Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dangerous Dieting- a Homage to Karen Carpenter

There are some really bad diets out there. I should know, I've been on a few. The Mexican Montazuma's diet, The Fran Liebovitz diet, (coffee and cigarettes) The Hollywood cleanse, (21 days of water, lemon, and cloves) and the 8 glasses of green sludge a day diet. Those are the most radical. I've been very lucky. I've been able to maintain a decent weight for 23 years, and keep myself in good health. In my 20's I was dangerously over weight and had to lose over 100 lbs. Yeah, I was really fat. I've written a lot about this in the past on this blog, and I have talked about my weight issues on the air. The next few weeks we are talking about fad dieting on "Hair on the Air " radio, and I'm reminded again that dieting and weight obsession can go to far, WAY to far, fatally to far. Extreme and obsessive dieting can slip over the line into eating disorders. The following bio of an iconic alto who wanted to lose a few pounds shows how she brought deadly dieting out of the closet.

A Homage to Karen Carpenter

Anorexia became a well known word in the early 80's with the death of Karen Carpenter. Biographer Adena Young says about her:

"Karen Carpenter was well known in the 70s and 80s for her dazzling music. She was one half of the sibling music group, The Carpenters. Born in 1950, she grew up listening to the Beatles and performing with her older brother Richard, and in her lifetime captured 3 Grammy's, 8 Gold Albums, 10 Gold Singles, and 5 Platinum Albums. The music she made was so great that she held the record for the most Top 5 hits in the first year of business. You could say that she lead her life in the spotlight. Young girls looked up to her. She was a role-model and a symbol of American culture. At least, this is what she was trying to be. As it turns out, it was these social pressures that ultimately lead to her downfall.
Richard Carpenter recalls that Karen was "a chubby teenager". Genetically, she wasn't meant to be super thin. Unfortunately for this singer, the only body that she would stand to have was a thin one. The dieting began in 1967 when Karen's doctor put her on a water diet, bringing her weight down from 140 lbs to 120. When she had made it down to 115 lbs, people told her she looked good, but she could only reply that this was just the beginning of the weight loss, and that she wanted to lose still more. By the fall of 1975, Karen was down to 80 lbs. She was taking dozens of thyroid pills a day, and throwing up the little food that she ate. Karen's body was so weak that she was forced to lay down between shows, and the audience was gasping at her body as she walked on stage. It was this year in Las Vegas that Karen collapsed on stage while singing "Top of the World". It was a big scare to the audience and her family. After being rushed to the hospital, it was reported that Karen was 35 lbs underweight. It was this final collapse that made Karen Carpenter realize that she had a serious problem. She went to doctors and therapists, and eventually began to believe that she was well. However, in reality, her body was still suffering from the lack of food, the over dosages of laxatives, the lack of sleep, and the anxiety of being on the road. When she died in 1983, it was a shock to many people who believed that she had been cured.
The emergency call came at 8:51 am on February 4, 1983. Karen Carpenter's mother found her naked and unconscious on the floor of a walk-in wardrobe closet in their home in Downey, California. At the age of 32, she was 5'4", but weighed only 108 lbs".

Todd Haynes's Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story

"Openly gay, experimental filmmaker Todd Haynes burst upon the scene two years after his graduation from Brown University with his now-infamous 43-minute cult treasure "Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story" (1987). Seizing upon the inspired gimmick of using Barbie and Ken dolls to sympathetically recount the story of the pop star's death from anorexia, he spent months making miniature dishes, chairs, costumes, Kleenex and Ex-Lax boxes, and Carpenters' records to create the film's intricate, doll-size mise-en-scene. The result was both audacious and accomplished as the dolls seemingly ceased to be dolls leaving the audience weeping for the tragic singer. Unfortunately, Richard Carpenter's enmity for the film (which made him look like a selfish jerk) led to the serving of a "cease and desist" order in 1989, and despite the director's offer "to only show the film in clinics and schools, with all money going to the Karen Carpenter memorial fund for anorexia research," "Superstar" remains buried, one of the few films in modern America that cannot be seen by the general public. Now finally you have a chance to see this piece."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hair on the Air Season 3 Premier

