On our recent warm spell, people flooded the parks and streets like it was a spring day. A woman with quite the head of hair immediately caught my eye. Thinking I was now an expert in yarn falls after meeting Bex Burton (see The Women here), I took a brisk walk, met Shannon Moran and asked if I could photograph her and her yarn falls. I was informed, however, that I was in error. These were not yarn falls at all, but in fact entirely her own hair, which go down to her knees.
There is probably nothing that can define, change or improve a person's appearance as simply and dramatically as a hairstyle. The face is the mirror of the mind and the window to the soul. Hair frames the face. It is the part of our physical makeup that we can most easily alter. And alter again. Of course there are limitations to control - hair loss and baldness for most men is a nagging horror.
Some may leave home in any number of unimaginable modes of dress, but few will leave without combing their hair. For many, what appears to be lack of concern or no style, is itself a style. Hair care ranges from simple grooming to an obsession. It's an industry. For most women, hair is paramount in their daily grooming rituals and, understandably, a source of perpetual dissatisfaction and frustration. It can make or break a look.
As incredulous as it may seem, when I attended high school in the late 1960s, a boy's hair that just touched one's ears was grounds for a formal reprimand and parental notification. Long hair could even lead to expulsion. The Beatles were a scandal as much for their mop-top haircut as their music. Short by today's standards, a Beatles haircut was an outrage and banned in schools. Beatles mop-top wigs were available and even a Beatles’ hair care line.
In New York City, 1967, we had Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, conceived and written by actors James Rado and Gerome Ragni. Many cast members were recruited from the streets. Joe Papp, who ran the New York Shakespeare Festival, opened his new Public Theater in the East Village with a production of the show. Hair was Papp's first non-Shakespeare offering.
Hair was a tribute to the hippie movement and the protests of all that was wrong with America - racism, environmental destruction, poverty, sexism and sexual repression, politics and the Vietnam war. There was drab clothing, rejection of materialism, nudity, sexual freedom, drugs, pacifism, environmentalism and astrology.
But in this huge panoply of themes, symbols and philosophies, none was more more important than the name of the show itself, Hair - an ever present, visible, statement about personal beliefs. Long hair almost always signified defiance, rejection of the societal norm and the evils of the "military industrial complex."
Today, the role of hair (along with skin treatment, i.e. tattoos and piercing) is just as important. Perhaps somewhat more a fashion statement, hair and tattoos will still often say something about a person's lifestyle. Shannon says:
I got my dreads 9 years ago - at the time we were squatting, train hopping and causing mayhem around the country. They go to my knees and are 100% real, natural and home grown. I have many tattoos and will continue to chace my goal of becoming a completely illustrated lady. I have over 30 hours of work scattered all over my body - my favorite being Nick Cave lyrics "Come into my sleep" on my ribs - but I do adore my recent addition - a mustache on my finger.
I learned that Shannon, 22, was born in Shirley, New York and is currently a resident of Astoria, Queens. She is a photographer, having studied at FIT and Cooper Union.
I am very interested in vintage erotic photography and obsessively produce my own. I have an alter ego - Lux Berlin - you may have seen my work exhibited in galleries in Chelsea, Brooklyn and the UK. I can be found drinking red wine, swearing like a sailor and dishing out bad advice on the beaches of Fire Island, marching topless down a board walk in Coney Island or shimmying and shaking somewhere in the Lower East Side.
For now, my work is done here. And I need to check my hair :)
Note: If you are comfortable viewing erotic material, you can see Shannon's website here.