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May 06, 2009

The Other Man in My Life


The Other Man in My Life

By Elaine Viets

My hairstylist has worked on Jennifer Lopez’s hair. I asked Mario for the dirt on J-Lo. He whispered in my ear, "She is very nice."

"That’s your idea of dirt?"

"There is no dirt," Mario said. "Clients gossip. I style hair."

Hah. This is from the man with hair and makeup credits in Vogue, W, Modern Bride, and fashion magazines I can’t even afford to open.

Mario is the other man in my life. The stylist in my new Dead-End Job mystery, "Killer Cuts," is based on Mario. Except for the murder at the high-priced wedding. And the whole transvestite thing. And Helen’s wedding to Phil. I made that up.

But it’s true that Mario has worked for a number of high-priced South Florida salons, and I will follow him anywhere. Well, almost anywhere. For a while, he talked about going to Moscow to work at a salon where haircuts cost $1500. (I am not making that up.) I seriously considered a move, but I hate cold winters. Fortunately, so did Mario. He stayed in Florida.

Just because Mario won’t give me the dirt on J-Lo, I’ve still learned plenty from him. Here are a few lessons.

(1) Permanent is more than a hair process.

Two years ago, I had a series of strokes, a coma and brain surgery. I woke up with my hair shaved off one side. Mario visited me and listened to me whine.

"Look at my hair," I wept. "I look like I sing backup for the Eurythmics."

"Hair grows back," Mario said. "But you do not rise from the dead."

Those words became my mantra. As Mario promised, my hair did grow back, though it took more than a year. My recovery was – and still is – slow. So slow, I flirted with the idea of a facelift. Mario threw a fit, as only a Cuban hair stylist can.

"No, no, no," Mario said. "If you get a facelift, you will look like everyone else." He used his fingers to pull his eyes into the "Chinese" slant of a badly stretched eye job. "You have a real face. Anything a plastic surgeon can do with a knife, I can do with makeup."

A washable facelift. I liked that idea – no anesthesia, no bruising, and if I didn’t like the look, I could remove it.

It took Mario nearly an hour to paint my face. His makeup tricks were fascinating. Mario doesn’t put white concealer under the eyes – that gives you shiny "reverse racoon" rings. Instead he drew dark lines under my cheekbones, down the bridge of my nose and along the jawline. For the first time, my flat, round German face had cheekbones. Model cheekbones.

(2) Cheapness is incurable.

Multi-millionaire women have tipped high-priced stylists like Mario with burger coupons. I’m not kidding. These women live in mansions the size of hotels. Their social life depends on looking young and yet, they tip with worthless coupons. The standard tip for a $300 hairstyle should be about $60 for the stylist, $10 for the hair washer – or more than most women spend at Supercuts.

If the stylist doesn’t throw the cheapskate out on her blow-dried ear, beware. One day, he will dye your hair orange and you’ll have to look for someone else.

(3) Sex and power.

I’ve watched supposedly well-bred women tip male stylists by running their manicured fingers along the guy’s crotch. I used to work in a newsroom, so I’m not easily shocked, but this public groping stunned me. I’m not talking about older, senile women, either.

"Mario," I asked, "don’t they know the stylist is gay?"

"Oh, yes," he said. "But they think we’ll be so overwhelmed by their beauty – which we created – that we overcome our true nature."

I have my own theory. These women are trophy wives, who have chosen a life of money and marriage to rich old men. They get grabbed whether they want to be or not. Groping the stylist is their chance to feel some power.


Note: Today is Day 6 of my 13-city tour for KILLER CUTS. If all goes well, I’ll have a book signing at National Airport in Washington DC at noon, then fly home for signings in Plantation, Delray Beach and other cities. Check www.elaineviets.com for more details.


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Mario sounds like a gem! My hairdresser is "Nick". Nick tells dirty jokes, totally politically incorrect jokes, and does a hellofva job on my hair. Plus, I find his rates to be totally underpriced. $35 for cut. $85 for cut and High and Low lights.

A good hairdresser is worth his/her weight in gold. I know. I've had some REALLY bad ones!

(I'm up in the middle of night because we are having bad storms right now.)

(ps We're coming to the Gettysburg area for vacation. Anything within an hour's drive that we just HAVE to do?)

I go to see my stylist Maryann tomorrow. I adore her. I think it's time I asked her about a few make up tricks so I don't look quite so tired at the PW conference.

I hope you sell and sign lots of books on the tour!