OK, I'm horrified at our first interview for the opener of season three. Tomorrow night at 7pm Alfred and I start up our radio show again in the new expanded SUPERSIZED format of 3 hours. We are live on the ETIN network:
and through our home site at:

We are going to have a segment every week with other beauty profesionals in the industry to dish the dirt with, and talk shop. Tomorrow night's guests are the spokespeople for the national chain of salons known as "Knockouts"- haircuts and grooming for men. In other words: HOOTERS. Girls skimpily dressed like Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders strut their stuff around the salon and talk about sports. Umm, I would rather jab needles in my eyes than get my hair cut at one of these salons. My feminist friends and clients need to bear with me on this as I hope to clamp down, sink my teeth in, and not let go like a terrior with a bone. Are there any gay people that are associated with this place? Knowing Alfred we will goof on them and go all Howard Sterns on them. Geez for our first interview back, it's a tough one though.

We're hitching our wagon under the banner of WERS 88.9 FM with commercial and under-writing support. This means we get to have a hotshot producer, and staff to hustle about and book us some serious ass interviews. Rhinehard Engels, author of "The No S Diet" is scedualed for next week, and coming up our patron saint- Cosmetics icon Bobbi Brown is doing a whole hour with us. She is WAY cool, and we're looking forward to having Bobbi Brown as a sponcer.

So, I hope you listen in live or download us to your iPod. Call in Thursday night between 7-10pm (617 824-8100) or shoot us an email at We'll talk about ANYTHING you would talk to your hairdresser about which is....pretty much everything. Remember, only your hairdresser knows for sure.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fat Models off the Train Please

Nothing made me happier last week than Heidi Klum being told that she was to FAT to model at New York's prestigious Fasion Week. She is the latest model to fall off the food wagon, and into the pit of flabby normalcy like the rest of us. The poor little thing; Heidi came back with a stoic statement, supported by Seal her rock star husband saying “my concern is to stay fit, but not to thin”. OK, sounds good, healthy, and what people all over the world like to relate to. But, it is her JOB to stay thin, and she makes millions and millions of dollars doing it. Then the cat fur started to fly:

"Heidi Klum was shocked and caught completely off guard by designer Wolfgang Joop's claim that she is too fat. She had a statement released through her publicist, "Wolfgang is obviously trying to revive his sagging career and get press for himself by riding Heidi’s coattails."
Tim Gunn told the New York Daily News, "It’s totally ridiculous! (Heidi) is a sensitive soul, and it’s very troubling to her. If she’s fat, other women should throw themselves off a train. I can wrap my hand around her bicep."

On Heidi’s show project runway, she is brutal to the contestants that walk their creations down the runway. “Auf Wiedersehen” She snaps like a whip, dismissing them with that skinny model attitude. The would be designers slink off the runway, and ussualy burst into tears in the back room. So Heidi- YOUR TO FAT TO MODEL- Auf Wiedersehen!! I would have loved to be a fly on the wall as the dressers strained with the zippers; buttons popping, and seems splitting. I evoke an enormously fat operatic soprano being synched up before going out to play the starving and sickly Carmen. I can just imagine the bitchy German designer Wolfgang Joop tilting his head with an oh well- to bad look, throwing his hands up and saying “get your fat butt outta here- Auf Wiedersehen!

Normally I would feel sorry for any girl who was told she was fat. I was CONSTANTLY told I was fat at the dreaded weekly gym class -that I managed to cut on a regular basis for 12 years. On the play ground little Heidi Klums jump roped in their little white socks, with their skinny legs and whispered about me- the fat boy over there. So, I'm not feeling very sorry for Heidi since she gets paid MILLIONS to stay thin- that's her job! Cut out the snacks girl.

