WASHINGTON -- After the hustle and bustle of gift-buying and holiday gatherings, Darline Cheers needed a lift.
So she called a caterer and ordered some spiced shrimp and fried chicken, and invited a few girlfriends to her suburban Mitchellville, Md., home.
Then she called Art K. Mallory.
''Oooooh, yes. I needed this!'' exclaimed educational consultant Pat Dowsing-Buie, 48, as Mallory worked her left calf with a vibrating circular massager. Cheers and the other women nibbled and chatted as a saxophone emanated from the stereo, and Dowsing-Buie sighed appreciatively.
During the day, Mallory, 35, is a telecommunications technician. At night and on weekends, he offers premium pampering and nail care through his business, Executive Nail Care Services Inc.
He's one of a growing number of cosmetologists, massage therapists and manicurists setting up shop on the road, providing services where clients want, when they want. All it takes is money.
In the Washington area, home care services generally cost $10 to $20 more than those provided in salons, with prices of about $25 for a manicure and $50 for a cut and style.
Jill Neff, 33, a guest-booking agent at CNN, enjoys a glass of wine and watches ''Ally McBeal'' as Mallory does her nails during her 9 p.m. Monday appointments.
''In Washington, time is of the essence,'' said Neff, who frequently works 10-hour days. ''You don't have a lot of downtime, and the downtime you have, you have to try to fit everything in. To have a pedicure and manicure done in the privacy of your own home, as you are sitting down and having a glass of wine and watching TV, is worth the extra money.''
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