(no pictures, but some racy text)
The best bikini wax story I've ever heard involved the photographer Helmut Newton. Helmut asked a well-known American model to come to Monaco for a shoot. As he did with all his female subjects, he matter-of-factly asked her to go to the dressing room and strip. When she returned "in her birthday suit, and with no icing on her cake," as my friend Kasper tells it, Helmut hit the ceiling. "I hate these shaved pussies," he fumed. "I hate women who look like 12-year-old girls." In a fit, Helmut called in his hairstylist and had him glue in pubic hairs all day long until the model was sufficiently tufted for the camera. "It was the Brazilian bikini wax that went too far," says Kasper.
To wax or not to wax? And how much to take off? That is the question. Some men, like Helmut, are diehard bush men. ("The hairier, the better," says a male Queen's University professor friend of mine.) Others prefer tundra. The Victorian art critic John Ruskin is an extreme example of the latter. As the story goes, Ruskin was so horrified by the hirsuteness of his bride Effie's tender parts that he ran away on his wedding night and never consummated their marriage. Before Effie's, the only pudenda Ruskin had ever seen belonged to smooth Greek statues. Poor old Effie; maybe she should have done a little weeding before the wedding.
In the battle of sex, pubic hair is a private virtue for some and a public menace to others. Which is why we began with a little timid pruning around the edges just to clean up the bikini line for summer. But what started out as a demure trim on the outskirts has spread inward and become a cultural obsession. Thanks to the seven Brazilian J. Sisters -- Jocely, Jonice, Joyce, Janea, Jussara, Juracy and Judseia Padilha -- who brought the thong-friendly Brazilian wax to New York in 1987, women through the '90s have been subjecting themselves to a late 20th-century torture technique that would not be out of place at a sleepover with the Marquis de Sade.
For the uninitiated, a Brazilian wax strips the short and curlies off front and back, leaving a tiny rectangular strip in front that is called the "landing strip" in America, or the "ticket de metro" in France. The landing strip naturally led to the bare-all sphinx, otherwise known as a baby or a playboy, and it was about then that Helmut Newton got into his Cadillac and drove himself into a wall at the Chateau Marmont hotel.
Which is best?