In the most talked-about haircut since Britney Spears chromed her dome in February, presidential candidate John Edwards generated headlines last week after it was revealed that the Democrat received two $400 haircuts by a Beverly Hills hairstylist.
And while pundits weigh in on whether such a pricey cut is justifiable, Torrenueva Hair Designs on Wilshire Boulevard, whose owner handled Edwards' cuts, is benefiting from the national media coverage.
"Publicity like this, it's good because it gets your name out there," said Joseph Torrenueva. "It's almost like a stamp of approval."
Torrenueva, 63, who specializes in men's haircuts, said he considers Edwards a friend and has cut his hair a number of times. But Torrenueva declined to provide details about Edwards' cut because he said he wants to maintain privacy for his mostly upscale clientele.
"This is really a private place," he said. "I like to keep my clients' anonymity so they keep coming back."
And though he said there has been "quite a bit" of interest in his salon since the Edwards story broke, he hasn't had anyone ask for the "Edwards cut."
The politician's pricey cuts, which also included a $248 styling in Iowa and $225 for two appointments in New Hampshire, were revealed in a recent Federal Election Commission filing by the Edwards campaign. After the Associated Press picked it up, the story of Edwards' engineered coiffure and the local salon responsible for it found its way into newspapers across the country. Edwards has since announced he plans to reimburse his campaign $800 for the haircuts.
Edwards has caught flak in the past for his well-groomed, youthful look. There is a popular video on YouTube spoofing Edwards' perceived vanity which features the song "I Feel Pretty" playing over footage of the former senator fixing his hair.
But the expensive style has also fueled the fire for critics who say the candidate's central campaign theme of helping those in poverty clashes with his own lavish lifestyle, which includes a multimillion dollar mansion besides his $400 haircuts.
Edwards' campaign did not return calls requesting a comment.
Edwards is not the first politician whose hairstyling bills have generated controversy. In 1993, then-President Bill Clinton drew criticism for a $200 haircut he got in Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport, which reportedly delayed other aircraft.
The price for Edwards' cut, however, is not the norm for the Beverly Hills salon.
Torrenueva said he usually charges $175 for a men's haircut, and the salon's other stylists charge between $60 and $75. But Edwards' price was higher because the politician did not have his hair styled in the salon.
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