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A cut above: Hairdresser to star on reality show

"Spencer Lebowitz, with a pair of scissors and comb in hand, stood over his canvas of the hour – a woman with short, wet blonde locks. "What I do for a living? I make people feel good about themselves," he said. "Right away."

The 30-year-old, with black diamond studs in his ears and hair clipped closely to his scalp, turned on the blow drier and blonde mini-tumbleweeds flew off the nape of the woman’s neck.

"When she came in, it was a mess," Lebowitz said, his seashell eyes watching the woman’s hair flutter.

"It was horrible," she added.

"She didn’t like anything about her prior cut," he said, stroking his fingers through the shock of yellow. "But I can say I didn’t have anything to do with it."

Pictures of Lebowitz’s niece and nephew fill the inside of his cabinet at the Bob Roy Salon in Manhattan Beach like wallpaper, next to heart and star stickers.

Lebowitz is one of 11 hairstylists to star on the reality television show, "Hair Battle Spectacular" airing August 15 at 10 p.m. on Oxygen.

"Look at that! So much better," Deborah Muller said, looking through a camouflage hand mirror ("That’s the only way I felt like I could have a masculine part to a woman’s salon," Lebowitz would later say) at the back of her head in the salon’s large mirrors.

Hairstyling isn’t the career path one would expect for someone ten years out of the military. But in fact, the military is precisely where his career began – hence his nickname on the show, "Camouflage." After graduating high school in Phoenix, where he was born and raised, Lebowitz joined the Coast Guard.

A barber on the boat charged $3 a haircut. Cash-strapped Lebowitz started offering $2 cuts, having had previous experience cutting his brother’s hair at home a handful of times.

After a year, he was honorably discharged – "Unable to adapt to military lifestyle," he recalled.

"It was proof to us that wherever he goes, he can stir up emotion and controversy," said his brother, Matt Lebowitz, over the phone while he was on the beach vacationing in Hawaii. The same probably goes for Lebowitz’s upcoming reality show – a battle to find the ultimate fantasy hair stylist. The contestants compete by building hairpieces around different themes – what got him on the show was a circus-themed hair creation.

His family is highly anticipating the series premiere. "The whole family is going to get together, are you kidding me? It’s like the Super Bowl for this family," Matt Lebowitz said.

Lebowitz had always challenged authority – in third grade, he got suspended for setting off a stink bomb outside the boys bathroom; on another day, he mooned a bus driver.

"Teachers either loved him or couldn’t stand him," said his mother, Sheri Lebowitz.

His brother calls him a "local celebrity" – noting that he makes friends everywhere he goes.

"He’s a people person," said his boss, Bob Roy, a tanned 72-year-old with black-framed glasses.

In high school, Lebowitz used hair dye to fashion his hair in every style imaginable – camouflage, a checkerboard, soccer ball print, the American flag, hot pink spikes (his mom called them "rows of pink palm trees"). He even went to boot camp with a silver buzz cut.

Why?

"People don’t realize how nice I am, how big my heart is. They just see the size of the tattoos, they just see a certain look," he said. "I like to prove people wrong."

His family couldn’t see Lebowitz working a typical nine-to-five job. "When he finally discovered hair, it was a perfect fit because he was kind of his own boss," Matt Lebowitz said.

He seems content with it. "Being a straight guy with a bunch of girls wanting their hair done? I’ll take it," he said with a grin.

After the Coast Guard, Lebowitz enrolled in cosmetology school at the Classic Beauty College in Phoenix. About a year later, he took a birthday trip to New York and ended up staying for four years, working at different salons and doing hair for Broadway shows. He moved to the South Bay from New York.

One day Lebowitz hopes to open a high-end men’s salon and next door, a women’s blow-dry bar. "Guys could bring their girls with them," he said. "And they’ll both walk out looking great."

Family-oriented Lebowitz said his career allows for a flexible schedule. "When I have kids I want to be at every soccer game, every cheerleading event," he said. "I want to be the dad that’s fully involved."

This article was first published on easyreadernews.com.