Sunday, December 19, 2010

Five Salon Days 'till Christmas

December in a Hair Salon is a curious thing.

Historically it is one one our busiest times of the year.

I have already tweeted that I feel as though I am in a "glittery, candy filled, cloud full of hairspray".

That pretty much sums it up..

December begins...
And then...SNAP, it's over..

Our Salon is beautiful this season..
Lots of silver and sparkle..
Ella Fitzgerald Christmas music fills the air..
And we are creating a little differently than we usually do..

A little more heart.
A lot more gratitude.

I love this time of the year,
And I have been noticing something different.

A slight shift in priorities,
A giant shift in what's important.

I have been getting more thank you's this season..
More kisses and hugs..
More baskets of homemade treats..
More holiday cards with lovely family photos..
More hand made treasures being literally.....delivered by hand..

Times are tough guys..
People are struggling..
Jobs have been lost..
And money is tight..

Our Salon is extremely fortunate..

We are busy....and loved.....and our doors can stay open.

I feel for those that are not as lucky this holiday season.

5 more salon days until Christmas..
Ah... Breath and Smile.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Blue Wigs and Happier Days...

I found this great picture of my Godson Luca when he was just a tiny baby.

He is so big now........ for a 4 1/2 year old.

As delightful as seeing this picture is, I am drawn back to the memories of the day.

The memories of that day.

Hello Henry?

You don't know me...

I am...... was..........a friend of Carol Perrys.

I'm afraid I have some bad news. 

Carol died on Tuesday.. 

I saw your name here in her book and I was sure she would have wanted you to know.

She spoke often of you.
You were very important to her.

Now a little about Carol.

She was many things...

A shrewd business woman..

A cool Mother to a not so cool Daughter.

A loving Grandmother.

An avid traveler, I still have many mementos she brought back to me from far away places.

She was a great conversationalist and an even greater listener.

I had done Carols hair for a very long time..

It was me that first felt that lump on her head.... (our business is a very personal one..we touch, literally touch.)

It was also me that kept insisting she have that checked out.

When Carols hair began to fall out due to the chemotherapy we always found a way to laugh or at least smile...
We would dream up stories of what her hair would be like when it grew back in....

Never IF it grew back in.

Eventually we knew she would need a wig, she was not letting her illness keep her away from work, from meetings, from life.

She asked me if I would come with her to find one.
And I of course agreed.

Joel and I had Luca that day.

We agreed that considering the realities of the day, that Joel would lay low with the baby and I would do what needed to be done with Carol.

As we arrived at the wig store, once again Carol amazed me with her strength and her humor..

She was so happy we brought the baby....

He's  just what I needed she remarked.

We tried on several wigs before finding just the right one..

Carols own hair had begun to fall out in clumps and right then and there in the store she asked the clerk if he had clippers.

Let's do this she said..there is no time like the present

As you by now know, Carol lost her battle with cancer.

But on that day, that incredible day, we did not cry.
We laughed.

We wrapped our fear and sadness up for just a little while and put it aside.

We tried on bright blue wigs and pretended that life would never be anything but perfect.

And you know what?

At that moment... for that moment... it was.


Sent from my iPad

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Inspirational Hiatus

This Writer will return shortly... renewed and more inspired than ever.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I Married A Shaman - And Other Interesting Stories: Men of Spain

I share this blog on my page because I must...
My heart tells me so....

I Married A Shaman - And Other Interesting Stories: Men of Spain: "A story about the lure of Spain and souls reincarnated... “Spain is calling me...”, I said. “Andalusia.” That was ten summers ago. I was l..."

Friday, August 13, 2010

BUDDHA will be doing your hair today.

I was recently inspired by a post I read from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

I will share it now with you, exactly as it was shared with me.

