Shave It!

About two years ago, I was working hard as a grill cook and sweating even harder. My hair was thinning out in the front -- and I was convinced that my roots were being swept out by a tidal wave of head brine. So, I asked one of the waiters how he thought I'd look with a shaved head. "I love the clean-shaven look," he said. "The skin is so smooth that all I can think about is cumming on it." After that, I thought I'd leave what was left of my hair just where it was. I've got nothing against homosexuality. I just have a thing about having my skull covered in body fluids. The next time I see my doctor, I tell him about my "sweating out hair" theory. No way, he says. This is just "male pattern baldness." So, I ask him about the possibility of a hair transplant. He tells me to wait a few years . "You're going to lose a lot more hair and you don't want to have transplanted hair with a ring of bald skin around it." "No, I guess I don't," I mutter. "One thing a lot of doctors do is reduce the amount of bald skin by cutting out a strip of your scalp and pulling the areas of skin that still have hair over the places that don't." With that, he grabs my skull skin and squishes it back and forth. "You're a good candidate for scalp reduction," he concludes with a smile. All I can imagine is the skin on my head being unwrapped like a slice of American cheese and stitched up like a baseball.Then he explains line grafts: "a thin strip of skin is cut out of the side of your head, cut into tiny squares and then placed strategically in rows on your head." This seems a little more palatable, but successful grafting will require an operation every four months for two years before my head fuzz would have any density. In between surgical procedures, my cranium would look like a constellation of hairy shooting stars "Will there be scars afterwards?" I ask naively. "I mean will I be able to shave my head without my forehead looking like it's covered in Braille?" "You probably wouldn't want to shave your head," says the doctor a little more seriously. That was it, I'm shaving it, I decide. At least to see what it looks like. I liked what I see, and have kept it clean since. Although the shaved head-look has long been associated with circus strongmen, bikers and Mr. Clean, the fashion trend seems more recently linked to NBA superstars and skinheads. Over the past few years Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, and Charles Barkley have become fashion pates to keep cool on the court. Fashion models have also become known for sporting the chrome dome. The skinhead movement originated in 1968 London, according to Dylan Jones in his book, Haircults. These working-class, juvenile rednecks hate long hair, sub-cultural deviancy and anything remotely bourgeois, writes Jones. Nicknames for them include: peanuts, lemons, skulls, cropheads or boiled eggs. Skinhead numbers increased during the rise of the early punk movement, but the affiliation with the music movement is "ambivalent," according to Jones. Unlike the punk rockers, many of the skinheads are into fascist movements. The trend died down during the late '80s The skinhead look of today "lives atop art students, neurotic boy outsiders, graphic designers and painters the world over," writes Jones, noting the decrease in the affiliation with white-power. People now are adopting the look for several different reasons.Carter Burnette, a 34-year-old gay African-American with AIDS, says the look started as a fad with the male, homosexual community. The shaved look became popular as result of the necessary chemotherapy for the epidemic's related illnesses. "My roommate had Karposi Sarcoma and was undergoing chemotherapy," explains the animated Burnette. "Every morning he would wake up bawling because he'd found clumps of hair on his pillow. When it came time for me to go through chemo I knew I didn't want to go through that, so I shaved it off." "Look how long the AIDS epidemic has been around and how long people in the NBA have been shaving their heads," says Burnette, who says Tom Hanks close cropped 'do in Philadelphia paved the way for the mainstream acceptance of shorn hair. He adds that shaving is much easier than dealing with the weaves and extensions that he used to cover his thinning locks with. "It used to take me 45 minutes to do my hair in the morning. Black hair is the most difficult thing to manage. It's so nice not to do anything." He also finds the look very sexy. "As a connoisseur of men, I can say that I haven't ever seen a man with a shaved head that I didn't think was physically attractive," says Burnette. Therese Madden, 22, shaved her head last year for a Halloween costume