Technology with attitude

What Diana DeGarmo, Hair and hair are doing about the oil spill

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Diana DeGarmo sounded apologetic recently for not having gotten a haircut. “I’m contractually obligated to not cut my hair,” she said. “I have to have my hair for the show.”

The show the former American Idol contestant is talking about is “Hair,” at the Al Hirschfeld Theater, where since March DeGarmo has played Sheila, a leader of the Tribe — student, anti-war protester and girlfriend of Berger, played by Ace Young, another ex-American Idol contestant, and another cast member who cannot casually get a haircut.

In a musical in which the cast spends so much time singing its praises to hair that is “long, straight, curly, fuzzy, snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty, oily, greasy, fleecy, shining, gleaming, streaming,” etc., it shouldn’t be so surprising that their coiffure is in their contract. But why did DeGarmo sound guilty?

The answer is that she and other cast members were at a salon, Bumble and Bumble, that had promised to give free haircuts to anybody who showed up, and to donate what fell on the floor to help clean up the oil spill in the Gulf, the worst oil spill in the nation’s history.

A non-profit group called Matter of Trust is collecting the hair and other material to put in booms placed in the Gulf in order to help absorb the oil.
Bumble and Bumble usually gives the cast whatever haircuts, dye jobs, and other upkeep needed to keep them looking like their grandparents circa 1968. But members of the cast showed up at this “Cut-In” to encourage others to participate, handing out flowers to the scores of fans, mostly female, who waited on line.

Not everybody on line was there as a fan of “Hair.”

Reacting to the oil spill, Arlene Kisner, an adult education teacher who showed up for the hair cut, explained: “It’s such a massive problem, what can an individual do? This is something I can do. I wish I could do more. I wish I had more hair to give.”

Hair, clearly, has power, and not just as symbol or metaphor.
But why can’t Diana DeGarmo get a haircut? Couldn’t she just wear a wig?
“Hippies don’t wear wigs,” she said in front of the salon on the East Side.
“Unless you have to,” Terrance Thomas chimed in. Thomas plays Rocket, one of the African-American members of the Hair tribe.
DeGarmo conceded. “You can’t have them walk around with huge Afros.”
“It would take me at least a couple of years to grow my hair that long,” Thomas said.
Of the 32 members in the cast of Hair, 11 (including all the Afro-ed actors) wear wigs.
Paris Remillard is normally not one of them. Before he joined the cast of “Hair,” he had a hairstyle he would call “college preppy.” But that was a long time ago. Remillard has been in this production of “Hair” from its beginning in Central Park in 2007.
His regular role is as a member of the Tribe who sings “What A Piece of Work Is Man” at every performance. But he also understudies Claude, which is why he has to keep his hair at an almost scientifically exact length – long enough to qualify as a hippie most nights, but short enough to play a character who at the end of the musical has joined the army. “I have to fit my real hair under a short-hair wig,” Remillard says.

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