I think it was Einstein that said: “Wherever there are stupid, rich, pretty people, expensive and ridiculous beauty treatments will follow.”
Actually maybe it was Newton who said that, but in any case it explains why New York – home to some of the world's wealthiest and most beautiful people - is also home to some of the world's stupidest beauty treatments.
This, after all, is the city that popularised the "Geisha facial" - in which bird poo is spread on your face - and the infamous "vajazzle". You can Google that one for yourself. (Tip: don't do it on a work computer.).
With their promises of skin rejuvenation and cell detoxification and instant weight loss, it can be quite difficult not to get sucked in. Plus Manhattan salons always look so clean and relaxing, and everyone wears white coats and carries clipboards, and the creams and gels all smell so good...
I guess what I'm saying is: I spent $99 last week to get slathered in cooking oil, wrapped in plastic and shoved inside a bad Doctor Who prop.
A relaxation device, or a Dalek control centre?
Of course, that's not what the brochure said. It described the treatment as a “Full Pod Spa Package Including Oxygen Facial, Body Wrap, Oil Rub, Collagen Treatment and Oxygen-Inhalation Therapy Worth $450”.
Looking back, the irregular use of capitalisation should have been a red flag.
So should the fact that the “spa” was located in what looked like a former accountant's office, with a water-stained foam ceiling and grey walls full of empty power points. In one corner was an empty desk with a single chair behind it, and in the other was the “Pod” – a giant fibreglass egg, glowing with coloured lights and humming like a broken fridge.
It was about this time that I began to suspect this might not have been a wise use of my $99.
But soon I was lying on a table in nothing but a pair of ill-fitting paper underpants being sprayed with what felt like liquefied Meadow Lea, and it was rather too late to ask for a refund.
The “body wrap” which had conjured up ideas of organic seaweed and purified mud turned out to be plain old Glad Wrap, slapped around my oiled-up thighs, upper arms and stomach. If you ever want to know what a packed lunch feels like, I highly recommend trying this.
Not quite like this, but just as weird.
Then I was laid down in the Pod with tubes shoved up my nose (apparently this was the “oxygen inhalation therapy” but you can easily recreate the effect at home by admitting yourself to hospital for major surgery) before the whole thing started vibrating, glowing red and heating up.
I spent half an hour naked, wrapped in cling film, sweating in a Lady Gaga costume reject that felt like West Tce on an Adelaide January day.
Needless to say when I emerged I did not feel beautiful or slimmer. I was lighter though – by exactly $99.
This article was first published in the City and Eastern Courier Messengers on April 5, 2012.