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.

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.

99 Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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. :)

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

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  7. 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?

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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