Photographer Bon Duke playfully re-imagines (and maybe even invents) a few luxe beauty treatments.
When you give permission to love something simply because it's fun and not because it's necessary, a lot of weird things can go down. This becomes the most obvious in the realm of beauty, where, both historically and globally, anything can happen in the name of getting rid of a zit or two. Parisian spas of the 1920s used to offer muscle-stretching machines and would masturbate you for skin health (the writer Colette was a fan of this technique). These days, you can get slapped in the face in the name of anti-aging and bathe in fermented hay to soothe stiff muscles. Our taste for extreme beauty has only grown, thriving as ever in the sweet spot between the mythic and the scientific. When we want to feel pampered, we'll try anything once. So here's our collection of 13 stranger-than-fiction things you can do, all around the word, in the name of beauty. Who knows? Some of them might actually work.
1. San Francisco -- You can get your kisser smacked around for $350 a session by licensed practitioners in the art of the Thai Face Slap. Their website assures us it is "1 million percent safe." Sign up a mean ex-boyfriend for the service, perhaps?
2. Lithuania -- Stop by the Kempinski Hotel and you can exfoliate and bathe in crushed amber to shed impurities. It's probably as close to bathing in diamonds as we'll get... for now.
3. Maldives -- As if chilling on a private tropical island wasn't dreamy enough, at Velaa Private Island's spa you can curl up in a cocoon cradle surrounded by light-generated visuals to simulate the feeling of floating on a cloud. Please note: it also happens to look like a rainbow vagina.
4. London -- Bird-poop facials originated in Korea a thousand years ago, and the nightingale variety, approriately named uguisu no fun in Japanese, has become a favorite among celebrities and royalty: Kate Middleton, Victoria Beckham and members of One Direction are all said to be fans of the treatment. For Â£180 a squat, you can have skin like Posh Spice.
5. Israel -- At Ada Barak's Carnivorous Plant Farm near Haifa, you can willingly have nonvenomous snakes of all sizes slither over your body as an interesting method of stress relief. This would make an excellent scene in a Nicki Minaj video.
6. Thailand -- At the Snail Spa in Chiang Mai, you can have little slimeballs crawl all over your face in the name of hydration. If you can't make the trip, snail-based face masks aren't hard to find nowadays.
7. Italy -- At Hotel Heubad in the hills of Northern Italy, you can be wrapped in a bed of hot local fermented hay to sweat out your impurities. It is evidently great for stiff muscles and arthritis, though the treatment has lost the scientific support it once held.
8. China -- Huo liao, also known as the fire treatment, involves placing a cloth soaked in alcohol and a serum on the skin and igniting it until the therapist decides to smother the flame with a wet towel. Probably a relaxing treatment for arsonists.
9. Over 75 Regions, including Brooklyn -- Of course the weirdest borough would have the weirdest facial. A new treatment from Hydrafacial mines precious cells from baby foreskins to help resurface your skin for a "youthful glow." Maybe too youthful.
10. California -- Potheads, rejoice! Or, don't; the marijuana massage uses topical cannabis oil to get you high on life. It won't actually get you stoned, but it does purport to help with chronic pain, wounds and inflammation. Free bong hit not included; for that particular happy ending, you might have to go to Denver, where the marijuana massage is also available.
11. Kenya -- At the Segera Retreat near Mount Kenya, you can bathe in a rock bath of lavender, sage and camel milk and spy on elephants roaming the wildlife sanctuary Segera is a part of. This is Extreme Self Care: Safari Edition.
12. The World Wide Web -- While the Oculus Rift waits in the wings, YouTube is the latest platform for beauty, or at least for immersive beauty tutorials. ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) junkies can feast on the popular channel ASMR Requests, which offers spine-tingling virtual aesthetician visits, and the interstellar Departure series. They're like spas for sci-fi nerds.
13. North Carolina -- Asheville's Omni Grove Park Inn, with its 43,000-square-foot subterranean spa, features an 80-minute "Color and Light Wrap with Aura Imaging" treatment. Translation: you sit in a pod that vibrates and changes color like a very expensive and all-encompassing Windows screen saver.
Makeup by Anastasia Durasova at the Wall Group / Hair by Joey George at the Wall Group / Photographer assistants: John Temones and Tiri / Model: Eden Weinhardt at New York Model Management