I lost a lot of hair due to thyroid disease etc etc. My stylist Jeph makes my thin hair look not so thin. Love the guy but ewwww, wouldn't be grabbing the poor guy, I am probably older than his mother. ewwwww.
It is just after midnight here and I am doing standard avoidance of going to bed because I don't want to go to work tomorrow.
Good morning all.
Enjoy your book tour Elaine.

Mario rocks!
Elaine looked gorgeous last night at the Festival of Mystery and there are hundreds who can attest to that.
Have a sweet and swift rest at home and rock on the tour.

Mario sounds great.

One of my barbers actually went to Moscow in December(!) to visit his son's family stationed there with the World Bank. He slipped on the ice, or on toys in the apartment, I'm not sure which. The other barber visited his daughter's family in Florida. It was the first time both were on vacation at the same time (and they had to close the shop) in over 20 years. Haircuts are still $12.

Oh, and neighborhood gossip going back 60 years is free.

Elaine, as always, you've started the day with a laugh. Never a bad thing....

I second Mary Alice - Elaine's hair looked fabulous and so did Elaine. I hadn't seen her since before the stroke and was thrilled to talk to her in person!

I bought a copy of Killer Cuts for my favorite salon. If you aren't lucky enough to live near one of Elaine's tour stops, you can still get a signed copy at Mystery Lovers - she signed some extra ones at the Festival:


I can't wait to read it! The trailer in the last book left me hangin'.

My stylist has cut my hair for about 14 years, and she does too good of a job. It holds its shape for so long that I end up only getting it cut three times a year. She says that making me look good is her goal, and that's okay with her. And all for $40 for a cut. She's from Poland, and my husband's family name is Polish, she we instantly bonded all those years ago. She cuts and colors so many friends' hair, and they all look spectacular. Plus, we catch up with each other through our stylist.

Last summer she made a spot in her tight schedule to cut my middle daughter's hair, when she was between a three-month backpacking trip to South America and her first real job. The next time I went in she said DD has the same cowlick in the back of her hair that I have. Can you imagine remembering all that? She's awesome.

Off to our youngest daughter's college graduation. Last one. Woohoo!

I was a hairdresser for many years--never piss off the chick with the scissors LOL

I've been with Jenny for --wow-- like ten years? Lots longer than I was married. I had to go to someone else for a thermal straightener (at Jenny's suggestion) but still felt like I was cheating.

Finding a good stylist is a top priority when I move. I've been lucky, and never more so than with Deanna, my current goddess-of-hair, who has seen me from long to short to long and now back again. She also takes care of my daughter (also with the variable length, and beautiful high- and low-lights), and my husband. My only gripe is that she charges way less to cut his hair than to cut mine . . .

But I'll never complain, and always tip!

Elaine, It was great to meet you on Monday night. Trying to hug across a table might not have been such a good idea. I apologize for the bumped heads.

Kathy, Sorry I didn't get to talk to you very much on Monday. I did try to come out and visit you while you were acting as gatekeeper, but you'd already switched jobs and I didn't want to disturb you.

Mary Alice, As always the Festival of Mystery was a wonderful evening for "we" the reading public. I still can't believe I actually won a raffle basket. I never ever win anything. The strangest thing about winning the basket: As all the early leave takers exited they kept handing us all their raffle tickets for use during the second half of the raffle. Not that we won anything else.

The books we received in the gift bag which are doubles are going to a good cause. Our local library sponsors a summer reading program every year for children and adults. If 15 books are read, a prize is given. Naturally a lot of the prizes are books and we contribute our largess from your festival to the cause.

Between the books in our free bag, the books in the raffle basket, the 18 books purchased between my daughter and myself, and then the books we purchased at the store (using up the last of our book credits), we should be good for maybe a month and a half.

Off to do final organization of my church's mother-daughter dinner which goes off tonight.

Besides, everyone knows the best gossip is from the manicurist. The whole family gets styled every five weeks whether we need it or not. I could never go back to the barber shop again.

Elaine, I should have the two princesses with me on Saturday. See you then.

I'll be there, too! Very much looking forward to it!

Hey, my mother's stylist was named Mario, too. She adored him.

Getting your hair cut in Vermont is very simple bowl+scissors....

I understand you look gorgeous. Where are the photos???

Good to meet you, Peach. Don't worry about the forehead bump -- for cats that's a sign of friendship and esteem.
I'm meeting more and more of the backbloggers, from Arkansas Cyndi and Nancie the Gun Tart to William Simon. I've known Tom and Mary Lynn and Mary Alice for years and I hope I get to see Storyteller Mary and Alan P and the princesses Saturday.
It was good to see blog sister Kathy Sweenney and Nancy Martin looked chic in mystery writer's red and black. Her signed books are also available from Mystery Lovers bookstore.
Elaine Viets

My hair grows so fast, I go in every 3 weeks to keep from looking like a skunk. Fortunately I have tons of hair which helps hide the skunkishness but still...Michael, who is fabulous with color, high and low lights, is not the best with a pair of scissors. Thanks to advice from Rocco, here at TLC, I sucked it up and now get my hair cut by Crissy and my color by Michael. It has been a match made in heaven. I always tip at least 20% and sometimes more depending on the complexity of the service. Thus, I can almost always get in when I need to without too much wait.

