The infinite mystery of Donald Trump's hair

Times Staff Writer

Until I Googled "Trump's Hair," I did not realize how much has been said about Donald Trump's hair. "Trump's Hair: Animal, Vegetable or Mineral?" I read, and: "Trump defends hair, calls it 'not terrible.' "

I guess I should have known: Trump, after all, is nothing if not a publicity hound, and having strange hair -- it's a reddish plate, like Fiestaware -- is but one way to create free advertising for yourself on your head.

Trump, and Trump's head, are topical again, thanks to "The Apprentice," his hit NBC "reality" show whose season finale airs tonight at 9. I say this with a mix of elation and ignorance, because I don't watch the show. So mostly ignorance then.

On "The Apprentice," I have been told, people go to work for Trump and have to prove their business acumen and overall Trump-like moxie by undertaking a series of tasks, from selling lemonade to promoting a live concert. A couple of Trump functionaries oversee the contestants, and at the end of every episode Trump himself fires somebody.

Personally, I'd rather watch a reality show where Trump is the guinea pig. Let's say, Trump is challenged to build a giant Trump skyscraper in the middle of downtown Baghdad. A hotel-casino, I'm thinking. Does he dare to dream?

But back to Trump's hair. In his new book, "Trump: How to Get Rich" (hasn't he already told us?), Trump has a chapter called "The Art of the Hair." It isn't much of a chapter, about three pages long. He states "for the record" (so you know it can be trusted) that "I do not wear a rug. My hair is one hundred percent mine."

He adds, interestingly, "The reason my hair looks so neat all the time is because I don't have to deal with the elements very often. I live in the building where I work. I take an elevator from my bedroom to my office. The rest of the time, I'm either in my stretch limousine, my private jet, my helicopter, or my private club in Palm Beach, Florida."

Perhaps I'm projecting, but if I'm hearing Trump correctly, he is saying that he is basically a shut-in, possibly an agoraphobe, and that one of the side benefits of being this way is that your hair is always neat. As a possible shut-in/agoraphobe myself, I can relate. Like Trump, "I live in the building where I work." I do not "take an elevator from my bedroom to my office," I walk (I suppose I could have a moving ramp put in), and the rest of the time I am not either "in my stretch limousine, my private jet, my helicopter or my private club." But these are quibbles.

"[I]t's possible that I could rethink my look for the second season of 'The Apprentice,' " Trump says in his book, "But probably not -- it seems to be working!"

Jim Dowd, an NBC spokesman for "The Apprentice," said the show has no hairstylist. Nor did the network know or care to speculate how Trump gets his hair to swoop like that.

But others do.

"It's not a comb-over, it's called a wraparound," said John Maechling, owner of John@1422, a salon in Santa Monica.

At John@1422, there's only one chair; it takes weeks to get an appointment. Maechling likes to gossip, and he was a protege of the Beverly Hills hairstylist Juan Juan. So you know he's seen a lot of wealthy people in denial about the tops of their heads.

Maechling explained the comb-over/wraparound issue this way: A comb-over is when you take the hair from the part and bring it directly over the top of the head. A wraparound, what he said Trump does, involves taking the hair from the part and swirling it around the head in a clockwise motion around the front of the face, whereupon you slap it all down with hairspray.

Think of a frozen-yogurt swirl, only on somebody's head. Matted down with hairspray.

In "The Art of the Hair," Trump, beyond admitting that he colors his hair, offers nothing in the way of nuts and bolts about how he gets his hair to hover like that. Maechling speculated that Trump gets out of the shower, blows the hair dry and then begins the process of pasting it up.

Maechling suggested Trump let himself go gray and get a buzz cut.

Think about it, Mr. Trump: All that time that currently goes to your hair could be spent in your elevator, your stretch limo, your helicopter, your private club in Palm Beach.

Paul Brownfield can be reached at paul.brownfield@latimes.com.

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