In a world first, SBS VICELAND's newest recruit, Jonty Phillips, visits beauty salons around the globe, witnessing first-hand the intricate work of pubic artisans and going deep inside the psychology of their clients. Why do they put themselves through the agony? In six-part series F*ck That's a Painful Bikini Wax, he explores what’s hot in groinal landscaping trends and how each culture deals with the trauma of raining hell in the downstairs department.
“We were really fortunate to be able to peel back the veil and get access to what is, for some cultures, a sacred practice. In some countries you have to be silent for that reason, you can’t even let out a gentle wince of pain, ” says Phillips. “For other cultures, it’s still a taboo. In India, bikini waxing is illegal so people are forced to go to underground makeshift salons.”
But Phillips reveals that in Mumbai, forcing the practice underground has led to a thriving industry of pubic artisans who are innovating the art of groin-scaping. Their latest innovation is the "pop up", where an artisan perfectly recreates a character or scene from your favourite pop-up book. If you chose The Very Hungry Caterpillar, for example, you’ll be able to look down and see a magnificent 3D slug looking right back at you.
The more modest “landing strip” is the most popular option in the city, but Phillips admits that created a logistical challenge when filming.
“To be respectful of cultural values, we could only show the actual landing strip with everything around it pixelated. So there wasn’t always the context there we would have liked.”
There were no such issues when the crew visited the Back, Sack & Crack salon in Bundaberg on Queensland’s central coast, an establishment that specifically caters for men.
“They just let it all hang out there - there are no modesty issues,” laughs Phillips.
Brazilian waxes are popular in Bundaberg because of the magnifying effect they have on a man’s junk.
“They’re tough mother f*ckers there, but the men are as traumatised as anyone when they have their waxing done. It turns out groinal landscaping is the great equalizer,” says Phillips. “Of course, there are pallets of Bundaberg Rum on hand to ease the pain and there’s a registered nurse standing by to stem the often profuse bleeding.”
Phillips also visits Paris to witness the trend of bikini wax blow wave bars where clients can spend quality time with their pups. Parisians can have their pubes permed alongside their beloved dogs, who get the full grooming treatment (pubic sculpting is not yet available for canines).
But the most surprising experience for the globetrotting host was in the most unexpected of places - the genteel region of The Cotswolds in bucolic south-central England.
Phillips was invited to attend a clandestine waxing ceremony known as “The Sacrifice of the Bush”, an ancient tradition originating from pagan ancestors who would pay tribute to an alien race that would visit the area on every full moon.
“It’s the most decadent, most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen,” says a clearly still astonished Phillips. “Cotswoldians lie on slabs of pure gold while artisans in capes and hoods use primitive tools to wax crop circles into their nether regions. They revel in the pain - it’s like an aphrodisiac for them. There’s Gregorian chanting, fire breathing and everyone’s wearing masks. It’s some real Eyes Wide Shut sh*t.”
But for most of us, bikini waxing is a lump-in-the-throat ordeal. Did Phillips get to the heart of why people put themselves through such pain?
“For some cultures, it’s ceremonial; for others, there’s the pleasure principal,” he explains. “In Bermuda, for example, where the triangle wax is popular with women, the shape acts as a signpost for men. Otherwise they’d just get lost down there.”
Finally, one last sticky question: did Phillips dare to get a wax?
“I did! I got the full Brazilian in Bundaberg, you know, for the junk magnification. But now it’s back to full bush down there, it’s, 'Welcome back, little Jonty!'”
Look out for F*ck That’s a Painful Bikini Wax, coming soon to SBS VICELAND.