And, Yes, Elaine looked fabulous at Malice Domestic as well.

Marcello is my stylist, and as straight as they come. Add in being a former marine, and I have no qualms about asking him to make me sexy. :)

Cyndi...what is within an hour? Sometimes.. ME! Boyds Bears is just a touch west. Land of Little Horses. There is a huge outlet w/movie theatre. LOL. Walking tours, ghost trains, audio tours, etc.

"Round, flat German face"? Are you still on the big goofy meds?

Honestly . . .

I go to a haircutting school and get a different student every time. After the shampoo (they always give such wonderful scalp massages!)I always start the conversation by asking how long they've been at the school? The girl I had last week said, "less than one month". (Oh ... shoot!) My next question is always did they always know they wanted to be a hairdresser? She answered, "no ... my mother is a hairdresser and she told me I had to decide what I wanted to do with my life because I've been out of highschool two years, now, and wasn't doing anything. But if I don't like doing hair, I want to be a pastry chef". Amazingly, the pastry chef gives a pretty good haircut! :-)

Ciao Bellas!

Elaine, as always, you are so wise. Who needs a surgeon when you have a fabulous Stylist?!

Cannot wait to read the new book - I just love it when people get a peek into the back of the house.

Jodi, sweetheart - I am SO proud of you! See? Now everyone is happy!


What a timely blog! Yesterday I was a walk-in -- saw myself in a mirror, realized I needed a haircut, sat in the strange chair of a strange salon and got a haircut (cheap!) that delighted me.

But the real reason I got the haircut? Tomorrow I go see Joy, my colorist. Joy doesn't do cuts, only color, but Joy would be distressed to see me in need of a haircut. I never want to distress Joy. I love Joy. If Joy moved to Moscow, I would follow her. A haircut is a haircut, in my book, but a good colorist is for life.

I went to Mr. Vince in the early '80s. He knew I didn't make much money but always gave me a great cut and we could joke around about the 'rich bitches' & how obnoxious they could be. After my first visit, I only tipped him $1, but there was always a kickass joint folded up in it!
I am 'suppose' to be there Saturday, but we know how flakey Bob can be!

I just got back from a haircut at a new salon! I'm a junior in college in Arkansas and haven't, until today, been brave enough to try and find a stylist down here. Instead I've been driving the 800 miles back during breaks from school to see my usual... Thank goodness I love stephanie! Bonus, she's about 50 dollars cheaper than my stylist back home : ) It still feels like I'm cheating though!

Elaine, it was great to see you again. The first time we met was in the Annapolis B&N with Marcia, Charlaine, Susan McBride and Julia Spencer-Fleming. I guess it was fitting that I saw you again there after Malice this weekend.

And not only were you a cutie this weekend, you were also quite hilarious! Keep your sense of humor and those quirky books a-coming.

(I'm picking up KILLER CUTS tonight and have cleared my day tomorrow to read it.)

Soooo....Peach...we have a Mother/Daughter Banquet at our church as well. Ours is this Saturday night. I'm doing the Sound of Music this year for entertainment. The men cook, the boys serve and we've ton's of incredible raffle prizes. What is yours like? All proceeds go to the youth summer mission.
Our youth's mission of the month was to take donated children's books to the Jackson Memorial Hospital's 'Transplant House' library (150 books) and the Ronald McDonald house (490 books).
Needless to say the children were thrilled.
Anyone wanting to donate books our way we'll make sure they get to the kids who need them and love to read.
Ask Mary Sue where to send them.
Just saying.

Oh Hell, Harley and Elaine,
you two looked great even before your hair cuts!

I am so excited about your next book!! I got hooked on them about a year ago and blew through all your books in about 6 months.

Love your stylist! Such gems of wisdom on life! I wish I had a Mario in my life! But for now, I'll make due with the stylist I've got -- and she's great too!

Hairdresser? Whassat? I comb my hair and wrap a rubberband around it. Since I was a child, I was taught that going to the hairdresser was frivolous and something that only woman with money they dont have to use to keep the electricity on could participate in. It still only go to the hairdresser once a year to get a cut and perm. I guess I am a throw back from the depression era.

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