Salacious reading — Allen Edwards’ memoir Shear Force

Salacious reading — Allen Edwards’ memoir Shear Force

"Shear Force" book cover, written by Allen Edwards with Lorin Shields-Michel

Profane, revealing and downright hilarious – Allen Edward”™s memoir, Shear Force, is the kind of behind-the-scenes racy tell-all you just can”™t stop reading. Written in a frank, confidential and endlessly amusing style, this outrageous book offers readers a glimpse behind the curtain of a spellbinding career.

The name “˜Allen Edwards”™ is synonymous with the exciting world of style, glamour and beauty. During his impressive three-decade career in the fashion and entertainment business, beauty industry icon and hair guru Allen Edwards has become an internationally renowned image-maker and business leader.

Edwards and his team of personally-trained hair stylists have fashioned the hair and recreated the images of many luminaries, some of whom are among the world”™s most recognizable celebrities. Edwards”™ impressive client list includes Raquel Welch, Brooke Shields, Ted Danson, Goldie Hawn, Dustin Hoffman, Kirsten Dunst and Donna Mills.

In addition to styling some of the world”™s most glamorous and fashionable women, Edwards is the creator of the Farrah Fawcett layered cut, a trend that still exists today. He also engineered the dramatic improvement of Assistant District Attorney Marcia Clark”™s style by giving her a fashionable new hairdo during the infamous O.J. Simpson murder trial. He was the first to turn hair shows into up-beat rock events and changed the world of beauty, armed with shears, a blow dryer and the force of his dynamic personality.

With over one thousand television appearances, including Oprah and Regis, Allen Edwards has stayed at the top of his game for over 30 years.

To celebrate their 35th Anniversary in business, Edwards and his wife and business partner Lisa have published a frank and fascinating coffee table book that vividly describes those exciting and turbulent years of his climb to the top of his profession. Edwards collaborated with Lorin Shields-Michel to pen this inspiring personal story of triumph over adversity, taking us deep into the glitzy Beverly Hills beauty industry during the “™70s and “™80s.

Allen Edwards”™ biography, “Shear Force,” is an extraordinary story that follows his journey of overcoming adversity (including a debilitating speech disorder) and his determined journey towards success. En route, he found a way to overcome his awkward stuttering and this ultimately led him to become one of the most renowned celebrity hairdressers and image-makers in the world.

photo courtesy of Allen Edwards

Trim, fit and still damn sexy at 60, Edwards saunters over to shake my hand. Friendly and approachable, and sporting a trendy black cut-off tee shirt, bicep tattoos, jeans and motorcycle boots, here is a guy who personifies his status as an edgy rock star of the hairdressing world.

To read his frank, funny and page-turning memoir is to participate vicariously in an exciting life observed.

Perhaps you remember the sexy Warren Beatty/Julie Christie satire “Shampoo”? Made during the seventies, director Hal Ashby and writers Robert Towne and star Warren Beatty based their free-wheeling, sexually promiscuous main protagonist on Jay Sebring and Jon Peters, both hairdressers and slightly older contemporaries of Edwards.

But Edwards lived through that post “free-love” era as well, and is more than happy to tell us all about his exploits.

Thanks to the book”™s confidential, slightly self-deprecating and flippant tone, Allen”™s matter-of-fact recollections of his sexual prowess somehow don”™t actually come across as boasting, even though there are multiple references, including no fewer than three separate references on a single page (p41.)

Ah, those innocent, carefree days before the specter of AIDS reared its ugly head!

But it”™s certainly much more than a brag-book. Reading about Edwards”™ pioneering career, charting the victories as well as the devastating set-backs, inspires you to motivate yourself and make big dreams happen.

As frank and revealing as this exciting memoir is, I have to ask him, what did he leave out?

“Half. (Edwards laughs.) My ex-wife and my ex-partner hated me after the book came out. My ex-partner is a funny guy. We were starting to be friends again, but then I wrote the book. He only picked up on the few negative things I said about him, because I did say a lot of good things.

“The opening statement reads along the lines of “˜My ex-partner sucked the business dry of all its profits,”™ so that”™s a strong statement. Maybe I shouldn”™t have said that, now that I think about it. That was one of the first things you see when you start reading. But the thing is, you have to write things like that, so people will go, “˜Well, what does that mean?”™

“Then, in the book, it talks about the mistakes I made, including letting him quit cutting hair, because when he stopped cutting hair, he stopped making a living, and then he was using all the profits as his living. But it was my weakness – just being the star, the busy hairdresser – “˜Oh, sure go ahead! Go do it, we”™ll be fine!”™ – instead of researching it, and realizing this was not a good idea.

“He thought he was going to focus more on expanding the business. But he was a bit off-kilter. There were drugs, and women and gambling – this was during the eighties – so that was the mistake. He didn”™t end up doing what he said he was going to do.

“I was busy being a star, and that”™s the moral of the book. It”™s almost like being a singer or an actor, and your trusted financial manager ends up taking all the money.

“My ex-wife – we got married as kids. It was wild. In the book, I talk about all the sleeping around I did, but everyone was doing that during the seventies! I was slammed into it by being this young, hot hairdresser and all these pretty girls kept coming to me for haircuts and so, it was just a sign of the times.

“The problem with the book, for my ex-wife, is that it”™s in-your-face. Everybody is reading about me, and she was married to me. But she can say, “˜Well, that”™s why we got divorced! It was the seventies.”™ That”™s what she should say. But she was nuts. She was really hard to live with. She was a bit wacky.”

Why did you write this book?

“I just needed to. I think it helps people. It helps you think about your own life. The main thing, for me, was I never give up. Like, if business is slow, I”™ll figure out a way to make it busier. If I just did a TV appearance, when”™s the next TV show? I never labor on my successes. Ego-wise, I never let any of it turn me crazy. I had fun with it, but I never had an “˜I”™m a big star”™ attitude. To me it was all fun. I think because I was grounded with my marriage and kids, it was really more about work for me, all business-related. I loved the celebrity aspect of it all.”

This year he has also launched a new product line, Allen Edwards Shear Force, named after his salacious memoir.

SHEAR FORCE: An Image-maker”™s Memoir, written by Allen Edwards with Lorin Shields-Michel, is published by Durban House Press and is a perfect coffee table gift. Priced at $19.95, Edwards”™ memoir is now available at his salons, online and at bookstores across the country.

— ends –

Allen Edwards salon + spa:

20855 Ventura Blvd., Suite 6 (cross street is DeSoto)
Woodland Hills 91364

Salon – (818) 887-7330
Spa – (818) 593-7094
Fax – (818) 884-3615

216 26th Street
Santa Monica CA 90402
Salon/Spa – (310) 394-2878
Fax – (310) 394-3477

For opening hours, visit their official site.

Review by Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek

Pauline Adamek is a Los Angeles-based arts enthusiast with twenty-five years' experience covering International Film Festivals and reviewing new Theatre, Film and Restaurants.



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