Monday, June 30, 2014

Painted Hair

Recently my friend Eric Lord sent me a link to a 1960s British film.

"They're painting the hair," he insisted over the phone. "Definitely a hairpisode."

I hadn't had a chance to check it out until yesterday. I thought of it because I was sitting in the hair salon with the timer set to thirty minutes. I found Eric's message and clicked on the link. I watched the two minute preview. And watched it again. I was watching it a third time when the assistant Seth stopped by.

"So do you want a hand massage? You don't have to put that down or anything."

I nodded vaguely, distracted. "This is the oddest thing. It's from the 1960s. They're painting the hair."

Holding my tablet up for Seth to see, I started the 2 minute clip over. Seth glanced over as he rubbed lotion onto his hands and started kneading my palm.

Image from
Seconds later, his eyes went wide. "Wait, is that real paint they're using?" A cut to a painter's palette with an array of acrylics (or oils?) flashed on the screen. He nodded. "Yup, sure looks like it. That's the sculptured hair era. It came in just after the finger wave. The hair got much bigger, it was like an art form to them. They used so much hairspray, the hair didn't move at all. I could definitely see applying paint to it."

I glanced away from the preview to Seth, my jaw dropping a second time. Hair assistant = Hair history reference desk?! Wow. Apparently, Gary Manuel has a thorough training program. 

When it came to the clip of a woman applying a thick layer of black paint to a bald guy's pate, Seth laughed. "Oh, now I definitely want to watch the whole movie!" 

I agreed. Sitting there in the chair, I didn't turn on the audio, and didn't browse through the full description. The link above takes you to a two minute preview of a longer film. Here's a brief excerpt from the site:

["Hair Painter"] is a brilliant film of a hair event organised by Leonard Pountney, who owned a hair salon in Hounslow (this is not mentioned in the film, making it seem all the more bizarre!). Great '60s hairstyles and evening clothes (though the women are sitting down in them). 
Click here for link to film preview: Hair Painters -- British Pathé