I’m lying on a fluffy pink bed, feeling faintly ridiculous in socks and no pants. It’s hardly the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but I’m terrified.
Then Lisa, my “therapist”, bustles through the pink curtains, parts my pink robe and inspects my nether regions.
“All off, yeah?”
I gulp and nod.
Treating me like a toddler with nappy rash, she briskly powders my privates. Then she dips a lolly pop stick into a pot of hot wax and sets to work.
Now I’m no stranger to a bikini wax, but I have barely braved a Brazilian, let alone its bald little sister, the Hollywood.
A decade ago, the Hollywood – waxing away every last pubic hair – was seen as an exotic novelty for strippers and porn stars.
Now it’s filtering down from internet pornography to the bedroom via Sex and the City and The Only Way is Essex. There must be a whole generation of virginal boys blissfully unaware that women have pubes, too. And, with an open mind (and equally open legs) I’m about to join this new breed of hairless woman.
Lisa smoothes a cotton strip onto my wax-smeared groin and rips it swiftly off. It’s like being slapped very, very hard. A short, sharp sting.
She works mercifully quickly. Her strip of wax soon resembles a doll’s doormat, covered in wiry black hairs.
I grit my teeth and stare at the ceiling. She asks me to hold my skin taut. I pull at my stomach like a crumpled shirt stretched out for ironing. It’s all very undignified, but I’m grateful for something to dig my nails into. I keep my hand clamped sweatily over my navel as she moves south. The pain gets worse the more I anticipate it.
“It’s the pain that stops most people,” Lisa muses. “If it weren’t for the pain, everyone would get a Hollywood ‘cos it looks so much better. It’s a shame they haven’t invented a numbing gel for this yet.”
“Maybe you could try general anaesthetic,” I mutter.
Just when I think I can’t take any more, Lisa opens me up unceremoniously with two fingers.
Yes, dear reader. There are hairs INSIDE that precious, tender little flower of yours. And right now, my flower feels like it’s having its petals torn off.
But the worst is yet to come. You know how a paper cut always hurt more than falling off your bike? Well, Lisa is determined to pick out every ingrown hair with a pin and tweezers. It leaves me feeling quite faint.
And then, finally, it’s over. After what felt like an hour but was more like ten minutes, the tea tree lotion comes as cool relief.
As she’s cleaning up, Lisa chatters about a programme she saw last week. It was about women who don’t realise they’re pregnant until they go into labour. I like to think that now I’ve experienced a Hollywood, I’ve experienced a small fraction of the pain of childbirth. There are striking similarities – legs clamped akimbo, a searing pain between your thighs and a matter-of-fact professional poking around your privates.
I waddle home like John Wayne and tear off my tight jeans. I can’t resist an inspection in the mirror.
I don’t look like a porn star. I don’t look like Barbie. But I do look very… naked. There’s certainly no mystery left after a Hollywood. Freud wrote: “The genitals themselves have not undergone the development of the rest of the human form in the direction of beauty.”
Mine just look sad and vulnerable. Like Samson, their power has been lost with their hair. Not to mention how clumsy my womanly thighs look next to my new, childlike hairlessness.
I do feel a certain frisson when, at a bar that night, the feel of silk knickers on bare skin reminds me of my little secret. But a week later and it’s already starting to grow back. I’m currently experiencing a five o’clock shadow down there – and not in a good way.
The Hollywood is surely for high maintenance masochists only. And if any bloke suggests otherwise, shove this under his nose – after delivering a sharp knee to the balls, of course.