To Hair Is Human

Number 6 in Timms Times — a blogger’s view from 2017

ready for the hairafter
Preparing for the hair-after. Shorn locks are less revealing of hair-loss from chemotherapy than shoulder-length hair. Thanks to hairdresser and fellow singer-actor Peter Hughes.

Being hairy has always been a source of pride for me. I had no interest in emulating Yul Brynner in the Sixties, or skinheads later. My head has luckily stayed well insulated, while my face has produced various hairy features as dictated by dramatic roles or personal whim. But my latest dramatic project has set a new direction for do-it-yourself tonsorial endeavours.

In my solo play In Tune With Dementia, I play both my mother and a drag queen. This requires considerable attention to my locks, and I started to grow them. But restyling your own hair to transform from one role to another — in less than a second — is impossible. For the drag queen I had to buy a wig.

I carefully combed my facial and crown hair before entering a Gloucester shop called Sabrina. The shop owner, an eastern European lady with little English, passed me over to her busy African saleswoman. Two Muslim women were selecting jewellery, while a Nigerian girl was waiting to have extensions fitted. The latter reminded me of Chris, a friend’s African-American daughter. I suddenly empathize with the memory of Chris’s quasi-religious fervour over hair extensions to transform her appearance utterly.

Swinging my consciousness back to the Sabrina feminine sanctum, I ask for a long, black, curly wig. A heavy silence follows, which I finally shatter with: “I’m an actor, you see, and, uh, have to change from a man to a woman in a couple of seconds. I mean a man pretending to be a woman. . . ” The women exchange looks of contempt about the kind of actor I am. But are they thinking drag queen or porn star? I decide to assume the latter, taking it as an extreme compliment in view of my . . . extreme maturity. That self-flattery gives me the nerve to try, and then buy, the wig.

Looking at In Tune With Dementia pictures will let you decide whether it suits me.

February 8, 2014

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