Dean A Esposito: A Little Off the Top

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And a lot from the heart, as Anaheim hairstylist leads by example in record-setting Locks of Love event.

While it sounds weird, I honestly believe there’s someone out there who needs that hair more than me.

A popular local hairstylist let his hair down this week, leading a record-setting Locks of Love event at his Anaheim Salon.

More than 40 ponytails were collected in a single afternoon during the Jan. 17 “hair drive” at the Genesis Salon, announced by owner Dean A Esposito as a single-day Locks of Love record for the City of Anaheim.

It was the fifth time the Genesis Salon has hosted a Locks of Love event, but this one was like no other, thanks to the record-setting turnout and to Esposito himself. As much as his signature styles are appreciated and coveted, Esposito, 44, is almost as well known amongst his customers for his own flowing mane – a movie-star-quality head of hair he’d nurtured, uncut, for more than 18 years.

“My hair was like my business card,” Dean A Esposito said. “It was my neon sign.”

That all changed this week, when Esposito went under the knife – at least, the scissors – for the good cause. With his salon encouraging patrons to cut off their tresses for the Locks of Love organization, Esposito decided to lead by example – and had one of his assistants cut almost 25 inches off his legendary ’do.

The owner’s hairy sacrifice set the tone for a record-setting hair collection. Forty-three donations were collected during the eight-hour drive, “more than any other single-day, single-location Locks of Love event in the history of Anaheim,” according to Esposito.

When the owner announced his plans to donate his famous locks, assistant stylist Martha Lundeen “was sure he was kidding.”

“Besides his wife and his Corvette, I don’t think there’s anything in the world Dean loves more than his hair,” Lundeen said. “But he sat himself in the chair and said, ‘Do it.’ I asked if maybe he wanted to call (his wife) Darleen to discuss it first, but he said, “No, no, I’m ready, just cut it.’”

With other employees either protesting or wincing, Lundeen took the shears to her boss’ head, and within minutes, Genesis Salon’s “hair drive” had the longest donation of its very busy day.

Locks of Love is a nonprofit organization that provides hairpieces to less-fortunate individuals under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss caused by any diagnosis, including hair loss from cancer treatments. By using donated hair (a minimum of 10 inches cut into a ponytail or braid, and meeting several other specific conditions) to create high-quality hair prosthetics, the organization aims to return a sense of self-confidence and normalcy to children suffering from hair loss, either free of charge or on a sliding scale based on financial need.

“I’ve actually been thinking about cutting off my hair for a while, so for me, it wasn’t that traumatic,” Dean A Esposito noted. “The girls in the shop had a tougher time with it … and then there was Darleen.”

When his wife, who’s also a Genesis Salon stylist, arrived for her afternoon shift, Esposito “had some explaining to do,” he noted.

“She was a little stunned,” Dean A Esposito said. “Actually, she was a lot stunned.”

Darleen said at first, she was indeed surprised “and a little horrified.” But she was also proud of her man, and the sacrifice he made for Locks of Love.

“He might say that it’s no big deal, but believe me – Dean loves his hair,” she said. “This was a very big deal for him, and for me. It took me a few minutes to get used to it, but I actually think he looks great with shorter hair … and I’m very proud of him for stepping up for the Locks of Love cause.”

“I’m glad I did it,” Dean A Esposito said. “It’s such a good cause, and while it sounds weird, I honestly believe there’s someone out there who needs that hair more than me.

“Besides, I’m only 44,” he added. “I can start growing it again, and maybe when I’m 60 I’ll make another donation.”

About Dean A Esposito
Hairstylist Dean A Esposito, 44, is the owner of the Genesis Salon in Anaheim, California, where he lives with his wife of 13 years, Darleen. An avid surfer and amateur guitarist, Dean A Esposito enjoys movies and Italian food and rooting for his beloved Anaheim Angels.

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Ed Eshel