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A GUY THING

The Brooklyn Paper
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Two years ago, in GO Brooklyn’s first-ever Spa Guide, I shook up the borough by proclaiming loud and clear that it’s OK - in fact enjoyable - for a guy to get a paraffin treatment.

The response was overwhelming.

For weeks afterward, the mailbox here at The Brooklyn Papers was swamped with letters, some for and some against the proposition that a guy getting a facial and pedicure before Monday Night Football was an acceptable thing to do.

But it didn’t end there. Suddenly, my e-mail - both at work and at home - was filled with offers for new and exciting treatments that offered to help me in a number of ways. Apparently, after reading my story on the Web, many people figured I’d also be interested in growing more hair on my head, pills and treatments for losing weight, improving my "stamina," and increasing my, er size.

While I chose to simply disregard those e-mails, I couldn’t help but wonder how my column might have enlightened the masses some two years hence.

Well, as the ad for Virginia Slims used to say: "You’ve come a long way, baby."

Apparently, guys are now going to spas, and they’re going in droves.

Time was when a guy was getting married, he and his groomsmen would head off to the local barbershop for a good, old-fashioned shave with hot shaving cream and a straight razor. But in this new, post-Spa Guide world, I wasn’t surprised to see my younger brother Scott getting a manicure as part of this time-honored tradition of grooming on the day of my own wedding.

"What are you doing there, Mary?" asked my dad, doing his best impression of Frank Barone from "Everybody Loves Raymond."

"I’m getting a manicure," Scott answered.

"No you’re not. You’re getting your nails done," dad countered. "Have you been reading Vinny’s articles again?"

(We got the last laugh, though, when we had dad’s uni-brow waxed while he was getting his shave.)

But it’s not only my family and me.

In hopes of luring male clients to her new Williamsburg spa, DownTime Spa owner Melaina Ulino hatched a plan: hold a men-only VIP night. There, for three hours, guys got a chance to listen to live music, have a beer, enjoy the spa’s backyard grill, play foosball and darts, and get a course in how to hand-roll a cigar. Treatments provided during the evening included the "Hot Rocks Men’s Massage," the "Back to Glow Men’s Facial," the "Chill-out Men’s Facial" and the "Hands on Men’s Scalp Massage."

"It was a huge hit," Ulino told me when I visited her spa this week. "It brought us some new customers who probably wouldn’t have come here if had we not held the event."

Since then, Ulino says, the guys have been coming back, and while some do get work done on their hands and feet - "It’s pretty funny," she says. "You see this big giant guy getting a manicure and pedicure." - it’s for a bit of a different purpose that they return.

"We get a lot of hair removal," Ulino said. "Let’s face it, lots of guys don’t like hair on their backs. We can take care of that."

Luckily, I’m not one of them. By the grace of God, my back is as follicle-free as Kojak’s head. And I wasn’t about to start showering in Rogaine just to sample this popular treatment. Instead, I chose a couple of services geared to men who are leaning more toward relaxation and less toward, well, pain.

The Chill-Out Facial (a.k.a. the "Thermal Ice Mask") featured a face massage, exfoliation and extractions by Vindy Lam, my talented "facial person." For the third time in three years of writing for the Spa Guide, I was told that my skin is pretty good, but I should get facials a bit more often than I do, which, you might have guessed, is about once a year.

This was followed by the application of a mask (one of those mud things Wilma Flintsone would put on before hitting the sack) that went on freezing cold before heating up my face drastically. Despite these pleasant journeys to extremes, my skin remained intact.

When all was said and done, I ended up with my face feeling as soft as a baby’s bottom. It also gave me a hardened mask replica of my face that drove home the point that I should seriously consider a nose job, too.

Next up was my "Hands On Scalp Massage," administered to me by the able hands of the spa’s owner. The idea here is to give your head the kind of cleaning it doesn’t normally get - a deep-down cleaning that practically goes to your brain, thus unclogging any hair follicles and keeping that mane in great shape.

After getting my hair washed with "Davines Energizing Shampoo" and head rubbed down, Melaina towel dried my noggin and applied "Davines Energizing Serum" to it. The effects were immediate. Within seconds, the entire room was filled with a forest of my hair and we all needed a machete to get out.

Of course, I’m kidding. But that’s not to say the treatment wasn’t nice. My head did feel a certain "chilled" effect that stuck with me for about 20 minutes, and the massage was enjoyable.

All told, it was another great spa experience. But I have to be truthful. While these treatments are "geared" toward men, I couldn’t quite find a reason why women couldn’t enjoy them. In fact, I couldn’t find any difference between a guy’s facial and a girl’s facial.

I guess it’s that old Barbie-G.I. Joe theory working here: Package something right, and anyone - male or female - will enjoy it.

For more information about DownTime Spa, see the Spa Directory.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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