Christine Duquette’s new book Ripped: The Hairy Tales of a Brazilian Bikini Waxer is scoring major points among skin and beauty pro audiences. In her book Duquette shares her candid reflections and below the belt musings from her days as one of the industry’s best’s “private waxers” in Southern, California. For over a decade Duquette made a name for herself waxing everyone from aspiring actresses to stay-at-home-moms. Over the course of her career Duquette kept stock of all the outrageously funny moments and guests and realized all those tales made fabulous material for a book and the manuscript for Ripped was born. The super charming author recently chatted with BYM and dished on everything from her favorite wax to her most outrageous guests check out the full interview below:
BYM: Why do you think waxing is extra humorous for estheticians and beauty pros?
C.D. I think waxing offers great comedic material because really, anything that involves nudity and pain can be a bit awkward. As a waxer, you are seeing a side of people that most other people in their lives never do, at least not with a ten time magnifying lamp. That vulnerability can lend itself to comedy. Being a funny person is my waxing super power. My funny stories and inappropriate sense of humour have always kept clients distracted and entertained while I ripped the hair from their body. Sure we had some therapy sessions too, but laughter is the BEST therapy. Plus, you work on enough clients you are going to get some that fly their freak flags a little higher than others. I loved these clients because they were NEVER boring.
And with women and a myriad of body issues most of us have, having a sense of humor about it all is key. When I was in my twenties, I went to a spa for a massage. The woman who worked on me was a skinny, glossy haired beauty– she was gorgeous and not very nice. She never smiled, her directions were curt and it seemed like she wanted to be somewhere else. So you can imagine my discomfort in letting this would-be supermodel knead my glutes and rub my ample thighs. I finished the massage, but I didn’t enjoy it, I was too self-conscious. When I opened my spa, I wanted everyone who came in to feel welcome and comfortable. It isn’t easy to feel comfortable with someone peering into your vagina, but I was determined to make it as relaxing as possible. Part of that was being my warmest and most welcoming even on the days things weren’t going that well for me or I didn’t really want to be there. I’ve seen moody, disconnected estheticians before, you simply cannot be successful in this business if you don’t exude some warmth and friendliness.
BYM: How did you keep a straight face when clients would say the darnedest things ?
C.D.: Well I’m not sure I do. As much as I can keep my mouth closed, my face has always been an open book. Some people talk with their hands, I guess I talk with my face. When clients tell me funny things, my goal has always been to see how MUCH they’ll tell me. Here’s the thing–it is not at all unusual for clients to reveal personal things to me. It’s the nature of two people in a room together with no one else to overhear. I am a safe person to tell things to that they might not share with other people. I consider myself an armchair therapist. I enjoy listening to people’s problems and though untrained, I offer up pretty sound advice when asked, and sometimes when not asked. I also have an intense natural curiosity about the sociology of people and what goes on in their lives. I am fascinated by human perception and behavior. Add to that the fact that I have almost no filter and, like a three-year-old, I will ask whatever question comes to mind. And once a client has begun to reveal startling personal information, I cannot help myself from seeing how much I can pull out of them. For instance, I had a client who told me during a wax she was an adult film actress. I figured since she offered it, I could ask questions and I did. I got a great deal of funny material that day.
BYM: Care to share you funniest waxing moments?
C.D. I always say the worse the experience the funnier the story. Probably manscaping my first manzilian was one of the funniest. For one, I was new to the service and understandably nervous. I hadn’t even taken a course or watched a video, there just weren’t any in those days. Second, the man was the boyfriend of my client and was a colossal, rock solid, towering African-American man. He was a personal trainer, a competition weight lifter and ripped with muscle. He looked like Leonardo’s David if David had added a few more arm and leg days each week at the gym. I am just over five feet tall so with his height and bulk, he was physically intimidating. He also hardly fit on my table. He was nervous, I was nervous, his girlfriend was there and was almost gleeful that he was going to experience what she endured for years for his benefit. He was really nice but walked out of my place looking like a guy who had had outpatient kidney surgery. This was the first story I wrote down for Ripped. It was just so funny and it was certainly a trial by fire with intimate male waxing.
BYM: Most memorable guests?
C.D.:The clients I didn’t like were the easiest to write about because they were so obviously rude or stinky or whatever. In my book I have chapters titled No Good Stinky Hair Pants Lady and Elephant Ears, these were real women and they were both awful. But again as I say, sometimes the worst experiences make for the best stories.
The most memorable are also those clients that teach you something. I had a woman come in on a fundraising package we participated in. It was one of those things where they buy four services for like forty bucks, with about ten dollars going to us to cover products and such. She ended up unhappy because she had thought she scheduled her massage visit for the day but was down for a facial. I booked the appointment myself and her friend had already grabbed the massage slot so I knew I had told her we only had a facial spot open. But in her mind, that was the service she was supposed to have. She was very upset, out of proportion to the issue. She said she really wanted a massage. Now mind you, she still had a massage coming, it would just have to be on another day(they had to use one service per visit). I offered to give her a back facial with a nice massage in place of the traditional facial. I touched up her manicure from the week before. I gave her a free eyebrow shaping. None of it was making her any happier. So finally I asked her, “what can I do to make this right?” She said “nothing.” I learned two things. The first is when an issues arises, start by asking clients what they need to make it right. They will usually ask for less than you will offer. Second, sometimes people just want to be unhappy.
BYM: Favorite Wax?
C.D.: I can do a great wax with nearly any product but Lycon rose hard wax and Lycon azulene wax were always my go to for Brazilian waxing. They stay elastic but cool fast, are easy to grab and pull and are so gentle on clients. Even though they are a bit pricy, I also found I don’t have to use as much and I am able to work more quickly so the end value is great. For brows, I love Satin Smooth Calendula. I started using hard wax on brows early on as I found many women were using products with retinol in them and still wanted to wax. Hard wax initially offered an alternative to lifting skin but also afforded me better control. I find that if you spread soft wax even just a little too think, when you press on the muslin strip, the wax goes a little further into the brow line than you intended. Of course, you can compensate by placing wax a little further from the brow, but hard wax helps you see every hair you are removing for a precise, perfect brow.
BYM: Waxing Tips?
C.D.: If you are new or afraid to learn this service, you must get past it. Waxing is the real money maker in esthetics outside of medical procedures. As soon as the economy shifts or Christmas comes along, clients tend to cut back on the feel good services like $100 facials, but women will dig through their couches looking for enough money to get their wax. It is recession proof. Cha cha waxing kept the lights on during some very lean years in the business. So find some victims friends and practice until you feel readyish to unleash yourself on the paying public. Truth be told, none of us were very good when we started.
BYM: Manscaping……..any funny stories or memorable guests you care to enlighten our audience with?
C.D.: Too many. In the book I have a whole chapter devoted to my odd male clients, Back, Sac and Crack the Bad Boys of Waxing. Listen, most of my male clients were really nice people who just wanted some of their hair gone and didn’t want to shave. But there were some nuts, pun intended.
BYM: The smells…any advice when working with a guest that may be not so pleasant below the belt?
C.D. You know, probably like any other job you get used to it. Yes, I have smelled butts but I bet dentists smell a lot of bad breath and preschool teachers smell a lot of poop so we are not alone right? Most women are so careful about cleaning up before hand, but for super stinky clients I usually do kind of a quicky once over without getting too far in there. I was nearly always busy enough that if someone was hygiene impaired I was okay with them going else where. When I was pregnant though, I had super sense and everyone’s butt smelled bad. I just did like the coroners and put some strong essential oil under my nos
Want to connect with Christine? Read more on her blog thebarespa.com.