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Mastering manscaping

Bode Spa and Medi-Wellness centre puts men's fears and discomforts around grooming in those sensitive areas to rest

Toronto's Bode Spa tries to eliminate any stigma around waxing for men. Credit: Bode Spa

To simply say “it hurt” would be an oversimplification. The experience was profound and all-consuming, leaving me not just smooth, but inexorably changed; a wisdom had been awakened inside of me that would never return to slumber. You mean women do this all the time?

Manscaping is a taboo subject for most guys. Mention an interest in getting groomed down south, and most men are met with a slew of emotions, from outrage to disgust. No wonder so many of us are resigned to lying in the tub, clumsily grooming with a Bic and a hand mirror, praying to the Lord that a sneezing fit doesn’t come on during the more tender moments. And then, after all of that intense, dangerous work, comes the razor burn, the ingrown hair and the embarrassing revelation of that big patch you missed on the underside of your balls that is found only in the most intimate of times. Come on, boys. There must be a better way.

Determined to get to the bottom of this, I hit the swank Bode Spa Medi-Wellness for Men in Yorkville. With two locations (the original is mega popular in Ottawa), Bode has a reputation for quality, male-only services. Figuring that there must be some intricacies that are unique to manscaping, this seemed like the perfect spot. Upon entering the clean, classy, relaxed spa, owner Daniel Francoeur assured me that men are in good hands here.

“Men produce 30 40 percent more oil than women do. And here we are ripping off hair, which produces a lot more oil and can result in break-out issues, and they don’t really teach you in school how to take care of it.” The result of this gap in aesthetic knowledge, he explains, is that men often won’t be taught about appropriate after-care and will be turned off by the resulting issues. Being an expert in the field of manscaping, Daniel has this knowledge and more.

It’s important to note that the above was said to me while laying bare-ass naked, face down on a bed while wax was being spread on my cheeks. Daniel spoke animatedly while laying the papers on the warm wax, then pulling them off with a loud-but-satisfying ripping sound. See, to get the real experience, I went with the “Partial Brozillian.” Most of you can imagine what that entails, but I’ll clarify. Similar to a woman’s Brazilian, this treatment includes the removal of hair around one’s . . . bathing suit area. In a man’s case, this means the buns and lower back, the crack, the perinium, the balls, the shaft, and some spaces around the base of the winky-doodle. The Full Brozillian would clear out the pubic area as well, but seeing as I like looking like I’ve hit puberty, I decided to leave that area just neatly trimmed. The treatment can include many different materials, but for the sake of demonstration, Daniel used a mixture of wax, sugar and laser to complete mine.

Having recovered from the initial shock of stripping naked and having my ass manhandled, I was beginning to think this wasn’t so bad. The wax felt kind of good going on and only hurt for a second coming off. I started to wonder what all the fuss was about. That’s when Daniel asked me to get on all fours. I slowly, nakedly, got up on my knees and elbows and presented myself to him. “Just arch your lower back a bit more,” he said. I did, thinking that if I opened my mouth he might be able to see the wall in front of me. This shit just got real.

Taking a deep breath, I reminded myself that this was what I was here for: to investigate and experience the fears and discomfort on behalf of all guys and to tell them that it really ain’t so bad. Daniel and I bantered about how it’s just another day in the orifice/office for him, then I asked him to tell me about the common fears and misconceptions he’d like to address.

“First of all, there’s no typical person who does this. It’s everyone, every walk of life,” I see him say from between my legs. “For most men, it’s just about being shy, being exposed. A lot of guys are worried about ‘Well what if I get excited?’ It happens. And so what? Sometimes it’s the fact of never having this done before, and there’s also an adrenalin rush. As you can probably notice, a pull or two will fix that.”

This was said while sugar was being rubbed in my crack and ripped out of my body. While many will use the “balling” technique for this, Daniel prefers to spread a different, special type of sugar, then remove it with strips, which proves to be less painful than the former technique. Notice that I said less painful. Pulling from some of the deeper recesses of my being, this part was a bit more intense than the buns. Though a couple spots made me cry out, it’s true when they say that it only hurts for a second. And the worst was yet to come. Daniel asked me to flip over, and that’s when the whole interview officially got weird. It is one thing to kneel doggy-style holding a recorder to a man who is sugaring your crack; it’s a whole other thing to lie on your back and look him in the eye while he holds your wiener gingerly in his fingers and talks about the density of the hair. After reminding myself that I’ll likely be recruited by the New Yorker for my investigative reporting, I settle in for what he describes as the worst part — that is, around the base of the shaft. He lays down the warm sugar, rubs on a strip, and pulls. The world swims before me as a let out a very ladylike FUUUUCK! And then, it’s over. He smiles down at me, saying, “Not so bad, is it?” And I nod. For a second, it’s so bad. And then it’s not.

In the interest of an informed article, Daniel brought me into the Ilelle Med Spa, the company’s unisex spinoff laser-hair-removal service. Featuring a top-of-the-line machine that can detect your skin type, customize the laser to treat all types of hair, from light to dark, straight to curly, and cover larger areas for faster service, Ilelle’s services can help decrease hair growth quickly. And the best part is that with a built-in cooling plate, the process is almost completely painless.

I left Bode with much more than an aerodynamic underside and instructions to exfoliate. When my cheeks were opened, so were my eyes, and I now see three things more clearly. First, us guys must never forget the toughness of ladies, for how many gals have waxed before and not written a whiney article about it? Next, it is guys like Daniel who make this bearable. As exposed and vulnerable as you may be, his knowledge and judgment-free work will almost put you at ease. And finally, though the experience is momentarily painful, you will remember that feeling of the first breeze on your well-groomed taint for a lifetime.