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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vidal Sassoon: Hairdresser and Philosopher

Posted By on Wed, May 9, 2012 at 4:36 PM

Vidal Sassoon: Jan. 17, 1928 - May 9, 2012
  • Vidal Sassoon: Jan. 17, 1928 - May 9, 2012

Hair snobs everywhere are mourning the death today of Vidal Sassoon, the British guru who was best known for his wash 'n wear hairstyles.

We were delighted that a quick search in the SF Weekly archives revealed a random Q&A with Sassoon shortly after then-Mayor Willie Brown signed a proclamation marking October 14, 1997 Vidal Sassoon Day in San Francisco.

In that year, SF Weekly's Matt Smith sat down with Sassoon, not to talk hair, but to get inside the head of the man whose mantra was "If we don't look good, you don't look good."

Smith asked him a list of astounding questions that produced equally offbeat responses from Sassoon, including his thoughts on God, diarrhea, and the new Bay Bridge (he was opposed to "tarting up" the structure).

Here are a few mind-blowing excerpts from the '97 interview:

SFW: What are your feelings about the way the U.S. deals with immigration?

VIDAL: It's two-faced. Use the Mexican population if we need them, then begin screaming that there's too many here. All the people that are truly bitching about foreigners being in the country -- too many Mexicans, blah, blah, blah. Their grandparents were in the exact same position. It's arrogance at its worst.

SFW: The state government will soon spend a billion dollars (Interjection from year 2012: Try 12 times that) to rebuild one span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Do you think they should paint the new portion rust-red, to match its sister span, the Golden Gate Bridge?

VIDAL: I think they should maintain the appearance of the bridge, yeah. The topography is such that the more minimalistic you can keep your bridges, the better. You don't have to fancy them up. They're there against this wonderful nature background. If you start tarting up your bridges you're going to lose the effect of the aesthetics.

SFW: Some people believe that the concept "God" refers to the immutable moral force we as human beings are born with. Others believe that "God" is a humanlike being with conscious thoughts and a physical presence. Which of these would best describe your understanding of the concept "God"?

VIDAL: I think the first. My, that's a long subject. I'm 69, and we ponder God from the day we can think. Deism has the sense that God is omnipotent, that he must have been present at his own creation. Others believe there is a spirituality out there that comes from our very nature. From my point of view, there is a tremendous amount to be said for secular humanism. Realizing our society as it is, without theology dogmatically telling us how we should react to it, and being humane toward that society, that is all that we're sure of. The rest is all possibility and maybe.

SFW: To fend off potential scalpers, Procter & Gamble, owner of, has reserved more than 100 domain names, including, according to unconfirmed reports on Internet bulletin boards. Do you think this creates an inappropriate association for your product line?

VIDAL: Well, to be associated with diarrhea isn't absolutely, really appropriate, no.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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