightless feeling, and like Jesus, can also somehow cleanse the soul.
What happens: You sit in a high-tech tub with 122 air and water jets. Then, a therapist points a handheld "water wand" at you. A bathing suit is required. For the ladies, we recommend a one-piece so that you can get a nice air bubble going in the suit. Either that, or a very, very white T-shirt.
Hell, yeah! All you need is a bathtub and a participant willing to shake a hose in your face.
You'll probably stop complaining about your neck/scapula/pinched nerve for about a month post-wassage.
"No frills" Korean bathing house, Jade Sauna, 4210 SW 110th Ave., Beaverton, 644-5544, or jadesauna.com. $45.
It's a non-invasive green tea douche. You know, the kind where you sit on a cedar chair over a pot of tea and the steam cleans out the vagina, fallopian tubes and uterus. What, you aren't familiar with this process?
Why the eff you would want to inflict such weirdness upon yourself: Apparently, it helps stop the premenstrual insanity. And yeast infections.
We're not sure, but it seems to be the folks over at Jade Sauna.
According to our guinea pig, former WW intern Joanna Cantor, it's not. It's just...weird.
Taken from Ms. Cantor's spa journal: "A stool/toilet-seat combination located in a brightly lit corridor was the scene of the crime. Underneath the chair sat a Crock-Pot of what was presumably tea. I sat on the chair, awkwardly spread my legs and waited. An attendant arranged a giant white cloak over the tea chair and me. She allowed enough of an opening near the top for one of my hands to hold and sip a cup of tea, but that was all: Suddenly, from the neck down, I was in the most intense steam room I've ever visited in my life."
We tried. We turned off the water, emptied out our toilet, and dumped steaming hot water and a couple of Lipton tea bags in it. And then we were scared to sit down.
Anything that alleviates the symptoms of PMS deserves a freakin' gold medal. Anything.
This treatment has a high probability of causing a deadly disease called burnt vagina. Ouch.
It's not worth the pain and potential infertility of a burnt vagina. No, thank you.
Aequis, 419 SW 11th Ave., 223-7847, or aequisspa.com. $45.
Friday-night Floyd experience.
Aequis spa owner Megan Klein.
If you: A. Have taken hallucinogenics in the past three or four years, or are given to acid flashbacks; B. If you just sucked down a bongload or two and are experiencing paranoia; or C. Can't stand classic rock, just say no. Or bring earplugs.
Usually, Aequis is a delicious haven of spiritual sanctity; kind of like a church, except it's OK for the staffers to touch you. But on Floyd nights, they pump rock through the speakers instead of the standard New Age caca. Yes, Floyd—you know, the band with such comforting lyrics as "and the worms ate into his brain," "the lunatic is in my head" and "one of these days, I'm going to cut you into little pieces." Rad. So, even if you wanted to relax during a harmless foot massage, you can't, because visions of enormous inflatable pigs, schoolchildren falling into meat grinders and arm-flailing, dirty-toed hippies are dancing inside your head.
You could, but it's best left to young coeds in dorms who spent 30 bucks on a dime bag and a lava lamp.
It is a foot massage, after all.
The combo of Pink Floyd and spa treatments is less yin and yang and more pure contradiction. Aequis is liable to induce a spa shooting.
Hippie central: Breitenbush Hot Springs, off Highway 22, Detroit, Ore., 854-3320, or breitenbush.com. $80 for 90 minutes.
It's a tummy massage! It's supposed to transform "the energy of the internal organs." If, by "energy," they mean, "stop explosive diarrhea and massive, embarrassing, silent-but-deadly farts," then by all means, bring it on.
See above. For some people, the stomach, upper intestines, lower intestines, colon and anal area cause problems. See below for what you can do cosmetically to enhance the butt area.
Ancient Chinese secret. We're serious.
Andrew Clauer, who dispenses Breitenbush's belly massages, says that Chineitsang helps work with digesting un-digested emotions in the body. "In our modern societies, we can't take care of our emotional bodies anymore. More and more things get squashed and put away, and we store it in our bellies," he explains. "The symptom is a signal that something needs to be changed. My job is to feel where the charges are being held. Sometimes there's big emotional reactions, but clients usually go into a dream space." What? OK.
