A West Coaster has found his home in Jackson, Mississippi, not by accident, but by birth right. After all, it was his father who said to him “You’re southern, boy. I don’t care where you were born.”
At 58, Los Angeles, California born Syd Curry is finally “home.” With familial roots in Pearl, Brandon, the Delta and Batesville, Curry now finds himself in Fondren and brings four decades of experience to SMoak Salon.
His client list reads like an IMDb query of Hollywood’s elite. It’s easier to ask who he hasn’t worked with. There are more than a few names you’ll find familiar. Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance video, the 2nd most viewed music video in history, is one of his proudest achievements. Mariah Carey, he says, took his career to a new level. And then there are those favorites like Kathy Bates and Cindy Crawford. “I’ve been really lucky,” Curry says. “Who would have ever thought I’d be working on the President’s (Bill Clinton) hair?!”
Growing up in L.A. the son of a pipeline worker, Curry brought his mother to her hometown of Pearl four years ago, the first time she had been back since ’51. Sick, she spent the last year of her life with his Aunt Gertie. “I moved to Hollywood at 17 and you think you don’t need anyone,” he says, awaiting his next client at Duling Hall. “So the greatest thing that happened in coming here was when I lost my mom and had all this family I never thought I needed. It was unbelievably comforting.”
Curry was raised by his mother, a smart woman that never missed a hair appointment. “I was bad in school and math looked like Chinese,” he tells us. “But I went with her to the salon and could look at hair (design). It made sense to me.” When he was in high school, he says graduation seemed unlikely. “The first quarter of tenth grade, I’d light a cigarette in front of the principal to get kicked out.” And that he did. It was from his Simi Valley alternative school he noticed the beauty school across the street. “My parents said if you go to school everyday, we’ll put you in beauty school.” Curry finished training there before he even finished 12th grade. “Hair is the only thing I have ever done.”
He got his start with a friend’s clothing line, shooting ads for L.A. Weekly, a local paper. “He had an agent, she saw my (hair) work and said I should come talk with her,” Curry says. Later, ads for a local department store had him doing hair for models Gia (Carangi), Jerry Hall and Janice Dickinson. “Catalog is where the money was and that’s where I learned how to do hair for camera.” A friend, Kate Harrington, started L.A. Style Magazine, and brought in photographers from New York. “That’s when I started working with big names.” The rest, he says, is word of mouth and good agents. “It’s been a good life.”
Collaborating with make-up artist Billy B, Curry opened a salon, Sydney Earl’s, in B’s native Aberdeen, Miss. They both would fly in and out for two or three weeks at a time, take appointments and head back to New York or L.A. Now sole owner of the salon, Curry made a decision to turn Sydney Earl’s over to his assistant, who now runs the place and lives in his restored historic home there.
Before he made the move to Jackson, Curry turned to social networking to find friends. He had known SMoak owner Suzanne Moak for two years and says they’ve always talked of him coming on board. Working now for two weeks, Curry is excited to learn again. “I was nervous because I haven’t worked in a salon with other people in thirty years. In L.A., it’s me and a makeup artist in the room. You are never around others to watch them work and learn new stuff. I’m excited about that.”
So why Jackson – why now? Surely life in Hollywood is more glamorous, the money is better and the client list is still top notch, we wonder? “I’m 58, I’ve been on a plane for years and years,” he explains. “Bottom line, I want to be happy. Money doesn’t buy happiness. It used to, but not anymore.” Curry says he’s had an amazing career. “I’ve done things I never thought I would do. I’ve seen the world. But I don’t need to be in California anymore. I’m in love with here.”