Recently, a straight guy asked our publisher, Hank, whether gay guys liked hair on their bodies. Hank’s response led to commentary on gay vs. straight grooming preferences and ultimately the question, “What does your sexual preference have to do with your grooming habits?”
According to the gay and straight men we interviewed, nothing. (Thanks, guys.) But, judging by the celebrity comments and acts of bullying linked to grooming this year, people still think a gay haircut exists. (Remember Evan Rachel Woods?) Clearly, this topic requires clarification.
Since men, like women, can be rather private about their privates, we asked top grooming experts in and around West Hollywood to help us get to the root of gay stereotypes. Here’s what they said:
Myth No. 1
Only gay men get their brows done — or tint their lashes.
Nope. The brow specialists we spoke with said they had just as many if not more straight male clients than gay male clients.
“A majority of our clientele are heterosexual men who come into the salon with their wives or girlfriends,” said Clifford Tran, co-owner of THREAD Eyebrows on Melrose Avenue, just outside of WeHo.
Lisa Remaklus, founder of Sugar Me, a sugaring hair removal service in West Hollywood, said her clients use nose hair removal, brow shaping and lash tinting to look younger and more, or less, aggressive. One client, a straight hedge fund manager, felt it gave him a competitive edge when he negotiated with “younger industry sharks.”
Myth No. 2
Gay men like to take it all off.
Smooth-chested men may be prevalent in Frontiers magazine, but that doesn’t mean all gay men like to remove their body hair. They just seem more comfortable with the idea.
“Straight guys are a bit oblivious. If they are doing it on their own, they seem to make up excuses to start having things done (i.e. sports), whereas gay guys are pretty happy to admit they are doing it for the esthetics,” Remaklus said.
Jessi Gregoire, co-owner of boutique spa Ma Maison de Beauté, said, “From what we have noticed, men — gay and straight — equally do back waxing.” But complete hair removal on the chest, stomach, legs and nether regions is slightly more popular with gay men. Straight men prefer to trim those areas instead.
Dancers, professional models, athletes and men who work out regularly are more apt to request smooth bodies regardless of sexual preference, said multiple pros.
“[You] can’t see those beautiful abs under a layer of hair,” Remaklus said.
Jennifer Paige, part owner, manager and lead esthetician at Plush Beauty Bar, suggested that the trend toward hairlessness has more to do with age than sexual orientation. “Our experience is that men under 30 like to remove all body hair,” she said.
Myth No. 3
Boyzilians (or brozilians, aka Brazilian waxes for men) are gay.
“When I started doing boyzilians about seven years ago, I assumed that my clientele would be generally gay,” Remaklus said. “Until recently, I had only straight men doing it.”
Why? “In the words of one of my straight clients … [his] wife said, ‘more attention would be paid’ if he had a boyzilian,” she said.
The main difference between her clients was gay men were more comfortable removing all pubic hair and more likely to choose a less natural look.
“With straight men, being completely bare of [hair in] the front seems to make them self-conscious if they are at a gym or a place where they would undress,” she said.
Myth No. 4
Gay men are more meticulous about grooming than straight men.
Short of a survey on body hair removal conducted in Australia four years ago, we found little reliable evidence this was true. The closest was esthetician Eliza Martin, whose gay clients request more nose, brow and ear waxing than her straight clients.
This might be because, according to Ask Men and research by University of Cincinnati assistant professor of sociology Erynn Masi de Casanova, we are entering a post-metrosexual era. The men’s grooming industry is growing and more men (gay and straight) want to look well-groomed.
“We’ve definitely seen an influx in straight men … [who] are concerned with their appearance and want to look sexy,” said Vera Fernandez, lead stylist at Rudy’s Barbershop on Melrose, just beyond WeHo. “[But] I don’t think that in this day and age, sexual preference has anything to do with grooming habits. It’s more about the individual.”