Great balls of fire!

According to Newsweek, straight men are getting the equivalent of the Brazilian bikini wax. But will hairless crotches turn women on -- or repulse them?

Published January 15, 2004 11:33PM (EST)

This week, Newsweek published an article headlined "Brazilians for the Boys. No, Seriously." In it, writers Holly Peterson and Jenny Hontz uncover a potentially horrifying new craze: Straight guys who get their balls waxed. Sure, some gay men have been pruning the shrubbery for years. But according to this story, heterosexual men from coast to coast are appearing in droves at beauty salons where they pay professional groomers to pour hot wax on their wrinkly little jewels (along with the rest of their genital area), apply strips of cloth, and then let 'er rrrip.

After five years of hearing men extol the virtues of Brazilian bikini waxing -- the process in which women have every hair between their belly button and tailbone tugged violently from its subcutaneous cradle -- are we now entering an age in which they will be forced to down a spoonful of their own medicine? I have to be honest: I am delighted at the very thought.

Part of me always believed that the craze for women's Brazilians was prompted by a cruel practical joker disguised as Gwyneth Paltrow working in cahoots with the J Sisters, the Brazilian women who run the Manhattan torture chamber that introduced follicle-yanking to the masses. But as soon as the first publication printed the first series of interviews with straight boys about how pedophilically, sadistically luscious they found the sight of bald pubes, the porn-star pressure was on and we were all sunk.

The thing to do was find out if the whole Sore Thighs for the Straight Guy thing would provide straight chicks with the same illicit thrill as their male counterparts had gotten from Brazilians. Using a scientifically sound survey method, I called my friends.

"Wait, is this where men get that Brazilian torture thing, too? Good!" said Miranda, 33. There is a reason why we are so close. She gave it some thought and then continued. "I once went to this life drawing class and there was a Middle Eastern male model who had waxed down his entire body and was completely hairless. I couldn't even bear to look at him -- let alone draw him."

The more Miranda considered the procedure, the more repulsed she became: "I would rather have a man who was hairy from the nape of his neck to the bottom of his elbows than have a waxer," she sniffed. "Waxing is emasculating and effete in a way I just can't find sexually attractive, but I could get used to hairiness even if it's not my preference."

"It's foul in every way," said another friend, Heather, 27. "I think the level of pain has to be way beyond the feminine crotch rip because balls are supposed to be vomit-inducing sensitive, which implies a machismo vanity that is more repugnant than spray-on hair."

While I couldn't find any women who had experience with waxed balls, I was surprised that several had slept with guys who have taken a Mach 3 to their johnsons.

When I asked my friend Sara whether she had ever encountered such hairless wonders, she said "Oh totally. Tony." Sara believed that the attention to grooming was "more for their own greater sensation and has absolutely nothing to do with the woman." Though she hasn't handled waxed balls herself, Sara thinks they sound like a good idea since Tony had a little stubble problem.

Annie, 23, said that in her comparatively brief stroll around the sexual block, she has encountered two men who shave the bulk of their genital area. "I'm amazed that I have seen more than one bare set of balls," she said. At least one of those sets had been stripped of its protective fur with an electric razor. Yee-ouch. The first time she encountered these smooth sacks, Annie said, "I knew something was different, but it took me a minute to figure out what it was. But did it turn me on? Not particularly." I asked Annie about Newsweek's claim that the major draw of a hairless scrotum is that it makes the machinery look bigger. "No. It reminded me of a newborn puppy dog," she said. "Puffy and exposed."

Her multiple experiences with nude nuts have led Annie to believe that this whole ball-waxing thing may not be cutting edge. "I don't think this is any kind of new trend," she said. "I think it's just that men have some sort of absurd fascination with their genitals and if there's something that they can groom there, their feeling is, Might as well play! If they made barrettes for the area I'm sure they'd be selling well."

Right. It was time to call an ex-boyfriend.

"I think the thing a man immediately thinks about is the elasticity of the scrotal sack," said Andy, 31. "I mean, I just had this image of the woman doing it having to run all the way across the room to dislodge a piece of wax from the scrotum. Because that skin stretches a lot.

"Any man that takes a woman's pants off and finds her waxed I think assumes that the woman has done it in order to look like a 13-year-old girl, in order to indulge her partner," Andy continued. "I can't think of any adult woman I've ever met who's been into sleeping with 13-year-old boys."

My calls to loved ones eventually turned up a very hetero man who has been shaving his fuzz for the better part of this past year. Milo, 32, explained that he was moved to mow because "it's a nice framing device, very ornamental. It's nice to spruce up the area, give it some nice contrast." I thought it was really sweet that he was talking about his peter as if it were an oak fireplace mantel, until he revealed that he was on a train, nestled between a 3-year-old and an 83-year-old.

Milo, who has a girlfriend, explained that he finds his sleek member's effect on women to be positive. "It's cool. I think some women find it interesting that the guy would take care of himself like that. You know, it's fun and a little playful." The idea of ingrown hairs has so far kept Milo away from the hot wax, but when I suggested that waxing might provide him with stubble-free regrowth, he was intrigued.

Before getting off the train he said, in a strangulated whisper, "The thing is, it feels really good. There is definitely a sensual component. That area is the softest skin on your body!"

I suspected as much.

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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