The sun-scorched desert terrain of Joshua Tree is hanging, gorgeous and wonderful. However native magnificence isn’t confined to the nationwide park. On this small high-desert group, Jeff Hafler has created an oasis of fashion that’s half salon, half museum and all roadside attraction.
Welcome to the Magnificence Bubble Salon and Museum.
It is the sort of spot the place hair care baubles — even grandma’s worn-out rollers — are revered as historic discoveries.
Outdoors on Freeway 62, the temperature is nicely into three digits. However contained in the Magnificence Bubble, it’s a cool and fixed 69 levels, with a robust probability of time warp.
Stroll on in and the classic hair merchandise take you again to the a long time of yesteryear. Hafler greets you flashing a photo-ready grin — half endearing host, half fast-talking emcee, half carnival ringmaster.
“You’re welcome to stroll by the museum so I might begin within the again. It’s my life’s work,” he says. “It’s 30 years of accumulating again there. They name me America’s ‘hairstorian,’ now. Any individual needed to do it!”
As a pair leaves the store, he yells out, “Hair’s to ya!”
“I’ve obtained all my puns. I ought to have an animatronic model of me standing on the door,” he says. “Put in 1 / 4 and I’m going by my entire factor.”
Since 2004, Hafler has been the owner-operator of the Magnificence Bubble, at present housed in a Nineteen Forties one-bedroom bungalow turned storefront. Flooring to ceiling, wall to wall, the place is filled with some 3,000 magnificence care artifacts going again over 100 years.
“I assumed, that is fascinating historical past. And that is lovely, fascinating stuff. So I used to be 20 years outdated and I mentioned, ‘I’ll make a roadside attraction, magnificence parlor museum.’ And so right here I’m, 29 years later, I am 49 now. And I am dwelling that dream.”
— Jeff Hafler, proprietor of the Magnificence Bubble Salon and Museum
There are classic commercials, framed journal covers and unopened hair nets from the ’20s and ’30s with names like Bon Ton, Jac-O-Internet and Fairly Miss. Outlandish wigs sit on sloe-eyed model heads. Together with the portraits of Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton painted on black velvet are ageing mechanical units that appear like devices of torture. On a deco dresser, there’s an identical set of pink mirrors, brushes and jars with a observe that claims, “Marion’s dresser set from the 40s, present in Mother’s attic. Donated by her daughter.”
“Virtually the complete time I have been accumulating, individuals have been donating these random magnificence issues … like rollers and clips and barrettes,” he says. “Somebody threw a bag of rollers within the entrance door and mentioned, ‘Here is grandma’s rollers! We did not need to throw ’em away!’”
To paraphrase Will Rogers, Hafler is a person who by no means noticed a magnificence merchandise he didn’t like.
“That is a part of the issue. That is a part of the illness, proper? I can not say no!,” he says.
However that’s what makes the place distinctive. Included along with your modern-day cuts, colours and curls comes the sensory-engulfing overkill of all of it, taking you on a journey to a bygone period of magnificence care.
“Probably the most frequent feedback is that it reminds individuals of their mom or their grandmother,” says Hafler. “I hear that a number of instances each week. And I like that as a result of I used to be shut with my grandmother. I am very shut with my mom and, you already know, it is true. I like outdated girls’ trinkets.”
Heather Morgan is sitting in a salon chair carrying a giant smile and a platinum blonde pixie reduce crafted by Hafler. She’s been a daily on the Magnificence Bubble since she relocated from Los Angeles in 2017.
“There’s lots of people within the desert who exit and rock their LA type,” she says. “So I did not have to alter my hair or my type. I assumed I must, like, cease going platinum or change into some outdated desert rag. However Jeff is out right here paving the best way for type.”
Hafler grew up in Pickerington, Ohio, simply outdoors of Columbus, the place he went to magnificence college. Again then, he fell in love with a Nineteen Forties hairdryer — it’s nonetheless on show. That hairdryer sparked an curiosity within the classic instruments of his newfound commerce.
“For that first yr I used to be simply accumulating and adorning my lavatory with it,” he says. “And I assumed, that is fascinating historical past. And that is lovely, fascinating stuff. So I used to be 20 years outdated and I mentioned, ‘I’ll make a roadside attraction, magnificence parlor museum.’ And so right here I’m, 29 years later, I am 49 now. And I am dwelling that dream.”
In 2004, Hafler and his husband, jewellery designer Mikal Winn, purchased a house in Marvel Valley, a dot on the desert map 30 miles east of Joshua Tree.
It’s an unincorporated land of tough dust roads and infinite horizons. And it’s such a rural a part of San Bernardino County that residence salons have been, and are nonetheless, authorized.
Says Hafler, “I had the ‘excessive society of the excessive desert,’ is what I name them. Enterprise homeowners, retired artists, Hollywood actresses. And we stay subsequent to a fairly large Marine base right here and I might get the overall’s wives and officer’s wives. I imply, you title it!”
These early purchasers have stayed loyal. However right here in Joshua Tree — the place Hafler moved his salon in 2015 — a gradual stream of vacationers and locals wander in to gawk on the show.
However lately, Jeff Hafler is just not styling any new heads. He’s turning his focus to promoting his classic objects and curating his ever-expanding museum.
“Since I turned my foyer into a present store, it is doing so nicely that I haven’t got to chop hair anymore,” he says. “And I used to be able to cease. I’ll keep a handful of expensive purchasers that I’ve finished for 17 years. However I’ve three unimaginable stylists that hire the chairs, so we’ll nonetheless have hairdos down on the Magnificence Bubble 4 days per week.”
And Hafler is taking his trinkets on the street.
He had a current present on the SFO Museum on the San Francisco Worldwide Airport that includes classic magnificence objects and the sculptures he creates from discarded hair care ephemera. And there’s an upcoming documentary concerning the Magnificence Bubble. If that weren’t sufficient, Hafler has plans even previous that.
“I dream about constructing a geodesic dome and making it appear like an enormous hairdryer, like that blue hairdryer up within the nook. So the wonder museum can be housed on the planet’s largest hairdryer. It simply has to occur.”
Just like the miles of hair that obtained him right here, Hafler’s dream within the desert by no means stops rising.
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