Grease has been reincarnated more times than Rizzo has been knocked up by a T-Bird. Broadway can't let it go; every high school has a version; and now reality TV is looking for the next Rydell High sweethearts. So when the Jewels Hair Studio announced its '50s theme and the all-too-familiar soundtrack kicked in at the seventh annual Hair Oscars, a runway hair show and competition, I considered hunting down another drink and the rumored mini crab cakes. Then Sandra Dee hit the stage grinding in the biggest, blondest weave imaginable.
For the first time, Sandy was a believable badass (Sorry, Olivia Newton John, but that cigarette didn't cut it). In a tight, rhinestone-studded jacket and 4-inch red-leather pumps, she worked the runway to a remixed "Beauty School Dropout," quickly inspiring the crowd to get on their feet (and chairs) to cheer her on. Her Pink Ladies, in seriously miniature poodle skirts, bounced their curly ponytails while tending to mannequins in oversized, futuristic silver rollers. Danny and his fellow greasers hand-jived like their oversize leather jackets depended on it in sculpted, glittery braids that successfully mimicked John Travolta's locks. Their collection of tiny backup dancers, no older than 10 or 11, gave off more attitude than their bright pink extensions and glittery Keds.
As much a party as a competition, the Marki Starr Hair Studio's 2007 Hair Oscars celebrated local African-American hair stylists and entrepreneurs. From hair wholesalers to master weavers to nimble braiders, the night gave everyone a chance to show off their skills, products and killer tresses at the plush Hyatt ballroom. Marki Starr opened the show with Beyonce-reminiscent weaves, pyrotechnics and hints of a striptease. Later, Sheer Pandemonium's model carefully balanced a rainbow headdress and wings while strutting the runway to a Missy Elliott mix. This is not to say that old-fashioned, homegrown hair was left out. Proudly boasting "all natural models," AnBrea's Salon showed off bouncy, shiny locks rooted firmly in scalp.
As the night progressed to the timed Cut and Style Competition, the real show had moved to the lobby. Greasers and their '80s counterparts (complete with oversized boom boxes and even taller hair) compared outfits and 'dos. Makeup artists and stylists retouched their models, offering tips and eyeshadow to those standing by. Most impressively, the kind ladies at E'tae Natural Hair Products came up with a deep-conditioning routine that smelled like cookies and would make even my tortured hair feel natural. Now that deserves an award.