Cherry Lee’s Salon Caters To A Classic Culture
A look, lost in time, revived to make eyes follow and fantasies unfurl. The bobby-pinned curls cascading down in huge rolls to frame a perfectly finished face, replete with fire engine red lipstick and a hint of blush to complete the illusion. The clothes have to keep up with the walk as the eyes take in the severely lined stockings, teasingly tempting as they make their way under a flared skirt. The straight cut bangs hovering above smoky eyes. The poses and positions that, while innocent enough, still evoke strong urges within the male’s psyche. This is the world of pin-up culture.
A local woman, Cassandra Barker, yearned to bring these frozen moments in time to life. She scrimped and saved, all while raising her children, until she was able to open her own salon to cater to the needs of the pin-up, rockabilly, hot rod culture. Her dream was realized last year when she was able to open the doors of Cherry Lee’s Salon, a place for ‘Classy Broads & Fancy Fellas’. In speaking with Cassandra, the first hurdle was defining what the culture is that her shop caters to.
“It’s retro or pin-up or anything that you would look at like that.” Cassandra said. “If you come into the salon, you’ll see that there’s real old pin-up stuff on the walls and the counter tops are decoupaged with pin-up stuff and Nancy Drew and all kinds of other stuff.”
Since this is not the run of the mill hair salon, I wondered how Cassandra got drawn into this specific type of hair styling.
“Well, I think what happened with me, I had a lot of theater background. I did hair working for Phantom of the Opera for a little bit and I learned a lot about Victorian hair. Basically, hair is just like fashion: it changes throughout the course of the years, but it keeps its general structure.” Cassandra went on to say that, “I took the things I learned from Phantom of the Opera and started incorporating it into up-dos for proms and weddings and things kind of went from there. I started researching it and made sure I was staying authentic, like using a beeswax that they used to use back in the day, because…that’s what they used to use. I try to keep as true as I can with the products we use because they worked.”
A hairstyle is just as identifiable as any other fashion or body modification. People instantly recognize what station or class or culture you are from based on your clothing and your coif, even recognizing what era a specific hairstyle may be from. What is the current interest in retro hairstyles and fashion? Could it be that, since we are currently living lives on the edge of the unknown that we cast a look back, trying to recapture a simpler, more contented era?
“I think so for sure. The time period that we focus most of our stuff on, there was no money, there were hard times and we’re kind of going back to that style and it’s easy; it’s not that expensive and everyone seemed happy.” Cassandra opined. “I think that what it comes down to…they were even talking in the news the other day that moonshine was on a resurgence and stuff is starting to come back that was cheap, but made fun happen, you know what I mean? I think that a lot of that is coming back and hopefully that starts to push everybody at least if not towards doing better monetarily, at least feeling better in their general life, which I’m 100% for.”
I wondered if this was the only type of hair styling that Cassandra did or if it was a full service salon. Cassandra answered my question by saying;
“I had a girl sitting in here watching me one day and she said, ‘The range of people that you have walk through your door amazes me!’ I have a range of people from real pin-up, retro girls who do all the photo shoots with the cars to a mom to a little kid to a little old lady, and I can do any of it. I worked at Square 1 Salon for almost ten years. I can do the soccer mom hair and I can do anything else, but my focus and passion is definitely the pin-up stuff and the more retro stuff.”
One might wonder what the purpose is of all of this retro-vision. Was there a purpose behind all of it?
“Basically…and I know this sounds cheesy and hokey…it comes down to making people feel the best that they can. I mean, if it’s taking a housewife, who has been a housewife forever and ever and ever and who has worn t-shirts and jeans for the last ten years, who sits at home and cooks and cleans and taking them and bringing them out, giving them a fresh look and giving them new hair and make-up and giving them that sexy little pin-up look. It’s frozen into some other land and then they all of a sudden have confidence again and start feeling good about themselves.” Cassandra added that, “Actually, I think it scares the crap out of their husbands. Like, every girl I know who has come in here, who had been kind of plain Jane and then they walk out with a little Betty Page pin-up look with dark hair.
Were there other markets that catered to the pin-up/hot rod culture? Where could you get the clothing and other accoutrements?
“They can pick up some of Nikki Forte’s pin-up design stuff here. Nikki has been bringing stuff in and out of the salon. She’s actually been getting pin-up stuff for the girls and is looking at opening a little boutique inside of the salon. It’s in the works. You know, Dayton, since it is out of the eye of everything that is going on with retro and pin-up, it’s harder to get a hold of the stuff.”
As we wrapped our conversation up, Cassandra told me about a big event that was taking place at our mutual friend, Bill Winger’s shop called Daddy Katz in Moraine.
“On July 9th, we’re actually doing a pin-up training camp at Bill’s shop (Daddy Katz).” Cassandra went on to detail the event. “It’s going to be two hours of one-on-one make-up, hair training and finishing…like I’ll finish their hair and make-up. Joe Schuster from Cincinnati will do a one hour photo shoot with each girl and they will walk away with a disc of pictures and later on, they will get an edited picture of the best picture from their shoot. It’s going to be really cool. There’s a lot of stuff like that going on in California, but there’s not anything going on that around here.”
Cherry Lee’s Salon for Classy Broads & Fancy Fellas is located at 2712 Linden Ave., but is open by appointment only. You can call (937) 901-6589 to make an appointment. Mention this article and you will receive $5 off their cut and style.