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Cream / June 26, 2021

Jay Rayner after being waxedFootballers do it, male models do it. So what's to stop all men treating themselves to the thrill of a full body wax? Jay Rayner signs up for the £120 Galaxy

Jay Rayner after being waxed. Photograph: Phil Fisk/Observer

I am rather attached to my pubic hair. Or, to be more exact, it is rather attached to me. It's been attached to me since I was in my early teens, a welcome marker of masculinity. The hormonal rush of adolescence can be delayed in fat boys and I was certainly one of those, so I was forced to wait longer than my cohort for the riot and crash of puberty to begin. Having been so relieved to see it finally make an appearance it had never once occurred to me to get rid of it. Despite the beard and the moustache and the chaos of the mop on my head - all acquired as I rammed into my 40-something midlife crisis - I am not a particularly hairy man. I am not the kind of chap with a pelt to which babies could cling. My back never needs combing and I have always regarded my soft hairless hands as looking like something that might belong to a male-to-female transsexual, once the hormones have kicked in.

All of which makes my presence at The Refinery, the top male grooming spa, located opposite Claridge's hotel in Mayfair, all the more odd. For The Refinery has a speciality, something it apparently does with more panache, style and bravura than almost anywhere else, and it has been decided that the world would be a far, far better place if I were to experience it. Put most simply, the 10 skilled therapists here are currently working their fingers to the bone using hot wax to rip pubic hair off men who think the boy-zilian is simply the way to go.

There are no reliable figures on how many men are doing this - it's not like you can spot them on the high street, is it? - but beauty salons and spas across the country who offer the treatment say they are not short of business. With the likes of Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fàbregas admitting to laser hair removal and dear David Beckham languidly displaying himself on billboards in a manner which suggests he's been depilated to within an inch of his life, male waxing is no longer a no go.

Here at The Refinery there are many options: from a mere bikini wax for £45; through to the Mercury wax, described as 'crack and buttocks or testicles', for £85; all the way up to the big daddy of waxes, the championship option, the king of the baby smooth hill, the Galaxy. Or the 'back, sack and crack', as they like to call it, delightfully. For £120 they'll take everything off. Naturally, as well as a manicure, pedicure and facial I am booked in for the Galaxy. It is part and parcel of the curious world of male waxing that anything other than the removal of every last follicle that marks me out as a fully grown man might well be considered unmanly. I don't want to be a wimp.

In preparation I phone my friend Zoe Margolis whose sex blog, Girl with a One Track Mind, and subsequent book of the same name, contained many sage thoughts on men and their nether regions. Why, I ask her, should men pay attention to the state of their pubic hair? 'Well, ' she says. 'Nobody likes to floss while they're eating, do they?' And she laughs uproariously. Anything else, dear? 'The area is cleaner and fresher with less hair, therefore making it more enjoyable for anyone who is getting up close, although that applies to both sexes. For men specifically waxing makes your bits look larger. And the area is full of sensitive nerve endings so having it hairless makes it all the more sensitive.' In short, male waxing equals good.

Or, if you are other female friends of mine, waxing equals bloody hilarious. They are delighted that I am going to do it, relishing what they tell me will be an excruciatingly painful experience. One wants me to know that a waxing left her with blisters. Two others tell me with glee that I should neck some painkillers beforehand. As far as they are concerned I am finally going to understand what it's like to be a woman, as if I personally have been herding them all through the doors of beauty salons across Britain demanding they get themselves a Brazilian (everything bar a little landing strip) or the Hollywood (the whole lot).

Even though I am sure they are just trying to psyche me out, I do take a few pills, and try to steady myself, with little success. It doesn't help that the first thing I see on a shelf behind the immaculate reception desk at The Refinery - a cool very GQ sort of space full of leather armchairs and flat-screen TVs and moody lighting - is a battered tube of E45 anti-itch cream. My attention is drawn back to the sleek woman on reception who nods at her computer and says, 'Ah, I see you are here for an intimate wax, ' with more enthusiasm than can ever be strictly necessary. I begin to wonder whether for the women working here the job is less vocation, more act of revenge. She smiles sweetly and directs me down to the changing room. I am told to shower, put on a towelling dressing gown and then wait in the lounge with daily papers, the fruit bowl and two other men (we do not make small talk) to await my therapist.

Who is a woman. Why hadn't I expected this? The Refinery is a male-only beauty spa, so I had assumed... but no. Simran, who is a pretty and solidly built Asian woman with arms made for wrestling bears, tells me that nine of the 10 therapists here are women. 'Men find the idea of another man doing an intimate wax...' she hesitates, as if searching for the right word, 'embarrassing.' Which I take to be code for: makes them uneasy about their sexuality. If they don't feel uncomfortable with another man fiddling with their bits they get anxious that they might be gay. And if they do feel uncomfortable with another man doing it, the whole experience is merely traumatic. Better, apparently, to have a woman you have never met before do it because, hey, that just makes it all so much easier. Of course it does.

To be fair to Simran she is a model of professionalism and skill; funny, charming, frank and completely unshockable. At which point it's worth issuing a health warning. Because there is absolutely no point me now lurching into euphemism in describing my lovely day out, and if you are at all of a nervous disposition you might want to look away now. Let's be clear: any discomfort you might be about to experience on reading this is as nothing as compared to the discomfort I went through undergoing it.