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Big Hair Makes It Big in a Big Hair Town

April 28, 1991

BALTIMORE, Md. (AP) _ Anywhere else it might have seemed like a blast from the past, a trip back to the ’60s, a celebration of hair, beautiful hair. But in Baltimore, it wasn’t that much out of place.

Some of Baltimore’s biggest hair turned out Saturday night for the first Hair Ball.

Six hundred people paid $15 each to benefit the Maryland Art Place gallery. While most just came to admire the hair-based art and live hairdressing demonstrations, many came outrageously coiffed.

″Baltimore is the hairdo capital of the world,″ said filmmaker John Waters, a Baltimore resident whose films featuring the late Divine, an obese cross-dresser, celebrated Baltimore’s craving for coiffures. One of his films is called ″Hairspray.″

″The Hair Ball hits a nerve. People get the joke here immediately,″ he said.

Why Baltimore? In some neighborhoods, beehives and blue tint just never went out of style. When tackiness became a self-conscious fashion statement, Baltimore was suddenly chic.

″Did you know that Baltimore was voted the tackiest city in America? You should be proud of that,″ said partygoer Gay Pinder.

She didn’t know who voted Baltimore the tackiest city in America, but few at the Hair Ball would dispute it.

″Baltimore is such a hair capital,″ said Charlotte Cohen, Maryland Art Place’s program director. ″I saw someone today at Lexington Market. She had big hair, big hair.″

The bigger the better, said Waters. ″Look around. See who’s tallest.″

Joan Protzman, a bartender and farmer, wore her red hair in ″The Flame,″ a style that took nine hours of gelling, gluing and spraying to create. Like a flame, the big, pointy construction leaped into the air.

Hair stylist Lola Jones, who runs the salon where Protzman got fixed up, won a hairdressing competition with a beehive with artificial bees woven in.

Women weren’t the only ones on display.

Richard Gorelick, who works in media relations at another gallery, went to a salon to get his hair braided. Instead, he ended up looking like the wrong end of a turkey.

″The woman who was cutting my hair wouldn’t let me see what she was doing,″ he said.

Local artists displayed pieces about or containing hair. Jann Rosen-Queralt ″Hair Balls on the Half-Shell″ was made of hair, tennis balls and plastic shells, and Jonathan West’s ″Bagels and Locks″ appeared to be made of bagels, cream cheese and hair.

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