“Number 503, take off clothes, whirl spa 5 minutes, come with me!”
“Naked?” was my response.
“Yes, Naked!” yelled the gruff Korean woman speaking broken English, wearing only a black lacey bra and underwear.
I had always been curious of these places. I’ve heard many friends and strangers talk about them. Even the bartender at Mignon in downtown Los Angeles overheard me discussing my impending visit.
“It’s interesting!” she said.
“Interesting? But don’t you have to be ‘Naked?’ I asked with a tinge of horror in my voice.
“Yeah, so?” she replied shrugging her shoulders and added: “Cest la vie!”(Such is life)
Of course she’s French, and I’ve heard they love to be naked!
Me on the other hand, not so much.
Yeah I know, I was born naked, it’s natural and I literally have lived half my life in bathing suits. Growing up in Los Angeles with a swimming pool, being on the high school swim team for 4 years, and now competing in triathlons you would think I lacked modesty.
But being buck-naked in a spa with other women is totally something else. One of my favorite ‘Sex and The City’ episodes is when the girls all go to a spa together and take off their towels exposing only their birthday suits, except for Charlotte. Her excuse: ‘I did not grow up in a ‘Naked’ house.
Well, neither did I, and in high school during swim season, we used the surfer change (wrap a towel around you and slip off your clothes underneath) and no one walked around naked in the girls locker room. I still practice a bit of modesty when changing in public places (gym/beach/pool), and even when I get massages, I leave my panties on.
The purpose of visiting the Wi Spa was to free myself, embark on a new adventure and try the “Naked’ spa out. I wanted to know what people’s interpretation of ‘interesting’ was. Before I chose the Wi Spa as my naked spa of choice, I did my research.
I checked Yelp reviews to find the best and the cleanest ‘Naked’ spa. The Nurse-Hypochondriacs in me put “hygiene” and “cleanliness” as the number one biggest factor for booking. Nothing below a perfect five star would be accepted, and The Wi spa met my guidelines.
I recruited a friend to venture with me. Of course I asked her to google the spa, so she would be prepared. She neglected to follow my instructions. So, I decided not to spoil the “naked” surprise for her, and kept the information to myself.
I made the appointment online at ‘Wi Spa’ on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles, for a 90 minute salt scrub which included an aroma therapy massage, and a free Boba drink for booking online.
As I entered the spa, I felt like I had been teleported to Korea. My friend Maria, was for the first time in her life speechless, and just kept saying where are we going. I whispered to her :” don’t talk just keep walking.”
At the front desk, we each received bracelets with numbers on them, I was 503. A spa uniform which consisted of a t-shirt with the Wi Spa logo on it, awkward fitting gym shorts accompanied by some white towels. I asked what the “clone” uniform was for?
“Communal Area” the girl behind the desk quipped in broken english.
Maria and I quickly walked through a long corridor which lead to locker room. There we were greeted by many nude women. As they welcomed us into the ‘Nude’ world, we asked how they were enjoying their experience.
“This is the best one” stated one of the nude spa patrons, “and the cleanest” she added. “Good to know” I responded as I diverted my gaze and quickly stripped down to nothing.
I felt like I was in an episode of “I Love Lucy ” the one where Lucy and Ethel worked in a chocolate factory, making chocolates, or the one where Lucy goes to Italy and joins the locals stamping grapes, to try to fit in.
Maria and I trying to fit in with the “naked” Wi patrons while trying to cover up our nakedness with wash clothes. It was difficult walking through the spa with our eyes closed. The naked blind leading the naked blind. I wondered out loud: “Would Lucy ever go to a naked Spa?”
Both Maria and I jumped in the “hot”whirl spa, and immediately got yelled at by naked patrons. Apparently, we needed to shower first. There are several beautiful showers in the ‘Naked’ spa area, interesting sink/bidet areas where women are bathing themselves, along with hot/warm whirl pool baths, and wet and dry saunas.