"There is a common perception that compassion is, if not actually an impediment, at least irrelevant to professional life. Personally, I would argue that not only is it relevant, but that when compassion is lacking, our activities are in danger of becoming destructive. This is because when we ignore the question of the ...impact our actions have on others' well-being, inevitably we end up hurting them."

That statement brought some interesting thoughts to mind.

As a (somewhat) practicing Buddhist, I am not unfamiliar with the concept of work as meditation... work as a spiritual practice.

You do not have to be versed in Eastern Philosophy to understand the power of intention, as a matter of fact wonderful teachers like Dr. Wayne Dyer have brought these once lofty and far away ideas so much closer and made them more..... lets say accessible.

I digress.

What his holiness was explaining is that in our culture we have been taught to believe that the work place,  our career spaces, are not places where compassion should dwell...

We have all heard the saying "climbing the corporate ladder." which is usually followed by "be careful who you step on on the way up!"..... right?

How about, "sleeping your way to the top." or  "burning a work bridge." or "keeping a door open."

I can go on and on with negative, work related statements.

Which brings me back to my earlier interesting thought.

I am one grateful man!

The power of compassion, my buddhist beliefs and my idea of work as meditation has brought a whole new level to what I do behind the chair.

When I can get my self to that place of true compassion and intent at work, it is pure magic....
I liken it to the amazing book, Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel.

Oh come on Henry, really?
Cooking with emotion to create emotion?
What could that possibly have to do with hair?

Well, I hear you....... cooking and mixing color hmmmmm such an odd comparison.

But I did say that Meditation and the power of Intent was pretty amazing right?

When I mix color it is very much like cooking..
1 part love
2 parts experience
1 part joy
a dash of hope
and a drop of excitement.

When I mix color it is not just what I mix, nor is it just how i mix, but more importantly why I mix.

I have seen beauty happen each and everytime I do hair from that place.
When I do it out of love and prepare myself, and my products to give.
It is then, and only then, I receive.

Amazing, isn't it?

The  Dalai Lama says that when we meditate, when we open our hearts (first) and then our minds to beautiful possibilities.

He says there is magic in us all..... there is  Buddha in us all.

So therefore I can safely say that on those very special days........ when all is good in me, when I have an open heart and I allow compassion to lead my way.......

That It may not (just) be me doing your hair that day.....
Buddha might be in the mix as well.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A little something to ponder

"Oh Jesus, Vanessa, what do you think men look at you for........... your teeth?!"

A little something my Nancy Gallo would say to her daughter when she visited the salon.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Best Assistant Ever!

Many moons ago as a young salon apprentice I was given a rare and precious opportunity.

It was a life changing moment, one that my Mother would have called a chance to...


My first position in the beauty biz was for a world famous salon easily ranked (at that time) as one of the countries top 10... Vogue, Harpers, stage work, photoshoots etc. etc.

We were everywhere.

Heading this South Florida institution was an Infamous, larger than life, Husband and Wife team that ran the creative end and their (only child) a Daughter that headed operations.

~as a side note, please understand that this position, which ran a great ten years, was without doubt, one of the reason I am the success I am today..... I began as a "shampoo boy" and ended up as the salon's Creative Director.... Fourth from the top of the Empire~

Now back to grabbing my cojones.

Let me just say that this story takes place in the 1980's.
Salons were a very different kind of cool then... drugs were not uncommon in salons... some of the best and most famous hairdressers only functioned, somewhat enhanced.
Therefore I was not shocked when a very high end, very powerful client asked this lowly shampoo boy where he could get an "eightball."

I had no idea what an eightball was .... but I was on it.

Mr. High end gave me his pager number and told me to call him when I got it.
He slid a folded up bill into my hand and slipped out the side door.

COCAINE?!, upon getting my answer.
What on Earth had I gotten my self into now.

I went to the only person I could think of.
"Mikel" was the hippest stylist in the shop, not only did he know where I could get it, but he even offered to drive me to his "friends" place to pick it up.

