The Business Of Bush
Vince Jackson peers behind the lens of the industry that gave birth to the no-hair-down-there look: porn.
Let’s not beat around the bush here. Porn changed your pubes. Watch the average skin-flick nowadays and you’ll see how these once-lush nether regions have become follicle wastelands, rarely trodden by that engendered species called “hair”. You might not dig pornography. You might think it’s a bit gross. But the fact remains that, somehow, its X-rated aesthetic found its way into your undies, liked what it saw and decided to hang around for a decade or two. James Cooney knows how it happened. He’s the editor of The Picture, Australia’s best-selling adult magazine – albeit on the softer, less gynaecological end of the porn spectrum. “The reason Brazilians and shaved pubes started appearing in porn movies in the early 90s was primarily for the benefit of the male audience – so they could see more,” says Cooney. “They could see what was going on down there.” At the same time, companies were churning out affordable, higher-resolution cameras. The close-ups got clearer, the bush thinner. A gimmick became an obligation. By the new millennium, the pubes had been hunted down or had at least been driven underground. “Only a few years ago, ‘chicks with hair’ was still a fetish thing in porn – even though it’s really natural!” admits Cooney. While porn hacked away at its foliage like a Tasmanian logger, the business crawled out from under its stone, diving headfirst into the mainstream. Men’s mags like FHM and Maxim became publishing hits by watering down the legs-akimbo, intimatebits-and-all shoots usually found in hardcore titles. The internet bypassed the seedy sex shop and brought YouTube-style movie clips straight to our laptops. And here’s the thing. A recent survey reported that 18 per cent of young women view porn at least once a week. Another poll by a British lingerie firm says 57 per cent of ladies who enjoy porn solo are between 18 and 30. Could it then be that it was porn, not just Sex And The City that convinced a whole generation of women to lose their pant-beards?
“It was the porn that got to us, which is what made Brazilian waxes such a post-millennial phenomenon,” blogged Jennifer Keishin Armstrong on the Sexy Feminist website. “Women weren’t so prone to hitting the back room of the local Video King just to check out other ladies’ equipment, but it’s possible we might sometimes wander over to the porn department at Google… And what we found, the more we looked at porn, was that there was not a female pubic hair in sight. And then many of us thought: if guys like porn and I want to have sex with men, it just seems logical that I should not have pubic hair.”
But wait! You see, nothing lasts forever – not even itchy stubble rash in your Bonds. Cooney’s now seeing something suspicious creeping back into his mag. Something short. Something curly. Something that reminds him of the resplendent bush of yesteryear.
“Shaved hair is still the most predominant style, but there are more pubes now than at any time during the last seven or eight years,” he says, pointing out that he occasionally does a ‘pube issue’ to keep the hedge-lovers happy.
“We’re also seeing more mainstream porn stars with pubes, which is new. With our higher-end models, if it’s not shaved then it’s manicured.” Bush may not be back. But thanks to a U-turn by the porn industry, mass extinction may have been avoided.