How to go bald in 5 easy (Japanese) steps

Back in September of 2002, I started down the path of least humiliation regarding male baldness: shaving my head. Here’s how you can join in on the fun in your own backyard…

STEP 1: Get signed on to a Japanese television production depicting agony

Not that my part-time wanna-be acting life has ever been truly stellar, but gigs were a bit more sparse back then, and I hadn’t transitioned from my old representation to my current excellent agency. Plus, I still had amazing hair. Amazing in that I still had plenty of it.

A friend of mine, and former agent, asked me to venture back to Spokompton, WA (single, meth-head-mom capital of the world) after recently uprooting my entire life from there to move to North Carolina. While I was reluctant to return so soon after seeing that place compress to a singularity in my rear view mirrorthe opportunity to be on location for a shoot was too good to pass up. Plus, it wouldn’t really be shot in Spokane, but in a nearby small town that would turn out to have a significantly uninformed local newspaper (they said I was a stuntman from Universal Studios in Orlando, FL). Toss in free airfare and lodging, and I was sold.

STEP 2: Walk unknowingly into a situation where you’ll have stuff cemented to your head

The role I would be playing was that of erstwhile former pizza delivery man, Ezra Bias, who took a length of rebar through the skull in a freak accident on the way home from his last delivery. For reals. Apparently an oncoming car or truck kicked up the offending rod from where it lay, plotting just such an attack, and hurled it into the air, through Ezra’s windshield, into and through his noggin and lodging in the headrest of the car seat, effectively pinning him there. He would be found by another driver as he was still conscious and trying to remove the bar on his own. Imagine the crap you could talk if you yanked that sucker out yourself and survived! Paramedics would eventually convince Ezra that his temporary new horn would be best left in place until professionals could handle all the gooey grossness that would ensue once it was removed.

To simulate the presence of the bar on my own head, without adding to previous attempts to crack open my brainbox, the Japanese film crew would affix an old-school rebar-through-the-skull gag appliance to me and drizzle syrupy redness all over the place to indicate essential fluid loss. What they didn’t tell me was that the method of affixing would turn out to be how they keep automobiles from falling apart and buildings from crumbling back in Japan. Seriously, if they had used this stuff to stop Godzilla, there might have been only one movie about him: Godzilla, the Cementening. In other words, if you never want something glued permanently to all of your DNA, don’t use this stuff. Unfortunately, I don’t read kanji, so I wasn’t able to understand the warning label.

STEP 3: Finish filming and begin panic relieving meds when appliance refuses to detach

Between the stunt driving, the ambulance ride (where a real-life EMT contemplated flashing me while I was strapped securely to the teflon torture board in her ambulance) and the hospital scenes, it was certainly the most interesting and fun role I had in that era of my life, even though we were depicting a rather freaky tale of chaos & survival. Since we had shot the hospital recovery scenes before they molecularly bonded me to the appliance, the last of the shooting meant I could finally remove the fake rebar from the front and back of my head…with the help of Hercules, the Hulk and Doc Manhattan. That thing had put up a white picket fence and was contemplating the children it would raise on my face.

We tried scissors. My sliced scalp was unimpressed.

We tried rubbing alcohol and other potential solvents. My sliced scalp was filing divorce papers.

We tried giving up and searching the Internet for traveling carnivals looking for a rebar’d talking monkey. Nothing worked.

STEP 4: Give it the old high-school yank

Once it was determined that, barring some radical and rapid advances in teleportation-related fields of science, I would have to take matters into my own hands, I shooed away anyone who could talk me out of scalping myself and set about creating impromptu skin grafts.

It took three, vision scrambling, tries at each end, but I was finally able to remove copious amounts of skin and hair as the appliance reluctantly ripped free from its moorings. I went to the after party with the crew (at a small-town pub that must have thought we were crazy space a-leens, from the looks we got) with patches of skin and hair missing from both the front and back of my head. It looked like I had perhaps recently escaped from a cult and was starting my new life as that white guy with all the Japanese people. I may have worn a hat at some point, I don’t know. The pub had drinks and the production company was buying. We may even have re-enacted Dragon Ball Z scenes at some point in the night. I would only remember my newly acquired head wounds as part of the morning-after malaise.

STEP 5: Have Achebeyo tell you a full head of hair is wishful thinking now

I returned to NC and told Achebeyo everything about the shoot, including the uber-coolness of hanging out drinking with a crew that spoke almost no English , and how that doesn’t matter when you’re REALLY connecting with people. When Achebeyo’s eyes began to show signs of rolling from impatience, I lamely wrapped it all up with and now I’m back home. I always have trouble with my endings.

After taking some time to inspect my wounds, she speculated that I should start getting my hair trimmed down to decent lawn care standards. A few months into that plan and she recommended simply shaving it all entirely, as the newly developed helicopter landing pad on my scalp was showing signs of buying up the adjacent properties.

I gave up my hopes of growing the rest of my locks long enough to coil up into a hair turban on the top of my head and began the painful and messy process of learning how to shave just the hair from my head and not the anchoring skin as well. It took a while, but I finally incorporated this grooming process into my routine…mostly (you know, The Lazy).

So there you have it. Any time you want to experiment with pain thresholds and bonding agent strengths, just ask any Japanese person what they use to hold steel girders together, and I’m sure they’ll hand you a tube of Super-fun-crazy-molecule-bonding-salve in response. Just don’t get any on your crotch.

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13 Comments on “How to go bald in 5 easy (Japanese) steps”

  1. yourothermotherhere Says:

    Wow, what an experience!

  2. Meg Says:

    Well look on the bright side – maybe they really did you a favor. Now you can adopt any hairstyle needed for any role you take. Just buy a collection of wigs and youre all set! 🙂

  3. Katie Says:

    omg. OMG. The only thing that could’ve made this story better is if you had pictures. SERIOUSLY. If they had a contest for the least graceful way to enter into baldness, this would totally win. 😉

  4. Dad Says:

    Even though I know this story by heart, I still get damp in the nether regions reading about it again. There ought to be a movie of you making this movie; they could call it “Hairless in Seattle.” The Japanese version would of course be called “Hairress in Seatter.”

    • Erin Says:

      Second what Dad says (except for that vaguely racist bit at the end) — your story was, dare I say it… HAIR-larious? (Whatever, I have no self-respect left.) Anyhoo, loved reading!! Keep up the awesome work, big bro!!

      (PS: Your comment thing is being very rude and making me re-type my message over and over again. Apparently it doesn’t appreciate my lame old-man humor either. Hmph.)

      • renpiti Says:

        Yeah, I actually have to tell it to let random (familial) strangers accost me before you can comment at will. Otherwise some faceless entity on the Internet might (gasp) disagree with me.

      • Azul Sesenta Says:

        sorry to butt in, but ewww… are you seconding that “nether regions” bit?

      • renpiti Says:

        It’s my sister, referencing our father, so I’m gonna go out on a limb here and answer “no” for her.

  5. Azul Sesenta Says:

    awesome writing. you really externalize the whole self-loathing experience– with panache.

    I recently gave up on the whole head shaving thing and have let the sun shine on the bare patch in an untamed wilderness. I really can’t be bothered to care.

    Next– wearing sweatpants in public!

    • renpiti Says:

      Yours is the first comment since I started this process that actually made me laugh. Thanks for stopping by, and let me know how the sweatpants endeavor plays out.

      • Azul Sesenta Says:

        The women at work reassure me that when I take off my hat I reveal a remarkably stylish head of unkempt hair.

        They are lying through their teeth, but still it’s nice.

        Then I ask them if they have change for a 5 so that I can buy a Coke and drown my sorrows.


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