"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked…and shaven?"
—With apologies to Allen Ginsberg
David Beckham does it. So do a lot of gay men. Hell, I even know some straight gents who do it.
They strip their balls clean.
Women have long shaved off the hair down there. In fact, WW devoted a cover story to this follicle phenomenon ("The Fuzz That Was," WW, Dec. 14, 2005) and why gals don't want thatches of curly pubes growing out the sides of their bikini bottoms. But every time I read a blog or open a newspaper now there's some male sports star or celeb talking about his shaved ass. Do guys really need their peckers to look just like they did in junior-high swim class?
"My generation has a phobia about hair down there," says 24-year-old Peter Murray, a confessed trimmer and music publicist. My informal office poll suggests a lot of other young dudes are doing it, too. "I think it's due to our exposure to hardcore porn," confessed one of my twentyish cubicle mates. "Hair gets in the way of close-ups."
To get to the root of this touchy topic I talked to Dvija Michael Bertish. Owner of Vancouver, Wash.-based the Art of Hair, he's one of this area's only licensed practitioners who specialize in this type of male grooming. In the biz for 15 years, Bertish it's only been in the past five that he's seen a real rise in men wanting to get their nether regions shorn: "It's largely due to cultural, social and personal preference. But most men want to look and feel their best. They don't want to look like orangutans. It's very lucrative to grow this part of my business."
Bertish's most common request from his male customers, besides back waxing, is the "Brazilian" (cheeky Brits have dubbed it the "Boyzilian" or "Full Monty") for $55 a session. On men that's the removal of the hair on the buttocks and inner and outer thighs. Whatever's left near the pubic arch is designed into a symmetrical shape. "Very few [men] want it all removed," says Bertish, who will even color it, if someone wants that done, now that there is a line of cosmetic products designed specifically for pubic hair. And, oh, by the way, he only does Brazilians on men.
Although he doesn't refer to it as "manscaping," Bertish agrees these services have jumped into our mainstream vernacular: "Steve Carell didn't help my business when he screamed, 'Kelly Clarkson!' in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. But it isn't horribly painful when you know what you're doing." Bertish believes it's a fear of pain, more than a fear of being made fun of, that deters men from getting their weeds whacked. That's why he offers his more temporary "full-body clippering" as well.
This is not a job for amateurs. Beware the trim job by Washington Wizards point guard Gilbert Arenas. According to a Feb. 11 blog post Arenas wrote on my.nba.com, he was dared to shave his scrotum by his teammates. He used his girlfriend's rusty razor and ended up doing such a bad job he needed ample amounts of talcum powder just to cool off his junk. During a game, a puff of white smoke followed him every time he drove to the basket, gaining him the nickname "Puff the Magic Dragon."
Gawd, this is one time being old school feels really good.
The Art of Hair, 2803 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver, Wash., 360-281-4747.