Toronto
3 min

Grit your teeth and pull

It was the slickest, smoothest Pride I can recall. Repositioned booths on Church and Wellesley made for better traffic flow, the literary readings in The Beer Store parking lot added a welcome new dimension to the party-heavy celebration (big congrats on that one) and the Indigo Girls concert Saturday night in the Wellesley parking lot was one of the nicest nights I’ve ever spent in the ghetto. Friends complained the audience was too straight but hearing real voices floating real harmonies above real instruments — not computerized concoctions of remixed sound bubbles — made my night. Pure magic under the stars.

But that wasn’t what everyone was talking about. Oh, no. We’re talking fags here, folks, and when it comes to priorities, we’ve got our heads screwed on right.

No, the big story over Pride weekend was the great manscaping controversy.

I thought the scraping, waxing, shaving and general dehairing of the male body was very old news, but I guess not. Over and over again, I heard, “Did you see that story in The Globe?” The story in question (“Wax On Wax Off” or “Manscaping”) chronicled a young straight guy’s journey through depilatory hell. It didn’t tell you much new, but it sure invoked the ouch factor. The guy waxed and — surprise, surprise — it hurt. He used mechanical clippers and they pinched.

But then who in their right mind would use mechanical clippers on a part of your anatomy that has more sags, folds and pitfalls than a sloppy tamale? The nether regions of the male physique are not designed for all-terrain vehicles. There are way too many bumps and gullies.

Neglected almost entirely was a rather more pressing issue. The writer was so busy touting the trendiness of the fad that he skated right over its major downside: the stubble. Shaving’s no fun when you end up with a Brillo pad on your belly or beard growth on your bum. It’s irritating for both hair follicles and new conquests alike, especially if they like full body contact.

Not to mention it’s itchy as hell. Yet the solutions are either expensive (lasers) or painful (see “waxing” above or check out The Globe’s blow-by-blow slide show at Theglobeandmail.com/life). So what are you supposed to do?

Personally, I learned more from a seven-year-old story in Salon magazine about the vulva-shaving secrets of female pornstars. Apparently most of them shave daily and use Visine eye drops to eliminate red razor bumps. But even they admit that their shaved areas often look smoother than they are. (The camera lies.)

Still, the Globe story seems to have hit a nerve. One coupled, condo-owning friend who claims it’s been years since he’s been to a club or even out past 9:30pm, said it made him want to get out the “hedge clippers and start bushwhacking. I’m so behind all the trends.”

I’ll say.

Several years ago a different friend showed up on Pride Sunday with his legs spread wide. He’d received a sample of Nair or Neat or some other depilatory the night before at a dance and, neglecting to read the directions, had applied it directly to his balls. Ouch. He was in agony.

It just goes to show how far we’ll go in search of the perfect sexual image, an image that is always out of reach, but maybe all the more desirable for that.

The Globe writer suggested gay men borrowed the smooth-skin look from body builders, but it’s got a deeper, richer history than that. The current trend probably owes its existence to pornstars and underwear models, but it has roots much farther back in the mythological past. From Ganymede, sometime boy-consort of Zeus, through to Michelangelo’s hairless David, the image of the smooth-skinned ephebe has long been one of gaydom’s central relics.

Trying to imitate that image is rather silly for anyone past the first flush of youth (or blessed with a heavy ursine pelt) but there’s no denying that it’s kind of fun. Kind of like playing dress-up or making mud pancakes.

Personally, I think dehairing is the most fun a guy can have without stroking his meat. It’s trivial and it’s pointless and it probably has next to no effect on your sexual appeal but it’s one of those rituals that can make you feel more confident, like washing your bum before a big night out.

It’s kind of like donning a special pair of underwear before a big date. It probably won’t have any effect on how it goes. Anyone who’s really hot for your ass isn’t going to pause to admire either your grooming or your undergarments. But if it makes you feel better, you might as well go for it, itchy bumpy stubble and all.