by Keri Taylor
I bought my first hair straightener today. I find this a bit ironic considering that I already have straight hair. But apparently it will make my hair straighter?!! Or at least more chic. Which is a new look that I’m trying out. This is not completely by choice, as I found myself wrapped up in a hair show like none other.
Let me give you a bit of history concerning my past hair show experiences. Obviously these are to make money and I found myself a bit desperate for cash back in 2006…ya know, bills to pay and rent and what not. I found the ad on craigslist and went to the Wella studios with a bunch of other girls not quite knowing what I could be getting myself into. I had pretty long hair at the time and was very nervous to cut it off. There were some stipulations of course- no dyed hair, the right kind of hair to work with, etc.- but I had virgin hair so they were very excited to have me. They asked us girls how open we were to having our hair cut and the weeding out process happened from there. It reminded me a lot of America’s Next Top Model when the girl all get make overs and the cutting hadn’t even begun yet. There were a few tears from girls getting turned down and some tears when they found out what kind of cut they would be getting. I, on the other hand, was pretty much thinking about the moolah. So yeah, I let them do whatever they wanted with my virgin hair. My consultation went something like, “We’re going to cut a lot off and give it some red.” When I asked, “How much is a lot?” they responded, “One side will be shorter than the other; much shorter.” They thanked me and told me to come back at 8am the next day.
The next morning was chaos like no other. My consultation had somehow changed completely within the past 11 hours; now I was going to get green and blonde highlights. It’s a good thing I worked at a little jewelry shop where my hair didn’t matter too much and I could get away with it. Green?!! I did freak out a little about that, but I tried to take it like a big girl and swallow my fear. The process took all day. But what I learned right away is how much the colorist and cutter had to work together. It was truly a team effort and it was funny to watch them. The colorist was a woman and the only one I have seen in that role since. She did a great job and only made two spots green…and it was a nice, soft baby green. The hair stylist was crazy it seemed and he loved working with my even hair, chopping it to bits. I was a presentation model and would be brought out at the end of the show in this funny outfit and figure out how to walk in high heels while everyone is staring.
When I was younger I used to laugh almost uncontrollably for the first song if I was in a musical because of my nerves. That same feeling rushed back, but I held it a huge smile, which I don’t think is very common for a hair model; I feel like they are supposed to look pretty stoic. My hair turned out with about a quarter of an inch on the right side and much longer on the left. I felt like an 80s rocker chick—so I tried to act like one. J
I honestly thought I would never do one again, that it would be a one time thing. I had fun with it and once my right side started to grow back, I felt a lot less lopsided. Then a year later I found myself answering another craigslist ad (which is who I really blame in the end). It was true that I needed the money again and I worked in a retail job that it really didn’t matter what I looked like.
This experience was at the same place with a different set of stylists, but very similar environment. They were two funny men with a funny working relationship. But I was comfortable with them and this was actually a more conservative hair show, which I wouldn’t have guessed even existed after my first one. They did however tell me my natural color is a “mousy” brown, and I have never been able to shake that comment…mostly because I think mice are putrescent and I had never heard it before. Sadly I think it just might be true. Oh well, that is what hair color is for.
Like most productions, I never got the professional pictures they did of the shoot we did afterward, and this was a pretty quick job, just one day. But it still paid pretty well, surprisingly. I’ll take it!
The years passed and the hair shows were always in the back of my mind. Most of the other girls actually belonged to either a model or hair show agency (yes, that does exist!) that told them about these gigs; I’m glad I didn’t belong to one because they still had to pay out….I just had good ol’ craigslist.
Last fall I was looking for some kind of change. My hair was pretty blah and I had never actually paid for a hair cut in New York and I was not about to start. I mean, the first time I went to hair salon in my tiny town I was 14!!! I probably paid $50.00 for cut and color and when you live in a city where they pay you to use your hair, why settle for less?! It doesn’t really matter that you don’t get to choose what the outcome will be, I’ve decided I don’t really care.
But like I said, my hair was at least 14 inches past my shoulder, dying and needed to go. I went to Vidal Sassoon; I figured they needed hair models all the time. This was last September and I just went into the salon to find out, I didn’t even need craigslist this time. J I went to the model call and once again found myself sitting in the chair getting my consultation. I was a pro at this; I told them I was open to anything. They said they would call that night to tell me what time to be in the next day. A few hours later I got the call…I had been denied.
I was very shocked to say the least. Even more so, I was devastated. This had never happened to me before…especially for a hair show!
The winter passed and I built up the resolve to go back once again. The guy from the last time was there and said he remembered me. I went with it because he said he had a show coming up in June…only this was unpaid. Normally I don’t work for free, but I thought, why not?!
This hair show was actually for Vidal salons only, to show each other new work. We actually had a bit a choreographed song we had to work with (there were 5 of us) and do a bit of a walk. Because it was unpaid, they were nice enough to let me choose the color—I went with blonde. I haven’t been blonde in such a long time, and I love the color yellow! I LOVED the cut! It was extreme, but they did such a good job. He even trimmed and did my roots for me over the summer. After the show, my cutter told me that his bosses thought I should come back for another one this month. I told him I would be at the casting call.
That was this past Friday, and this time I really didn’t know what I had gotten myself into. No one had told me what a big deal this would be. There were two stylists from LA in for the event.
Saturday started at 7:30am at the Waldorf Astoria with the choreographer…that’s right people. We had a choreographer…for a hair show. Are you for reals?!! There were 6 of us and I paired with a lovely girl from Toronto and we were labeled: Zen. Our dance included Tai Chi. It was hilarious and I tried to keep a straight face.
By 11:00am we were in cabs headed to the downtown salon. They started working on our hair by noon, we grabbed lunch at 1:00pm. My hair was bleached, colored, cut and toned.
I was out by 6:00pm.
Unfortunately I had go to work and close. I was home around 9:30pm and in bed by midnight.
Sunday I was back at the Waldorf by 7:30am due to a late train (I should have been there at 7am) and rehearsed the choreography. There were final touches on the hair, then wardrobe and make up. The show was many salons presenting to each other, on a real stage, with about 200 members in the audience, and I must say that Vidal was pretty impressive! The whole presentation took about 20 min. and we were done by noon.
I was 10 blocks from work, which I had to be to by 1pm and I barely made it by the time I got out of my garb and the make up off my eye brows. It was a funny experience.
I must say, I am not as thrilled with my hair cut this time, but over the past few days, it is growing on me…literally. I think I’ll be more excited in about two months and the right side is a little longer (what is it with these hair dressers and cutting off my right side so much shorter?!!).
I understand that jobs these days want you to look a certain way, but I would I love a world where our looks don’t matter so much; especially when it comes to hair. That’s what wigs are for. Like imagine if you were having a bad hair day and you could just slap on a wig and it was fine! That is a world I hope we live in someday.
I have a different retail job, and of course I want to look presentable, but lately, it doesn’t really matter to me what my hair looks like. Remember Edward Scissor Hands and how he cut all the ladies’ hair…I watched that in preparation for this hair show. And it made me remember that while a hair cut can make you feel brand new again, what you put in the inside of you can too.