How to Get an Alternative Lifestyle Haircut: Soozeecuts Tells All

We engage in a healthy amount of discussion about alternative lifestyle haircuts here at Autostraddle. And why would we not? One of the awesomest parts of being a lesbian is our rich history of mullets, faux-hawks and that asymmetrical buzz thing. Hair is big deal for lesbians. It’s a key non-verbal communicator in the subtle sub-cultural coding of our particular community.

It’s why when you first come out, you think you’re supposed to cut it all off and then six months later, once comfortable with the whole “gay identity” thing, you either keep it or grow it back because you’ve finally figured out what works for you. It’s why femmes get worried about not having their sexuality recognized out in the straight world. It’s why girls who feel boyish can’t wait to get rid of it as soon as they realize that they can. And then there’s the rad contradictions of the long-haired butches and the short-haired femmes and everything in between. Whatever you decide on, the cuts seem to be meaningful – more than just hair.

So when I was in a funk and looking for a good haircut last month, I knew that the process would have to be unrushed and selective. When I try to have an edgy short haircut, somehow I always end up looking like a housewife or a news anchor. One time last September there was a period of excellent hair, because one side was buzzed off and the other side flipped in a cool way, but when my family discovered the pictures on Facebook, a gay panic ensued that left me with no choice but to grow it back out.

So I’d had this mullet situation, and I really liked it, but I’m a Greek girl with heavy hair and New York was getting hot and I needed help. Enter Soozeecuts.

via xyla gata

I knew who she was because I am gay in New York City. A renaissance woman bouncing about the gay, food, and music scenes here, she’s a DJ and an avid haircutter of all the lesbians I know (including our August calendar girl). I went to Soozee’s awesome private salon where the walls are green and everyone leaves happy. I explained that I wanted a haircut that wouldn’t make my family pass out but would look sufficiently gay, which, of course, led to the existential conversation about what is means for hair to look gay.

“I find that the gay haircuts that I do are kind of all similar. Very short, very edgy. Has a lot of kick. I have to say that’s one of my most challenging tasks in doing haircuts because I do have a large gay clientele and I don’t want to do the same haircut on every person that comes to me. But they all want the same thing.” When she said this, I pictured a gay bar full of people walking around with the exact same spiky short haircut and getting mad over it and throwing beer bottles and stuff.

“So it makes me think outside the box, you know?” She’s really successful at this, and considering I just handed my head over to her, I was excited to see what she’s going to do to me. The abstractness of creating something that somehow emits “gay” is something that Soozee has mastered, and I’m kind of amazed by it.

The styling sensibility behind the abstractness is very clear. She is a big fan of texturing and layers. She likes the dimensions that are produced by variant lengths within one haircut.
“We learned to create texture in school as one of several refining techniques, but I fell in love with it so much, it’s become my core technique.” She describes herself as a visual stylist, preferring to cut hair when it’s dry so that she can accurately examine the transformation that her cutting is causing as it’s happening.

“What I love about texture is that it creates movement.” She tells me this as she’s cutting away the heavy body of my short but thick hair and immediately I feel about five degrees cooler in the hot summer room.

When she was a kid, Soozee cut the hair of her sister’s barbies and in middle school and gave her friends haircuts. She eventually attended Paul Mitchell in Los Angeles, but she never would’ve come to LA from Texas at all if it wasn’t for her DJ career.  Soozee recalls: “I had at least two handfuls of guy DJ friends but when I approached them about it, they said ‘You can’t do it, it’s too difficult, you’re a girl.” They were wrong, of course, and after succeeding in Texas, she visited California and decided immediately to move there.

via xyla gata

There, Soozee received offers from a bunch of high-end salons that she declined, and by the time she graduated already had a sizable clientele entirely grown from word-of-mouth. Now, she cuts hair in New York but returns to LA almost every month to cut the hair of her still-existing West Coast clientele.

When I ask if she sees a difference between West Coast lesbian hair and East Coast, she surprises me by saying there’s not much of one.”Everyone basically wants the same thing,” she says. “Short and edgy!” It is possible to have long hair and queer it up, though. “Tons of layers,” she explains.”Keeping it long, but layering it up a lot.” I see how that could be, though none of us can figure out why. This is how she cuts her girlfriend’s hair.

