Britesmile for Bungholes

Investigating the latest craze in bodily beautification: anal bleaching

LOS ANGELES—"Is there any way of making my anus more pink or lighter in color? Mine is dark and I hate it. Any suggestions?" I received this question from a female reader of my Anal Advisor column in Taboo, and believe it or not, she's not the only one pining for a pinker pucker. I've gotten letters from dozens of people asking how to make their buttholes better looking. Until recently, I couldn't give them much help, because based on my research, no product or procedure existed to lighten that place, which spends a lot of time in the dark. Then, this year, an episode of Dr. 90210 on E! featured porn star Tabitha Stevens visiting a salon in the San Fernando Valley to get her asshole bleached. I was flooded with e-mails alerting me to this cosmetic procedure's television debut. One came from Crappers Quarterly (crappersquarterly.com), a website dedicated to "public toilet reviews around the world," whose anonymous reporter investigated the treatment and interviewed someone from the salon over the phone. I was curious to see for myself just what this, the equivalent of BriteSmile for bungholes, was all about. So I made my own appointment for an anal bleaching at Pink Cheeks.

Pink Cheeks is a Sherman Oaks salon that specializes in all types of body waxing; in fact, it offers seven different pussy-waxing options, from the Brazilian bikini wax to the Playboy (bikini line, labia, and butt crack waxed with a thick or thin V of hair left on top). It is also the place that has pioneered the ass-whitening procedure and was featured in the E! segment. After waiting an hour (apparently there were a lot of parts to be defurred and/or bleached that day), I was directed to a small room with a massage table covered in a blanket and that sheet of thin paper that shields doctors' exam tables. A hand-painted pink wooden sign hanging on the wall read, "NO WHINING."

A few minutes later, I was greeted by Pink Cheeks owner Cindy Esser-Thorin, a cheery woman who floated into the room and peppered our discussion of backdoor beauty regimens with "honey" and "sweetheart." "Ask me why the butthole is dark to begin with," she suggested. I obliged, and she proceeded to tell me about genetics, pigmentation, and when a zygote splits to form an embryo. OK, so you've done some homework on the subject, I thought to myself.

She told me that she would wax the anus first, then apply Pink Cheeks Amazing Anal Bleaching Cream, a product the salon developed, to the area. I scanned the label: The active ingredient is hydroquinone (4 percent), a substance used to lighten dark skin, commonly found in products used by African Americans to even out skin tone. "We just tried it on some buttholes and realized it worked," said Esser-Thorin.

After the procedure, she explained, she would send me home with the jar of cream, a brush, and instructions: Use it each night until you achieve the desired lightness. You should see results in one to two weeks. If you experience burning, tenderness, or discomfort, decrease applications to every other day or stop altogether. She handed me a sheet with "before" and "after" photos and noted, "This girl's butthole was so white in the 'after' shot, the flash bounced off it!" When she looked ready to spread beeswax back there and get going, I revealed that I'm a writer and just wanted information for a column. "So we're not going to actually do it?" she asked, looking a little disappointed. You know I'll usually try anything once, but the truth is I really like the way my ass looks as it is.

As far as Esser-Thorin knows, there is no one else in the U.S. offering this service, which costs $75 (according to Crappers Quarterly, an Australian salon called the Bees' Knees offers a similar procedure). She estimates that in the less than four months since Pink Cheeks has made it available, she has lightened the brown eyes of about 170 customers, including visitors to the salon and those who've ordered the product over the phone (818-906-8225). "We've gotten a lot of orders from Texas," she says. "We've been bleaching lots of Texan winkers." Notably, about one-third of requests come from men, and she said it has become very popular among gay guys. After our session, she hugged me. I've never been hugged before by a person I could have paid to remove the hair from my genital region. I got the feeling she hugs a lot.

We bleach our teeth and the hair on our heads and bodies, so why not lighten up wherever else we want? Well, when it comes to our privates, the personal parts are very much political. Vaginal cosmetic surgery—in which plastic surgeons trim and reshape the labia and make them symmetrical—supports the notion that there is such a thing as a normal- or typical-looking pussy. Likewise, anal bleaching is based on the idea that there is one perfect shade of ass. If you've seen as many cunts and rumps as I have, you know that this is false. Every person's nether regions have their own unique look (and personality, for that matter). I'm not interested in all of us having identical coochies! Plus, the butthole has gotten a bum rap to begin with, being characterized as dirty, private, asexual, and taboo. Now it needs a makeover too?

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