Ruth Ugamms: Confessions of a Female Prison Barber by Shavherbald
Let me start by describing myself. I weigh about 310 pounds, have a few warts on my face, have short stubby arms (but strong), hairy legs, about two good teeth left (the rest are gone or are half rotted) and I refuse to use mouthwash. Are you aroused yet? Don’t worry; it will not hurt my feelings if you are not. Nevertheless, despite my physical failures, I am the most beautiful woman at Emerson’s State Women’s Prison.
How so, you say? Well. Let me tell you…
Almost every woman that comes through these doors is 100 percent completely bald! No hair at all on their heads!
I said almost for a reason. Not every woman here is bald. Due to a unique deal I have worked out with the warden (certain financial information I have that could send that old prick to prison himself for quite a long time) I get to choose who will be bald and who will not. No lesbians, fat chicks, or anyone else who does not fit the definition of “pretty”. Why? They really have no power. There is power in a woman’s hair. They can control certain people with their beauty. I know. I saw many of them do it in high school. It is important to let them know who is boss here as soon as they enter the gates of Emerson. If you do not, then you have potential riots, trafficking and other undesirable problems within prison walls. You see my barber techniques are contributing to the fact that Emerson has the highest rehabilitation rate in the country. That is right, THE COUNTRY! And, our prison has the lowest inmate death rate. No deaths since 1988 (and that one was of natural causes). They get along here quite well, because they are equally ugly! Most who leave here return to society as productive members. I’ll give you a couple of examples of what I mean:
In the early 1990s, one girl came through here, booked on auto theft charges. She about 19 and had helped to steal a car, got caught and was sentenced to three years. We’ll call her Jennifer, because of her uncanny resemblance to Jennifer Grey à la ‘Dirty Dancing.’
She wasn’t common street scum, but instead came from an upper class family. However, that wasn’t enough to keep her out of prison. She had been to some reform schools before and was quite a “bitch with an attitude,” according to sources.
Usually what happens after a prisoner arrives, they are booked, examined, given a shower and their prison uniforms. Because of my “arrangement” with the warden, I am allowed to view incoming inmates and see which ones need a ‘haircut.’
Out of this particular bunch, most were scags and lesbians, but Jennifer stood out from them. I could tell by her posture, (arms folded, feet pointed out, head slightly tilted, bitchy scowl on her face) she could cause trouble.
“Her,” I said to the warden. With that same stupid, stare of his, he nodded and Jennifer was separated from the rest, being told she was needed for further “examining.”
“I have already been examined, dammit!” Jennifer said, snatching her arm away from the guard. This was not good for her, because the guard took offense at this and cracked her hand across Jennifer’s face. Jennifer tried to remain unfazed by this and then walked quickly out the side door, guard closely behind as if to say, “I still have my pride.”
One of the reasons she had this “pride” was her hair. She was a definite look-a-like for Jennifer Grey, including her hair. It was brown, shoulder length, curly, with a few blonde streaks.
“With hair like that,” I remember thinking, “she will have this place in an uproar.”
I could already see some of the male guards smiling a bit as she walked by them. They would be butter in her hands if she had her way with it. What was done had to be done, in order to prevent trouble.
Soon, Jennifer was brought into my room. I had a room that was separate from the prison. I usually slept there for naps, ate there and such. It is also where I kept “The Chair.”
“The Chair” was an invention of my own. It is a more or less an old barber’s chair from the ’50s or ’60s. I modified it a bit, raising the foot pedestal, so when someone occupied it, their feet would be at the same level as their waist. I will explain why later. On each side, there are straps for each foot. Now this may seem cruel, but they are necessary. I haven’t had one woman come through here yet who hasn’t put up a fight for their beauty. In order to do my work, I have to not only cuff their hands behind the chair, but I have to strap their feet down as well. I learned this when one of them was able to kick the clippers out of my hands once. Besides it led to a most interesting find…
Another guard named Agnes (equally ugly as I am) accompanied Jennifer into my room. She stood before me, in all of her beauty. She had a perfect waist size, golden tanned body, gorgeous legs, good-shaped feet (no shoes, or gaudy toenail polish), dark brown eyes, a youthful, smooth face, void of zits, and a head full of beautiful hair. It hung down on her head like a beautiful brown/blonde covering. When Agnes shut the door to my room behind her, a wisp of wind blew it slightly. It caused Jennifer to reach up and smooth it behind one of her ears, exposing it to the world. She had big ears, I saw. I liked it better when a woman exposed her ears. It gave me a better glimpse of what they would look like bald.
“What the fuck are you looking at?” she scowled at me.
I approached her face to face and growled: “Look, you little bitch! My name is Miss Uggams, and you will do good to remember that! This is not the reform school or your parents’ house. This is prison. Here you have two rights: You can eat and see a doctor. Outside of that, you don’t do squat unless we tell you. You on my frequency?”
“Whatever,” she replied.
