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I Stopped Growing My Ass Hair — And My Tolerance for Men Who Want to Change Me

How not shaving my ass in quarantine stirred memories for a long lost ex-hookup

My ass hair has grown quite long in quarantine. It’s also drastically furrier in the crack than on the cheeks, like a taco if the only interior ingredients were ass hair and, eventually, an asshole. All at once, I’m a furry king, a bra-burning feminist and an increasingly lazy man. I contain multitudes.

Contrary to popular belief, gay porn studios generally don’t demand shaved butts. They leave it up to the performer’s preference, although models with exclusive studio contracts may be encouraged to shave for scenes. Either way, they usually prefer to do some hedge-trimming on set rather than have an overeager model show up with irritated skin or a distractingly creative take on manscaping.

I’ve never had a strict regimen around my pubic hair, but I prefer the way my ass looks and feels when it’s smooth. I like it shiny just for me, even if nobody’s around to see it or touch it. However, my skin is so prone to irritation from sweating, sitting and fucking that I often need to let any bumps and burns heal for a week or more before I consider shaving again. 

Recently, though, I’ve changed my process. Every six to eight weeks I go to a salon in Chelsea for “sugaring,” a trendy hair-removal procedure that’s similar to waxing but ostensibly uses gentler ingredients, namely sugar and lemon juice. It keeps the skin smooth and less irritated for a lot longer than shellacking with a razor. 

The thing is, because of quarantine, I haven’t been able to ride the train into Manhattan to get my ass hair yanked off in nearly four months. The other thing is, when my pubes get this long, I always think about the same ex-lover from seven long years ago. I was 20 — ridden with acne and living in the East Village — when I hooked up with this guy a few blocks away. He had this calming, clean-shaven Penn Badgley look to him, and I knew he was out of my league. (At the time, I still believed in “leagues” of people who can and can’t fuck each other.) As blasé as possible, I asked if he was a model or actor. He was a waiter. This struck me as even more romantic.

I don’t remember much about the sex, except that he spent a long time playing with my au naturale asshole. He let me sleep over, and I woke up in between his white bed sheets while he was on the other end of the room dressing for the day. Without an inkling of impatience, he told me to rest as long as I liked and left me there in his cluttered studio apartment. When you’re 20 years old, this permission to stay feels surreally tender, despite never suggesting that we’d see each other again. I suppose that made it even more kind. (I wonder what gave it away that I don’t know how to steal.)

It wasn’t until years later that he showed up again in my Scruff inbox. I’d moved to Brooklyn, and my skin had cleared up. I wasn’t sure if he remembered me, but I certainly remembered him. I sent over some photos to refresh his memory. He claimed he remembered me, but I suspected he was just playing along. It was honestly more flattering if he didn’t recognize me as the insecure, inexperienced college kid he left behind in his bedroom. 

It wasn’t our mutual past that interested him anyway. Instead, he asked how recent my ass pics were. My small but powerful collection features a range of hair growth, and he needed to know how recently I’d shaved.

Normally when a man on an app asks about my ass hair, they want it smooth. Sometimes they even ask me to shave it for them in time for them to come over. I, however, don’t fuck with guys who have these kinds of conditions for sex. I like my own ass hair groomed, but that’s my own preference about my own body. There’s something about our choices about our hair — its growth, its styling, its elimination — that are spiritually important to all of us, from the outermost surfaces of our heads to the innermost crevices of our coochies. 

What I do with my body is always going to be bound up with what I want other people to do with my body, and I have no pretenses that it isn’t. So if I was meaning to shave soon anyway, I might go ahead and clear the runway at their request. Other times, I tell these hairless heretics to get over it.

It’s not the preference then, however shallow it might be, that bothers me. What irks me most is having to negotiate with someone about their desire for me, as though I’m almost eligible to be fucked — if only I tweaked my appearance a bit. I think I’d prefer a rejection.

I’m down to exchange plenty of things for sex with strangers, but letting somebody customize my body hair like I’m an adults-only Bitmoji is too big of an ask. Unless, of course, they’re also offering cash.

As for my former flame, he wasn’t asking me to shave for him. The opposite, actually. When I told him I’d mowed the lawn maybe a week or two ago, he said he wanted to wait to hook up again. He wanted it fully grown. He wanted my ass hair as long as it could naturally grow. This didn’t strike me as a kind of domination over my appearance. It felt more like an admission of a fetish, and it didn’t require me to do anything but wait. I wasn’t in any rush, and a part of me had already committed to a long game with this guy, a game of proving to either him or myself that I’d grown up since I was 20. 

When he messaged me a few days later, I sent him a photo of my progress. “Hmm, I bet it can grow a little longer — based on your leg hair,” he responded. 

He wasn’t wrong, and he wasn’t rude about it either. He was just clear about what he was looking for. It unexpectedly turned me on. He supervised my hair growth like a coach tracking a runner’s best time. I felt submissive toward him in this singular, prolonged way.

Eventually, though, I couldn’t tolerate the shag carpeting between my ass cheeks any longer and stripped it back to wood flooring. As such, I didn’t bother following up with the ass hair enthusiast for a while. When he messaged me again later, I told him I’d have to get back to him once I felt like growing it out again. These lapses and check-ins occurred a few more times over several months. He took it in stride and never stopped being friendly or clear about what he was looking for. I let it grow out again many times after that, but never long enough that I felt he’d be satisfied. 

Which is why I’m thinking about him now. Would he finally be pleased with my progress, or would he ask me to keep going? I wonder if he really was all that beautiful. Was I just young and easily impressed? 

But most of all, I wonder what he loves so much about a hairy hole — the softness, the smell or the sublime pleasure of letting someone grow?