Queen West's Ten Spot: Toronto's new It Spot
I'm lying down, eyes shut, fists clenched. My legs are hoisted up in the air and my back is arched just so. It's warm, moist and gooey down there. I feel fingers exploring, getting ready. My whole body tenses, my muscles contract and... wait for it, wait for it... riiiiiiiiiiip! off it comes.
My eyes flutter open. I feel a little lightheaded. And, though sadist I am not, that felt good. Mary, my sweet-faced, auburn-haired esthetician, beams at me. She is already preparing the next stick of wax. My own fingers wander south to my wunder down under. I feel around. Verdict? Smooth as a baby's bottom. Mary is my new best friend.
A great Brazilian wax can change a girl's life. No joke. It's just one of those things that puts an extra pep in your step. Kinda like wearing sexy lingerie under your extra large sweats--it's your little secret, and it makes everything that much more fun. Be it the horizontal tango or simply laundry on a Saturday evening, having a Brazilian just ups excitement levels across the board. Hell, when this pussycat is freshly waxed and in my favorite lacy underthings, I feel invincible. Like I could scale Mt. Everest. Like I could fly to the moon. Like I could finally break it to my parents that, despite all their protests, writing may be my career of choice. (No, wait, scratch number three. Hell hath no fury like traditional Asian parents let down.)
Finding a good waxer, however, can be a girl's worst nightmare. You could go on the recommendations of your gal pals but, at the end of the day, it's largely a trial-and-error process. And the errors are--pardon my French--a monstrous bitch. I mean, do you really want to put your money honey pot through the ringer time and time again? Yeah, didn't think so.
Enter The Ten Spot, a nail bar and waxing heaven on Queen West. Ladies: meet The Ultimate Brazilian. Unruly hair from where the sun don't shine: meet your match. [Cue WWF intro music]. Be afraid, be very afraid.
The Ten Spot does their Brazilians using a combination of hard and strip waxes. Step one involves the hard wax, which is less painful for most women (not I), and clears the canvas. Step two is where the strip wax comes in (call me crazy, but I enjoy this more) and is what really brings out the full potential of your tongue magnet.
In addition to 14 different waxing services, The Ten Spot also offers 8 different nail treatments--there's one for men called The Hand Job. (Rawr. Come to poppa). Threading and tinting (lash or brow) are also available. For those looking to splurge, the spa also offers facials using fancypants skincare line dermalogica.
Although it's only been open for a mere three months, The Ten Spot has quickly become the It Spot of choice for the city's most discerning fashionistas. Its list of admirers and clients reads like a veritable who's who of Canada's trendsetting elite. Elle, Fashion and Sweet Spot have all sung its praises. Strut, Bobbi, and Verve Girl are banging down its door trying to get some face time. St. Joseph's Media (think: Where, Toronto Life, Wish, et al), Holt Renfrew and The Drake Hotel all call upon The Ten Spot to pamper their staff. L'Oreal Fashion Week chose it as its official spa this year. Frankly, I feel a tad silly to be jumping on the bandwagon so late; but, hell--as I sit here crossing and uncrossing my legs (ooh)--it's a sweet, sweet bandwagon to be on.
The brains and beauty--trust me, I was tempted to start batting for the other team--behind the operation is one Kristen Gale, Ten Spot owner and general sparkler extraordinaire. Sparkler, you ask? Indeed. There is no other word to describe it: this woman sparkles. (Need further corroboration? See the photo above--she's on the bottom, second from right.)
From the second you set foot in her joint, Gale immediately takes you under her gracious wing. This hostess with the mostest can usually be found mixing a drink--complimentary beverages are part of the Ten Spot experience (hiccup!)--while fielding questions from media types over the phone, and flitting from client to client, ensuring that every whim is met. Gale opened the nail and waxing bar in August to fill the gap she saw in the Toronto spa market.
"I wanted to do something that was simple in concept, but executed really, really well. And I thought Toronto was missing something like The Ten Spot. I mean, when you ask people what's the coolest hotel, they say The Drake. Or where's a really great gym, they might say Diesel. But for where to go for a Brazilian, or where to get your nails done, there wasn't any place that was really great, that really stood out," reflects Gale. "And so that's what I want The Ten Spot to be."
A former graphic designer, Gale had known she wanted her own business ever since she was a little girl. It wasn't until she found herself on the bye-bye end of a corporate downsizing, however, that she decided now was the time. "I'm not a good employee, I'll admit that. I've been fired twice--once from an internship," laughs Gale. "I have zero passion when I'm working for someone else. Just zero. Unless I have passion for what I'm doing, I'm not going to do a good job."
It seems, however, that a pink slip was exactly what was needed to ignite her passion. Within a few days of getting the boot, she had a business plan, a location, a registered company, and was ready to conquer Toronto. And conquer she has.
"I love Toronto. I'm literally kind of obsessed with it. I don't know what it is. I really love Queen Street--I think Queen Street is really what sold me on Toronto," muses the Winnipeg transplant, who has done stints in New York and Montreal. "Toronto is like New York, but a little cleaner and still manageable. It's still Canada, and a girl like me can still own her own shop on Queen Street."
The Ten Spot's proudly flaunts an "anti-spa" attitude. With a musical playlist that includes Radiohead and The Brazilian Girls, a plasma screen TV, a fully stocked bar, and interesting characters coming through the door at all times--Gale encourages her guests to mingle--a trip to The Ten Spot is not unlike going to a social retreat. And this is best exemplified by the spa's cheekily named packages. Tuesdays is Movies and Manicures Day--sip on a root beer float and watch a flick while getting pampered. Thursdays is Get Nailed Night--manicures, martinis and make-up...oh my! (Basically, you get to predrink and get primped.) Hangover Hook-Up is on Sunday, when pedicures come with a complimentary continental breakfast.
While the lighthearted hijinks are all in good fun, Gale makes it known that The Ten Spot takes business very seriously. Its managing director hails from the Stillwater Spa (think frou frou celebrity haunt), as does its director of education and training.
"Our screening and training process for all our staff is intense. Also, we are extremely clean--anything that's not stainless steel is discarded or given to the client so, for example, you keep your nail file when you leave. Anything that is stainless steel is cleaned in the medical grade autoclave, like the kind they use in tattoo parlours," explains a game-faced Gale. "That's pretty much unheard of in this industry."
I nod and smile as she explains all of this to me. Sounds great. Uh huh. But, really, I just can't wait to get home and, uhm, get to know myself a little bit better. It's true, ladies, treat your cha-cha right and reap the rewards. And, aesthetically and, errr, performance-wise, you can't beat The Ten Spot treatment when it comes your sweet spot.
Hey, no one likes a furburger.
The Ten Spot
749 Queen Street West
The Ten Spot is open seven days a week (til 10pm Thursdays through Saturdays). No appointments required.
Psst: Holt Renfrew and The Drake do it, and so should you. Private girlie get-togethers and other soirees are availabe at The Ten Spot. Reduced rates are offered on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Psst #2: This Halloween, you can get bruised, abused, stabbed and scabbed at The Ten Spot. A professional make-up artist will be onsite today (Tuesday, October 31) from 4:30 to 10:00pm, and can doll you up or troll you down, for a piddly $10. For more of The Ten Spot's special events--from theatre packages to art of conversation workshops--see their website.