Scissors in hand, Albie Mulcahy gazes wistfully out the salon windows at the passing traffic on Fourth Street N.
He’s a chain-smoking slip of a hairstylist, a cross between pop artist Andy Warhol and ’80s rocker Billy Idol.
He doesn’t cut and tell, but he once toured with the Sex Pistols. He knows famed stylist Paul Mitchell. He is the former right-hand man of deceased rock star stylist John Sahag.
His lifestyle is fast and furious. He flies to seven different cities every two months to tend to rich and famous clients. In the past 15 years he has lived in New York, London, Paris, Los Angeles and Tokyo.
Three years ago, Mulcahy moved to St. Petersburg to put the brakes on the frequent-flier life.
At 56, Mulcahy is teenage hip, with spiky bleached blond hair, black jeans, black hoodie and black ankle boots. Two chunky silver crucifixes hang from his plunging neckline.
He has a close following among the city’s artsy crowd, aspiring models, young hipsters.
He calls his salon, the Velvet Lounge.
So far he’s relied on word of mouth, his MySpace page and local art events to bring in customers.
Mulcahy was born in Boston, one of five children of Irish Catholic parents. He grew up poor and dreamed of being a famous rock star.
After spending a year in Vietnam and overcoming a nasty drug habit, he watched the movie Shampoo and knew he wanted to become a hairstylist.
“It sounds like a cliche,” he said, “but it’s true.”
He opened a salon in Boston and met Paul Mitchell, becoming one of his educators. He later joined with Sahag in New York, who taught him the dry-cutting technique.
It’s been 12 years since Mulcahy has cut hair wet.
Mulcahy said he now is dedicated to teaching other stylists what he knows through his new educational training venture with business partner Dwight Miller called V L V T academies.
Originally, Mulcahy wanted to fly under the radar in St. Petersburg, but now he wants his name out.
“I want to put St. Petersburg on the map for the hair industry to learn,” he said. “I think it has that capability.”