Help in the one-upmanship stakes is now at hand, via London hairdresser Rick Stonell. From a basement salon on Shaftesbury Avenue, he has developed a little something destined to make the pierced of genitalia cross their legs in shame: pubic wigs.
Historians, or those worryingly interested in all things nether-regioned, will know the "merkin", as the pubic wig/covering was traditionally monickered, has been around for yonks. Fourteenth century unfortunates concealed the weeping sores of syphilis within them... but don't let that put you off. Thankfully, Mr Stonell's contemporary take is a little more artistic in intention: "I've tried to develop it into something fashiony - for catwalks and clubs, or as an intimate gift for a loved one." This he has done by enabling the punter to choose from either monofibre, yak-belly or human hair types, and contribute to the custom-made process by suggesting their own design and colour scheme. "You could go short and neat, have long hair, plaits - or something like a target design," he explains, "the wig itself is woven onto a thin piece of gauze and can either be applied directly to the shaved pubic area with spirit gum, or attached to a transparent g-string and worn over tightly-trimmed pubic hair."
The wigs do have unisex potential (accessorised chin and armpit attachments are also available for gents or drag kings). However, they have proved most popular with, in their maker's words, "people happy to get their kit off, for whatever reason". This has inevitably favoured the younger, lairy and disco-bound female, as opposed to the more mature, blue-rinse brigade (pussy-obsessed Mrs Slocombe aside).
One such eager beaver was 27-year-old graphic designer Meredith Heeson. "I had a bright pink, heart-shaped wig fitted for a Valentine's themed club night," she chuckles. "It was perfectly comfortable. I wore it under a see-through slip and the reaction it got was amazing - especially from my boyfriend!"
Understandably, perhaps, the pubic side of the business is not, as yet, bristling. Nonetheless, our trusty merkin maestro has played host to steadily increasing numbers of novelty seekers, has been fielding many a cautious mail order enquiry and received interest from German TV companies, too. Given time, this one will grow and grow...
For more information, contact Rick Stonell at Archive & Alwin, tel: 0171 437 8933