Body Building

An old hotel with historic associations now attracts therapists and bodyworkers


TAN LINES

I feared I'd turn jaundice yellow, the unfortunate stain of some drugstore self-tanners, or "porn-star orange," as Michelle Barback quipped while suffusing my body with Fantasy Tan at HAIME MUNOZ HAIR SALON. Applied with an airbrush from a gurgling compressor, the solution spreads evenly on the skin, dries streak-free, and looks surprisingly natural.

Barback selects the color best suited for your skin tone, then mists the solution while you stand on a tarp in your skivvies. I preferred a muted glow, so she chose Celebrity, one of the paler available shades. The process takes about half an hour: several minutes to airbrush and 10 to 20 minutes to dry. Fantasy Tan shades can be mixed to complement your tone if you hope to conceal skin discolorations or fill in that terminal farmer's tan. Bring a thong and plan on not showering or sweating for at least eight hours after your session. The treatment lasts six to nine days. D.S.E.

Barback offersVillage Voice readers a special introductory rate: one session for $45, two for $60 (regularly $75 for one session or two for $125). By appointment only at Haime Munoz Hair Salon, 146 East 74th Street, 212.861.9933


NATURAL HEALING

Hoodoo's roots, if you will, stretch way back past slavery to Africa, where nature means survival and empowerment. Though far from their native woodlands, resourceful slaves in Alabama, the Carolinas, and other Southern states found local plants to substitute for traditional herbs used in old healing, protection, and cleansing spells and rituals. When most Americans outside black culture hear the words hoodoo or mojo, they think of ridiculous movie stereotypes—sticking little dolls with pins or cooking up a noxious brew to keep your man from straying. Now, in Sticks, Stones, Roots & Bones: Hoodoo, Mojo & Conjuring With Herbs, Stephanie Rose Bird—a talented author, healer, and artist who inherited her family's way with roots and spirits—offers a deep, sumptuous new guide to hoodoo's true origins, philosophy, ethics, tools, and techniques, worth reading if just to learn more about Afro-Atlantic culture. You might think you'll never find time to concoct "Angels on High Soap" or "Commanding Powder"—"for tough jobs, strength, and to build courage"—but, honey, you never know when you might need a "Stay Away From Me Mojo" hand. E.Y.A.

Stick, Stones, Roots & Bones: Hoodoo, Mojo & Conjuring With Herbs by Stephanie Rose Bird, Llewellyn Publications, llewellyn.com, 274 pp., $14.95


MATCHES MADE IN HEAVEN

Bring me a higher love! The bar scene sucks, and I'm ready to try an online dating service. But match.com reminds me too much of eBay, and although I have a hunch that "spiritual chemistry" is essential in a good relationship, religion-based dating sites rub me the wrong way. A new site called soulmatch.com might be my saving grace.

SOULMATCH.COM was launched this summer by the beliefnet.com portal, a "multi-faith e-community" whose popularity among local folk has soared since 9-11. Already over 30,000 people in the U.S. and Canada have filled out Soulmatch profiles, a task which can take a half-hour or more, since the questions prompt you to think deeply about your values, political leanings, and worldview. (Do angels or astrology rule your world? Positive thinking or the power of love? Science or capitalism? These are some of the multiple choices the site offers.) Luckily for Internet seekers of higher love, from spiritual dabblers to the devout, Soulmatch has the depth and flexibility to let you express your own personal mélange of beliefs and practices, and specify the qualities you're looking for in a mate, way beyond the basic age-looks-hobbies stuff. Filling out a profile and searching for matches is free, but it costs $29.95 a month to become a member and contact others by e-mail. Ya never know—there just may be a fellow vegan liberal Quaker who enjoys Sufi texts, believes in the Force, and whose spiritual experiences mostly involve yoga and the use of mind-altering substances, waiting just around the corner. JERI HELEN


SWIMMING FOR LIFE

Can you learn to swim from a book? Probably not, but you can certainly improve your stroke, your timing, and your attitude by reading Terry Laughlin's Total Immersion, a revised edition of his 1996 treatise on how to swim like a fish—or a racing yacht—rather than like a barge. In addition to providing step-by-step instruction on reorganizing your body so it displaces less water, thus cutting down on drag and improving your speed and efficiency, Laughlin functions as a cheerleader, reminding you that at its best, swimming is a "practice" like yoga, rather than merely a workout. The literal-minded, obsessed with competing and logging mega-miles, will find plenty of detailed instruction and drill. The rest of us, for whom swimming is physical pleasure and a way to loosen muscles pounded by pavement, will delight in his evocations of "mindful swimming" and the "flow state." Traditional cross-trainers will find tips on winning triathlons; new-agers will revel in his conviction that yoga and Pilates are great ways to improve your swimming chops. At Laughlin's website, you can sign up for his free newsletter. ELIZABETH ZIMMER

Total Immersion: The Revolutionary Way to Swim Faster, Better, and Easier by Terry Laughlin with John Delves, Fireside Books, totalimmersion.net, 302 pp., $15

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