The Brazilian bikini wax gets rid of a woman's undergrowth.

The aesthetician dips a small spatula into a crock-pot. The simmering ocher wax is a shade too hot when it grabs hold of your inner thigh. Immediately, she pats a narrow strip of linen against the cooling paraffin. Momentarily you think, "This isn't so ba-a-a..."



Think pulpy flesh and hot coals--together.

Without pause, she bends each knee high and wide with the nonchalance of a gynecologist on her 500th pelvic exam. There are no hidden nooks or folds that she is too timid to uncover, paint with scalding goo, and torment with linen. Your only options are to avoid her gaze and think of England. Then, donning spectacles and armed with what look like surgical-grade tweezers, she leans in to banish the strays, rapidly. She's not playing around and, regrettably, she is a perfectionist.

Finally, she slaps you with a cool tonic, and asks, "How does it look?" Woozily you rise, ready to profess love for whatever bloody mess remains--anything to get this sadist away from your genitals.

A tapered, perfectly symmetrical rectangle, bounded by pink, puffy bareness presents itself. (The redness will fade, she assures.) You are pleased. You haven't seen this much of your vagina since you called it a woo-woo or cho-cha or peachy. Reacquainting is in order. You stare for a long while smitten by its bad-girl elegance.

The bikini wax, a ritual once reserved for porn stars and lingerie models, has charmed its way into the grooming regimes of ordinary women. What's more, gals are no longer simply scrapping surplus fur from their thighs and tummies--what sneaks out of their bathing suits; they are taking it all off. The hottest in hot wax is a wholly hairless landscape known as the Bare Brazilian, a progression of the landing strip look known simply as a Brazilian.

And yes, guys dig it.

Let's face it; men are generally not that particular. Few guys have met one they haven't liked. But according to the mavens of hair maintenance at Tucson's top salons, women are decidedly in favor of coiffing the kitties.

"I love the way it feels with all the hair off--so incredibly smooth and silky, especially when I make love ... and, it made me an instant sex goddess. Guys loved it!" purred Whitney.

Georgia Curtin, co-owner of Spirit Salon and Day Spa (and former manager of skin care at Gadabout), who has been cleansing, tightening, peeling and hot waxing Tucsonans since 1964, explained the evolution of below-the-belt styles.

"Women like it because it's just a very clean look, streamlined and very comfortable. I do it myself."

"Another reason for its popularity may be because people are getting hairier. Girls are much hairier today then they were years ago. I think from the hormones in our food," Curtain observed.

"And as girls get hairier, their tolerance for hair goes down. Most of the college girls I see want all the hair off their bikini area, their arms and everywhere else."

Charlotte, an occasional waxing client offered, "For me, it's just extremely convenient. You can put on any little sexy outfit or swimsuit without worrying about the rug."

The Brazilian first melted American women's hearts when the J. Sisters International Salon opened in New York City by--you guessed it--sisters (seven of them) from Brazil. Their daring stylings took off with celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, who gushed, in a signed picture that adorns the salon wall, "You've changed my life!" Reportedly, the thriving salon now makes use of gynecological tables, replete with stirrups, to better serve.

Despite so much enthusiasm, all cosmetologists do not embrace thong grooming. "Bikini waxes are not my favorite thing to do." said Marissa Viramontes, an aesthetician and stylist with The Coyote Wore Sideburns. "I'm uncomfortable going there. I'm not a doctor."

In her two-and-a-half years at the salon, Viramontes has waxed the nether zone "a few times" but never to the tune of a Brazilian. "It's an awkward position. You really have to get all the way in there," she winced.

Nor do all men, or women, champion the look.

Kurt, a single graphic designer and hair-loving old-schooler, bemoaned the loss. "Where's the bush?" he asked. "A thick but well groomed tuft is very sexy; it defines a mature woman."

Beth agreed, and added, "The appeal of a woman without pubic hair (and underarm hair and leg hair) is tied to a male desire to have women perpetually be girls. Mature, healthy individuals prefer women with hair."

Besides the possibility of putting off a potential date like Kurt or Beth, eager baldies-to-be have the sticky problem of coming up with polite terminology with which to request their particular wants.

"It's hard to say I want my ass crack done," Curtin joked.

To allay awkwardness, Spirit Salon provides a booty-shaped card that spells out five options. Number three, the Playboy, reads: "Hair is removed from the lip and hiney. A very narrow strip is left in front." Forget the gauche descriptors; just say, "Give me the Playboy."

For physical pain, some salons use a mild numbing spray. Even so, "You have to mentally prepare yourself for a little bit of torture," warned Curtin. "I don't recommend the Bare Brazilian the first time. I tell my clients to start small and work up to it."

The service runs $25-$45, plus tip depending on how far you go. For those of modest means, Artist Beauty College on Speedway charges $15 for a basic wax (with a supervised student).

And, when you tire of full exposure, just don the newest (actually, a resurrected, 17th-century tradition), the pubic toupee (aka Merkin), made from yak hair. It might just come in handy one cold winter night while you wait for that Brazilian to grow out.