GM Salon History

Lifestyle; Styling and Pampering Modern Rapunzels

By GEORGIA DULLEA In the land of the long-haired women, George Michael is king. Some of his subjects have hair so long that they have to stand on chairs so that the stylists (who do not have crew cuts) can tend to their locks. Anyone who stumbled unaware into the George Michael Salon in Manhattan might get the impression there was a Rapunzels convention in town. This is a salon that defines short hair as perhaps a few inches below the shoulders. Any woman who does not meet their standard (they measure) is apt to feel strange. But Mr. Michael and his team will work with her, for their motto is: ”If you have long hair, we love you. If you want to grow it long, we will help you.” Mr. Michael has helped many long-haired celebrities. Their pictures line the peach and white walls of the salon. ”I never knew what a master of hair was until I met you,” reads the message under a picture of Liv Ullmann. Nearby hang testimonials from Crystal Gale, Judy Collins, Faye Dunaway and Mary Tucker. The George Michael Technique Who is Mary Tucker? Mr. Michael, who has wavy white hair and an exuberant manner, explained that Ms. Tucker, a Californian, holds the title for longest hair in the United States. Her hair is more than 7 feet long, said Mr. Michael, who personally instructed her in the George Michael brushing technique. Mr. Michael said the salon’s policy is that any lock longer than three inches must not touch the floor. It must be collected and tied with a ribbon out of ”respect” for the hair. In the transient world of hairdos, nothing much has changed since 1960 when the salon, at 420 Madison Avenue (48th Street), opened. But the salon itself recently changed hands and now silver-haired Maria Matarazzo, the former manager, is the owner, with Mr. Michael serving as consultant. Ms. Matarazzo professes to be living proof of the George Michael Way. She was a buyer of ladies sportswear for chain of 15 stores when in 1962, an arrogant hairdresser, ignoring her request for ”a trim,” cut her waist-length hair to the ears. ”My hair was on the floor,” she recalled, ”and I was in tears. Thank God I found George Michael through the Yellow Pages. I changed my profession because of him.” Of course, some women want haircuts even at George Michael. Generally speaking, these women are experiencing some sort of trauma, he said, often contemplating divorce. ”The husband loved their beautiful hair and now they say they want to get back at him by cutting it all off,” he said. ”They say, ‘I’ll show that so-and-so.’ ” ”But I tell them, ‘Show him nothing. Leave your hair for the next man.’ ”