Consider the Merkin

A Brief History of Pubic Wigs in Hollywood

"Cleopatra was known for her beautiful, long, luxurious pubic hair, which she proudly wore brushed and oiled, and she was known to admire -- and display -- her pubic hair in the shiny marble floors and the light, diaphanous gowns of the time," relates Sayer, who works in Burbank at the Make-up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild. "Otherwise, in ancient Egypt, most citizens -- noble or otherwise -- were required to shave their pubic and body hair to rid themselves of lice. Noble and wealthy people were known to wear wigs ... and it is thought that a type of merkin was fashionable; it could be worn to show that they were rich enough to maintain their pubic hair." [...]

Industry folks who've worked with merkins unfurl their anecdotes with relish, in part because behind-the-scenes gigs on film sets can be thankless. You spend 12 hours on a pubic piece -- perming the thatch, threading the short hairs to a lace front, and finally trimming the thing -- before some striving youngster places your creation in its ultimate destination. ("I have not had the pleasure -- or misfortune -- of putting one on," Ladek says.) And after the shoot, the hairpiece is studio property, only going home with the memento-seeking actor if he or she is a principal performer.

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