Besides being the sculptor of fabulous hair, she also has big plans in the ways of food. She’s currently looking for a venue to house her monthly “Indulge” event, where she’ll cook up a three- course prixefix vegetarian menu. The night will involve a screening of a carefully selected indie flick and a chance for Brooklyn artists to showcase work. This will take a lot of planning, but for somehow who balances three major creative passions, I sense she’ll be just fine.

 

And I’m also feeling fine because my haircut is the best combination of dykey and girlie I could ever dream of. I feel confident — like I’m going to please my mom and be able to pick up girls all at once, the most incredible impossibility that Soozee has made a reality. She’s given me the gift of fluidity and beyond the gay relevance of hair, it’s just a darn good haircut. It’s airy for the summer and frames my face in a way that I never knew was everything my cheekbones needed.

Earlier, Soozee mentioned, “After 7 years in this industry, I figured out that I’m not only a stylist but also a therapist and a day maker.” She is exactly right. I had been in a slump with my heavy mullet thing. Suddenly, with this new great haircut, I felt excited — maniacally excited — for my summer, and started making resolutions before I could even get home to take my obligatory million photobooth pictures of myself.

Never underestimate the power of a genius haircut. Needless to say, it seems all too perfect that a person who is remarkable for her gypsy life of so many passions, is also the person who has the power to help people get really excited about themselves and their own lives.


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Michele lives in Harlem where she conducts oral history interviews and is working on two novels. Her short stories have most recently been published in The Brooklyn Rail, Killing the Buddha, and Shelf Life Magazine. She regularly contributes to VelvetPark, Bend Over Magazine, Make/Shift Magazine and guestofaguest.com. go here! mjwriting.tumblr.com

M.J. has written 10 articles for us.

98 Comments

  1. 0

    I totally respect the power of the haircut. Getting my hair cut always helps me out in whatever situation I find myself in. Soozee seems like she’s gonna go far…plus, your haircut is awesome!

  2. 0

    I’m not a lesbian. I also feel the need to have an alternative lifestyle haircut. Don’t pigeonhole alternative haircuts for just lesbians. I love the idea of shouting out to the world, I’m NOT STRAIGHT and I don’t want people to look at me from the distance and see me as straight. Alternative hairstyles are for everyone in the community, not just lesbians. Just sayin…

  3. 0

    The best part of my alt lifestyle haircut is the baby mullet action that happens when it grows that I can pretend to hate, but secretly love.

    Youuu guyys I’m so grown out. Just LOOK at this mullet!

    • 0

      Dude I have the same thing going on and I’m all like “look! I can make a stubby ponytail! LOOK AT MY MOTHERFUCKING MULLET! RESPECT IT!”

    • 0

      Can you teach me how to love my baby mullet? I HATE it when my hair starts to grow out, and I get depressed about it until I get my hair cut again. I need to learn how to embrace the mullet action.

      • 0

        My sister, whom I see maybe three or four times a year, cuts my hair, which means that I am perpetually in some stage of pseudo-mullet sadness. The only solution I’ve found is constant pigtails and bobby pins when it gets like this — cute in some situations but definitely dumb-looking in others. Sigh.

  4. 0

    I want proof of long gay hair that is GAY but does not involve an undercut! PROOF, I SAY!

    PS. I love that this is an article. HAIRCUTS. It’s perfect.

    • 0

      THIS.

      I want an alternative lifestyle haircut, but I don’t want to lose my long hair. I tried short and hated it, so much. But nobody knows I’m gay, and I don’t know what to do about it other than change my hair somehow.

        • 0

          I find that even with my long hair I look pretty gay but my hair is dyed with roots growing out and I have kitchen scissor bangs

          there’s something to be said for just having kind of not giving a shit/bad hair that’s strangely gay.

          • 0

            I have a bright pink mohawk that I’m growing long and wear down, and that seems to others to make me look pretty gay, but then I don’t try to look gay at all. Or straight, for that matter. I just look like me. But yeah. Long mohawks or undercuts are pretty alternative lifestyle.

