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.

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