The next two hours where a swirl of, sweating (me) a drive thru a very scary neighborhood I didn't even know existed, a brief exchange with a wiry guy named Tito, my savior Mikel tasting it for quality control and voila, me with a bag in my hand that would surely make me the Best Assistant Ever!

I paged Mr. High End who would now be stopping by the shop around five.

I tucked the little bag away in my locker... spun the combo three times to be sure it was safe and went back to the business of hair.

Now a little intro to the boss' daughter..... A beautiful woman, long blonde hair down to there, always in tiny dresses up to there. She was dynamic, driven, with a nose for fashion.. a nose for business and (I would soon find out) a nose for other things as well!

I won't bore you with all the details but suffice it to say I soon found my locker forced open with it's precious contents missing.  
Mr. High End would be here soon and time was quickly running out. 

The next hour was another swirl of more sweat (me) more driving through that very scary neighborhood, and one last exchange with Tito, that also involved my only giving him half up front and the rest on Friday.
This was now coming out of my own pocket and.. well.. shampoo boys in the eighties didn't make a lot of money.

Mr High End got what he wanted.
I on the other hand was about to go "nose to nose" with an extremely wide eyed looking young lady who just happened to sign my checks.

"What are you gonna do about it.... Tell my parents? "

That was all she said as she walked away.

She was right, I was trapped... surely I could not go to the big bosses with what had happened.
I had supplied a salon client with drugs (granted their daughter had snorted it up) but who would they fire? their own flesh and blood or the newest shampoo boy?

That is not the end of this story.

Those words.... What are you gonna do about it?.... stayed in my throat for weeks.

Then one day that opportunity I spoke of earlier finally revealed itself.

Every month like clock work an assistant would be asked to mix up a little color for the bosses daughter.

She would take the small bowl upstairs to her office and emerge about thirty minutes later with her.... well..... how to put this in terms we all know... with the ( carpet matching the drapes ).

On this day.
This magical day.......... I was asked.

Now usually we would have mixed a bit of Miss Clariol #27, Spring Honey.

What are you gonna do about it?, again.. those words. 
This time my hand drifted over to Miss Clairol #33.............Flame Red.

This would prove to be the longest thirty minutes of my life.

I heard her high heels heading towards the break room.

And then I said it... That one liner we always dream of getting or have nightmares about having lost.

What are you gonna do about it?

I had finally grabbed my cojones.

And they were proud and strong and red................FLAME RED.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Box

Every night the kids would gather outside of Grandpa's door and listen.
That night, as every night, they could hear him struggle to reach that old tin box he kept locked and hidden under his bed.
The same box they were sure he thought no one knew about.

Over the years the speculations had grown.... What was in the box? How much was it worth? Who would he leave the treasure to?

Every night they heard him shake the old tin..... they could hear the sound it made..... perhaps Grandmother's old jewelry?
It made a rattling noise........ perhaps old coins from his childhood in Italy?

What ever it was they would surely finally benefit from their sourly old Grandfather when he was gone.
The same old man that never smiled, never laughed.

The day finally came, he was gone..... they nearly ran each other over to get to that box.
They knew where he had kept the key.

The eldest Grandchild insisted he open the box, it was HIS birthright.

They all gathered around as the key easily fit into the opening, as he ever so slowly opened it's lid.

There it was, the treasure they had been waiting for.

The treasure that had consumed them the last precious years of the old man's life.

The treasure they had waited to gain after his death rather than hope to gain during his life.

A box full of rocks!

Grandpa looked down from heaven and finally........smiled and laughed

A warning as told to me by my dear client Nancy Gallo.

We would sit and laugh in the salon when she told me that story......

I don't know where the story came from.
I don't know if she was once one of those grandkids, or if perhaps she was now, nightly, shaking a box.

I do know that I always walked away with a gift from Nancy.
That lesson taught me that we have to search out the treasures in people now while they are present.
We have to use all the keys we have to open up those precious little tins and not leave one rock unturned.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Farewell dear friend

It was many years ago that I first met Jacquie and Susan.