Heidi is in a "growing" group of models getting to chubby for the runway. Karolina Kurkova, the Brazilian model was also slamed by the fasion press after the Sao Paolo fasion week in June. "You can't be a stick forever" she said. Ummm, yeah you can. Tell Nancy Regan she can't be a stick forever. She's given up bread for ninety years to look that good in a red Channel suit.
Top supermodel Gemma Ward from Austrailia was called "roll model" last month after some sneaky shots on the beach were leaked to the press where she lay like a beached whale. Hey- she gets a pass though, her ex boyfriend was Heath Ledger...Let's cut her some slack on that.
The billion dollar beauty buisness promotes unhealthy attitudes about weight and self image- I'm the first to admit it. I try to be aware of that, and I feel a good hairdresser/stylist helps to make the client feel good about themselves, no matter what shape you are. We can all find something beautiful in every soul. We can all find at least one good thing, no matter what the day provides. I love to bring that out in people; optimism. Heidi- snack away...your very beautiful just the way you are, flaws and all. Oh, and by the way, it pains me to mention that you got worst dressed at the Oscars in that hideous Roland Mouret dress and all that gaudy jewelry. But to find the ONE good thing- loved the Christian Louboutin shoes, they made you look thinner.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Gay Hairdresser's guide to the Superbowl

I'm really trying to get it; Superbowl Sunday. All the clients (Alfred's especially) have been weighing in all week about this big deal of a game. Alfred predicted on our last radio show that Baltimore would play Philadelphia. Eagles, Ravens, now Cardinals- all the bird teams. I don't think they even have any Cardinals out there in the desert. They certainly don't have Eagles flying around downtown Philadelphia. Already I'm not getting the bird thing. At least Pittsburgh has a name "Steelers" that makes sense, being a steel mill town and all. It's a manly butch sounding name that fits well with the kind of sport that football seems to be. Cardinals are pretty sweet little red song birds, and it's a girly sounding name. ("My bridesmaid dresses were Cardinal red") Besides, I thought the Cardinals were a baseball team? Are they just trying to confuse gay guys here?

To me it's been a no brainer about who would win. Pittsburgh or Arizona-big strong steelworkers that drive 4 wheelers through snow, and grow up tackling each other in leaf piles, vs old wrinkled retired people driving Mercedes Benz's that learned falling into cactus piles and avoiding the rattlesnakes in every backyard. Kids in Pittsburgh come into eat hearty root vegetable soup on nippy Fall Sundays after playing. Kids come out of the hot sun to the air conditioning for Tacos with shredded iceberg lettuce. Hands down, Pittsburgh has the football Karma going and will win.

It is currently halftime and Bruce Springstein has sung Born to Run. He's all American, cool, and I'm loving the show, but I wish there were a few marching bands with precision flag and rifle twirlers, dazzling sequined baton twirlers, and drumlines all marching in complex formations. Now THAT is a good halftime show.I still have yet to see a decent cheerleader tonight however. I know Arizona has great cheer girls...Come on, BRING IT!! BRING IT ON!! But even without cheerleaders, I can't believe I've made it this far into the game without turning the channel to see what's on Lifetime Network, or Turner Classic Movies. I am strangely mesmerized by this game. I need more cheerleaders though.

First, I have to say that white spandex pants and white socks is just wrong, wrong, wrong. Yet another reason Arizona should lose. EVERYBODY knows you don't wear white pants after Labor Day. Especially #75 and #68 who look even fatter because they are wearing white. Rolls of thigh fat are squished into the pants on those guys; extremely unflattering. Who designs this stuff? If I were going to be on TV in front of millions of people. you couldn't make me wear white pants. I like the gold and black pants on the Steelers. Yeah, they should get extra bonus points for their outfits.

I thought I saw Whoopie Goldburg out there in the beginning with the dred locks. Several of the Arizona guys have Whoopie's hair coming out of the back of their helmets. It just doesn't work for me. The WORST hair award definitely goes to Pittsburgh #43 who has Diana Ross's hair from the movie Mahogany bubbling down his back. You'd think it would get yanked and pulled. Only Manny really gets away with the dred look I think in pro sports, and that's another sport all together.

