Saturday, May 29, 2010
Bringing a Bit of Brazil to the Heart of New York
by Vanity Fair
May 28, 2010, 3:59 PM
Ladies (and, of course, you few gentleman), if you’ve ever waxed it all, then, by extension, you’ve been graced by the wisdom of Janea Padilha, founder of what’s popularly known as a Brazilian. Last month marked the debut of Brazilian Sexy, Janea Padilha’s humorous chronicle of the Brazilian bikini wax, a beauty treatment that, depending on your sense of modesty, is either famous or infamous. The setting for all this waxing is the J. Sisters Salon, an old-school New York beauty hot spot that Janea Padilha and her six sisters founded in 1987. Having moved from Brazil to the Land of the Free, the sisters soon found out that Americans were much less liberated than they seemed—at least when it came to waxing. The cosmetic procedure now considered beauty’s greatest breakthrough since, well, razors, wasn’t always so popular. Once the J. Sisters salon opened, it took Janea one full year to finally convince a very hesitant client to let her wax everything. The immediately converted client brought five of her friends to the salon that same afternoon. One of them was a writer for Elle, and the rest is history. Now, more than 20 years later, J. Sisters caters to an A-list clientele, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomi Campbell, and Vanessa Williams, who is such a fan of Janea and her vision that she wrote the forward to Brazilian Sexy.
And so, in honor of Janea’s new book, V.F.’s roving beauty reporters (two waxing virgins), decided to check out this much hyped and, as Janea puts it, “liberating” experience.
The salon is situated on the top three floors of an elegant, century-old town house, squeezed in between bustling shops, office buildings, and restaurants. The procedure itself was quick, and, we kid you not, relatively painless. But be prepared—unlike most salons, technicians here don’t wear gloves, which, we’re told, can impede the accuracy and speed of hair removal.
If you aren’t comfortable with your body, then, we can assure you, after a humbling few sessions with Janea, you will be. Legs swing upward—one hitched across her shoulder and the other planted on the table. Rule No. 1: You have to relax. If you tense your muscles, pain is intensified. Rule No. 2: Talk to Janea—about friends, relationships, work, anything really—since it will help you relax. What makes J. Sisters so different from the hundreds of salons throughout the city isn’t so much the Victorian décor, fantastic waxing (which, we assure you, really is fantastic), or spiral staircases that run from floor to floor, but the people. During the 45 minutes we spent at the 57th Street oasis, we felt as if we had a sneak peak into a special club—of bubbly, happy, and wise Brazilian liberators. As the old saying goes: Once you go Brazilian, you don’t go back to anything else.
J. Sisters salon, 35 West 57th Street, third floor, New York City, 212-750-2485. The Brazilian Bikini Wax is $75.
Posted by Martha Frankel at 2:16 PM