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All photos by Jonathan Loek
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High-end salons offer all kinds of treats to sweeten the hair cutting experience. Sipping a cup of gourmet espresso or maybe even a glass of wine while you get your coif cut. So why not a hit of pot to go with your new ‘do?
That's the idea behind Lightheaded, a clandestine salon that a local stylist named Uli runs out of her home.
You plunk down 30 bucks, she lets you use her vaporizer, and you get high as a kite while she cuts your hair. You leave looking and feeling great.
Like a lot of guys, I'm not a big fan of getting my hair cut. Having to sit and contemplate my less than perfect appearance in the mirror while a stranger prods at my scalp for half an hour is right up there with a trip to the dentist. If I could be anaesthetized through the whole thing I would be, so when I heard about Lightheaded I figured it was the closest I could possibly get.
The day I showed up for my appointment, the living room salon was in artsy disarray.
Besides cutting hair, Uli (not her real name) and her musician husband host parties, concerts, stand-up comedy shows and music theatre performances out of the same room.
When I arrived, jungle scenery from a theatre piece the night before was still set up at one end of the room. A giant costume wolf head hung from the wall amidst a fake green forest.
I sat down in the middle of the room and Uli unpacked her scissors, shears, and vaporizer, a machine that superheats weed until it produces a smooth, concentrated vapor.
As my first pulls on the vaporizer began to take effect, I stared into the increasingly real-looking greenery. Her husband put the original Broadway recording of Hair on the record player and all I could think was, "This is a fantastic idea."
"At first Lightheaded was a joke," said Uli. She and her roommate used to play a game where they would come up with funny names for fake businesses. "One day I was like, wait a second, this is a good idea."
"I used to be a hairdresser but it's really hard to get your license. I've always cut my own hair, and my boyfriends' hair," she said.
In between working as a fashion designer, Uli had built up a sizeable roster of informal clients before she started Lightheaded last October. Now she's up to 20 or 30 regulars, most of them men.
"Guys don't necessarily enjoy going to the salon because the atmosphere isn't chilled out. It can be uptight. My goal was to provide a low key alternative to the salon."
The atmosphere at Lightheaded is exactly the opposite of the standoffishness you might find at Vidal Sassoon. As Uli clipped away and the psychedelic Broadway music blared, her husband sat at one end of the room writing out notes for his latest project on a notepad. On the couch in the corner some friends took turns on the vaporizer.
I'm not sure if it was the THC talking, but when I left I felt my hair had never looked so good. The illicit vapor that by then had filled the room didn't affect the quality of the cut. Uli takes her craft seriously, and refrains from indulging. At least until she's finished the job.[rssbreak]