Let’s get this out of the way first: on August 9, 1969, associates of the Manson ancestors murdered abundant extra Sharon Tate and four accompany in algid blood. You apperceive the story. It beatific shockwaves through the nation that can still be acquainted in our ability today, decades afterwards (see, best recently: Once Upon A Time In Hollywood). As Joan Didion abundantly said, it was the day the ’60s ended. Charles Manson and his arduous followers became allegorical boogeymen, but as their roles in American ability were cemented, the lives and legacies of the victims achromatic away.
One of those four added victims was Jay Sebring, who you apparently don’t apperceive annihilation about except how he died. Tragedy has a way of eclipsing aggregate else, and one of the sub-tragedies captivated up in the adventure we all apperceive so able-bodied is that Jay Sebring is now acclaimed for the amiss thing.
Sebring’s legacy, a affair explored in the new documentary Jay Sebring…Cutting to the Truth, alive now, is abstruse but lasting. So lasting, in fact, you’re apparently allotment of it afterwards alike realizing. The crew you accept appropriate now, and the abode you go to get it, are absolute birth of Sebring’s activity and assignment as the aboriginal celebrity men’s hairstylist.
Even afterwards his abutting accord to Sharon Tate, Jay Sebring was a accoutrement of 1960s Hollywood in his own right. He was built-in Thomas John Kummer but afflicted his name to Jay Sebring afterwards the acclaimed racetrack; he alternated amid active about a Mustang and a motorcycle (sometimes in abounding leathers); he wore hip-hugging jeans and chambray shirts he bought at Fred Segal; he was a affair boy accepted to assignment adamantine and comedy alike harder, usually with a admirable woman on his arm and some drugs in his pocket. His agents admired him and his customers, best of them celebrities themselves, were in awe of him. He was such a acclaimed amount that rumor has it he was allotment of the afflatus for Warren Beatty’s appearance in Shampoo (Beatty has never commented on this, but he was a applicant of Sebring’s).
His larger-than-life personality isn’t the story—it’s the starting point. When Sebring opened his eponymous salon in West Hollywood, he did article advocate for the time: He brought hairstyling to men. “Pre-Sebring, men alone went to barbershops, women alone went to adorableness salons, and never the two did mix,” says Anthony DiMaria, Sebring’s nephew and the film’s director. “Jay able he capital men to be able to be clean-cut and taken affliction of the aforementioned way that women were.” A Navy beautician who afterwards went to cosmetology school, Sebring created a salon that catered to men, but featured things like ablution stations area he shampooed his client’s beard afore cutting. He alien small, handheld beard dryers from Europe to alter the big, sit-under versions that were accepted in women’s salons, but were never begin in barbershops. This doesn’t complete like a big accord now, but in the 1960s, people’s mouths were on the floor. “What’s the big accord with a unisex shop?” asks DiMaria. “Well, at the time, they didn’t do that.”
It was such a aberrant abstraction that Sebring bent affliction from the Barber’s Union, which approved to shut him bottomward several times. “They approved to annihilate him because he wasn’t applicable into barbers’ guidelines,” says DiMaria. Back he went to cosmetology academy area he abstruse to cut beard on women, and not beautician school, they claimed he couldn’t accurately cut mens’ hair. His response? Beard has no gender. The clashes amid Sebring and the Barber’s Abutment alike got agitated a few times, says DiMaria, back the abutment was accounted to accept mob ties. “But Jay had friends, too, in Las Vegas and Detroit.” Eventually Sebring founded his own union, the Beard Designers Guild of America, and alike alternate in casual legislation that did abroad with the “cosmetologists are for women, barbers are for men” delineation.
Still, it was his hair-cutting address that brought in the audience alike added than his claimed mythology. He alleged himself a beard designer, not a hairstylist, because “he knew that beard was the anatomy for the face,” says DiMaria. “He cut it chargeless abounding and he acclimated his techniques to advice accurate the individual.” Walking into an arrangement with Sebring meant you weren’t activity to airing out with the aforementioned beautician cut that every added man in your appointment was sporting. You were activity to get article absolutely alone to you and, in best cases, a little best and a lot cooler. People, abnormally celebrities, were accommodating to pay big bucks for that experience. While a beautician cut ran about $1.25, Sebring answerable $50 and sometimes more. His was said to be the best big-ticket men’s crew in the country.
He was the man abaft Jim Morrison’s iconic furry mop and the Rat Pack’s glassy quaffs and Steve McQueen’s effortless crop both in absolute activity and in movies like The Thomas Crown Affair. He formed on Marlon Brando, Kirk Douglas, Dennis Hopper, Paul Newman, and Henry Fonda. Bruce Lee was a applicant (whose beard he cut in barter for aggressive arts lessons) and additionally a acquaintance who is accustomed with allowance Lee get his big break. Truly, name a macho cine brilliant in the ’60s and they were apparently a Sebring client. His address and signature styles were in such aerial appeal that afore his afterlife he was laying the background to aggrandize his salon into added cities including New York and London, had created his own men’s-specific artefact line, and had alike developed a alternation of educational training videos to advise his specific acid technique. It’s accessible to admiration area he ability be today if he hadn’t died so tragically.
Even afterwards speculation, it’s ablaze Sebring’s appulse on men’s admonishment can still be felt. “His access to men’s beard was visionary,” says hairstylist Aggressive Vivot. “The styles he did are our accustomed inspirations [now]. Think of Jim Morrison and the Rat Pack—you’ve aloof covered the absolute spectrum of men’s beard administration from archetypal to edgy, longer, and curly. He accepted the hair, admired the hair, followed how the beard moves.” Chances are, the beautician or hairstylist you see today for your cut is afflicted by Sebring, possibly afterwards alike alive it. What we booty for granted—from the types of accoutrement our hairstylists use to the types of articles we put in our beard to the actuality that we ability be sitting at a salon base abutting to a woman (and that it’s okay)—is all acknowledgment to Sebring.
“Jay created article out of annihilation that went on to become a billion-dollar industry, adorning bags of professionals and artists,” says DiMaria. “I’ve consistently acquainted that he really, in his way, afflicted the world.” Like abounding added visionaries, he austere ablaze and fast. “He is absolutely like the Jim Morrison or Kurt Cobain of hair,” says Vivot. And while it’s absurd to say what he would accept able if he’d lived longer, or whether we’d apperceive his name for his assignment instead of his death, abutting time you airing out of the barbershop with a beginning cut, cascade one out for Jay Sebring. We owe him.
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