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Provincetown :: Sunday, April 23rd 2017

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Interview with Dougie Freeman

West End Salon and Spa

June 14th, 2011

Last summer, television cameras rolled into the West End Salon and Spa when it was selected by Bravo for “Tabatha’s Salon Takeover”. The grand dame of Provincetown’s “day spas”, many local stylists got their start through Dougie in his high-energy beauty shop. I was delighted to meet with this dramatic and expressive man to discuss life, business and the pursuit of beauty.

People ask, “Have you changed? Were the tears real?” I say, “The tears are real. The laughter’s real. The hair, the teeth, the tan’s not real, but the personality is real and the person is ever-so real.''

Q: When did you first arrive in Provincetown?

A: My mother brought me here when I was five. We were eating at a restaurant next to what is now the Lobster Pot, and the waiter had a watch-piece dangling from his ear. “Why does that man have a pocket-watch hanging from his earlobe?” I asked. She said, “He’s a pirate.” I said, “I want to be a pirate!”

My mother rolls her eyes.

Q: You had the first “day spa” in town, right?

A: I would say we were the first one on Cape Cod. Pre-Eighties, a “spa” used to be a place where you got cigarettes and scratch tickets. Now, there are thousands of day spas all over the Cape. I love to say that people are either innovators or imitators. I am an innovator.

As a child, I went to Murray Road, an experimental school funded by the Ford Foundation, where children are taught with non-restrictive teaching that stresses the value of community. That is how I manage the West End Salon. I look at myself as a coach, not a boss. My staff knows I love them and that I have their best interests at heart.

I demand a lot of myself and my staff. The West End Salon attracts celebrities, millionaires, even prostitutes and mafia; a place where the criminal meets the clergy. There are autographed pictures all over our place from stars, but I treat everyone like a celebrity. The ones that love me REALLY love me. The ones that hate me REALLY hate me.

Q: Speaking of celebrity, your salon was visited by the “sharp-tongued, perfectly- coiffed” Tabatha Coffey of Bravo's Shear Genius with the show “Salon Takeover”. How was that?

A: I didn’t know that we were going to get the show until I got a phone call to come outside. There she was, standing by the bay, in black Prada. I feel blessed that Tabatha came here. I thought that I needed help and I asked for it.

Q: Was the show a positive experience?

A: So far, in my life, it’s probably the most dramatic and important experience that I’ve had. She [Tabatha Coffey] is the Vidal Sassoon of our time; maybe the top hair stylist in the world. And, our show just aired in the Netherlands! People ask, “Have you changed? Were the tears real?” I say, “The tears are real. The laughter’s real. The hair, the teeth, the tan’s not real, but the personality is real and the person is ever-so real.

Q: What beauty trends are you seeing?

A: The Anglo look is still very in, so Keratin treatments are incredibly popular. If a woman doesn’t want to have topiary on her head, this process makes the hair straight and shiny. It will move and hang beautifully. Who doesn’t want hair like that?

Q: You got married last year to your long-term partner, Jimmy. Do you like being married?

A: We treat each other better.

Q: I hear you’re working on a book of short stories. How would you describe the book?

A: Dark and Riveting…well, not all of it.

Dougie Freeman is what we say in Yiddish, a true mensch.

Columnist [Notes from Land’s End] Laura Shabott loves to write about the people that she admires in her beloved Provincetown. She will be attending the Fine Arts Work Center this summer.

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