SONYA DAKAR, the renowned Beverly Hills aesthetician whose client list includes Drew Barrymore, Matt Damon and Paula Abdul, has made a name for herself keeping Hollywood's beautiful people beautiful. Her clinic has also earned a reputation for rude behavior, aggressive extractions and high-pressure sales tactics that have resulted in 18 Better Business Bureau complaints in the last 36 months.
Now it's alleged that Dakar's bite may be as bad as her bark. According to a report filed with the Beverly Hills Police Department, Hollywood's self-proclaimed "fairy 'skin' mother" allegedly attempted to bite the hand of an inspector from the California Department of Consumer Affairs Board of Barbering and Cosmetology on July 29.
"It was just a routine inspection," said Kevin Flanagan, a spokesman for the Department of Consumer Affairs. "The inspector showed up, Ms. Dakar showed up and just kind of pounced on her. It's not something that happens to our inspectors every day."
According to the report filed with the Beverly Hills Police Department, Consumer Affairs inspector Michell DeGrate was removing an expired business license from the wall of the skin-care clinic at 9975 S. Santa Monica Blvd. when Dakar allegedly grabbed the inspector's hand in an attempt to take back the license back, pulled her hair and attempted to bite her hand.
Lt. Mark Rosen, spokesman for the Beverly Hills Police Department, said the inspector then made a private person's arrest, alleging battery by the clinic owner, who was later released on $20,000 bail.
Neither DeGrate nor Dakar could be reached for comment, but Dakar's daughter Mimi, who handles the company's PR, said in an e-mail that her mother "has confidence in the justice system and trusts that this matter will be appropriately resolved in a court of law."
Dakar launched her luxury line of potions, powders and procedures in 1971, and has been a facialist to the famous practically ever since, earning raves and shout-outs from A-listers such as Kirsten Dunst and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Dakar's eponymous skin-care line turns up in Oscar gift baskets and high-end spas, and she routinely gets name-checked on the pages of fashion magazines including In Style, Allure and Marie Claire. Her products include a zit-zapping Drying Potion ($25), detoxifying seaweed gel ($55) and a botanical-rich anti-aging formula designed to promote collagen stimulation and epidermal contouring ($185). Her 12,500-square-foot, five-story skin-care clinic on South Santa Monica Boulevard stands as a testament to her success.
As of press time, Dakar's arraignment on a charge of battery is scheduled for Tuesday morning.