Normally this reply would cause a burning sense of anger in most people, but I knew by the time she left my room, she would not be any more trouble. I decided to waste no more time.
“Get in the chair,” I ordered her.
Jennifer did not respond at first, instead just looking at the chair. Agnes then pushed her from behind, telling her: “She said get in the chair!” Agnes, my partner in crime, so to speak, had helped me with many haircuts.
She told me once that seeing a woman’s hair fall to the ground was as beautiful as a waterfall. I told her to see a shrink.
Jennifer got in the chair, arms still folded. Because of the chair’s design, she put her bare feet up on the raised pedestal and let them both relax in a v-formation. When a woman did this simple action with her feet, it told a lot about their personality. It said that this woman has fire in them. They can take control, sit back and watch. Women who put their feet in v-formations are powerful women. Just the kind that needs haircuts…
Jennifer was at the height of her beauty. Sitting in the chair, her arms folded, her beautiful face, with those eyes… with her gorgeous, tanned legs splayed, exposing her feet to all who could see. Of course the crowning feature was her golden, brown, curly, soft, shoulder-length hair that grew from her head. She raised her other hand and smoothed her hair behind both of her ears, now exposing them both.
Soon, however, Jennifer wouldn’t need to smooth her hair behind her ears to expose them…
Agnes grabbed both of Jennifer’s arms and cuffed them behind the chair, and I, at the same time, quickly strapped in her bare feet, still leaving them in a v-formation.
“Wh-what are you doing, you bitch!” Jennifer screamed at me. She struggled, but the cuffs and straps were too much for this princess.
Agnes tore of a piece of duct tape and stood ready. As instructed, Agnes did not put the tape over Jennifer’s mouth immediately.
As my custom was, I reached behind Jennifer on the table and grabbed a pair of black Wahl electric hair clippers. I never used a guard. It is pointless to delay the inevitable.
I answered Jennifer’s question by turning on the clippers next to her exposed ear, causing her to jump in the chair.
Jennifer’s brown eyes grew wide as she beheld the large black clippers that stood poised ready to steal her beautiful soft, curly brown/blond hair. To me the clippers were a necessary tool to keep order in the prison. To Jennifer, however, they were black monsters with steel teeth. In one instant, Jennifer realized what was about to happen to her. I could read her mind: “Oh my God!” she must have screamed in her mind. “That ugly bitch is about to shave off my beautiful hair!” (symbol of power, sexuality, control, womanhood).
“AAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH! ” Jennifer screamed.
It was then that Agnes put the tape over Jennifer’s mouth, reducing her scream to a series of ‘mmppps’ and ‘hhhmmmps’. As with custom, I told Agnes to wait until they gave out one good scream. It was somewhat arousing to see them scream for their hair, have the tape placed over their mouths and then have the room filled with only the sound of the constantly humming clippers (God knows I wasn’t getting any arousement from any man). Such was the case here.
I could see Jennifer’s horrified eyes widen as the clippers came closer to her hair. She must have thought about the many male entertainers that ran their fingers through her hair on “dates.” It must have felt good, even putting her to sleep on occasion. It probably aroused her as well.
Or maybe the times she had washed it, brushed it and spent hours looking into a mirror at it, admiring her glory. Anytime a woman is relinquished of her crown, it causes grief. Jennifer’s heart must have sunk deep within her chest as the clippers were pushed back across the middle of her head. Instantly, hundreds of strands of Jennifer’s beautiful hair were severed from her head, falling to the ground like leaves from a tree in the fall.
Only a trail of stubble was left behind on her head where the clippers had just passed. I made another pass on the top of her head, and hundreds of more strands of hair became separated and fell to the floor. I made a third pass, and then a fourth…
Jennifer’s beautiful hair began to pile up on the floor. Her once glorious crown that used to radiate from her head, becoming trash on the floor. With the top of Jennifer’s head void of hair, I began to shear away the hair around her ears. Her ears were still exposed, her remaining hair, still hooked behind both of her ears. When the clippers came in contact with her hair, the tone of the clippers changed. Being next to her ear, the sound must have been overwhelming. I saw her eyes close when I shaved the hair away from her ears. That is when I saw tears begin to stream down her face…
While this was going on to Jennifer’s head, her feet remained in a v-formation. I made sure that the chair had been set in this way to leave their feet in the right position. Directly above Jennifer’s feet was an air conditioner duct. It leaked water for years. Cold water. The dripping water landed right on Jennifer’s big toe on her right foot. Every time a drop of water landed, her feet would crinkle a bit. She couldn’t move her feet out of the way because they were strapped in. She had no choice but to endure it while every hair on her head was being shaved off. This was similar to the Chinese-water torture technique. It had a subduing effect on the woman being shaved.
The pile of hair on the floor grew bigger and bigger with Jennifer’s once thick, luscious, glorious hair. Each time a piece of Jennifer’s hair fluttered to the floor, it was like they cried out for help. In a poetic sense, they did not want to be separated from their “mother.” But sometimes sacrifices must be made for the advancement of mankind.