I was working late one evening in the salon when I glanced over my shoulder.
Standing there looking at me with such intensity and intention were Jacquie and Susan, you can all imagine, Susan with her Tico hat, her denim jacket and that horrible waist band, Jacquie as always, so beautiful, longer hair then and a giant choker of pearls.

I actually said to my client, "Don't look to your right, there are two very odd women staring at me and if we make eye contact they may try the door!" 
We didn't make eye contact and they didn't try the door.

Approximately one month later I had a new client in my chair, a one Jacquie Kimberly.

She informed me, in that unmistakable voice of hers, that during our previous encounter, she and Susan had been walking to the theatre when they passed by my window.
She looked in and saw me.
She insisted she saw a bright golden dome over my head and that I was engulfed in the most glorious golden light.
Susan did not see this dome but Jacquie did and she knew then and there that I would be her friend.. and her hairdresser.. forever.

That was my introduction the the world of Jacqueline, and like everything about her is was adventurous and magical and big.

There was never anything ordinary about that woman.

Those of you who know me know that I rarely have a problem with the written or spoken word, but these words, todays words were very hard to find.

I actually looked to Susan for inspiration, although foolish, for I could have never known her as Susan did.
I can only come from my heart and my experiences as her friend.

Being here today it is even more apparent just how complex and beautiful a being she was.
Just how grand and colorful was the landscape of Jacquie's life.

We all knew very different Jacquies, she had that gift for being the one you needed her to be, expected her to be.
She was many women before she burst into my life.
She was a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a wife, a socialite, a celebrity and a devoted partner to Susan.
It was precisely because of all these things that she was eventually and thankfully led to so many of us.
We can not deny any of these truths, to do so would be the greatest injustice to the memory of Jacquie and all that she was.

When my mother passed, not that long ago, in the same Hospice where Jacquie and her sisters lost their father, the second phone call I made was to Jacquie.... at 2:30 in the morning.

They answered and were by my side within thirty minutes.

Now there are two remarkable things about that, one, only true friends take your calls in the middle of the night, and two, that Jacquie could get up and be anywhere in thirty minutes.

They sat with me by my Mothers side for nearly three hours

We had those grand talks about life and death, and it occurred to me that these two women knew a thing or two when it came to life, loss and love.

You see, I wouldn't let the funeral home take my mother away, I wasn't done saying goodbye. 
Jacquie held me closely, calmly and firmly and told me that thousands of goodbyes would never be enough... she told me to say one last one and let her go.

Loosing Jacquie as suddenly as we did feels very much like a punch.
It's like i am still trying to catch my breathe.

I know so many of us feel defeated and cheated, like something rare and precious has been ripped from our grasps.
Like we should have fought harder.
But that rare and wonderful woman was not ours to keep.
She belongs to someone else, to someplace else.
We all know that and will one day find peace in that thought,

So for now, for me, I will hold my memories of Jacquie closely, calmly and firmly

I will say one last goodbye and let her go.

The above eulogy was written by me and read by me at the memorial service for Jacqueline Kimberly
on January 7, 2006.

Jacquie took her own life with a single gunshot thru the heart six months after the death of her beloved Susan.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Little snip - Jacquie Kimberly


"Everyone, may I please have your attention?"
"let's all raise our glasses and toast the newly married couple... BJ and my darling, darling Henry."

"May your life together be as magical and as beautiful as ours (referring to the love of her life, Susan Lynch), and to my wonderful Henry, I am here for you now... and I will be there for you at the divorce!"         ~cheerfully raises her glass~

From my first wedding (circa 2001) as toasted by my amazing client and friend, Jacqueline Kimberly.
One-time Kleenex Heiress~Roxanne Pulitzer cohort~ and obvious psychic (boy was she right)

Jacqueline Trezise Kimberly
June 13, 1950 - Jan 1, 2006


Sunday, August 1, 2010

"Hello Henry?" "Its us, the Twins, we are running a few minutes late for our appointment, the Devil kept us up late last night."