and kept it bald for several months. "I wanted to be a flower for Halloween and my head was the stamen --I painted it yellow," says Madden. "In the end, I did have a nicely-shaped skull." "Everybody touches your head; that's kind of nice," says Madden with a smile. "The only time I minded was when I was delivering something in an office building and some businessman would grab my head without asking. I felt like they were being condescending, playing with "the little bald girl.'" Madden says she got more questions about her sexual preference during that time as well. "I started wearing lipstick at the time because I didn't want to be considered a "tough bitch,'" she explains. But the look didn't seem to ward off prospective suitors. She met her current boyfriend when she was bald. Madden now sports about two inches of hair. Musician John Boothman, 34, says his 14-year-old daughter asked if he was a "racist or anti-racist skinhead." He explained to her that he wasn't a skinhead and his views aren't racist. If anyone else ever asks if he's a skinhead, Boothman answers: "Is Charles Barkley a skinhead?" He adds that Barkley has the perfect dome. He decided to shaved his head when his combing what hair he had back from his forehead made it appear as if he was trying to cover a bald spot. For a little while he considered wearing a wig. "I had my eye on this Elvis Presley-style pompadour," says Boothman, guitarist for the band, Gelcaps, "but it made my mother cry whenever she saw me in it. She was a big Elvis fan and the wig reminded her of him." He says that he needs to cover his head with WD-40 lubricant in order to shave it: "It won't work otherwise," he explains. "I smell like a power tool for an hour afterwards." How often does he shave it? "Usually once a week or when I start looking like an accountant." "I used to have real long hair," explains 34-year-old restaurant employee, Dave Grill, "but when I started to look like David Crosby I decided to cut it close. Then I figured if mother nature is trying to make me look bald, why not beat her to the punch and go all the way?" He adds that a clean head looks much better than the tonsure-effect sported by monks. Although Grill has a few divots on his dome, he's relieved that he doesn't have any major scars on his head or an odd shape overall. "You see some people who just shouldn't shave their heads," he says, shaking his goateed skull. "They end up looking like the Ferengi on Star Trek, with odd-shaped lobes sticking out." An unexpected perk of having a shaved head was getting a bit part in the movie 12 Monkeys. People from the Philadelphia Casting Company were having dinner at the restaurant where Grill works, when they asked if he'd like to play a prisoner in the movie. "I'd done some stage work, but never any screen acting," says Grill. "In the end, I was the only prisoner/extra who didn't have to shave his head." He also had a couple of brushes with a greatness while on the set. Bruce Willis was in the cell next to his during one scene -- "He was a little standoffish," says Grill. "It was really cold out that day and Bruce was a bit peeved at how slow the production was going." Terry Gilliam said hello while Grill was warming his hands. "I didn't really know what to say other than stutter out 'I really admire your work.'" At the time I finally shaved my head, I was interning for the Comedy Central show, Exit 57, and working out of HBO Downtown Productions. Eric Palladino, who was playing the part of elevator attendant on Short Attention Span Theater, seemed more excited than I was. "That's so cool," screamed the actor, tossing back his straight, shoulder-length hair. "You know my Dad's bald and when my forehead goes back far enough I'm shaving it." Palladino is now a late-night VJ on MTV and he still looks like Dan Cortez from Melrose Place. Exit 57 cast member, Stephen Colbert, told me I should be "radical" and shave my eyebrows as well. "Oh, like this isn't radical enough?" I said, pointing to my shaven skull. A. Whitney Brown, a former Saturday Night Live cast member who was writing for Exit 57, looked at me like I was nuts. It was probably the one and only time I remember him being at a loss for a wisecrack. When I went home for Thanksgiving a few months later, my mother facetiously asked me if I could get her a deal on flowers from any of my Krishna friends. I've been clean, clean shaven for almost a year now, and the question I get more than any isn't "Are you skinhead?" or "Are you a Krishna?" It's "Man, I really hate shaving. How do you that every day?" Hey, I'll take looking like Uncle Fester over Dick Van Patten any day.

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