News Article

Rug Burn: A Twist on Celebrity Scalping

Celebrity balding -- Two graphic designers create a faux-campaign about stars with no hair

First came those notorious ''outing'' posters — 11''-by-7'' photos of celebs labeled ''absolutely queer'' and anonymously tacked up around Manhattan. Now the more devastating truth has come out — ''balding'' posters, inspired parodies of investigative journalism, entertainment division. The posters are a collaborative effort by trade-magazine writer Ed Leibowitz, 27, and graphic designer Lorraine Heffernan, 27, who put their heads together to create a series of six ''outing''-like signs. The two then posted them on walls and lampposts around lower Manhattan. (There are no plans yet for a national rug-rollback campaign.)

According to the ''Baldweek Manifesto,'' the creators seek to ''wrest the toupees from the chrome domes of America's leading celebrities.'' Their placards present doctored black-and-white photos of six famous suspiciously coiffed gents (Charles Bronson, Ted Danson, Larry Hagman, Joe Namath, William Shatner, and John Wayne), along with the shocking implication that they may be — yes! — sporting rugs. ''The ideal in our culture, especially in Hollywood, is an 18-year-old with good skin and a full head of hair,'' Leibowitz says. ''There are a lot of people in the world besides that, and I think they should have representation in the media.''

Did he know for sure that his subjects were shineheads? Not exactly, admits Leibowitz, who also says, ''I'm not bald yet, but I probably will be.'' However, he did do some educated guessing. Meanwhile, things have gotten hairy for the hoaxer: Danson's spokesman insists that the Cheers star is not a mane-less man. And Leibowitz received an angry call from Bronson's publicist, who also issued a statement from Bronson testifying to his non-baldness and threatening legal action (a hirsuit?) unless a retraction is made. ''It was supposed to be a good-natured poke,'' Leibowitz says. ''I guess they didn't take it that way.''

Originally posted Aug 09, 1991 Published in issue #78 Aug 09, 1991 Order article reprints
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