          • 0

            I dearly wish my bad hair/don’t give a shit days made me look gayer. Unfortunately, they just make me look more like a local newscaster the morning after a tequila bender.

    • 0

      YES!
      I want to be able to wear a pretty dress in summer and have long hair without an undercut and still have people think “oh she sure ain’t straight”. What long-but-not-undercut haircut screams “GAY!!!”
      (Well bisexual actually, but you get the idea…)

      • 0

        i agree with this article that super intense long layers is pretty gay looking. sadly i can’t find anyone who will do this for me the way i imagine it.

    • 0

      I have always loved having long hair (especially because my hair is ridiculously curly so it really doesnt do the whole short alternative lifestyle cuts), but I was always mistaken for straight, it was sometimes impossible to convince said accusers that I WAS gay. Soooo DREADS! That was the answer. My hair is dreaded and half way down my back now, I keep them clean and together so I do not look like a dirty hippie lesbian, but I definitely look like a lesbian now. I love.

    • 0

      yesss, please! I am currently placed at a private catholic elementary school. I need a haircut that says I’m interested in women but not I’M GAY!, LOOK AT ME OVER HERE!
      (the catholic school was not my choice, and though no one has told me I “can’t be gay” there I have already been told my eyebrow piercing is an “interesting choice”).

  5. 0

    “I feel confident — like I’m going to please my mom and be able to pick up girls all at once”

    WHERE CAN I OBTAIN ONE OF THESE HAIRCUTS!? I wish I wasn’t poor, so I could fly to New York and get Soozee to turn my hair into something fantastical.

    • 0

      if that picture is current, your hair is really nice and i’m jealous of it. like it frames your face and is nicely long but also not super long.

  6. 0

    You know, these trends really piss me off. WHAT ABOUT CURLY HAIR?! you can’t go all short and spikey with CURLY HAIR! Unless you want to have to iron it out all the time.

    What about alternative styles for CURLS?! Please, before I hyperventilate.

    • 0

      I see a girl with curly hair, I am automatically compelled to hit on her. I can’t stop myself.

      So there is that.

    • 0

      When I was in high school I had a crush on a girl with the MOST AMAZING CURLY AFRO, OMG. It was all like, 1 inch curls and then she had one piece in the frontish that was way longer.
      OMGZ you guys it was so cute. You can so have an alt. lifestyle curly cut.
      As it turns out, she identified as straight, but that doesn’t matter cause it was so cute.
      She had freckles too.

    • 0

      ALSO: St. Vincent/Annie Clark has the most beautiful hair ever. It’s not super alternative, but it’s super cute. I mean, it’s enough to make me convinced that she’s at least a little gay. Curly hair is the best.

    • 0

      Curly alt-lifestyle hair is so possible! Look up Zulu Nasty. Curly hair is gorgeous and can be sculpted in really interesting ways, I think.

    • 0

      My best friend has curly hair and showed up at work yesterday with a little fauxhawk thing going on. She had her hair cut to about her chin and then fashioned some sort of clip/gel holding-up mechanism that seemed to work pretty well. It was totally funky and adorable. So there is hope!

      • 0

        I’ve seen some girls do that sort of thing with banana clips. I can’t figure out how to imitate it but it’s really cute.

    • 0

      You might be surprised what your hair does after it’s cut short…mine used to be super curly when it was long, but now that it’s short it’s just kinda wavy and cool. If it stays curly you could try longer on top/front and short on the sides and back, so it can kinda go free-range and wild-looking on the top but not get too bowl-shaped and crazy. Like the opposite of a mullet.

    • 0

      I had a curly-haired friend get a really short cut and it turned out really well. Kind of like betty boop, but in a good way. You should go to a stylist and say “damn it, I know you can give me short hair and have it be good, and bitch you’re gonna do it.”

    • 0

      Well right now I have super ling hair, and I’m pretty femmy, so I like my long hair, I just wish I could make it edgy somehow, *without* chopping it all off or shaving sides. Other curly girls feelin me on that?

      • 0

        I am right there with you. I like my long curly hair! Trust me, I do. But, combined with my fairly-femme appearance, I feel it does me no “pinging the queerdar” favours.

    • 0

      Haha! Yes, a had that problem, what can i do with my really curly hair?