After 5 minutes in the whirl pool bath, my number got called. A Korean woman in a black lacey bra and underwear led me to an area with several stalls and massage tables. Gruffly she told me to lay face down and then she threw a bucket with warm water all over my body. I felt like a helpless animal, and the stories my friends told were turning into a real experience. They weren’t kidding when they said: The just throw water on you with a bucket like your a farm animal.
Next, my massage lady with the lacey bra and underwear, took what felt like a “brillo pad” and scrubbed me like a dirty dish pan. I asked her to please leave me some skin, but she was in charge of this situation, and was not listening to anything I had to say. she just kept scrubbing.
Once in a while, my scrub lady would ask: “you ok?” I didn’t know what to tell her? Did I like this tortuous “brillo pad” exfoliation experience ? My brain was confused.The experience was neither bad nor good. Just ‘interesting.”
I looked to my right and about 10 feet away was my friend Maria. She bore a contorted look of horror and kept her eyes closed as she was being scrubbed raw by a lack lacey bra and panty wearing woman armed with a “brillo pad.”
Every orifice of my body was scrubbed raw. Another bucket of warm water was thrust upon me washing dead skin cells and what felt like chunks of my skin away. The next step was the shower followed by sitting in the ‘Hot’ sauna for 5 minutes.
I had to ask my tortuous scrub woman to repeat the instructions several times due to her broken english. She finally took me by the hand like a child to the hot sauna. She then put her five fingers up and said:”minutes” sternly.
A Korean version of ‘General Hospital’ played on a large flat screen TV in the sauna. The sauna was quiet, and several naked korean women stared at the screen mesmerized.
Maria and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. Both of us are nurses. The irony of watching a hospital Korean soap opera in a sauna was a bit surreal after just having undergone the tortuous brillo pad experience, gave us the giggles.
I was mesmerized by the Korean soap opera that I did not even realize my 5 minutes was up! It was time for the aroma therapy massage. Again “interesting” is the only way my brain was computing the experience. My hair was washed which I did not expect, but this alone felt amazing.
At the end of the aroma therapy oil massage, Maria and I were told to not shower. We decided to put on our clone attire “Wi Spa” shorts and t-shirt, and explore the Jimjilbang communal area.
We cashed in our free Bobas at the restaurant, sat on the heated floor, and ate Korean hot spicy soups accompanied by kimchi. While slurping down my soup wearing my clone Wi Spa uniform, I felt a sense of peace. The feeling must have been mutual since everyone in the restaurant was Zenned out!
After dinner, we headed into a large communal area, where bodies littered the heated floors. Men, woman, and children lay on the heated floors. They seemed comatose while watching Korean soap operas.
Our next adventure included 3 hot sauna rooms: a jade room, a clay room, and a pink Himalayan salt room. The Jade room proved to be too hot. The”cold”room too cold. And the pink Himalayan salt room was just right. Goldilox would have approved.
Before we knew it, we had spent 5 hrs at the spa! Maria and I were so ‘blissed out” or exhausted by our “brillo pad” experience, we had lost track of time.
We decided to head back to the ‘Naked’ part of the spa, spend some time in the whirl- pool, and call it an evening. Back at the whirl- pool, relaxing with my buck naked self, I glanced around and noticed several children, girlfriends, and older women all chit chatting with each other while enjoying the art of bathing. There was a type of elegance to the bathing rituals the females shared as they scrubbed each others backs with “brillo pads.”They seemed to connect on a ‘soul’ level, truly bonding.
I was no longer bothered by the nakedness around me. I had grown comfortable with my own nakedness and the remaining skin I had left from my experience. When I looked over at Maria, she too looked more at peace and comfortable with herself.Or maybe she was just exhausted? My” Nudeaphobia” had significantly decreased, or maybe it was scrubbed off my soul along with my billions of skin cells. And just like the French waitress at Mignon had remarked, the experience was:”Interesting!”