At the end of last summer, I gave up getting waxed down under, mostly because I got tired of regularly handing over $20 or more to white-jacketed workers at the seemingly pristine salons near Union Square. I tried buying Nair, a few times. Each bottle could probably last a year, but I usually throw them out after one use because, no matter how I store them, they tend to smell and get gunky around the top. But this week I decided it was time for a proper depilatory experience: I’m heading to a water park next week with my nieces, and I don’t want to scare the children. I’d heard you could get a decent bikini wax for $10. But where to find one? I stopped into a few nail places in my neighborhood–the lovely Bedford-Stuyvesant–but was met with head shakes when I asked if they did bikini waxes. One guy actually said “Eew.” Hey, can you blame him? So, I scoured the phone book and called a few dozen salons and nail joints in nearby neighborhoods. Several of them offered $10 waxings. I settled on Charming Nails in Clinton Hill, which you might say is to Bed-Stuy what NoHo is to SoHo. Geographically speaking.
Charming Nails is a little storefront at 348 Classon Ave., about ten paces from the Classon Stop on the G. My waxer was a smiley forty-something Asian woman named Kina who donned a red-gingham apron emblazoned with a giant teddy bear. She took me into a small room which was decorated with one poster showing the scenic vistas of Denmark and another showing a close up of a French manicure. The waxes, which were covered with lids made from paper plates, were, kept in two small pots atop a table that was protected from drippings thanks to taped-down Anne Klein ads from fashion magazines.
Kina stayed in the room as I readied myself. “You’re beautiful!” she shouted. (Not to brag, but it wasn’t the first time someone has uttered these words to me after I’ve dropped my pants…). She then used a spare white waxing cloth–a non-used one, I assume–to tie a bow to cinch together the front of my underwear. I was a little worried when I didn’t see her get out a new Popsicle stick for applying the wax, but maybe she’d replaced the old one right before I entered the room? After applying the wax, but before taking the first tug, Kina shoved something into my hand: three butterscotch candies.
“Okay!” she said. And then, like an ER physician applying defibrillator paddles to a patient’s chest, she yelled “Clear!”
The next few minutes were painful. Waxing is always painful, but this was really painful. Maybe this is because I usually splurge and spend on the “sensitive skin” wax that is often offered at more mid-level places, but Kina didn’t give me this option. So I just bit down on my hand candy, and told myself that there are more important things in life than having an intact vagina. When she finished the right side, Kina yelled “Yes!” She was clearly impressed with her own work. She then moved onto the left side. She too seemed to be a master at frugal living: Instead of reaching for a new strip of cloth, she just used the other side of the one she’d been using. It wasn’t a pretty sight. I closed my eyes, which is why I didn’t catch site of whether she threw out the stick when she was all done or put it back in the vat…
Design-wise, I wasn’t asked if I wanted a strip or a triangle. Kina just sort of split the difference and gave me a slightly lopsided oval. As I walked to the front of the place to pay, I realized that there was still some wax down there. Let’s just say that things were sticking to other things. When I got home, I also found a couple of leftover white threads attached to me here and there. I wasn’t told there’d be souvenirs.
While I probably won’t head back to Classy Nails any time soon, I won’t rule out trying out some of the other cheap-o waxing options in the area… if only because I like butterscotch. Here are a few inexpensive places in other Brooklyn nabes:
Bay Ridge ($10)
Bay Ridge Nail Salon, 7510 13th Ave., 718-680-9655
Design A&J Nail Inc., 1015 Cortelyou Rd.. 718-462-8526
Carroll Gardens ($11)
Jin Beauty Nail, 438 Court St., 718-625-3065
Nail Plus, 991 Manhattan Ave., 718-383-5583
King Nail Beauty Salon, 1690 East 15th St., 718-645-2384
Mill Basin ($10)
Lotus Nails, 5821 Ave N., 718-531-7328
Sheepshead Bay ($10)
European Beauty Center, 1722 Jerome Ave., 718-646-1293
Read more from Anna Jane Grossman at www.annajane.net.