"The person lays on a mat or table, on the floor, and you have your knees raised up on some pillows, so that the belly is relaxed. It starts off with some breathing and awareness exercises," Clauer says. "I have my hands on the belly and am manipulating the organs, like working on spine. Sometimes it can be painful but it's helping...that just means that's where the emotional charge is. I manipulate the organs, then the pain will be gone. It's amazing."
You can try, but it's best to leave manipulation of internal organs to surgeons and the good Healing Arts Team at Breitenbush. Otherwise, you're likely to trap some unintentional air all up in there, and that just spells trouble.
We think you can figure it out.
What if, like, when a priest cleanses a haunted house and then the ghosts get even more agitated, the manipulated energy of the internal organs incites a little civil war in your tummy—could something go terribly, terribly awry?
It's worth a try. Go for it.
Well, here's the deal. WW can confirm that happens around here, but it's waaay "under the radar." Of the 12 local salons we contacted, two admitted to performed behind-bleaching, but none was willing to advertise its services. You've got to ask for it. And if you're going to ask, we'd suggest starting with a call to local salons the Face Place (243-7576) or Zen Space (281-0681). Just sayin'. We found the process costs $50 to $75.
It's been called lots of things, but basically, anal bleaching is the process of lightening the skin around the butthole, so that when your loved one goes to toss your salad, he or she will see nothing but a pretty pink pucker. Hopefully, as this procedure becomes more popular, mass confusion between ass and face will not ensue.
Why the eff you would want to inflict such weirdness on yourself: Well, we ladies are down to tearing out our pubes with hot wax, so clearly, pinking up the brown eye so you have a lighter shade of ass is the next frontier.
Porn stars, of course. According to Cynthia Esser-Thorin, the owner of Pink Cheeks spa in L.A. and creator of the Pink Cheeks Amazing Anal Bleaching Cream, it started with nasty dancers wanting to lighten their anal area. Seems that when girls would bend over, customers would comment about the dark anal area. "A lot of people think they're dark there since they don't wipe good," says Esser-Thorin. "They think it's a stain, but it's all genetics."
Not to get too gross, but here's the straight poop: For those who like a little paraphilic infantilism, someone will be wiping your ass with a towel at some point. Otherwise, it's purely cosmetic.
According to ass expert Esser-Thorin, when Pink Cheeks does it, they wax the anus first and then apply the cream. "You apply the cream at night and sleep with it on so that you're bleaching it from the inside out," she explains. "How fast it works depends on how much melanin you have down there."
Why yes, you can! You'll need a bleaching partner, but otherwise, all it takes is a can of good old Pink Cheeks Cream and some patience (order the product over the phone from the Pink Cheeks salon: 818-906-8225). Like BriteSmile, it'll take a few weeks to see the ultimate results.
There are benefits aplenty! Bleaching one's own asshole is bettering the lives of people across the nation. Vaginoplasty makes the pussy pop with symmetry (no more mud flaps for us) and our nether regions are hairless—why not have a glistening pucker you can eat a salad off of? We are the cleanest society in the world! Basically, a pure-white bunghole says to the world, "Hey, America! I'm a fine, upstanding citizen. I'm so fabulous, my asshole is happy and no longer the exact hue of roast beef."
Four words: eczema of the anus. Also, the cream contains 20 percent hydroquinone, a suspected carcinogen banned by France and the U.K.
As long as this hydroquinone doesn't burn the chocolate starfish to a painful crisp, what's the problem? Embrace beauty. Do it.
Reporter Laura Shinn called a dozen local spas in her quest to find proud practitioners of anal bleaching. Here are the responses she got back:
[disgusted sound] "No. We do not do that."
Wax On Spa:
"Oh, we get that question all the time. We just can't do it because the chemicals are a little too risky for us."
[giggles] "Yeah. I've heard of it, but we don't do it here."
"We don't do it. We have heard of it, but we do not want to be affiliated with that procedure."
Pure Med Spa:
"I've heard of it, but we don't do it here."
The Face Place:
"I'd do it if it was a regular client. But I just don't want to get any weird people off of the street."
"We don't, no. Someone called and asked if we did it a month ago, that's the first I've heard of it."
Kanani Pearl Spa:
"I have no idea about that. I've never even heard of it."
"We are open by appointment and do waxing and facials. I would do it, but won't because my business partner doesn't want me to."
"We'll connect you with estheticians who know more about delicate skin issues."
"We do laser hair removal around the area, but no bleaching. One of the girls in the Jackson, Miss., Mona Spa does it. We were all talking about it when we were there last winter."