Allow me to introduce my Twins. I adore my Twins. I adore everything about them!

For the purpose of this blog, from this moment on they will be know as "Abigail" and "Anabelle".
Forgive me if I don't give you too much background on these ladies right now, but suffice it to say, you will get to know them nearly as well as I.

As remarkable as the following story will be, I assure you it's not their best.... not by far.

The Twins arrived that day as they usually do, amidst great fanfare. More than fashionably late, wearing matching ensembles, only sometimes slightly different, perhaps a paler pink on one, or a brighter blue on the other, but always identical in style. They are mirror image twins, a fact they always proudly point out. They wear matching jewelry, watches, glasses, bags and shoes. They buy everything designer and in twos.

The  Twins are always perfectly put together and never, ever, without a full face of makeup.
They always bring everything they may need to make the next three hours of their life (and mine) more complete. Thier small frames are always weighed down with large shopping bags full of things as umbrellas and rain hats (in case of rain and to protect their freshly blown hair), they will each have their own bottles of Mt. Dew, straws, mints for the sharing, the latest fashion magazines, boxes (full size) of Kleenex (incase they get the sniffles or have to cry) and always small cushions to make the styling chairs more "comfy".

Watching the Twins arrive, navigate the parking meters, gather all their belongings and begin their trek towards the salon is always a treat.......... one that begs the gentleman in me to run out and help, but also one that demands the voyeur in me to sit back and watch.

On this particular day the Twins were unusually anxious. As they hurried into the salon and were led to the two, side by side, chairs prepared for them, I couldn't help but notice they appeared exhausted.
"Late night?" I joked. neither replied. "Everything good ladies?" this time Anabelle looked up and shook her head no.

Now over the course of the last 10 years with the Twins, I have learned that it usually takes me a moment or two to feel out their mood and decide in which direction to lead that days session... "Ok, lets start with the hair, how are we feeling about that today?" Anabelle again took the lead and said, "We want to be very blonde, but no yellow, were so pale today and yellow makes us look green... we don't like green."

So pale beige blonde it would be, off to mix up some color I went.

At the color bar I had to quickly catch my new assistant up on the Twins, I usually prepare the ones who had not had the pleasure ahead of time but that day I simply had been too busy.  "Are they Okay?" she asked with an equal share of fear and excitement. "They're fine, I think they're just in a funk today, but no matter what happens, no matter what they say, you just keep handing me foils and stay focused, you understand?" I warned her "Got it Boss!" she replied.

Let me just say now that the Twins hair, like so much of the rest of their lives has to be perfect, it is and always has been, their crowning glory. In their youth, it was why they were original "Double Mint Twins" television personalities, it was why they modeled and why they were chosen as the face for a long gone airline that "Flew the Friendly Skies". Now, in their mid 60's it remains a giant part of their identity, one that I literally hold in my hands. They still wear it very long, mid back, with a very full bang. Now for anyone out there with some color knowledge, mirror image twin means for me that I have to produce two exactly identical heads of hair... not just in tone, but in exact placement of highlights, not one piece lighter nor darker than the other. On a good day to create this requires much knowledge and expertise... on this day it would require much more.

As I returned to the Twins my instinct told me to begin with Anabelle... as I started she finally reached back for my arm and said "What a terrible night we had! Simply terrible!" 

"What happened?" I asked without skipping a beat.

"Well..." she said, "I was asleep in my room when I heard Abagail screaming "Devil be gone!" I thought I was dreaming but then I heard her again "Devil, I demand you leave this house!" 

"Oh my God, what did you do Anabelle?" I asked. 

"Well, I grabbed my Bible from my side table and ran to her room of course!" she said, making me feel silly for asking what appeared to be a dumb question.

