Charles Thompson was wigging out, so he decided to change his life big time.
The wig maker is retiring after 45 years in his Laguna Beach shop.
Thompson, 65, said that he decided to quit making wigs because he was working too hard. He says that there are other things he wants to do in his life.
“I have gotten busier than I’ve ever been,” Thompson said. “I was beginning to think I wasn’t going to do anything besides what I do every day. I mean, just my routine is going to work and staying by my hair and doing hairpieces. But I just bought some property over in New Mexico, my partner and I. And it’s in a gated community and it’s like, 13 acres and it’s got lots of ground and I want to do some gardening. I want to play with wood and maybe do a little woodworking, but just total life change is what I was wanting to do.”
Thompson is retiring to Charma, N.M.
Thompson — who also gained local stardom as Jesus in the Pageant of the Masters — will hand over his store to Marsha Carroll, a hair stylist and beauty columnist who has been in the industry for several decades. Thompson was relieved that he could find someone who he felt he could turn all his clients over to.
“So I met Marsha and she is so eager and she’s so good with people and she’s good with hair,” Thompson said. “It was just, like, a total lifting off my shoulders of what to do with my business. So after we talked a while, we’ve been working together for a couple of months. And she’s just already making changes. She’s just so eager to take over what I’m doing. So that’s one reason why I am finally retiring. Because I’ve found somebody to take over my clients. And they like her.”
Thompson, who was born and raised in Iowa, said he moved to Southern California because he loves the palm trees and the sunny weather. He worked at a Laguna Beach wig shop for a Canadian couple for a year. When the couple decided to move to Canada, he was given the opportunity to own the shop.
Thompson said his store became really popular after newspapers and magazines published articles about his role in the Pageant of the Masters. Thompson played Jesus Christ in the on-stage presentation of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, “The Last Supper.”
He said that the media called to interview him, because he was a longtime character in the Pageant of the Masters.
“There was one time the Register or the L.A. Times called,” Thompson said. “And so they came and interviewed me. And then after the interview, they went back and they were doing the article. They called me and said, ‘This article’s going to come out next week.’ And they said, ‘You better have a lot of stock in your store, because this is gonna be a big article and you’re going to be very busy.’ That was amazing. That article they did, because they did pictures and it was a huge ad in the Register. And after that, I swear, for years and years and years, I got clients from that.”
Thompson says that he always enjoyed helping people who really need his services because of trouble with their hair.
“I think what I enjoyed most about the wig shop is the people that come in who really need me and they’re there to see because they know I can take care of their hair problem,” Thompson said. “I think that’s what it kind of evolved into. The people that come in the door are there because they’d heard about me, or they’d been sent to me and they’re there at my mercy, to take care of them. I’ve always liked people and to help people that have been in trouble with their hair, it’s really nice to be able to help solve their hair problem.”
Thompson will be holding a retirement party at his wig shop from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday. Charles’ Wigs is at 1816 S. Coast Hwy.