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[whitespace] Beehives and Bomb Threats

Peruvian-born Daniella Lorenz is dedicated to making you look beautiful. But who cares about your beauty? It's worth seeing Daniella just to soak up hers.

By Mark Ewert

What is your job?

Making people look great and be happy with themselves. It's cutting hair plus therapy and making friends.

How did you start?

After studying business administration for a few years at a university in Peru, I dropped all that and started going to beauty school. Just after leaving beauty school, I got a job at one of Peru's biggest salons and after a while went abroad to Spain, where I studied at Llongeras--the Spanish equivalent of Vidal Sassoon. Moving back to Peru, I happened to become friends with the Fujimori family, and cut hair for many of them. Once Fujimori became president, I was still their personal stylist. But the political situation in Peru started to get worse, because of the Shining Path [a militant ultra-leftist group] and like that. Bodyguards would come pick me up in a limo and drive me to the governmental palace where I would do the first lady's hair. Just because of this association with the Fujimoris, I also became a target of bomb threats and harassing phone calls. The phone would ring, and these people would hiss "Sock-kisser"--ass-kisser in English. So eventually I moved to the United States, where I always wanted to live.

How long have you been doing this?

At Hairworks, 10 years. Hair styling in general, 16 years--just don't ask me my age.

What was your inspiration to enter this field?

My mother. When I was little, she'd get her hair done once a week--religiously--and she would take me along. We'd arrive at 9 and sometimes be there till 2 or 3 in the afternoon. And this was the '60s so you had these big hairdos like beehives--boom boom boom, how big is it going to be? How many floors? It was like a cake. And my mother would always ask me, "How do I look, what do you think? How many floors should I get today?"

Pet peeves about this career?

People who are never going to be happy no matter what kind of haircut you give them, because there is something wrong with their heads. People who are not going to be satisfied with anything, they're just not happy with themselves. One man came in and he said "I've been to 15 hairdressers in the Castro, and they've all f***ed up my hair." And I looked at him and I said, "Well, honey, I'm going to be number 16."

If you weren't doing this, what would you be up to?

I've always wanted to be a flight attendant.

Any perks to this job?

When I moved here I had a visa, two friends and $500. Two months later, I had another family--coworkers, clients, people who share their lives with me, and with whom I share mine. You feel so lonely when you live abroad if you don't know anybody. Lucky me, my business always surrounds me with people.

Hairworks Salon, 2275 Market St.

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From the February 7, 2000 issue of the Metropolitan.

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