PETA’s outrage over Completely Bare spa owner Cindy Barshop’s “foxy bikini” and “carnivale bikini” treatments has certainly kept the former Real Housewives of New York star’s phones busy. “It’s like I cured cancer,” she says of the response she’s gotten to the new procedures, which involve affixing real fur and real feathers (not both at once) to women’s vaginas with a glue that keeps the stuff stuck there for at least three days. With vaginal waxing practically a staple of the twentysomething woman’s beauty and grooming routine, and semi-permanent vaginal decoration only growing in weirdness and popularity (some might say Nicole Kidman looked like a big vagazzle in her Golden Globes outfit), I rang up Cindy to find out just what goes on during these procedures. Apparently, they’re too new for her to give us statistics on how many customers get them done, but she did provide a lot of other information.
Why are you doing this?
I have a lot of high-end clients, the celebs, who are doing this all the time — the jewel that we do down there — and they’re like, “alright, Cindy we need something new.” And I’m like, “I agree, we need something new.” So I’m always following the fashion industry, and I’m saying, “What’s new?” There was all the colored fur. What looked best was really the fox-fur bikini.
And how do you apply this to a vagina?
The way it’s put on is [you get] a Completely Bare wax or a laser, and we use a special glue. We also put a rubber band around the fur, because you need a blunt end to attach to the skin with our glue. We put it on and you just fluff it. And we actually make it how your body is, so if you’re really wide, we bring it up a little bit, elongate it. If you’re very narrow, we make it smaller.
I’m not understanding the rubber band part.
They’re tiny rubber bands — you wrap around the fur and you cut it. Like, take the end of your hair in your hand and imagine wrapping a rubber band around it and then cutting above the rubber band so it’s blunt.
Oh, I see. So you’re not actually gluing hide to people’s vaginas, it’s just the actual fur.
You’re putting the individual hairs on the body.
What’s the average surface area of fur that you apply?
It depends, it could be anywhere from three to five inches in diameter, everyone’s a different size.
And you’re also doing something with feathers called the Carnivale Bikini.
The Carnivale depends on the skin color. We kind of lay it out and talk about the design. I just did someone the other day with very, very light skin so we use a very dark one.
And how do the feathers affix to the vagina?
It’s a special glue.
What’s in the special glue?
I can’t tell you. It’s a special glue that’s used for the body.
And where exactly are you applying these feathers?
We go as low as you want it to go. We work with everybody, as more of an artistic way of doing it.
Who is getting these procedures done?
These are the customers who feel good about themselves, they take care of themselves, and they like to do fun things. It’s like buying an extra set of lingerie or a fun shirt a different pair of glasses — this is that fun thing that gives you a little pick-me-up. Demographically, I would probably say — I mean we just started it, but on the vajewel side it’s completely different client types. [Ages] 25 to 45, maybe 50; 50’s still young these days.
Do you get the fox fur and the feathers applied?
I test everything on myself first.
If there’s no hide on the fur, I assume there’s no, like, stems on the feathers?
There’s no stems. It’s not uncomfortable, I’ve done it. It’s very light feathers. Everything is hand-painted on.
Does it seem ironic to you that women are getting their hair removed and replacing it with more hair?
I don’t think it’s hair; I think it’s a fun decoration.
Hair, fur, you know.
This will only stay on for four days. Pubic hair looks a lot different from pink fur.
Oh, so the fur is dyed? It’s not natural orange?
We have pink and we have red.
It seems that women mostly go to the trouble of getting waxed because men who look at bald vaginas in porn expect or like it on women they sleep with. Do you think women are getting their vaginas decorated with these feathers and this fur because men like it? Or because they like it?
I think it’s both; I think it’s, “my boyfriend likes it, I want to feel good, I want to feel sexy.” Or you might not be going out with somebody but it makes you feel a little bit better about yourself.
Vaginal hair removal has become a feminist issue. Do you see it that way?
It’s such an individual thing for me. Once you get a little taken off, you kind of want more. It makes me feel cleaner, it’s a personal preference. If people are just doing it for men, that’s not a great idea. You do it for yourself first.
I find it amazing that so many women are so willing to endure the pain of bikini waxing.
Each person’s different. If it’s your first one, it definitely doesn’t tickle. [Our] proprietary wax, it actually grabs onto the hair follicle, not the skin. Also, going to a specialist that has the proper technique helps. You have to go to a specialist for everything that you do. You go to a certain place that blows out your hair, everyone’s using a blow-dryer — it’s how good the technique is. Don’t go to a nail salon and ask them for a bikini wax.
On your website you have a tab for “medical director.”
We have a medical director because we do laser hair removal. When we do training for laser, he’s there, he oversees all the training for all the laser. He’s a certified dermatologist who oversees Completely Bare. He also has his own practice.
But he’s not involved in the vaginal decoration stuff?
No, no, absolutely not.
How many men do you see?
We do some for men, not a lot. We do mostly laser hair removal for the men, for their backs and their shoulders and their necks.
What about their bikini areas? Are men getting that area cleaned up?
Yeah, a lot of them. I’d say we deal mostly with metrosexuals anywhere from 30 to 50. Actually 25-year-olds do it, too. They’re getting younger.