Mane Man Anthony Morrocco Works on Moon Time to Deliver the Kindest Cut of All

updated 07/13/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/13/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Anthony Morrocco's first job as a hairstylist was governed by the stars, celestial entities with names like Dunaway, Kennedy and Vanderbilt. That was in 1965 when he worked at Kenneth's, then the Manhattan clip joint of the rich and famous. Now Morrocco, 44, runs his own shop out of his plant-filled studio in Laguna Beach, Calif. And instead of the stars, he takes his cues from the moon.

He calls his styles "lunar cuts" because they are done according to the moon's phases. Morrocco likens his approach to gardening: Hair is a crop, and the yield will be more bountiful if pruned carefully and harvested at just the right time. (He draws the line at fertilizer, however.) He contends that cutting hair during the waxing of the moon makes it grow and that a haircut when the moon is waning retards growth.

That may sound like just another in a long line of West Coast head trips. But Morrocco, who was born in Connecticut, learned the approach from his South American clients at Kenneth's, who were devoted moonies. "They all had fabulous, thick hair," he recalls. "Average hair growth is six inches a year, but these ladies were averaging eight inches."

Whenever a new client makes an appointment, Morrocco starts by checking the person's birth date in books such as The Old Farmer's Almanac and Celestial Influences. His intention is to find that time of the month (usually a 36-hour period) during which the person's sun and moon signs are in perfect astrological harmony. Then, performing what he calls a "blunt snip cut"—cutting the hair with an audible click of the scissors—Morrocco "shocks" the follicle to make it begin producing new hair. As an antidote to client anxiety, Morrocco plays mellow new-age music on his stereo during the hour-long, $45 ordeal. "It's anti-frantic," he explains. "It makes the client—the plant—calm."

About 90 percent of Morrocco's plants ask for lunar cuts. The others, usually friends, are looking for something more conventional. Same price, but the cut takes only 15 minutes.

Occasionally Morrocco will get calls from his former celebrity clients. "They want me to go to L.A., or they want to come down here," he says, "but it's too disrupting. They're very keyed up, coming in with their entourages, tying up the phone lines. These days, I'm pretty keyed down." Rather a down-to-earth attitude for a man who's always got an eye on the sky.

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