Pickups are parked in the gravel driveway. There's beer in buckets in the front yard. And women are offering back rubs. It's a man's paradise — and it may take place once a month at the Namaste Spa in Talent.
On a recent Thursday, spa owner Debbie Patterson threw her first men's-only "A Beer and a Buzz" party in which males, some leery of time-consuming grooming and the thought of ooey beauty treatments, were lured off South Pacific Highway by a sign lettered in masking tape promising $15 haircuts. Also on the menu: $5 brow waxing, $10 manicures, $15 chair massages and $20 express facials.
The secret is out. Men do like to be pampered. Skin care products specially formulated for those who shave their faces are one of the fastest growing segments of the beauty industry, with one in four men now routinely slapping on creams and lotions, according to the marketing research company NPD Group.
Capitalizing on the phenomenon while also poking fun at male vanity's newfound need for moisturizers, gels and wrinkle removers is the movie "Mansome," by documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, in which men's hygiene — "manscaping" — gets the same thorough examination Spurlock gave fast food ("Super Size Me") and product placement ("The Greatest Movie Ever Sold").
Are shelves in men's bathroom cabinets spilling over with pricey potions? Open one and find out. Or just talk to some of the guys who usually shy away from products and pampering but who showed up this night at a ranch house converted into a beauty den.
They were first greeted by Jesse Sword of Southern Oregon Brewing Co., who was pouring samples of Nice Rack IPA, Pin-up Porter, a Czech-style pilsner, German-style maibock and red ale.
"How could I not be at this event?" asks Sword, standing behind beer buckets in his crisp black shirt with an SOB logo and comparing the experience to his wife and sister drinking wine at a hair salon. "When I heard about the opportunity for guys to have a social event and also get their hair done or other things, I couldn't pass that up. This is a way for grooming to not feel so pampering but more manly."
With beer cups in hand, men wandered in and out of the pistachio-colored house as if it were a friend's party. They stepped on the welcome mat, then onto the wood floor in the hall and turned into a room where one man at a time sunk into a Barcalounger-type chair and received a pedicure.
Some clonked past the black wooden shelves holding shiny containers of hair and skin products in the reception area, grabbed at the pretzels and peanuts, and eventually found a guy in a salon chair.
Jason Williams of Ashland was wearing sunglasses and a T-shirt, and his hair was tied up into a foot-long ponytail. He was having his 3-inch-long scraggly beard shaped for the first time in 15 years.
"Nothing radical," he says, nonchalantly. "Just a trim."
No pedicure or manicure? "I'm trying to quit," he says, continuing in a monotone.
Which beer have you tried? His face lights up. "I've sampled them all," he explains. "Got to see the assortment."
Owner Patterson stands near her spa menu and says that her male clients are slow to try a treatment, but after they receive compliments from women, they get hooked. She and her Namaste Spa team offer the usual haircuts and facial hair trims, but sometimes she suggests removing wayward fuzz from eyebrows, ears and nose.
"Men are harder to get into the facial room," she confesses. Once there, she has products to sell that give them the desired results, or she tells them which ones they can borrow from their wife or girlfriend.
"They will try products they can just throw on," she says. "They don't pamper themselves as women do, but as long as we keep it basic, they will try it."
One male client spends two hours in Patterson's chair every month getting hair waxed away on his chest, back and armpits, and inside his ears. She also dyes his eyelashes black and he returns two weeks later for a facial.
On Thursday, a contractor had his first manicure and enjoyed the palm massage that came with it. A man with diabetes says aromatherapy and reflexology sessions soothed his muscles. A guy who was turning 31 and was told by his female friends that it was time to take better care of himself came by to learn how to care for his beard.
"We're all about teaching them how to do some of this themselves," says Patterson. "We show them how to use sunscreen to prevent wrinkles and natural ways to treat acne."
She adds: "A lot of men living in this area need encouragement, but the 'metrosexual' man is evolving."
Barbara Strom, 35, of Ashland, was looking refined in a stylish black-and-white dress, hoop earrings and necklace, when she chauffeured her T-shirt-and-shorts-wearing boyfriend Marco Alvarez, 44, to the event. Neither could remember whose idea it was for Alvarez to get a haircut.
The conversation went like this:
She: "He is desperately in need of a haircut."
He (from across the lawn): "I desperately need a haircut? I think I desperately need a beer and I found the right spot."
When asked who decided he desperately needed a haircut, both pointed to the other one.
Patterson says she will host a men's night once a month and post on her spa's Facebook page when she's throwing a Thursday happy hour so men can get ready for a weekend date.
Patrick Flynn, who lives in Quincy, Calif., but spends a lot of time in Ashland, swung by to get a quick haircut before heading down the road to Medford for a West Coast swing lesson and dance.
Later, he says the party was "fun and mellow," that he liked "shooting the bull with the beer guy," and, oh, yeah, "I got a good haircut, too."
Reach reporter Janet Eastman at 541-776-4465 or email@example.com.