      Solution: a big curly kick ass mohawk.

      And that day the people reaffirmed que soy demasiado marica. My mom is living in a fairy tale that sayd that im just crazy not gay…But, well

    • 0

      Duuuude! I had super curly hair. It’s now shaved into in a mohawk. The sides even get longish, like maybe an inch or so and it stays straight, but the middle has these little waves and curls, so I don’t have to spike it, just put a little gel in it, for it to look awesome. I can dry it and gel it up into a spiky hawk if I wanna get all fancy, but the girls love a curly mohawk.

      Also my chicky think has the whole shorn side of the head thing (undercut I think) with longer curly hair going around it which also looks bad ass and is a bit more of a feminine cut, in my opinion, if that’s what you’re going for.

    • 0

      My ex had this amazingly gorgeous long curly hair which she cut super short on one side (sort of on undercut I suppose), and then a little bit of length on the other side, with one long curl in front of one of her ears… man, I wish I could do the cut justice. It looks fucking amazing, and super queer but feminine at the same time.

  7. 0

    My hair was clippered at the side with a long fringe for ages. Then a load of straight girls at my school did that, so it’s grown a bit. It’s now a mullety thing with a long fringe, but (as you can tell from my gravatar) I’m totally into just having my hair be a walking gay pride flag…

  8. 0

    I’m trying to perfect my alternative hair cut right now. None of the hair dressers I have been to (the count is up to 3 different ones since May) have been able to cut my hair the way I want it. I ended up with a Tegan and Sara cut from damage control. The last cut I got was so bad I ordered a 1&1/2 inch guide comb for hair clippers and am trying to shape it myself. The whole ordeal is too stressful and usually puts me in a bad mood, but the shorter care time in the mornings helps clear that up. 🙂

  9. 0

    four words: follow @RapinoesHair on twitter.

    It will forever change the way you think of alternative lifestyle haircuts and make you worship at the alter of Megan Rapinoe’s blonde awesomeness.

    Also, love your hair. The short and spikey is cute – but I gotta agree with the others, I have a strong appreciation for a girl with really curly hair (especially a brunette).

  10. 0

    When I first came out I gave the girl in my residence hall and then the hairdresser pictures of Shane because I’d had long hair for ages and I was ready to go crazy with it. I can’t even believe that ever happened because I was never happy with it and it totally didn’t suit me. I’m totally femme and have given up on alternative lifestyle haircuts for myself (and straight hipsters have appropriated them so I don’t even).
    That haircut looks good on you! Also: cool, another Greek lesbian. 🙂

  11. 0

    i never comment on this website but seriously. is the best way to describe this hair really “ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLE HAIRCUT?” us homosexuals sure life such alternative and queer and outlandish lifestyles, obviously our hair has to denote the same. i’m a dyke and i have long hair, does that mean that my lifestyle is boring and typical? why do you suddenly have to get an undercut when you come out? why can’t you just be gay and keep your hair how you like it? just seems to perpetuate all the shit we fight against, calling it an alternative lifestyle haircut. i love you guys, i’m not being confrontational, maybe i’m just a bitter femme (see what i did there?) i’m gonna go eat a popsicle now.

    • 0

      i don’t think this article ordered anyone to get an alternative lifestyle haircut. if you peruse our “meet the team” page, you’ll see that 0% of the primary editorial team (me, laneia, rachel, crystal, jess r) have traditional lifestyle haircuts, and so do about half of the rest of the group.

      Anyhoo, the term “alternative lifestyle haircut” comes from when Carly and I guested on Johnny McGovern’s Gay Pimp Podcast in June 2009, at which time we both sported alternative lifestyle haircuts. after intro’ing carly, he continued —

      johnny: (to me): i’m guessing you’re also a lesbian —
      riese: why would you guess that? is it the hair?
      johnny: what could it be, the alternative lifestyle or the friend with an alternative lifestyle haircut?
      carly: the fact that all your friends have alternative lifestyle haircuts?

      you can listen to it here

      so that’s where that started, at least for us.

  12. 0

    make her move back to texas.

    I’m tired of looking like a soccer mom. old ladies think my hair looks “so cute” and they tell me they wanna get their hair done like mine.

