Sunday, August 31, 2008

Super Stews- HAIR on the AIR goes up UP UP and AWAY

8/29 08-

Flying used to be glamorous. We dressed up to fly. When I was a kid we had to wear a jacket and tie to get on the plane to Philadelphia for the long flight to visit our Aunt and Uncle. Flight attendants (Airline Hostess’s and Stewardess’s back then) were dressed in crisp semi military fitted suits with epilates on the shoulders, smart little overseas wedge caps cocked to the side on their perfect French twist up dos , white gloves and high heels. Pan Am stewardesses were the most smartly dressed of all. Remember Jacqueline Bisset in the original movie “Airport”? She was the epitome of the last of that old school look. Then came Karen Black in “Airport 75” with her crossed eyes and the stringy pieces of over processed hair going into her mouth as she tried to land the 747. AWESOME! Her tangerine mini made her the icon of stewardess chic-especially when you’re that much of a mess in a dress.

The breakthrough was male stewardess’s which is when the PC term of flight attendant started. I remember flying to London on my first transatlantic flight when the guy who looked like Robert Redford came up to buckle me in, and my gay Geiger counter went to maximum output. My dream of being a male flight attendant was born. Fantasies of 3 day layovers in Rome, marrying a dreamy pilot, or first class business tycoon reinforced my dream to enter the realm of these beautiful people that serve beverages so elegantly with a bitchy edge; the glamorous field of commercial aviation. TWA, and Pan AM were the high end fashion airlines then, and my first hurdle was the weight requirement. They weigh you in, and if you were over the line, forget it. My Stewardship candle then started to dim into a lifetime of celery sticks and low fat cottage cheese. Hairdressing, makeup and styling was now overtaking my career path. I realized that I could devote myself to keeping flight attendants glamorous, or even more handsome, and to this day I have quite a few clients that fly. I love them.

Now in the days of airline deregulation, terrorism, and the post 911 era, flight attendants have toughened up a lot. Do not mess with them. (“You need to stow that hand luggage RIGHT NOW”! Or, “Sir, we are on an ACTIVE runway, and if you don’t sit down we’re going to have to call security.”) They have become the integral stewards of safety and take no crap efficiency on an airplane. Their roles have expanded far beyond the point were the beverage service is the most important function. Polyester Pantsuits, white blouses with coffee stains, and sensible shoes have given way to that romantic stereotypical image of the stewardess of yesteryear.

HOWEVER, when a flight attendant finds out that you are a makeup artist or a hairdresser, it is still the best upgrade card you can play. Flight attendants and hairdressers are like magnets to each other. We love them; they love us. It took about 4 minutes during pre-boarding this morning for the “purser” (senior ranking stew) to find out who I was, and tell me that she had been the 2nd runner up, and Miss congeniality in the 1991 Miss Wisconsin pageant for the Miss America franchise (it really IS a scholarship pageant-let’s get that straight.) Her talent was the flute: “Flight of the Bumble Bee.” She still subscribes to “Pageantry Magazine.”(my favorite behind “American Cheerleader.”) She whipped out a stunning picture of her evening gown and crown from 19 years ago displaying a perfect “toe pop”,pinky fingers on thighs, and teeth so white you could see them from the space shuttle. A champion is a champion forever and always. Inside that take no crap veneer, pumps the heart of a true beauty queen.

I change planes in Los Angeles to an Aero Mexico flight, where the flight attendant mystique of the past now a days lives on. Latin and Italian airlines still have the concept that being a flight attendant is one-step away from being a runway model. The women at Aero Mexico all grease their hair back into face lift tight Evita Peron low buns, with Tammy Faye eyes, and the ever present brown lip liner. Latin girls cannot seem to get past the pink lipstick/brown lip liner conundrum. Their skin tight short-skirted black suits with miniature silver sombreros lining the arm and skirt seems are the best in the business. Some Asian airlines even have Kimono style uniforms. Alitalia Airlines wins the overall presentation gold medal. Armani designed uniforms cut on the bias, are accessorized with leather. They all glide down the catwalk of the airplane aisles during the preflight announcement, removing their tight leather gloves finger by finger with the synchronized precision of Olympic diving. As on the Aero Mexico flights, the passion and sexuality crackles between the flight and cabin crews, and one can only imagine what has gone on behind the pulled curtain of the forward galley all these years.

Next time your flying through Atlanta or Dallas remember that your in the “hot roller belt” and keep your eyes peeled for the fabulous dos and shoes on the men and women that work for the airlines. But when your in Mexico City, Rome, or Buenos Aires your in the sweet spot. In fact, I attended the “Miss Flight Attendant 1998” pageant 10 years ago in Puente del Este, Uraguay. Now THAT was a smorgasbord of airline beauty, dominated by the south Americans. Miss Lan Chile Airlines robbed the title from Miss Varig Airlines that year. I recommend this fantastic competition which takes place every January to all.

Happy flying.

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