This story first appeared in the Jan. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Everyone knows the line attributed to Catherine Deneuve: "After a certain age, you have to choose between your face and your ass." Diet too much, and your butt looks great but your face is gaunt. However, a pleasingly plumper visage means you can't fit into those skinny J Brands. Now Deneuve denies ever saying it: "I don't think you have to choose."
Let's hope not, because in Hollywood, both must be in fighting shape. And given the va-va-voom nature of Golden Globes gowns the past few years (Kate Hudson and Sofia Vergara come to mind), glutes are a major focus. The daring cuts of gowns from the spring 2014 fashion shows -- with their sheer, perforated fabrics, peekaboo lace and fishnet paneling -- and the slim fit of men's tux trousers by Gucci, Prada, Dolce and Valentino mean women and men must think about bringing up the rear. Thanks go to booty trailblazer Jennifer Lopez and Daniel Craig (those Tom Ford rubber-glove skinny suits in Skyfall!) for undeniably highlighting this erogenous zone in both sexes. But don't look for one perfect ideal, says famed trainer Harley Pasternak (whose clients include Halle Berry, Rihanna and Katy Perry): "To some, it's Jessica Biel; to others it's Kim Kardashian."
For men and women, Pasternak recommends a workout of three sets of 20 reps of resistance exercises: lunges, steps, hamstring stretches, face-down arm and leg lifts and hip thrusts. But "don't train your glutes every time you work out -- maybe twice a week," he says. "Muscles need time to recover." Do as much cardio as you can, he adds, though "diet is two-thirds of the equation." Pasternak also encourages movement throughout the day, particularly in gluteal-targeting sneakers (he has a line with New Balance, natch).
Meg Mangano, team nutritionist for the NBA's L.A. Clippers, has diet recommendations for gluteus minimus: "Increase protein to avoid losing muscle mass. Support that with high vegetable intake, and go for the cleanest selections to help you tighten up by omitting fried food, salt, dairy and gluten. Increase water intake and cut out alcohol. Hydration helps wash out your body."
Regarding medical options, not all are created equal. The "Brazilian butt lift" -- lipo followed by fat injections to contour the curve -- might be popular in Rio de Janeiro and New York City but leave nasty surgical scars. Everyone agrees old-school lipo is not the answer: It creates uneven skin, and the fat inevitably grows back.
In Los Angeles, dermatologists and surgeons have perfected combinations of heat, lasers and injections to round and smooth out the situation. Dermatologist Harold Lancer says 10 of his 70 patients each day ask for body-shaping procedures. "What works for flabby skin on the derriere is fat transfer -- but that takes a gallon of purified fat, which often people don't have," he says. "Now we use radio-wave machines to tighten: VelaShape III [exclusive to Lancer], Ultherapy, Exilis, etc. They transmit heat a half-inch deep in the skin. It's like a controlled injury: In a two- to six-week healing period, collagen smooths out the area and the skin tightens." Lancer rarely uses one machine on a patient, instead harnessing a mix of heat sources: "It has a decent cumulative result but requires maintenance, from three up to six to eight treatments in two to three weeks."
Adds plastic surgeon Lawrence Koplin: "It's all about making the skin firmer, which can only be accomplished with radio frequency. I like the Viora Reaction machine I'm testing now -- four to eight treatments for about $3,000 to $5,000. These machines are from Israel and are used all over Europe. But I have a feeling the next generation will be even more effective." Koplin also has a treatment he calls Lipo F.E., for fat equalization: "On top of lipo, we massage the skin and knock off some of the fat, and the skin tightens."
Laser treatments are preferred by dermatologist Peter Kopelson for tightening. "The Titan laser by Cutera causes an immediate collagen contraction," he says. "Patients who wear tight gowns are treated the day before or the day of so their glutes are tight for the red carpet."
Body shapers are a go-to for women -- Octavia Spencer confessed to "triple-Spanxing it" in 2011 -- but men must rely on their tailors. Says stylist Ilaria Urbinati (who dresses Bradley Cooper, among others): "Men feel self-conscious if they have no butt or if they have sizable hips and bums, but that's an easier fix: You let the fabric out of the pants. For the no-butt issue, I take the crotch up and the butt in, but it's trickier."
Urbinati adds that Gucci and Brunello Cucinelli make the slimmest suit pants, while stylist Jeanne Yang (who dresses Christian Bale, Robert Downey Jr. and others) says Dolce & Gabbana tux pants are best for those with great butts. "If you have been working hard with squats, drinking a lot of tea and taking extra SoulCycle classes, you can carry the Dolce silhouette," she says. "It accentuates your best asset."
If all of this sounds too strenuous, the British skin-care company Soap & Glory, founded by Marcia Kilgore, offers a cream called Sit Tight, a body serum with caffeine that stimulates circulation. According to friends who swear by it, it also smooths out bumps. At less than $25, it's by far the least expensive -- and invasive -- option. Getting cheeky comes at all price points.