Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Alien Culture: Hairdressers, Clothing & Cultural Discrepancies etc.

Alien Culture SEP/DEC/2008 Draft

Hairdressers, Clothing & Culture Discrepancies etc.


I visit the hairdressers in Nowra every 6 weeks. It is always a chore and I’m always apprehensive. It is at this point in my life that I stop and look at myself, look around and realise they are all different to me. The women working there are always changing, new young women all the time. They wear weird clothes, shoes, hairdos, have weird attitudes and culture.

From the moment I enter the shop I feel my demeanour diminish. The receptionist leans towards me, screws her face up, and starts using a childish voice “can I help you?” (they haven’t started to yell at me yet). It is as if I am some old wino who has just crawled out of a wheely bin. “I have an appointment to have my hair cut” she looks around …“Kersten-Anne (or similar) is still with her client. Please take a seat and read a magazine. Would you like tea or coffee?”

Read a magazine!! The magazines are non-readable celebrity shit, advertising crap or magazines of weird-o hair styles.

The place has been recently renovated to accommodate more people to get their hair done. The comfortable chairs have gone. There are now boxes which have been built to store stuff as well as sit on. These have thin cushions minimally attached to the tops. Correct proportions have not been considered and the effect is that the boxes are too high so that you sit perched on top swinging your feet like a kid sitting on a toy box.

Part of the renovations include a ‘wall of water fountain’ that flows down an entire wall spilling out of its gutter and onto the floor across the length of the wall. Mildew should soon ensure. Environmental or energy costs have not been considered. The ceiling is now ablaze with numerous 50 watt down lights. You could think you were under a night sky.

Kersten-Anne appears and I am taken over to a new wall-less cubicle. It only consists of a 45cms wide long, floor to ceiling mirror, a shelf to put your glasses on (30x15cms) and a chair. They start the process by throwing an old black curtain (from an undertakers?) over my shoulders. On top she places a lead shoulder control pad (some throw away item from an x ray dept?) to keep you still, or to prevent escape?

I sit waiting for the hairdresser to start. I listen and look at the other customers. I watch as a woman is removed from her hairdryer/converter?? Her head is covered in aluminium sheeting. Her head looks as if it has a huge Xmas chook on it which has just been taken out the oven. I can almost smell the fumes. Wow a ‘Chook-on-Head’ hair-do!

I watch the hairdresser pulling another customer’s long hair through steaming tongs and an older woman is having her hair permed. I say to my hairdresser who has turned up “people with straight hair come here to have it permed and those with curly to have it straightened and those with grey hair have it dyed”. “Yes” She asks me have I ever thought of having my hair dyed (as it is almost totally grey/white) “no I wouldn’t put any of those poisons through my liver” She stops and stares at me for a moment.

The hairdressing salon is really a disaster waiting to happen. Occupational health & safety issues abound. The air is full of hairspray lacquer. When I was at TAFE learning to draw with pastels we were taught not to spray in a confined space because the fixative/laquer (same as hairspray) was a health hazard. The dyes and other chemicals that are used will one day be seen as a toxic recipe for ill health & death in workers and customers. Where is the green hairdresser (not the green-dyed hairdresser)?

My hairdresser has bright red straight hair with a black diagonal stripe across the right front. There is a part down her left side. The hair is cut in a jagged manner with big VVVV’s across her cheeks and her forehead. She has some shiny object in her chin and she is of slight build. Her dress is salon designed t-shirt, with salon logo, and tight black short skirt. On her feet unbelievably she wears very pointy small heeled shoes. Her feet must get sore walking in these all day.

I have seen the pointy-toed shoe before this. There must be at least 5cms of space to be filled with spakfiller or the like or the pointy end would just crumple back onto the foot. They must get in the way of doing things and a real danger near lift doors. I have even seen them worn by men. They are common in a horrible pale colour of animal-like appearance (pretend scales).

Shopping Maul

Market town in Leichhardt was established in the 70’s. It was owned? by Italians and most shops were managed & staffed by Italians. Since then the place has considerably changed as has the local clientele. It has changed by the recent racial mix of Sydney (mostly Asian and middle eastern).

When I go to Sydney to visit my friend and visit art galleries I always go to Market Town to buy Italian bread, cheese and coffee as a treat. On a recent visit I discovered the last Italian delicatessen had disappeared. There is still a coffee shop which wafts fresh coffee aroma into the mall. Unfortunately a new shop next door is in competition for the quiveration of your nostrils. It is a Nail shop. Not as in hardware but as in pedicure and manicure. The last time I was there I could not believe my eyes. I stood for some moments staring in at a marvellous sight. Before me were a number of bed like-contraptions, where women (all women but men could go there too, I suppose) laying down feet in a bath each, with a small Asian worker cleaning & polishing their toes. (They looked like old fashioned shoe polishers). The smell of acetone and nail varnish mixed in my nostrils unhealthily with the nearby coffee aroma until I sneezed. The first time I saw this, the workers wore no nasal or breathing protection. (‘occ health and safety’ issue).

I came upon another salon ‘Professional Nail’ at Shellharbour Square where I obtained a flyer with prices etc. Gel nails full set $60, Gel Infill $35, Forever French/Backfill $40 (not a landscaping term) etc. The workers here were wearing masks as protection. I think this is definitely Alien world stuff but on close examination of the flyer I see reference to hundreds of these salons around the world!


I recently tried to purchase a bedspread. I was in a shop and I had asked an assistant for a bed spread. She looked at me puzzled. She was trying to analyse my sentence and my language. We both spoke English, I thought. “We have cover-lets and comforters” She replied pointing to their location. I knew when I found them that it was pointless continuing on to ask if they had ‘Chenelle’ (or candle wick) cover-lets/comforters. I found out later that Chenelle bedspreads can be found on E bay under under bedspread category and are called vintage bedspreads.

I watch all commercial TV when the advertisements come on with the sound turned off. I do live in an alien world. One ad has chidren with eyes on stalks on the top of there heads. Alien children!

(Draft not finished) Kaye Johnston©2008