By this time my new assistant had stopped handing me foils, and was just staring at Anabelle through the mirror, eyes and mouth, wide open, I gently tapped her foot with mine to remind her to keep working.

"Go on" I said "What happened next?" 

"Well I swung Abagail's door open and there she was, poor thing, huddled in the center of her bed just reading out of her Bible as fast as her little lips could move. And sure enough.... there he was, the Devil!"

"He had come up thru the bedroom floor over in the corner by her dressing table...Abagail finally noticed me and begged for me to help her, so I got up in the bed with her and started paying just as loud as I could...... we prayed for hours!" 

By this point I was finally able to get a soft nod of agreement from Abagail who up until now had just sat silently listening to her sister convey the details of last night. 

"How horrible it must have been Abby", I said. 

"It was" she replied. "It was just terrible, and he was so stubborn last night, usually I'm able to pray him away alone but last night I needed my Sister."

Once again I had lost my assistant to the Twins.. not only had she forgotten our mission, beautiful hair, but she had actually stepped back a few feet making my kick of her shin more difficult, but not impossible.

"Well its a good thing she heard you scream" I added, "Were twins" chimed in Anabelle, "we always hear each other."

We continued to discuss the Devil as I moved on to Abagail's hair.

I learned that the Devil was not just stubborn but also a trickster, fooling the Twins (several times) into believing he had left just long enough for them to stop praying and fall asleep, only to pop back up out of the Earth even stronger than before. This battle went on all night long, well into the morning hours, until he finally tired and left for good, making the Twins, understandably, late for their appointment with me.

By the end of our visit they were feeling much better, obviously sharing their story with me was cathartic for them and the fact that they had the most stunning pale beige blonde hair didn't hurt either!

Let me say.....It is not for me to tell you weather their fight with the Devil was real or imagined, I for one believe them, I always believe that what they believe to be true could never be anything but.

I am, however, sure of the following.... we ALL have our fights with the Devil, he doesn't always come up thru rose colored berber but he gets in never the less.

One day, If I and I alone can't "pray my Devil away," I can always call me beloved Twins (I have their private number) and with them in bed with me.... that Devil wouldn't stand an ice cubes chance in........


Thursday, July 29, 2010

And so it begins........

This story began to write itself about 25 years ago. Now, please know I have been a student of human nature and a seeker of inspirations for much, much longer than that, but these pages will be dedicated (mostly) to things I have learned behind the chair... the salon chair, that is.

These stories will all be true, exactly as they were spoken to me (or experienced by me), of course. Some of the names will have been changed, as I am still a successful, working stylist and salon owner. There is a rather "unwritten law" that you can tell your hairdresser ANYTHING.... you know what they say, "your hairdresser, your bartender and your therapist" the holy trilogy. I will, however, allow myself the occasional embellishment or two... the extra jewel in the tiara, the extra rose on the casket, etc... After nearly two decades on my feet, I deserve that, wouldn't you say? While it is my purest intent to not betray any loyalties, I have stories that must be told, people you really have to meet, laughs that we need to share, and yes, tears that are worth shedding.

I share these stories because long ago it became clear to me that the true beauty of my profession is not just who I have touched (literally), but more importantly, how I have been touched (figuratively).

For years and years and years I have been privy to some very special people's secrets...their greatest hopes, their biggest fears and their most incredible triumphs. I have listened and learned, been asked and advised, all the while being shaped and shifted into the man I am today. 

And I love the man I am today.

My gratitude must forever be extended the these incredibly remarkable women (and men) for not merely entrusting me with their HAIR but also with their HEARTS. What better way to say THANK YOU than to speak their words to you, to add their ripples to your ponds so that at the end of the day I will not be the sole beneficiary of this treasure.

So... welcome to my world, its wondrous, magical, tragic, and really funny all at the same time.

Now, lets get you shampooed and get started.. shall we?