The Britney Effect: The Impact a Year After Her Buzz Cut
The owners of the stores Spears visited that fateful night assess the fallout
“It was a major disruption in my life,” says Esther Tognozzi, owner of Esther’s Salon, where Spears shaved her head. “I have tourists come by from other countries, and we keep the door locked since people try and sneak in to take pictures or sit in the chair she sat in.”
Tognozzi no longer answers her salon phone (due to the high volume of media calls as well as pranksters) and was forced to hire a lawyer when people started posting Web sites in her name, pretending to pawn off Spears’s hair.
“They were using my identity,” Tognozzi says, “Talk about an invasion of privacy. I got a little glimpse of her world, and it makes me feel bad for her.”
Having been in business for 25 years, Tognozzi has a loyal clientele, and she prefers to take on new customers on via referrals. Still, she will get the occasional fan.
“This idiot came by the other day, and he makes a buzz gesture and asks to get a haircut,” she explains. “He said he had come all the way from Canada.”
Awaiting Britney’s Return
Still in possession of Spears’s hair and the buzzer used that fateful night, Tognozzi says she is only waiting for the pop star to retrieve the items herself.
“People offered me quite a bit to buy it, especially in the first 48 hours since they wanted to drug test it,” she says. “But it would be nice if she came back and collected it.”
Tognozzi is hoping her discretion will pay off for the Etchmiadzin Children’s Fund, an Armenian orphanage she works with. “Maybe she’ll give me a check to help the orphanage,” she muses.
Trouble at Tattoo Parlor
While Tognozzi has her share of pranksters, Dave Rothburgh, the owner of Body and Soul Tattoo in Sherman Oaks, where Spears went after her haircut for two tattoos (a black, white, and pink cross on her hip and red lips on her wrist), had to deal with a more dangerous audience.
“We had stalkers and people calling with death threats,” Rothburgh remembers of the months after Spears’s visit, “They would leave nasty messages, like, ‘We’re gonna kill you! How could you do that!”
Chuckling at the thought of doing “$10 million in Spears tattoos”, Rothburgh was taken aback, and relieved, by the lack of interest. “We were surprised that we only had one or two people asking for the Britney Spears lips. But even those people do it as a joke, not because they idolize her.”
Now, things are pretty much back to business as usual. He says, “You get all the hoopla for a few months, then nobody really cares.” Still, Rothburgh admits, “We did have a BBC crew in last week who wanted to look around.”