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The Reluctant Adventurer: Getting A Brazilian in Portland

Saturday, April 04, 2015


Hair is weird.

Hair on our head makes sense – if you have any bald friends, you know that all it takes is an exposed head on a cold night to make one realize why we still have it.

But pubic hair? What possible purpose could pubic hair serve at this point?

Theories vary.

Some believe it’s a guard against friction in an area that would definitely be prone to skin-on-skin action during the course of the day.

It might be a sort of nest for pheromones released by our apocrine glands that, combined with sebaceous secretions, create what you might call the body’s own hairy “come hither.”

Still others see pubic hair on women as the “eyelashes of the vagina,” keeping dirt and other detritus from entering into our ladybits. (If by “detritus,” they mean douchebags who require their girlfriends get waxed, they may be right!)

Regardless of the reason it’s there, we can’t seem to decide how we feel about it.

It may seem like the trend in the past few years to shave it all off is a new thing, but shaving and depilatory practices go back to ancient times, when women would pluck, pumice and even burn the hair off their nethers.

And apparently we haven’t always been so squeamish about pubic hair—19th century British women used to give it to their lovers as a fond remembrance. (“Hey, remember that time you were down there doing stuff? That was awesome.”) King George IV apparently comingled his lovers’ hair in a snuffbox, now kept in a collection at St. Andrews University I assume is titled, “Super Gross Shit From History.”

I’ve never felt particularly strongly about pubic hair one way or another, which was evidenced by my lackadaisical approach to my own. If it was being viewed by someone other than myself, I’d give it some attention. Otherwise, hey — you do you, labia.

This is why I’d never had a Brazilian.

Well, that and the fact that I have a low threshold for pain and don’t enjoy strangers having unfettered access to my hooha. I’m not ashamed of it, it’s just that it’s one of a couple private areas on my body where private things happen privately. That’s why they’re called “private parts.”

Even so, I have a column to write, so I made an appointment with the good people at Wax On Spa, a spot that was specifically recommended for their Brazilian.

In case you’re unfamiliar, a Brazilian is where you have pretty much all the hair waxed off your pubic area, including your perineum and everything behind it, leaving only a tiny “landing strip” of hair right in the middle of your pudenda.

I walked into the bright space and was immediately both put at ease and terrified by the snifter of tequila on the table in front of me, which managed to signal “Hey, we’re fun and casual about this!” and “This is going hurt like a motherf*cker!” at the same time.

That’s where I met Laurie, who has been doing Brazilians for over a decade, much of that time spent in Vegas, which I would imagine is the Brazilian capital of the world. (Worst. Geographer. Ever.)

Laurie led me to my own private waxing area, and on the way I passed another room with one of those Obama “Hope” posters on the wall. I was glad I wasn’t in that one, since the experience would’ve been a lot more surreal with the president looking aspirationally at my vag.

It seemed a little out of place, but when you think about it, getting a Brazilian is a hopeful act for many, like keeping your house clean just in case friends drop by.

Laurie had me undress completely below the belt and gave me the tiniest towel ever to cover up with, which was kinda funny considering what her vantage point was about to be, but I’m sure they do a lot in these situations just help people manage the awkwardness.

She explained to me that she was going to use a wooden tongue-depressor-like tool to spread wax on me, then press small strips of fabric onto the wax and rip out all my hair from the roots.

Which I agreed to.

Which begs the question, why do I hate my vagina so much?

I kid. I don’t hate my vagina. But I sure do have a weird way of showing it how much I love it.

Laurie was really honest about the pain—she said she of course couldn’t tell me that it didn’t hurt, but told me the pain was manageable, which it was, largely. Until the very end.

I’m not sure how other Brazilian Artists do it, but Laurie worked from the outside in, which I’m sure they do to ease you into the experience, but what that meant for me was going from the least amount of pain to the most. 

I won’t get too graphic, but I will say that the area right next to and below the little man in the boat? I’d have her skip that next time.

But that’s just me. I’m a person who doesn’t like her personal hygiene rituals to trigger her fight-or-flight response. Plus, I love a vagina with a Tom-Selleck-like mustache.

I should add that Laurie said it always hurts the most the first time—after that, the hairs become finer and therefore less stubborn.

And other than that last part, Laurie was right…it was a similar amount of pain to waxing any other part of your body, it was just more surface area than I’m used to. Additionally, it’s definitely strange to have the same casual chit-chat you’d have with a woman cutting your hair or doing your nails with someone who’s staring at a part of your body even you feel awkward looking at.

It’s like when your gynecologist asks you what you did last weekend while she performs a pap smear. It’s just not a position that’s conducive to opening up. Ironically.

Even so, I loved hearing about Laurie’s experiences in Vegas, so maybe it’s a position I’ll try for future conversations. I’ll try it with my mailman next.

As far as the result, as much as I hate to admit it, I thought it felt really great. Which makes me almost understand why women do it. I think I can get largely the same result with a razor, though, so it’s just not worth the pain and cost ($70 at Wax On, $40 for just a bikini wax) for me.

After all of this, it struck me that our choices in this area impact the person we’re dating more than they actually impact us, so I did ask the person I’m seeing what he thought of the before and after. He was equivocal.

Which made me like him so much more.

Wax On Spa

3808 North Williams, Portland, OR 97227. (503) 517-9945.

RECOMMENDED FOR: The well-manicured, the hopeful, people with a higher pain threshold than me.

NOT RECOMMENDED FOR: Wusses, hippies, the celibate, any of the women in The Joy of Sex.


Courtenay Hameister is the Head Writer and Co-Producer of Live Wire Radio, a syndicated radio variety show distributed by Public Radio International. She is currently working on a book that will be released through Audible.com in 2015. Follow Courtenay on Twitter at @wisenheimer


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