A Life’s Work: Wax On, Wax Off

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Wax On, Wax Off

Summer is long past, but the frenzy for uber-bikini waxes continues on. Mariola Barczewska, Polish expat and human EpiLady at the New York spa, Haven, fills us in on why women want to bare it all.Jessica Baumgardner

JB: So how long have you been in the waxing business?

MB: [In thick Slavic accent] I have been doing wax for seven years.

And are you from . . . [awkward pause] . . . America?

Oh, you could detect my accent? Thank you for such a nice way of putting it. [laughs] I’m from Poland.

Since you’ve been doing this for so long, you’re probably aware of how much pubic hair trends have changed.

Yes, last summer, I only had one or two clients that asked me to take off everything

That’s called the Sphynx, right?


Where did that name come from?

The sphynx is a hairless cat from Egypt.

That makes sense.

This summer, I did five or six Sphynx’s a day. Maybe one percent of my clients have stuck to the old conservative bikini line wax — the rest have converted to Brazilians [like the Sphynx, except a tiny thatch in front is left intact]. I must tell you: the Sphynx takes guts and not everyone has a lover who deserves a Sphynx wax. It’s the men who fall in love with the Sphynx.

Has the wax itself changed over the years?

Yes, yes. We have a few different kinds of wax now that are much better — with tea tree oil, Vitamin E, citrus oil. Some of them are designed for very sensitive parts of your body. A few years ago, we only used chanee wax.

Candle wax?

No, chanee, chanee, like from bees.

Who are your regular customers?

You will be surprised. The age range is from seventeen to about seventy-seven!

Do you have any male clients?

I will count them on my one hand. They usually come in for a regular bikini. I’ve never waxed a man . . . completely. I have no idea how to do the testicles.

Have you ever felt an overt sexual vibe in the waxing room?


No one’s ever hit on you?

Trust me. When they see me with all of my instruments, tweezers and stuff, it’s not very sexy.

Your more masochistic clients might enjoy your “instruments.”

Speaking of this, I once had a man who made an appointment for ten minutes of electrolysis. I was pretty sure he was making the appointment for his wife or girlfriend — but then he showed up. We went to the room and I asked him what he wanted, and he said, “I’d like you to electrolysize my penis.”


I said, “Next time, distinguish between bikini line and penis.” Be specific!

Was his penis hairy, though?

He never even took it out, so I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing him. But I must tell you one thing: if he looked like Robert Redford or Gregory Peck, I would have done it.

Do women tell you their secrets the way they do their hairdressers?

Yes! It’s not like in the hair salon where other people are around — here, we are alone in a room. And it’s not a peaceful treatment like a facial or massage. You want to talk the whole time!

Or scream. It’s really painful, isn’t it?

It can be, particularly in the weeks before menstruation. But no one has ever collapsed and when I’m done, they are smiling.

From relief, no doubt. Do people take pain relievers before their sessions?

I always say, before a Sphynx, you should drink at least two glasses of vodka. That helps with the psychological pain, if not the physical pain.

What are the biggest etiquette gafs with waxing?

Sanitary stuff.

Excuse me?

You know, when you go to the toilet, make sure you wipe everything off. I want you to write this down because it’s a very serious issue for me and a lot of my friends. In a country like America where everyone talks about hygiene, I would say that thirty-five percent of my customers have this problem!

Do you think people don’t realize how intimate the session will be? You know, between the cheeks and all?

I’m not sure. When you go to the doctor, you make sure everything is okay down there. I don’t know if they don’t care, or what. It’s really the biggest issue we all deal with.

I’ll be sure to bathe myself thoroughly before my next Sphynx.

Thank you.

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