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‘For Obvious Reasons,’ Oakland's Isis Spa Needs a New Name

It's gone way beyond the war on unwanted hair.


For the past few years, the staff at the Isis Skin & Body spa in North Oakland has lived with a certain level of mischief. The occasional tongue-in-cheek call asking if they were a terrorist organization. The jokesters ringing up the front desk, asking with mock seriousness, "Do you do beheadings?" "I would just hang up," says office manager Theresa Ayala. 

But after the terrorist attacks in Paris in November, the comments grew from petty annoyance to everyday ordeal. "It just got crazy after the terrorist attacks," says Ayala. Though the business was named years ago for the Egyptian goddess—owner Noha Aboelata's tribute to her Egyptian roots—the spa's menu of laser hair removal and chemical peels became increasingly overshadowed by the activities of the Islamic State.

Not long after the Paris attacks, the spa got a series of angry phone calls from someone Ayala identified as an ex-Marine. "He was calling, really angry, and he wasn't letting us explain or talk," she says. "He said he didn't fight for our coutnry for us to name our business Isis. We’d hang up, but it continued for about two hours. He was calling over and over, threatening to come to our business." After consulting with the police, they closed early that day.

For the new name, the spa soon to be formerly known as Isis is sticking with the Egyptian theme: Elyssium, which means heaven or paradise. The change will become official in the next week or two, says Ayala. That should be enough time to get the new sign made and put an end to the unsolicited commentary once and for all—provided no terrorist groups with the same name emerge, of course. 


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