Finally, the clippers had shaved off all of Jennifer’s shoulder length hair. There was only stubble left. I ran the clippers over her head one last time, especially around the ears, forward and backward, crinkling them as the clippers passed them by. Jennifer had beautiful big round ears. Not those small, funky shaped ones or pointed ones, but round-topped, medium-lobed ones. They looked beautiful protruding from her head like taxi cab doors, even without hair. The tears in Jennifer’s eyes did not agree with me.
At this point I turned off the clippers. There was no more hair to clip. All of Jennifer’s former crowning glory lay on the floor in defeat. She, in fact, was defeated. I lathered her head up and scraped away the stubble, leaving Jennifer’s head as bald as the day she was born.
Jennifer was unstrapped and Agnes led her away. Jennifer did not resist one bit. Without her hair, she was powerless.
Cruel, you say? Well, let me tell you the rest of the story. Jennifer in fact became a model prisoner. She earned trustee status and became a favorite in the prison. Without that attitude, Jennifer was in fact a joy to be around. She earned early release and started a new life as a businesswoman. Last I heard she was married with three children, living in a plush New England house with a six-figure salary to boot. And, her hair has grown back, although straight and not curly like it was.
No so bad, is it?
Another time, we had this Hispanic woman come in for armed robbery. Her name was Maria. She had a perfect body, with firm breast, a small waist, muscular legs with perfectly shaped feet attached.
As with most Hispanics, she had a real attitude.
I cannot repeat some of the names she called my and the other guards here. To make a long story short, she eventually made it to my room and “The Chair.”
Maria’s arms were cuffed behind her back, her feet strapped in v-formation with the cold, dripping water landing on her right toe. Most Hispanics have beautiful feet, not those skinny, skanky ones. The color is always perfect. Of course, there is Hispanic women’s hair. Maria’s was long, black, and soft with a curl on the ends. She also had soft bangs that hung just above her dark eyes, highlighting them.
As soon as Maria saw the clippers, her demeanor changed from a feisty bitch into a pleading dog.
“NO! PLEASE DON’T SHAVE MY HEAD!” she screamed.
She kept screaming “No! No!” as the tape was placed across her mouth. Once again, the only sound was the hungry clipper humming their tune.
I ran the clippers down the middle of Maria’s head, stripping her of her beautiful black hair in the process. Through her wide, horrified eyes, she saw several strands of her black hair slither down onto her chest. After about several passes, I saw Maria’s feet, which had been tense, finally relax, a sign of a defeated woman. With her hair and her feet in this position, she was a powerful woman. Without her hair, she was nothing.
She was robbed of her hair, her beauty that controlled other men and women alike. Her former beauty was now either on the floor or on her chest. I could tell by her constant opening and closing of her eyes that the itching must have been unbearable. Her hands, unable to brush away the severed hair, were locked in behind the back of the chair. The tears in her eyes made some strand stick to her face, making the itching even worse.
By the time the clippers made their last pass, and the final strands of Maria’s hair fell the ground from her head, Maria was a new woman. I ran the clippers over her newly shaved head, making sure to get close to her ears. Maria also had beautiful big round ears. The color of a Mexican woman’s skin made them even more beautiful. Even with her shaved had, Maria still possessed some sexuality.
For her I decided to go even further. In two quick passes, I shaved Maria’s eyebrows off, leaving only a white strip where they had once been. And then, this is the only time I did this; I shaved off Maria’s pubic hair, leaving her hairless.
Maria, a former dark-eyed beauty with raven-like soft, hair and plenty of sexual prowess, was reduced to a hairless freak. Along with her hair, her attitude has disappeared as well.
Because she had been so much trouble, I ripped off the tape from her mouth, held up a mirror and asked, “How do like the way you look now, bitch?” Maria stared in silence. I slapped her across the face and asked her again how she liked the way she looked.
“My God,” she sobbed with an accent. “I look like a freak!”
“That’s good,” I said. “Because you are going to look like this for a long time!” I could feel her tenseness as she pondered the meaning of my sentence.
I smoothed wax over her head, let it dry and then pulled it off, taking the hair roots with it. It ensured that Maria would not be growing any hair for months. She would be bald and hairless until next spring!
The strange thing is that Maria never let her hair get long for the entire time she was incarcerated at Emerson (a total of two and a half years). In fact, she requested for me to shave her head every three months! Sometimes you get some weird reactions from these women. I figure she must have been aroused by the experience.
However, by the time Maria left Emerson, she was also a model prisoner. She soon straightened out her life after prison and found a respectable job. She is doing well in Texas.
I have many more stories about my experiences as Emerson’s resident “barber.” If you like the previous ones, perhaps one day I can share a few more with you. Maybe the one about the Farrah Fawcett look-a-like that came here a few years back. She was a real feisty one.
Notice I said, “was”…