OK, there's 2 minutes left, and Arizona has made a come back. The fat guys in the white pants are ahead by 3 - this is getting good. TOUCHDOWN!! Pittsburgh pulls off an amazing pass with 35 seconds left. Yeah, I'm enjoying this. The pretty boy quarterbacks are throwing great passes. Where are the supermodels they all date tonight? (that announcer sure says the word "penetration" a lot by the way). The fat guys fumbled at the last second, and Pittsburgh wins. Gatorade baths, ass slapping, and pig piling. I'm happy. I hope Alfred won a bet. I don't understand all that point spread stuff, but there has been a lot of talk about that all week at the salon.

Here comes Joe Namath to give out the trophy. Didn't he used to wear pantyhose? He looks really good. GREAT hair!! Nice cut, natural looking color with a few highlights. He has teeth so white that you could see them from the space shuttle. He's the original "pretty boy quarterback." There is a long line: The Paytons, Doug Flutie, William Perry, Emmitt Smith, Joe Greene, Tony Roma. Roger Staubach, Joe Montana, and my personal favorite from San Francisco-ahem- Steve Young. And now Tom Brady is the boy du jour. Giselle was hand feeding him bon bons this week in the papers-revolting.

There was/is a big Superbowl party at the White House tonight with Barac. That would have been really fun to go to. I would have hung out with Michelle and the girls, keeping the Chile, Buffalo Wings, and beer coming, and trying not to ask stupid questions about "off sides". I can only imagine the conversation, cigar smoke and Brandy snifters that are going on at this very moment. I bet they're surprised at the breaking news that Michael Phelps was stupid enough to get photographed smoking pot. Those big sports endorsements could be in jeopardy. He said "I acted in a youthful and inappropriate manor" That's pretty good damage control. Remember what happened to Kate Moss though, she lost all her endorsements. She was snotty, over 30, and to skinny snorting coke with an attitude. Michael's owned up, and is under 20, he'll be fine. Nice to see he has a bit of a bad boy edge, like Joe Namath.

This week on HAIR ON THE AIR RADIO Alfred and I will be live, taking phone calls, (617 824 8100) and having our own Superbowl after party from 7-8pm on Thursday night. I'm sure we will have a lot to say about the game and the aftermath. I certainly will as this is the second football game I've ever watched all the way through, and actually paid attention. since The only other one I watched was over 20 years ago in my brother's basement. He tried to explain the nuances of the game as we watched the Boston Patriots play on a yet again another Sunday. There seems to be a religious, spiritual ritual connected to football. It's always played on Sundays, and brings friends, family, and communities together just like parishes do. Maybe it was Divine intervention that day I watched that fateful game in the basement. God intercede as Doug Flutie threw the now infamous "Hail Mary" pass. I saw that live; a Miracle. That one play has been replayed thousands of times on televisions all over the world for all these years. I was there for it and watched my brother's eyes roll back, spasm into Hallelujah, and have a moment of Hail Mary Epiphany. The religion of Football- God really does work in mysterious and unseen ways.

Let us know what you thought of the $3 million commercials. My favorite was the Budweiser Clydesdale horse in love with the pretty white circus horse, and their quest to be together. Tune in Thursday night. I'll be the pretty circus horse, and Alfred will be the Italian Clydesdale.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A New Year/A New You/A New Do/A New Oprah

Happy New Year. Well, I'm optimistic generally about what's ahead. We have a new president, a completely FABULOUS first family, and Oprah got fat again. The economy is tanking, everybody in the Middle East is pissed at each other, (what a few good electrolysis and waxing salons couldn't fix over there-) and there's a blizzard, flood or blazing forest fire at every corner of the country. Global warming is definitely messing with the weather and frizzing everybody's bangs- not to mention melting the polar ice caps and sending the Polar Bears into extinction. So, we are facing a tough year here with lots of problems and things to get anxiety attacks about. Someone very wise told me that "anxiety is an interest payment on trouble you haven't had yet."

