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The Ooze and Ahs of a Mud Bath

August 01, 2004|LESLEE KOMAIKO

Urban spas are well and good. But there's something extra therapeutic about getting away. Paul Muni and W.C. Fields understood this. Both were regulars at Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa, an 11-acre mecca of pools and palms that's been around since the late 1800s. A popular spot at the Corona spa, about an hour's drive from downtown Los Angeles, is Club Mud, which features a Willy Wonka-like chocolate-colored pool stoked with generous amounts of locally mined red clay that's said to have purifying effects on the skin. We checked in with a few muddy visitors on a recent Friday afternoon.

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Benny Zenno 35, juvenile detention officer, Los Angeles

and Ana Faith 29, Navy yeoman, El Cajon

Rookie or a veteran?

Ana: I'm a pro. I've been here for the last 10 years.

Benny: This is my first time doing this in the United States.

Why pay $42 to soak in stinky mineral water and cover yourself in mud?

Ana: It's worth it. I waste $42 for dinner, and this is a whole day for $42.

Why is it so much fun to get dirty?

Benny: Because I can get dirty and not get in trouble for it.

What is good mud etiquette?

Ana: Not leaving globs of mud on the chairs.

Good spot to meet a prospective date?

Benny: I could see my friends doing something like this. There's beer and bikinis.

If you were a mud monster or

mud superhero, what would your name be?

Ana: Black Isis.

Benny: Goo Goo.

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Shannon Vielmann

25, massage therapist

Berrien Springs, Mich.

Rookie or a veteran?

This is my second time.

Why pay $42 to soak in mineral water and cover yourself in mud?

Because it's good for you. Relaxation, no cellphones, a bunch of different people with all different body shapes, and they're all here

to relax.

Why is it so much fun to get dirty?

You're dirty, but it's clean dirty. It comes off.

What is good mud etiquette?

Not slinging it all over people who don't want it slung on them. And helping other people get their back.

Are there any mud faux pas?

Never bring a new white bathing suit because the mud will stain it.

What would you say about folks who frequently need to wallow in mud?

They're very earthy.

Your mud monster or superhero name would be?

Mud Mama.

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Randy Ballard

47, firefighter

Chula Vista

Rookie or a veteran?

This is my third time.

Why is it worth the cost?

By the end of the day, it's relaxing. It makes me feel good. It keeps my wife and my mother-in-law happy.

What is good mud etiquette?

Being able to share with anybody because sometimes you can't reach your own back.

Are there any mud faux pas?

Being obscene.

What generalizations can be made about the people here?

I think it's people who are comfortable with who they are, like myself. My physique is not the typical buff person. But this is who I am. Take me or leave me.

What would you say about folks who need to wallow in mud?

They're probably big kids.

Your mud monster or superhero name would be?

The Slimer.

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Natalie Miller

35, account manager for software manufacturer

Redwood City

Rookie or a veteran?

Rookie. I came with my aunt. She said it'd be a nice day to come and relax.

Is it worth the cost?

I thought the price was pretty reasonable considering other spas seem to be more expensive.

Why is it so much fun to get dirty?

Because you don't do it normally.

What is good mud etiquette?

I've been seeing that pretty much anything goes: people making fools of themselves. And it's fun that they let themselves go.

What would you say about folks who need to wallow in mud?

I'd say there's a problem.

Your mud monster or superhero name?

Naturally Natty.

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