It's Saturday morning and Angelo's, a hair salon in an unremarkable Sherman Oaks strip mall, is a beehive, if you will, of activity. The stylists' chairs are mostly filled, as is customary, with elderly clients requiring a pretty pouf that will hold its shape until next weekend. Co-owner Angela Amoroso, with 17 appointments lined up, aims her blow dryer at Jackie Masry, who has visited the hairdresser weekly for 34 years.
"I used to have the beehive, curls on my head up to here," says Masry, holding her hands several inches above her head, careful not to smudge the powder-pink polish still wet from her manicure. "We were beautiful then." At 57, she is one of Amoroso's younger clients this morning.
In a city where youth is often considered synonymous with beauty, the 52-year-old Amoroso gladly caters to women whose lives don't hinge on sporting the latest sitcom-inspired do. At Angelo's, tuna sandwiches are ordered in, gossip is shared, ladies buy purses for themselves and Beanie Babies for their grandchildren from a well-stocked display case. Customers routinely receive a goodbye peck from Amoroso when they stand to leave. Theirs is a world nearly lost to younger women with turn-on-a-dime schedules who aren't accustomed to keeping the same standing appointments for decades and who'll never know their hairdresser's children's names.
Amoroso has picked up some trade secrets: to achieve durable (not to mention tall) hair, spray as you comb, starting from the back of the head to "build a foundation for the hair to sit on." Thin hair? Tease the hell out of it. "Our clients, a lot of them want their hair to last all week," says Amoroso. "They don't want to go home and tomorrow have nothing." She deftly removes a couple dozen half-inch rollers and pinned-up curls from the head of 74-year-old Darlene Griffin. "Pin curls," Amoroso notes sadly, "are kind of a lost art."
"Who's to say that because somebody's old, we should give them an old haircut?" Amoroso asks after rubbing snow-white mousse into 82-year-old Lyla Vicklund's snow-white hair, creating, in minutes, an impressive, gleaming bob that rises three inches off her scalp.
"If you do their hair well," Amoroso says, "you'll have them for life."