Hairstylist Bruce Choy was at a Stanley Jordan concert in 1985, watching the guitar maestro play two guitars at once, when it hit him. In creating his art, he, too, should use both hands.
"I thought, "I have been cutting hair for 20 years and my left hand is always the hand that is helping the right hand,'" he says. ""But if I started to train the other hand, then they become like one hand, and I can be perfect.'"
So Choy, who works from a small Clement Street storefront he calls FlyingShears, began training on dummies, brandishing a pair of scissors in each hand. Now, after years of practice, Choy can snip with both his right and left hands. But he found that even two scissors at once wasn't enough. So Choy invented yet another technique. He had haircutting tools specially manufactured in Japan that consist of two to eight pairs of scissors welded together; Choy slips his thumb and ring finger into the handle loops to operate them, wielding his inventions like a Vidal Sassoon-trained Edward Scissorhands.
No one balks at his $60 fee or leaves unhappy, Choy says. And, he adds, no one has ever been hurt.
Choy has even patented his technique, given lectures all over Asia, and been featured in industry publications such as American Salon. "This is a viable and exciting new trend," says the magazine's executive editor, Kelley Donahue. "It's rather revolutionary, and it will catch on, absolutely."
Still, Choy is not satisfied.
On a recent Monday night, he was attempting to take his hairstyling technique to new heights: the Guinness world record for cutting hair with the most pairs of scissors at once (eight).
Earlier in the day, he converted his stylish, self-decorated studio into a film set, draping black cloth around a styling station and installing hotter-than-hell stage lights. He mounted a video camera to a tripod and asked a friend to use a hand-held camera for close-ups, so he could send the videotape to Guinness headquarters for verification.
As per Guinness standards, Choy invited two friends -- both stylists -- to act as witnesses. After seating the volunteer hair model (a cosmetology student with thick, waist-long tresses), Choy went to work.
First, he blow-dried and styled her hair. "This is very exciting," whispered his assistant, Vicky. "Because cutting hair dry, he can see, right away, the shape."
Next, Choy selected his specialty scissors -- eight pairs welded together. He snipped away, rotating his wrist to cut from different angles. In what appeared to the untrained eye to be a random fashion, Choy chopped and sheared, squatting, then standing and leaning in, his head tilted.
At calculated moments, Choy tousled sections of hair and cut from the ends -- what he dubs the "flying shears" effect. The session looked like some kind of avant-garde performance art. Occasionally he stepped back, like a sculptor, to assess his work, or to mop sweat from his brow with a towel.
For half an hour -- as dramatic instrumental music played in the background -- Choy thinned, layered, and sheared the model's soft brown hair into a stylish, textured bob. When he was finally satisfied, he rubbed styling product into the model's hair, allowing a single tendril to dangle in front. Then, playfully, he picked up the carpet of severed hair from the floor and threw it at the camera. Finito.
"I love it," the hair model cooed. "It is so cute," her friend, also a cosmetology student, responded.
Choy stood back, beaming wordlessly.
Choy and his technique have become so popular that he has stopped taking many more new clients because he wants cutting to remain fun. Choy sold his SOMA condominium and sank his savings into making and patenting his special scissors, and he hopes to retire in about a year to dedicate himself full time to promoting his technique. Already, he has six homemade instructional videos available for purchase, and he hopes to open an academy to teach others about his method.
"Not enough people know about it yet," he says, a bit wistfully. "It is like I invented the computer. And everyone else is still using the typewriter."
By Bernice Yeung
Beauty pageants have had their share of controversy in recent years, but the latest dust-up comes from an unlikely source: the "Miss Bondage A Go-Go" contest, an event for the crème de la crème of B/D and S/M nightlifers.
The aggrieved party is Camille Dunham, who alleges she was disqualified from the $500 grand prize competition for being transgender, as a judge secretly relayed to her through a friend afterward.
"I was hurt!" Dunham says. "I had no idea this was the Miss America Pageant. I am still looking for a lawyer or an organization to combat this discrimination!"
Dunham says she was even encouraged to participate by George Lazaneo, the "Bondage A Go-Go" club's promoter and founder. "George knew I was transgender," she says. "The next day we checked his Web site, and all of a sudden the rule was there. If he knew I wasn't able to compete, why did he encourage me to be a part of this?"
When we contacted Lazaneo, he acknowledged the Dunham incident with a deep chuckle. "Oh yeah, she's one of the retail managers at Stormy Leather and one of the losers that night," he said, stressing the word "losers." "Camille competed all right, but she just wasn't fetishy enough."
We asked if her uncompleted sex change had anything to do with the judgment. "Of course not! The only requirement was that you come dressed scandalously."
When we pointed out that the genetic-females-only rule does appear on the Web site, Lazaneo seemed surprised, and then told us that Camille was a special case. "One of the reasons we let Camille into the contest is because she's like almost there, and we all consider her female." So was she the only "almost" female competing? "No, there was another one who didn't seem to be as far along as Camille. This one was just wearing women's clothing," Lazaneo said. She lost too.
By Andrea Renee Goode