The Tale of the Tape
Our Intrepid Correspondent Waxes Dat Azz
But this year may be different. This past winter I did the absolutely essential I'm-an-almost-30-year-old-gay-guy thing. I joined a gym. Perhaps I'm paranoid, because I'm not overweight. But my stomach sure doesn't look as tight as it did when I was 19.
So I've been working out. Not quite amazing yet, but it's a start. And so I did the next basic I'm-a-vain-almost-30-year-old-gay-guy-who-goes-to-a-gym thing. I got my chest and back waxed.
I made an appointment with Millicent Audain, 42, an aesthetician and certified massage therapist who's been in the business for 12 years. She co-owns Audain Energy, which she runs with her husband, Stephen, and works out of Salon Giovvana, a spa and salon located in Mount Washington. Audain sized me up. From the way she looked at me and from her line of questioning, it was obvious to me that it was obvious to her that I was a waxing virgin. "Did anyone tell you about the sensation involved in this?" she asked. "If they say it doesn't hurt, then they're full of shit."
Sounds like "the first time," doesn't it? Well, the entire experience was a lot like the first time, especially when she told me to take off my shirt and lie down on the table. The first waxing experience is indeed a lot like sex: It sounds fun before you do it, but once you actually lie down to really do it, you want to go back to only thinking about doing it. After all the talk of pain and her comparison of waxing to applying duct tape and ripping it off, I was scared. The soothing music in the background was no help.
While I lay there on my stomach, Audain took a soothing lotion and applied it to my back to "degrease" my skin. She then took a tongue depressor, dipped it into a very warm cream resin wax imported from France, and spread it across my back liberally. Then came the tape and one clean rip.
"See?" Audain said, holding up the tape with my wiry black back hair all over it. Actually, it wasn't that bad.
While waxing was once strictly the domain of women, Audain said it's "not unusual" for men to get their backs and chests waxed nowadays. It's always been common for bodybuilders, she noted. But this isn't my dad's supermacho 1950s culture; the experience of facials, manicures, and waxing are now coed. These days, I think most men should go under the tongue depressor, especially if they plan on taking their shirts off this summer. Or at least they should do their backs. Chest hair is one thing. But honestly, have you ever heard anyone say, "Look at that hot guy with all that sexy fur all over his back?"
Audain told me how lucky I am because my back and chest aren't nearly as hairy as some of her other male clients'. The challenge, she said, is keeping the areas smooth: "There's upkeep involved," which, she said, may need doing as often as every three weeks, depending on how fast your hair grows and how much time you spend shirtless.
While de-pluming my back, Audain shared her bio and bits of her expertise on skin and overall health care. She says she got into the business because of her own bad experience with acne; after her first facial, she went on to pursue skin care and then massage therapy. Audain even passed the Comité International d'Esthétique et de Cosmétologie. That's French for the "highest level of achievement for an aesthetician recognized in the world," according to Audain's brochure.
Then I flipped over on my back. It was time for my chest. It hurt a bit, especially near those sensitive areas around my nipples and navel, if you must know.
While Audain ripped hair (and I winced), she told me that waxing is not just about making the vain even more vain. (Really?) Audain believes it's more spiritual.
"People want nurturing touch," she explained. "Human touch is an exchange of energy." Audain also said her client base increased during the month of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
I dug Audain. Her positive energy and level of expertise was inspiring. After she massaged my chest with soothing cream, I was ready to commit myself to a more balanced life, aesthetically. I resolved to take care of my skin and get facials and massages.
But when she asked if I drink alcohol, which she says is terrible for one's skin, I got kinda scared. The entire purpose of the wax was to look amazing at poolside while sipping a margarita. But now I can actually feel the bags and wrinkles forming as a result the poisonous mixture of Cointreau and tequila.
Maybe I'll skip the margaritas this summer and opt for club soda. Yeah, right.
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