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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Sex, Drugs and Hair Dye: Celebrity hairstylist’s life spins from David Bowie to drugs and back down South to quiet life in Jackson, Miss.

Courtesy Photo | Albert Sanchez

Syd Curry, celebrity hairstylist, now resides in Mississippi.

In Simi Valley, Cali., amidst the conservative families where Ronald Reagan is buried, a 16-year-old Syd Curry sat in front of a television with his friend, Rod, the only other gay boy he knew.

A commercial appeared for a Ziggy Stardust tour, flashing images of boys and girls in platform shoes and satin suits dancing along to the vibrant pulse of the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. Curry lit up as he saw David Bowie on the screen.

He craved the rock ‘n roll life of feather boas, glamour and rock drag. After he was bullied for dying his hair pink, Curry was the kind of kid who turned around and dyed his hair green even after his mother’s warnings of bullying from other students. 

Curry bought tickets to the Bowie concert, and nine months later, he packed his bags and moved to Hollywood. Ziggy Stardust changed his life.

Now, at the age of 59, Curry, celebrity hairstylist, sits in a hip, pseudo-Mexican restaurant where concert posters of the yesteryears hang with “I Love Lucy” projecting on the wall. Over seven tattoos of Bowie – Ziggy Stardust, lightning bolts and song lyrics – along with a colorful, saintly representation of Stevie Nicks praying illuminate his tan skin.  

“Yeah, can I get a shot and a Michelob Ultra, please?” Curry asked a waiter as he looked at him behind his black-tinted aviators. “I need it.”

Curry entered the beauty business at 18 and delved into the celebrity scene with megastars like Mariah Carey, Janice Dickenson, Tilda Swinton, Tina Turner, Lady Gaga and even former president, Bill Clinton, as his clients according to his biography and resume on The list goes on.

Curry’s life epitomized drug, sex and rock ‘n’ roll. But Curry exited the world of the rich and famous after a drug addiction to heroin and methadone took hold of his life.

Curry’s detox in rehab took two months, and he said he does not regret a single moment of his addiction.

“It’s who I am,” he said. “I look at this this way: if I hadn’t done all the s — — t I had done and finally realized, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Today, Curry lives in Jackson, Miss., where he works at Smoak Salon. After his mother was stricken with sickness, he moved back to the place he had fought his whole life to take care of her. Gay and covered in tattoos, Curry said he felt like he would not belong, but, much to his surprise, the South welcomed him with open arms.

“I was taught to shake a man’s hand and look him in the eye. Just simple things. You get back here and respect the culture,” he said. “I think people immediately get past the tattoos. And they’re like, ‘OK, this is a decent guy.’”

Curry’s best friend and previous assistant, Anna Hester, agreed and said the two were instantly friends due to his charisma, humility and honesty.

“He kind of stepped in and was like my dad and a brother all in one. To this day, I always forget who he is and what he’s done,” she said.

Besides watching horror movies and listening to the likes of The New York Dolls and Stevie Nicks, Curry said he wakes up happy every day. 

“Being a drug addict is a job within itself. It’s so nice to wake up and not have to chase drugs,” he said. “Not because you want to get high, but because you want to be well, you know?”

As he looks back on histories with ex-boyfriends like Kenny Singman — who said Curry has the sweetest heart — Curry remembers conversations with glamorous supermodels- — cult leader Charles Manson selling him acid — rehab and mishaps with the Los Angeles penal system — drag queen friends — five family members’ deaths within five years and how he took care of his ailing mother. Curry said his greatest achievement is that he stayed alive, especially after sharing needles in a time when AIDS ran rampant in America.

“Now, I just realize what an a — — hole I’ve been. I realize how stupid I am and how good I have it right now. I could screw things up in a minute,” he said. “Before, I screwed things up, and I didn’t care. Now, if I screw things up, I care.”

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Sex, Drugs and Hair Dye: Celebrity hairstylist’s life spins from David Bowie to drugs and back down South to quiet life in Jackson, Miss.