Let them wear bird poop is the new let them eat cake.
We only roll around this crazy planet once. Why not spread bird sh*t on our faces while we're here?
This has long been my life's motto. Of course, I always meant it, you know, figuratively. That's because when faced with the prospect of motor-boating a pile of pigeon poop my very soul dry heaves. I suspect that I'm not alone with this.
But I'm also a sucker when it comes to all things trend beauty.
So when I learned that for the nominal fee of $210 (including tip), I could spend an hour getting nightingale feces spread onto my skin under the expert care of a highly trained esthetician to make it gleam and glow like never before, I leapt at the chance.
In the interest of full disclosure, I also read on their website that every treatment is followed with complimentary tea and a snack, and I'll be real: I love complimentary tea and snacks.
Shizuka Bernstein, owner of Shizuka Day Spa NYC, introduced the "Geisha Facial" to America. The premise is ostensibly based on the beauty regime of the traditional Japanese Geisha. The Geisha are professionally trained courtesans from birth.
Because the American idea of sex work is pretty restrictive, the history of the Geisha can be hard to grasp, especially since there's no butt-touching required. Geisha are experts in the arts and in conversation, and men pay top dollar to shoot the proverbial (nightingale) sh*t with them. It's a dying art, probably because of that whole thing where women started realizing that they are people. But I digress.
Part of the Geisha's makeup routine involved emphasizing their pallor with a lead-based white face paint. As you can imagine, covering your face with lead was the opposite of a good idea. This is just one of the many unfortunate byproducts when any culture decides to that whiteness = goodness = desirability. But again, digression.
Shizuka's "Geisha Facial" is similar to the traditional facial pampering regime. Your skin is cleansed, steamed, toned, extracted, moisturized and covered with a few nice smelling masks. The only difference is that somewhere in there you also get a cream made of powdered nightingale dung (Uguisu no Fun) smeared on your face.
The idea is that the bird poop acts as a natural exfoliant and skin brightener. (Cheerfully, the website assures you in the FAQ: You will not smell like you have sh*t on your face. Always a plus.)
The spa's decor was a little 1980s minimalist. While filling out my paperwork I made the mistake of leaning back on the couch only to discover that there was no back — a good time had by all as I flailed, a human roly-poly. The staff was sweet and helpful and offered me a stunning Japanese robe and some cozy slippers.
They arrived in a drawstring bag printed with lucky cats which I seriously considered stealing. I didn't, because I'm a very serious journalist and stealing is wrong.
I can't say I was overwhelmed by the splendor of the facial itself. I mean, it's always nice to sit in steam while a stranger massages your frown lines but let's be real, extractions suck. They would kind of be worth it if we got a video file to watch at the end (word up to all the other weirdos like me who love watching zit popping videos on YouTube).
All of the potions, including the bird poop, were strangely odorless. The website chants the word "organic" when describing the odor but I'd say it smells like rice more than anything else.
The lack of smell made me realize just how important an aromatherapy experience is to me when I put myself through these types of things. As if reading my thoughts, my arms were then lathered in intense smelling lavender oil and shoved inside some heated mittens.
Before I knew it the treatment was over. I opened my eyes to find the tray with my glasses and locker key rest precariously on my belly along with a single orchid blossom. This was odd but not entirely unpleasant. True to their word, I was provided with green tea and three seaweed crackers in the tranquility lounge. I didn't linger, finding that the goldfish trapped in the infinity water fixture to be a deeply unsettling reminder of my own mortality.
The next day my face was super-soft and I fancied I saw more of a glow than usual, but this could be because of the oils that were meticulously massaged deep into my face meats. I did notice that the redness around my nose was lessened, but not to any degree that would make me be all, "Yes, $200 bird poop facials must now be a part of my routine."
Walking home from the train I spotted a pigeon with what seemed to be a crown of his own feces perched precariously on his head. I winked at him knowingly, my comrade in beauty.