February 03, 2024

Photo Essay: Combing Through Hairstory at a Roadside Beauty Parlor Museum

I tried to learn my lesson when I realized I'd wasted so many years not going to the Crochet Museum in Joshua Tree—so upon my return to the area last weekend, I made sure I checked another place at the Art Queen complex off my list.

The Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum, which opened in this location along the 29 Palms Highway in 2016.

Now that I've stepped inside, it's no wonder to me that it was the subject of a recent documentary film, Inside the Beauty Bubble...
...which chronicles the life and business of High Desert hair stylist and owner Jeff Hafler... his business was shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, just as he was preparing to lend some artifacts and unique wig sculptures to the SFO Museum gallery in the Harvey Milk Terminal for an exhibit called "Hair Style." 
Today, it's open for regular business—including for bona fide hair services, available by appointment Sundays through Thursdays. (Unfortunately my visit landed on a Saturday.)

But surrounding the stylist stations and client chairs, there's an impressive (and still growing) collection of artifacts that tell the "hairstory" of coiffures and other novelty "hair-aphernalia."

From vintage blow dryers in a rainbow of pastel colors, used to decorate the walls... curlers that look like torture devices... 
...and cans of hair spray that certainly were tortuous back in their heyday...

...the Beauty Bubble features multiple rooms of hair and beauty memorabilia...

...from large appliances (like a personal sauna) and other equipment... lotions and potions befitting an olde time apothecary... 

...and old advertisements, toys, and collectibles from pop culture. 

In addition to the pink afro sculpture up at the front of the shop, there are more "Hairsterical Gals" all th way in the back—showing sculptural versions of hairstyles like a mohawk and a pompadour, rendered in multicolor curlers.

There's even a silver beehive...

..."the perm," and "the bubble," now back at home after the closure of the SFO exhibit in August 2021, fittingly placed with a Charlies Angels lunchbox and Grease Sandy doll. 

All in all, there are 3000 pieces in the collection, which Hafler began accumulating in 1991. And it makes this beauty parlor museum a roadside attraction that's definitely worth the detour when passing by on Highway 62.

Hafler has come a long way since growing up in Ohio and running a hair salon in West Hollywood in the early 2000s—and now, this feels like the place he's supposed to be.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the great article! 💕 Hair’s To Ya!