Saturday, 21 August 2010

A different kind of cut-back

If you live in a shabby, run-down area of town, there are two sure-fire signs that things are improving and property prices are on the up. The first is known in real estate circles as 'The Starbucks Effect' - once the venti-sized coffee giant invests in your locality, the trendy prospective buyers will come flocking.

But don't worry if you still have to buy your mocha frapuccino in an unbranded polystyrene cup, because option two is even more commonplace. All you need is a few gays in your neighbourhood to get property values soaring.

For the last 15 years or so, homo-owners have been carefully gentrifying areas, one street at a time. Before you know it, that crack den next door will have repointed brick-work, cafe-style window shutters and charmingly coordinated window boxes. And there'll be a waiting list for available properties in the area.

Funnily enough, it seems that the gays' love of a tidy frontage isn't limited to property fa├žades either. They can also be found cutting back their own personal undergrowth, like Edward Nail-Scissorhands.

Don't forget, it was gay men who introduced the world to the concept of manscaping, arguing that extensive thatching should be limited to rustic farmhouses in the Cotswolds. As a result, bodily depilation is becoming increasingly popular in the straight world.

Writing for Salon.com, Jed Lipinksi has investigated this new phenomenon, even going so far as to invest in a 'Manzilian'. As he immerses himself in hot wax and the world of the 'aesthetician' - he takes an anthropological approach to getting under the pink, inflamed skin of the topic.

If he wants to know about the appeal of hair removal, he didn't need to be quite so thorough. He could have just pointed out that you have to trim back the lawn if you want people to see the garden path. But that would have left him a few hundred words short.

In the process of writing his article, Jed discovered that straight men make some bizarre requests of their pubic topiary technicians. According to Jane Pham of the Ted D. Bare Salon in San Jose, "Men tend to want the oddest pubic hair shaping. One guy asked me for a blue whale design. Another wanted me to shave the words 'Campbell Soup' into his pubes, because his girlfriend liked Campbell Soup."

Somewhere in Heaven's version of Studio 54, Andy Warhol is kicking himself for not thinking of that.

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