Imagine New York City forty years ago. The fashion trends at the time were very unique, bellbottom pants, bold color choices, pant suits, strong pattern choices. The hair was all over the place, this being a liberated time the hair was from a natural picked out style to create afros, to long straight hair as seen on Joni Mitchell and Cher, and of course the iconic feathered layered looks seen on Marie Osmond and Farrah Fawcett. The hair color was a range from bombshell blondes to dark brunette hair, it was a fun exciting era for hair and fashion.
As I’m sure you know the fashion industry has a huge influence on hair, they have a symbiotic relationship where one influences the other. Hair and fashion artists work very close on photo shoots and runway shows to create the latest trends in hair and fashion.
Although sometimes there are unexpected influences that shift the trends in hair.
The Bronx, July 29, 1976. David Berkowitz, son of Nathan and Pearl Berkowitz shot two teenage women, Donna Lauria and Jody Valenti while they were sitting in Valenti’s car in front of Laura’s home. David Berkowitz shot these women with a .44 caliber gun killing Laura and only injuring Valenti. Three months later Berokwitz struck again, shooting two teenage girls, leaving one as a paraplegic. January 1977, Berkowitz shot Christine Freund and her fiancé John Diel, Diel suffered minor injuries, but Freund died hours later in a nearby hospital. Berkowitz became known as ‘The .44 Caliber Killer’, he continued his killing spree by taking the lives of Virginia Voskerichian while she was walking home from class. A month later he kills Valentina Suriani and Alexander Esau, Berkowitz leaves a note at the crime scene where he calls himself, ‘Son of Sam’. He becomes known as the Son of Sam Killer. His final victims were Stacy Mokowitz and Bobby Violante, which occurred in Brooklyn in the early hours of July 31, 1977, one year after his first attacks. Moskowitz died but Violante survived but becoming blind in one eye and losing most of his vision. In August 10, 1977 the police arrested Berkowitz and he confessed to the killings, David Berkowitz is still alive serving his multiple life sentences in Shawangunk Correctional Facility in Wallkill, New York.
You’re probably wondering, “What does a serial killer have to do with hair?”
All of David Berkowitz’s victims were women with brunette hair, most of which was long in length, expect for Stacey Mokowitz, she was a blonde.
During his year of killings women became terrified to stay out at night but they also feared being a brunette. Women in the New York area raced to salons to get their hair cut off, colored red, or bleached to become a blonde. The sells in wigs increased during this time, for the woman who wanted a disguise but not a permeate change. The terror of not feeling safe at night is a frightful feeling, but to be afraid because of your hair color or length would create a victimized feeling all the time. The trend to have long brunette hair was shifting out in the New York area for the fact that it could potentially make you the next victim to the Son of Sam.
Serial killers typically have a profile on the type of people they victimize, David Berkowitz thought he was following orders from the demonized dog of his neighbor, Sam. After more psychiatric evaluation it shows that he had a difficult time being romantically involved with women, he was victimizing women that he would find attractive.
Working in the salon I sometimes deal with fear from clients; fear of trying something new, fear of what spouses/friends/family will think of their hair, the fear of getting a haircut because of a previous unpleasant experience, a child’s fear for their first haircut. However, being afraid that your hair color or length will get you killed is a level of fear I cannot even begin to fathom.
Below is a video from 1977, where Channel 11 News interviewed women in New York regarding the Son of Sam, (aka. The .44 Caliber Killer, David Berkowitz). It’s fascinating to see how these women where affected emotionally, how they responded to the killings, decided to change their hair, or change nothing at all.
I suppose in times of fear we cannot be consumed by fear, we must continue to live our lives to the best of our ability, but also take steps and precautions to protect ourselves.
If you are interested in learning more about the Son of Sam please look at the references below.
Until next time.
Biography.com Editors (2017, October 4) A&E Television Networks; Biography.com David Berkowitz. Retrieved November 9, 2017 https://www.biography.com/people/david-berkowitz-9209372
Harris, Chris. (2017, August 10). People Crime; 40th Anniversary of Son of Sam Arrest: The Deadly Crime Spree That Gripped New York. Retrieved November 9, 2017. http://people.com/crime/who-were-the-victims-of-notorious-n-y-c-serial-killer-son-of-sam/1977-the-summer-of-sam
Killgariff, Karen & Hardstark, Georgia (2017, September 21) My Favorite Murder Podcast; Hither And Yon. Listened November 9, 2017 https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/my-favorite-murder-karen-kilgariff-georgia-hardstark/id1074507850?mt=2
Pescoitz, David (2017, September 8) BoingBoing; NYC women in 1977 talk about staying safe from the Son of Sam serial killer. Retrieved November 9, 2017 https://boingboing.net/2017/09/08/nyc-women-in-1977-talk-about-s.html
THE GEOGRAPHY OF HAIR
The Geography of Hair is devoted to share experiences and stories in cosmetology and how it has affected people, myself, or us as a society.