Chris Erskine faces up to friends after a bout with Botox


So last week, we explained that I was getting Botoxed, or “Toxed,” in a vernacular I created, and this week we will look at the results and reactions among my so-called friends.

These are people, I remind you, whom you would pay to stay away, in a sort of reverse ransom arrangement. They know me so well and are so comfortable with me now that they’ll say almost anything that comes to mind, the more mischievous the better.

In a sense, these friends have become family, which is the last thing you want. If I wanted more family, I’d keep having kids. You might respond that I seem to be doing just that, having more kids. Which is just the sort of lippy, spot-on thing real friends say.


First, let me just note that I think Dr. Raffi Hovsepian did a magnificent job, considering that he was working on my Mick Jagger mug, an analog face in a digital world. Dates back to the mid-’50s, this face, pre-Sputnik. Bleached by 7,500 California sunsets, a face not even a mother could love (at least not sober).

With five little needle pricks to the outside edge of each eye, the good doctor Photoshopped my face, erasing the collection of laugh lines and pleats. Not exactly desperate about losing those laugh lines, but when my buddy Paul pointed out that the FDA had recently approved Botox for use around the eyes, he suggested I give it a try.

So here I am in Hovsepian’s Beverly Hills office. His assistant, Brandy, is helping him with the botulism they are about to squirt into my temples. I am not the least bit fearful, for my face is my least important feature. Far more important is my chest hair and the manly sense of mayhem I bring to every social occasion. I would never let a doctor touch that. In fact, I don’t like when doctors touch anything. (I just assume that, like kindergartners, they are full of germs.)

Anyway, all is well in Hovsepian’s fashionable office, where I sit back in a big recliner that begs for a ballgame and a bowl of chips. Instead, I get an anesthetic cream and a cold pack to deaden the area they will inject. Hey, can I get some of that stuff to go?

Turns out no.

The Toxing itself takes only about 10 minutes and hurts only a little. I compare it to the pinch you get in a crowded bar on New Year’s Eve. There is no hurt, only awareness. And a certain tiny thrill.

The risks? Minimal, Hovsepian says — the real dangers come with bigger Botox doses used in more significant medical issues.

The results? Well, it takes about two weeks for the full results to be apparent. By then the Botox proteins have fully blocked the muscle receptors. After two weeks, the furrows and creases are almost gone. Were I more concerned with my face, I would need to return in four months for a Toxing recharge, about $400 at most places.

“I have so much to say,” writes my friend Mazin when he hears of it. “And I’m going to say it directly to your immobile, metrosexual, plastic face-like apparatus.”

So I have that to look forward to.

“I know you’re smiling, but I can’t tell,” writes another buddy. “It’s downright un-Irish.”

“Want to get mani-pedis next week?” asks Dawn.

Reader Giuseppe Mirelli spoke for a lot of folks, condemning such procedures for removing “the patina that living has carved on our faces.”

“Essentially, we ... remove our physical individuality and replace it with the plasticity of the status quo.”

In that same vein, I like what author Lynsay Sands has said about aging: “Your face is marked with lines of life, put there by love and laughter, suffering and tears. It’s beautiful.”

Well, maybe in some cases.

Yet to weigh in are the meatballs I play touch football with every Sunday, 12 angry men, made angrier by insisting on using the same cleats they wore back in high school, 30 years ago, and now they are like beefy stepsisters trying to squeeze into Cinderella’s shoe.

Grunty men, with anger issues, 12 delightful versions of me. Real pals.

They’ll only have nice things to say, I’m sure. “Oh, look, it’s Joan Rivers,” will be the opening kvetch.

From there, it will only get better.