    THAT IS A DAMNED TRAVESTY. unless all the old people saying that are gay. in which case, awesome.

    • 0

      haha! I think she goes back from time to time. You should get in touch with her on her soozeecuts page and find out if she’d be available at some point!

    • 0

      grr not letting me login… weird.

      Anyway. This is how my hair gets cut: I walk into a barbershop/hair salon, whatever is close. I ask them to make my hair shorter (it’s probably already short, but like, touching my neck and ears so I get upset.) someone spends way to long taking tiny amounts off. And then I’m like, “no, seriously, you can remove it.” And then I get tsk tsking from elderly women who think it won’t look feminine enough. Um yes, wanting to look feminine is why I strolled in outfitted by the little boys’ department at target. Um.

      And STILL old ladies stop me on the street and want my haircut WTF.

      But yeah, I should just invest in something with which to buzz my own hair because paying money to other people doesn’t seem to do it/is annoying.

      I don’t need it to be cute. I just want it gone. It’s hot out. 🙂

    • 0

      Word, girl. I hate that some of us queers feel like we have to compromise the identity that we love and are so comfortable just to be recognized as not-straight. I’m bisexual and I NEVER get hit on by girls. Not at parties, not at bars, no where. But the boys flock. I’m considering just wearing a sign that says WHATS UP WITH THE PUSSY I’m so frustrated at this point. However, I have seriously flirted with the idea of dreadlocks for my long, curly hair since the age of 14 (way before Whitney and TRLW) and being seen as “alternative lifestyle” with such hair would definitely help my chances of the ladies hollerin. And if the dreads are what makes Whitney such a chick magnet, then sign me UP. I dress pretty feminine so I think I would still send out enough straight vibes for guys to still see what’s up.

      • 0

        Augh, I totally agree. I have also considered wearing that sign. I really don’t want an alternative lifestyle haircut, but at the same time, I’m seriously considering it, just because I’m so feminine that I slip by even the most finely tuned gaydar.
        They should make a GGPS (Gay Global Positioning System)so that people will know I’m gay…without me having to buzz my hair off.

  13. 0

    i’d really love to have an awesome hairstyle, but im cursed with thin hair, and im only 20! 🙁 soo sad… cant really do much w/ my hair… :(( *sniff

    • 0

      My wife has super thin hair (we’re talking baby-like at the front and only a bit thicker everywhere else) and an awesome alt lifestyle cut! You just need less layers than most people get and good texturising product – she can even do a faux hawke 🙂

  14. 0

    The girl who does my hair is worth her weight in gold. She needs half a word to understand what I’d like with my hair. And the best thing is: she loves cutting my hair, because she gets to do funky stuff that other customers won’t allow her to do. Win – win, I say.

    Morale: Don’t be afraid to ask people on the street, in a bar, whatever, who have really good hair where they have it done, because that’s how I ended up with my Patron Saint of Good Hair.

  15. 0

    Wahl Peanut. Best investment ehver. I used to spend waaay too much going to see my stylist every 4-6 weeks… now I get bored and cut my hair once a week.

    Right now my hair is buzzed to a 1 on one side which fades into long sideburns on the other with a big hunk of wavy hair on top. And old women LOVE it. At one point I had a diagonal mullet with an undercut… and old women still loved it. This drives me insane… but maybe we’re just not giving that older generation enough credit.

  16. 0

    For almost two years, I lusted after Sonya Tayeh’s ‘do. It took coming out (to myself, then everyone else) for me to finally grow a pair big enough to do it.

    Sides shaved, mohawk-style, but long. Like a horse’s mane.

    First, I thought it would be temporary. But it has become my favorite haircut of all times, and I ROCK it. In a poll of my friends, I estimate that I can continue to pull this off for at least 10 years.

    It’s the best of both worlds because I can make it look super edgy or I can make it look pretty and feminine. The perfect sum of my feelings about my outward expression of myself to the world.

    • 0

      That’s what I’m rocking right now though I have my sides grown out a little to look a little more main stream but pretty much this is my favorite hair cut of all times ever and I’ve had every haircut ever before.

