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Shear excitement

Salons face off to find the hair apparent!


HAIR ON FIRE! :  Amy Ranson models hair design by Amy Sykes of Saloon 544. - PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • HAIR ON FIRE! : Amy Ranson models hair design by Amy Sykes of Saloon 544.

No-holds-barred Ultimate Fighting has nothing on the slam-bang, thrill-a-minute, live-on-the-razor’s-edge, laugh-in-the-face-of-death world of competitive hairstyling!

With club music thumping, SLO’s own glitterati gathered around Native Lounge’s runway, bubbling in anticipation. A guy with neck tattoos and a pork-pie hat chatted up a preening girl hopped-up on Cosmos. A gaggle of young women, each with successively more revealing décolletage, competed for leering male attention. Everywhere you looked you saw perfect hair and makeup, as if the attendees were part of the show. There must have been about 200 people packed into the club’s patio. Beautiful, beautiful people.

The event began with a karaoked rendition of “Fever” with a Cabaret-style dance number choreographed by Suzy Miller and the dancers and singers of the SLO Little Theatre’s production of Vegas Baby. Tight butts and bowler hats careened down the runway, wowing the crowd. Then MCs Sean Faries and Matt Gaines, on-air personalities for Coast 101.3, pumped the crowd into a frenzy, followed by the first round of competition with Salon 544’s five models taking their turn strutting for the crowd and cameras. Glamour, excitement, and some freaking dramatic hairstyles followed!

The theme was “Elements,” and styles representing earth, air, water, fire, metal, and more were on display. After Salon 544’s dramatic showing, the throng of hair aficionados collectively held its breath as the SLO Beauty College’s models began their parade down the runway. The stylists behind these hairstyles were young up-and-comers with nothing to lose, and they went for broke: brash contenders facing off against the seasoned veterans of Salon 544!

 Judges Dave Bourbon (think a Mexican Simon Cowell with an even surlier attitude), Central Cost Magazine’s Tiffany Young, and local outsider artist Jeff Claassen certainly had their work cut out for them. Both competitors came to win, judged on a scale of 1,500 points.

The crowd hushed as they awaited the results, and amazingly the Beauty College came out on top by a narrow 76-point margin. It was a Cinderella story! Unbelievable! There were cheers and tears. Hearts were broken and reputations made.

So who were these talented young stylists? One was Emmy Yang, 20, who’d been studying hair at the college for six months. Why this career?

 “Because it’s my passion,” she gushed. “My sister died of cancer, and I wanted to be a nurse, but I just couldn’t do it. Now that I’m doing hair, I want to work with cancer patients.”

PERFECT ‘40S CURLS :  Christy Lynn Nelson models hair design by SLO Beauty College student Evan Sears whom Gustavo Felix assisted. - PHOTO BY GLEN STARKEY
  • PERFECT ‘40S CURLS : Christy Lynn Nelson models hair design by SLO Beauty College student Evan Sears whom Gustavo Felix assisted.
Yang also dreams of being Beyoncé’s stylist. What does she think she could bring to Beyoncé that her current team of stylists can’t?

“I don’t know,” admitted Yang. “I just want to do her hair.”

A simple dream on a night when dreams were coming true for these budding cosmetologists.

 “I’m really proud of my girls,” said Salon 544 owner Sherry Jiminez, gracious in defeat. “They did an amazing job. Not only did they do the hair and makeup, but they made all the models’ outfits. But congratulations to the Beauty College. I’m excited for them. They did some amazing styles.”

Next up TD Parker went head to head (pun, alas, intended) with Tigerlily, and again, to this reporter’s untrained eye, every single style was a winner. The hair was thrilling, the makeup more dramatic than a Liza Minnelli impersonator, the competition fiercer than a bag full of rabid weasels.

Again, the crowd awaited the judges’ results. TD Parker scored a whopping 1,433! But wait! Tigerlily took the crown with a near perfect score of 1,478! Oh the humanity!

“I looked at a lot of Broadway hair and makeup for inspiration,” revealed Tigerlily owner Larella Ellsworth. “I wanted a theatrical look.”

During this competition, Tigerlily and the SLO Beauty College came out on top, but the hair wars continue every Wednesday at Native until the final showdown on Wednesday, July 8. The next competition is Wednesday, July 1. Bladerunner and Bluebird Salon will face off against the winners from last night, which saw Faces vs. HepKat, and Tigerlily vs. the SLO Beauty School (results weren’t available at press time).
What does Ellsworth think her chances are to go all the way?

“I think we’ve got a strong chance. It was so close that I think it came down to makeup and attitude,” she reflected. “The hair was equally amazing.”

Indeed, all these competitors are winners, because let’s face it: Looking fabulous is its own reward.

Glen Starkey is not highlighting his hair! It’s going gray! Don’t mention it at [email protected].


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