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Desperate New Yorkers are trying to bribe hair salons for coveted cuts

Well-coiffed New Yorkers are going to great lengths to get a haircut — resorting to bribes and other sneaky tactics to score a coveted appointment.

Colorist Louis Licari says his clients turned into “desperados” when his Upper East Side salon, Mizu Louis Licari, reopened in June.

“I knew they wanted in, but I didn’t expect this,” said Licari. “Some try to pay off the bookers” — like greasing the palms of the maitre d’ back in the day — or attempt to reserve multiple appointments under different names to get an earlier slot. Savvy clients who know that the way to Licari’s heart is through his teacup Yorkie, Isabella, have been pampering the pooch to butter him up.

“She’s gotten more leashes and collars lately than she knows what to do with,” he said, laughing.

Louis Licari and his teacup Yorkie, Isabella.
Louis Licari and his teacup Yorkie, Isabella.Courtesy of Louis Licari

Since NYC’s Phase 2 reopening, hair salons are back in business, but not everything is so glossy: The new social distancing and sanitizing regulations hamper the number of clients allowed at a single time, creating wait lists that stretch for weeks.

Alain Pinon, founder of Salon AKS, said he faced a daunting 800-person waiting list upon reopening last month. Even with a 6,500-square-foot space, his former 40-chair salon has been whittled down to 20, per the new guidelines, meaning fewer total daily appointments.

It’s enough for clients to tear their hair out — and spend big bucks on a bespoke experience. “People don’t want to wait. They’ll bring you to their homes,” said Pinon, who was spirited away to a Hamptons yacht for a client, who just couldn’t wait 10 days for a salon spot. It was worth the trip: Pinon, who usually charges around $300 a cut, netted more than $1,500.

Manny Rolon, co-owner of My Darling Ivy salon in Chelsea, said one of his clients secretly paid another to swap appointments.

“I was expecting one client and then it was someone else,” said a bewildered Rolon of the lady, who was too anxious to wait three more weeks to get glam. Ultimately, “she got her way,” he said. “I totally get it. Everyone’s hair is suffering right now.”

Arsen Gurgov
Arsen GurgovCourtesy of Arsen Gurgov

At Arsen Gurgov’s eponymous salon, hair hustlers “went crazy” when they reopened, he said, and even offered double the service price to get in.

Other snippy clients tried the old “but I should be on the list” standby, protesting to the receptionist, “I thought I had an appointment.”

In some cases, giving in to impatient glamazons has its benefits.

Angelo David, who specializes in wigs and extensions at his namesake salon, got a call from a desperate client vowing to buy lunch for the whole salon staff.

“We made some accommodations for her,” he said. “Lunch was very good.”

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