  17. 0

    If any of you Midwest ladies are looking for someone, my friend Sara is the master of alternative lifestyle haircuts. I wish she had an online portfolio! She lives and works out of milwaukee, but she’s in chicago every weekend. ( http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=26704024 )

    these photos don’t do it any justice, but here are two haircuts she’s given me :
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v14/jenx10/photo-4.jpg
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v14/jenx10/Photoon2011-05-24at12364.jpg

    it took me years and years and years to find a suitable hairstylist who would give me a decent haircut that was edgy enough. she’s great. just wanted to share her!

  18. 0

    If I didn’t have a weird issue with how my ears stick out like whoa (no, really, they do), I would definitely embrace an alternative lifestyle cut. I’ve been in a hair style rut for a couple years, but I can never find anything compelling that would actually look good on me.

  19. 0

    When I came out like ten years ago, the very first thing I did was buzz my long blonde hair completely off and then spent about two years miserably trying to grow it back out. Why do so many of us think that’s the standard first step to take after coming out? lol It was terrible on me! But even after I (thankfully) grew back my unfortunately very heterosexual-looking hair, I still secretly coveted one of those shorter haircuts for so long. It makes you so much more visible as someone with well, an alternative lifestyle. 🙂

  20. 0

    I’ve had several short haircuts and am frothing at the mouth to chop my hair off again, but my girlfriend protests any time I even mention it… I figure I’ll indulge her for awhile longer.

    That doesn’t mean I’m not sitting here turning green with hair envy though. Because I totally am.

  21. 0

    so im late to this party but just last week i got my first queermo haircut.

    i got the side of my head shaved, left the other side 11inches long.
    black n curly.

    the neighborhood barbershop dudes did it so you know they shaved in some sweet designs on the side. (BUs to Julian’s Barbershop on 238th n white plains, bx)

    it’s crazy. in the hood people are down w the cut. in the suburbs i’ve gotten some pretty nasty looks/comments. whatevs.

    in the city, everyone is cool. not that it matters, just observational stuff.

    ANYWAY, i’m wondering about product. maybe soozeecuts cld give some suggestions on product for curly hair and shaved hair.
    cuz right now the shaved side is kinda sticking out and my queen helene gel ain’t doin shit haha.
    also, the queen helene gel is giving my curls the touch equivalent of trying to run your fingers through a gotti boys hair.

    so any product tips would be dope.

    thanks for this!

  22. 0

    if you live in san francisco go see richard at SHAG Salon!! he is a hair artist! and specializes in alternative lifestyle haircuts

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  24. 0

    I want an alternative haircut, but I have all this curly hair, and most gay haircuts work with, strangely enough, straight hair. My hair is not straight and neither am I.

    I’m completely unwilling to do more than 3 minutes of styling per day. I’d love to have some sort of funky, asymmetrical bob, but my genes conspired against that plan.

    http://styletips101.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/tara-tweek-1.jpg

    My hair looks like this. (I do not look like this. I definitely do not have a sweater like that.)

    Does anyone here on Autostraddle know where I could find pictures of a clearly gay haircut for my curly (not wavy) hair?

  25. 0

    My mother just got an alternative lifestyle haircut. It’s very mullety and Joan Jett-y, and looks surprisingly good on her, despite how generally feminine and hetero she looks/acts/is.

    BUT NOW I AM JEALOUS. I have long hair with Vaguely Alternative Side Bangs, and here my mom is showing me up on my own turf. I AM THE QUEER ONE HERE, MOM.

    Though maybe I should expect this from the woman who bought me a stuffed pink unicorn with a rainbow horn, the day I told her I liked the ladies.

  26. 0

    I’m about to get all my herrz chopped off and I’m freaking out. I’ve had long hair pretty much my whole life and I’ve finally grown the balls (heh.) to go for the pixie I’ve always wanted. I’m freaking out, and all my friends went home for winter break… and I needed to vent.
    ANY words of encouragement/fuckyah, you go girl/advice/hairstyle tips/pictures of purdy girls with short hair/etc. would be VERY nice. Thanks be to Gay.

  27. 0

    Can you recommend someone in the LA area? I’m trans/lesbian, and getting my hair done is going to be a big step in my finally going full-time.

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