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Metropolis / So SoCal

Cutting Remarks: A 'Salon' in More Ways Than One

July 14, 2002|DAVID WOLLOCK

Today's beauty salons, bastions of faux blonds poring over the pages of Cosmo in search of their next 'do, bear little resemblance to the traditional art salons of Europe. But the owner of Burbank's Wax Poetic aims to change all that. In addition to offering haircuts, waxing and facials, Kerry Hite's funky lavender-purple-mint green shop doubles as a gallery, hosting bimonthly shows by local photographers and painters who Hite feels will 'inspire dialogue.'

The envelope-pushing extends to Hite's personal style. With her white porcelain skin and fire-engine-red lips framed by two-tone hair, she's part retro glam-our, part edgy 'Matrix'-era cool. Likewise, Hite says, her customers (mostly ani-mators, painters, music industry types, Goth scenesters and fetishists from adjacent NoHo or nearby Hollywood) want hairstyles that are unique. 'Blond, tan, soft and pretty isn't really our aesthetic. Our customers come here because they don't want to look like everybody else.'

In fact, everything at Wax Poetic is just a few hairs left of center. Instead of reading the usual fashion magazines (which Hite calls 'vapid'), customers can peruse a small library of books while waiting their turn-everything from Spalding Gray to texts on the occult. The midweek 'Cocktail & a Cut' promotion offers an adult beverage with every snip.

Hite, 33, did facials in other salons for six years before tapping her savings and maxing out three credit cards to open Wax Poetic in 2000. Currently employing three stylists, she knows she could increase volume by replacing the gallery with more hair stations. But she insists the art is what makes her salon a cut above the rest. 'People look at the work and say, 'You know, I really want to get back into photography,' or, 'I used to paint, I should try that again.' And that's really cool.'

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