The baby Polar bears are not gone forever-YET. Antarctica has not turned to slush-YET. Unemployment has not reached 10%-YET. I choose to stay hopeful and optimistic; that joy, and happiness are attainable and is a realistic attitude to have. I have a feeling that January 20th, in less than two weeks, we all have a new opportunity to make our New Years resolutions a reality. This is why I am THRILLED that Oprah got fat again. She now gets to lead the charge-spearhead a movement that dares us all to "make 2009 the year we give ourselves the love we need to be happy, to be healthy, to be well and be loved." YOU GO GIRL! I'm with you all the way.

This week Oprah kicked off her "Best Life Week" series. She is throwing all of her considerable resources into the ultimate New Year's resolution movement. Her TV show, radio, magazine, and website are all converging to show us how to "honor ourselves, to have reverence for ourselves, and to have harmony in our lives." I've been Taping this weeks shows to buddy up this weekend and have a marathon self esteem party. Instead of pizza, potato chips, and chocolate this Sunday, I'll be serving baby carrots dipped in Dijon mustard, celery with hummus, and fresh fruit with cheese (lowfat). We can take classes on line for free on with Dr. Oz (great name) and Oprah's trainer Bob Greene. We are not just going to drop some pounds here, We're going to get HEALTHY!! We're going to feel better about ourselves and have more BALANCE in our lives.

Oprah's Ultimate Checklist starts out with writing down the answer to the question: Why am I worthy of being healthy? Then, it's time to get busy. First we go get a real checkup from the doctor- a "physical" it was called when I was a kid. (I still don't like when they goose me and ask me to cough at the same time) We ask our doctor for a copy of our medical file. We ask what tests we need, and we know our NUMBERS. (cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, etc.) We find a friend, a relative, a support group, a website, or even just yourself to be a "health advocate." (the buddy system- I get it.) We learn what BAD foods to avoid. (high fructose corn syrup, sugar, transfat, and anything that says "enriched" on the label. We ALWAYS read the label) We eat healthy food, take vitamins, and of course EXERCISE!! Walking is the best exercise there is; even just 1/2 an hour a day. (not a stroll- walk like your late to a meeting.) We only need to work with weights once a week. And lastly, we need 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

We need t0 reduce stress, and STOP SMOKING. ( smoking ages us 10 years, gives us wrinkles and cancer) So, all in all- I can shoot for some of this stuff. It's all basic common sense. I'd like to add a few of my own resolutions and suggestions along with Oprah's however. I've been asking clients all week what New Year's resolutions they have been making. Wow, a lot of people are jumping on to Oprah's bandwagon. But, I particularly like: Make up with people that your mad at. Laugh more, lighten up. Be honest and tell the truth- (careful with questions like "does this make me look fat?) Trust your instincts. Get a new haircut. highlight, or complete makeover. (I love that one) Throw out all the stuff in my closet that I haven't worn in 3 years.

My personal resolution is to be more grateful for what I have instead of resentful of what I don't. I want to accept the fact that I'll never have a better past. What's done is done, and all the mistakes I made were opportunities for me to learn life's lesson's the hard way. Another resolution for me is to take more risks. Get out more. I want to take Tango lessons this year, go on vacation to Buenos Aires, and take a Latin lover. (OK, that might be a stretch, but I can TRY for that)

My hat off to all of you Hair on the Air fans and supporters that are taking 2009 as a stepping stone to move ahead, achieve something more, and just try to do the next right thing. I am feeling optimistic. I have a new president, a new first lady to worship, (she really is the new Jackie) and I really am grateful for the bare bone basics in life that I used to take for granted like a roof over my head, and glass of water when I'm thirsty. At Oprah's expense, I am grateful she got fat again to light her blazing fire of the New Year's resolutions to beat them all. Happy New Year. Love, Alfred and Thomas