Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Welcome To The Los Angeles...Hair District?

Los Angeles has many communities, over 170 of them made official by City designation and a neato blue sign. You got ethnic communities like Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Historic Filipinotown, Little Armenia, Thai Town (how's that for pimpin' the archives?), and you have those that reflect the local industry. The Toy District is one, and the Furniture & Decorative Arts District, south of Downtown, is another.

Well, the Militant would like to propose another one to that list. While combing the art-deco strand that makes up the Miracle Mile on bike, he wigged-out on a storefront bearing the words "HUMAN HAIR" (pictured above) on the northeast corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Cloverdale Ave. The business in question was called Precious Hair and Nails, which also boasts a factory outlet. It was closed at the moment, sealed by a set of locks. But at this point, the Militant barely scratched the surface.

As the Militant waited for his light to turn to green, directly across the street was something that m The Hair Shop (pictured right), an establishment specializing in hairpieces. How could such competition exist in such clsoe proximity? The Militant guesses competition must be one close shave, or there must be hell toupée.

Perhaps this was all a coincidence. But the Militant can't 'do no wrong, he thought. Still, it was impossible to part with his instincts here.

Even for those who wish to care for their naturally-grown set, Wilshire Beauty makes the cut, located right there in the next block.

Pedaling west a few blocks, and after a scary brush with a Metro Rapid, and past The El Rey Theatre, where a few people outside were scalping tickets for tonight's concert, the Militant saw yet another perm. fixture on Wilshire that lent itself to the artificial hair industry: His & Her Hair Goods Co. (pictured left), right besideBurnside Ave. now everything seemed to follicle into place: This is truly our City's Hair District.

9 comments:

The Hollywood Jedi said...

As long as people don't call He-Mel the Bicycle District. gag!

Peter McFerrin said...

Wigs are actually an integral part of the Korean story in Los Angeles, and of the Korean economic miracle. Korean immigrants who bought formerly white-owned businesses in South L.A. after the '65 Watts Riots soon noticed the huge demand for wigs among the area's blacks. (How many black women really wanted to spend the time and money to keep up a Supremes bouffant?) Koreans in Los Angeles used their business networks to set up wig factories back home using human hair, Korean hair being especially amenable to wigmaking (straight, black, and shiny); they then opened wig shops throughout inner-city Los Angeles and sold the Korean-made wigs. By 1970 Korea was the world's leading wig producer.

Ivan Light wrote a paper about this a while back, which I used as the basis for a paper in one of my first-year courses arguing for Los Angeles' Koreans as a transnational group rather than as traditional immigrants. The Chinese of the eastern SGV, who are mostly in import/export businesses, are those Koreans' latter-day successors.

Janna Banana said...

Can the block of Central north of the Glendale Galleria be the Mattress District???

Rich Alossi said...

This goes hand-in-hand with my theory that all it takes is "Three of a kind to get a sign."

I propose changing Little Tokyo to the Frozen Dessert District.

unhipla said...

have you heard of this video? http://distribution.asianamericanmedia.org/browse/film/?i=14

it has a bit about korean american owned wig businesses in L.A. in it, as well as a lot more content.

Peter McFerrin said...

janna banana,

How about making the block of Western south of Melrose the "Historic Shitty Furniture District?"

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