WHEN HAIRDRESSER Michael Ferrell lacks inspiration as he’s about to cut a client’s hair at Beach Blondes, his salon in Seaside, he places both hands on her head and intones, “let there be beauty!” This invocation to a goddess of beauty hints at the mix of industry and business savvy with a restless spirituality that’s such big part of this guy’s make up.
After buying property at the north coast, Ferrell has demonstrated, in the short time he’s lived here, a willingness to get involved in the community and put his energy and creativity to work for good causes. He views doing hair as a calling, his business acumen continually tempered by a long-standing need to find meaning in this life and help others through his chosen vocation.
“I can make someone pretty and help give her the confidence to go to that job interview or make that life change,” Ferrell explains. That said, he’s done things like free makeovers and beauty consulting for women referred by the Women’s Resource Center. His customers are generally always women, and Ferrell’s wonderfully adept at endearing himself to his “girls.” In no time at all, he’s not just their beauty consultant but a good buddy and confidante. Does he cut men’s hair? “There’s only two haircuts men want, Ferrell quips, “short and shorter.”
His new shop/digs on Seaside’s First Street, just south of Holladay, was a serendipitous find, as he tells it. “We were playing ‘wouldn’t it be lovely if…’ while idly looking at commercial properties in the area and ended up making a silly (low) offer,” he recalls. The seller grabbed at it. Apparently, the house, zoned commercial/residential, had blighted Seaside’s landscape for years; the local police were a constant presence. “When my neighbor to the back found out we’d bought the place, she wept tears of joy,” says Ferrell smiling.
Now, he, his partner Marvin Hampton, and Milo, their black and white Chihuahua mix, divide their time between the north coast and Portland where Ferrell has a house and owns and operates another hair salon called Zen-Do. The couple quickly transformed their newly-acquired, decidedly dilapidated house, inhabited mainly by druggies in its past life. These days, the place simply oozes curb appeal, with the salon at the front and living quarters in the back and on the upper floor. The new owners have worked wonders with the place which remains a bit of a work in progress. Currently awaiting application on the salon’s interior walls are 10 gallons of Ralph Lauren Regent Metallic Colors paint.
Already Ferrell is a member of the Seaside Downtown Development Association, in the throes of preparing for the town’s annual Festival of Trees at the Convention Center. He’s entered floats in the town’s Fourth of July Parade for two consecutive years. (On one float sat 15 females wearing platinum blonde wigs, black false eyelashes and white gloves, including his 80 year old mum. The ladies threw 80 lbs. of saltwater taffy to spectators.) Working with Seaside’s Beautification Committee, he’s also making plans in that busy brain of his to implement a flower box program for area businesses. “Flowers give people a sense of God and slow you down,” he declares.
Ferrell admits to having experimented with many different belief systems over time, including EST, Lifespring, the Church of Scientology, Catholicism and even a Pentecostal cult. “I was trying to fill a God-sized hole in my heart,” he says. Six years ago, he became attracted to Sufism. “It teaches that we’re each of us on a path…that all gods reach the same place. The emphasis is on bridging the differences that divide us and seeking out commonalities.” His Sufi name is Khaliq which means creator.
Every month, Ferrell goes to San Francisco for a World Spirituality Class taught by Mersheda Rabia Ana Perez Christi, a professor who teaches World Religion studies at Berkeley. Eventually, he’ll be a full-fledged Cherag Minister, able to marry and bury people. He says, “I don’t know what’s exactly going on with my life path. It could be hair or it could be something else.”
That something else is most likely his dream of a Cherag Ministry under an umbrella of services that include hospice care. With its seven bedrooms, Ferrell’s house in Portland would be an ideal location for this, he thinks. At one point, his former teacher, Ken Storrer, who was dying of Aids, ended his days there. Storrer was an activist, one of the leaders of San Francisco’s Shanti Project which helped people who were HIV positive or had other life-threatening diseases. Remembers Ferrell, “Ken would rescue people who were dying of Aids and were completely alone.”
Another piece may involve his grandmother’s ranch in the Wallowa Mountains… turning it into a retreat where those facing institutionalized care or death can transition with dignity, be comforted and, perhaps, find peace. Says Ferrell, “It needs a lot of work, but there’s an artesian spring on site and the most wonderful silence… a silence in which you can actually hear the voice of god with nature’s help or through your inner spiritual being.”
Right now, his focus is on hair, on bringing out your “outer fabulosity” as he might term it. Only time will tell how Michael Ferrell’s life will play out, though, given his myriad interests, boundless energy and big, big heart.
Beach Blonde Salon
720 First Ave.
Seaside, OR 97138