In the two and a half years that Ariel Pellman has gone to Hair Metal in Greenpoint, she’s also gone through six hairstyles. See if you can follow along with just a few: When she first visited the six-seater salon, Ariel had some purple in her hair, “but it was mostly black,” she says. “We shaved the side and made that hot pink, so I had purple and pink. Then, we did the same and bleached the tips and did teal on the bottom. And then we shaved it again and did teal with a black skull on the side.” You know, to match her skull earrings; Ariel has twelve pairs in various colors. She’s got a thing for skulls. Which could explain her love for Hair Metal, what with the giant, menacing spray-painted skull behind the hair washing station or the multiple skulls adorning the mirrors, or perhaps the Hair Metal logo itself – a skull and cross-shears.
Growing up, the twenty-seven year-old NYU grad student was a musical theater performer. Now Ariel focuses on costume design in her intensive fifteen-person program. However, that old dramatic flair keeps burning; just look at her current hair color – a mix of “Hot Hot Pink” by Manic Panic and “Cherry Bomb” by Special Effects. What’s on her head could be seen as an expression of what’s on her mind: She’s working on a thesis where she’ll costume design the dark musical Sweeney Todd, which she describes as a “violent passionate story.” Is that a good way to describe her? “Maybe violently passionate,” she says wryly. In her theatre travails, Ariel has worked with Kristen Chenoweth and sang an impromptu rendition of the Muppets “Menomena” song with Harvey Firestein. (It’s a long, serendipitous story.)
Born and raised in New York City with a brief jaunt in Georgia for undergrad, now Ariel lives only blocks away from Hair Metal where they blast everything from The Misfits to Slayer while stylists bleach and blow-dry. She’s a regular at the salon as much as she’s a regular with her hairstylist Brittany White. “I won’t let anyone else touch my hair,” Ariel says. “She’s never done me wrong.” Neither has Hair Metal – in the good times and the bad.
I was a weird kid. I loved to put anything on that anyone else wouldn’t wear.
What made me want to be a designer rather than a performer was that clothes have a really emotional and psychological impact on how you feel. I think anyone here [at Hair Metal] knows that.
I still love to do karaoke. My go-to is anything by No Doubt. “Spiderwebs” “Sunday Morning” – I love Gwen Stefani. She was definitely a role model growing up. She used to do big pin curls in her hair and I thought that was so cool.
I just ended a really long relationship of six years. I’m very sad. I’m recovering. I’m trying to. You think probably you’re going to get married soon; you hope that maybe you’ll get married soon. I found out that he was just kind of avoiding the fact that he didn’t want that.
It was Christmas Eve, a week after I’d been broken up with. I was alone in my apartment on Christmas Eve. I found the whisky bottle and finished it off and thought, “I’m alone on Christmas Eve! Oh, God!” I started bleaching my hair and that made me feel a lot better. And I did a good job. Hair therapy. I did that.
I’ve done everything from order lunch here to play video games. One of the hair stylists had her [Nintendo] Wii in here, and I was watching them play “Michael Jackson Dance” or whatever it was. It took me three hours to get up the nerve to actually do it because I suck at that shit. And I’m in a bleach hair cap thing dancing in here with the Wii remote. There were two other stylists here and another customer who was having her hair bleached. We were all having a party.