Happy Roi Barnard Day.
Roi Barnard, nee Roy Barnard, of Charles the First hairdressers, had today named after him yesterday by Mayor Marion Barry:
"I proclaim Tuesday, June 8, Roi Barnard Day," said the mayor, and then led a small gathering in his office in a round of applause.
"This really makes me feel good," said Barnard, noting, however, that "My name is spelled wrong," which it was, as "Rio," but a secretary took care of that in a jiffy. "I can't change it again," said Barnard. "My poor father would be confused, he'd say 'Make up your mind!' "
It is Roi Barnard day today because his present partner in business, and former one in marriage, Charles Stinson, asked Mayor Barry to make it Roi Barnard day in honor of Barnard's birthday. Barnard is 44. Both he and Stinson have held fund-raisers for Barry. "I've been behind him for a long time," Stinson said.
Also, as the mayor himself put it: "Why not?"
Stinson arranged two days of celebration for Barnard. Last night, two rock bands, Magenta Rose and Scream, were scheduled to play on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Barnard's honor. "The sun will shine and the moon will shine, God told me," said Stinson with admirable assurance, given the weather we've had lately. Stinson was once responsible for 500 tap dancers dancing to "Take the A-Train" on the memorial steps, and in January married his tap-dancing teacher, Garrey Stinson (nee Maki). Today, thanks to the office of Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (R-Kan.), a patron of Barnard and Stinson's salon, a flag will be flown for Barnard over the Capitol.
The first that Barnard heard of it all was a mention in a gossip column, late last week.
"I had to rearrange my piano class," he said. "I have the most wonderful teacher, she lets me play whatever I want. The only thing I ever wanted to play was 'Send in the Clowns,' but I have a runner-up, now--'Chariots of Fire.' "
After the proclamation ceremony the birthday party drove to Herb's Restaurant, off Dupont Circle. Barnard entered, lanky and elegant, wearing two small pearls in his left ear, seven carats of diamonds in one ring on his right hand, 12 smaller diamonds on his left hand, an unvented double-breasted linen sport coat with a shawl collar and a raw silk necktie which proved, when he offered for inspection, to have the softness of angel food cake.
He carried a bouquet of calla lilies.
The party was seated at a big round table and Stinson, very much the host, requested that everyone link hands. "I want you to hold hands until I'm grounded. I need your energy. I've got so much to do today, and there's the music tonight, and I need to be grounded. I'll let you know when." A couple of minutes later the grounding seemed to take effect and Stinson lauded Barnard for having "a sense of money, inspiration and love," and then requested that only one person at a time speak during the lunch. Hands were loosed for eating--the dish of the day being Eggs Roi, which were like Eggs Benedict with crabmeat instead of Canadian bacon.
The first topic of conversation was hairpieces.
Barnard says that he wore one for years and it was "thick, thick, thick," in comparison with his own thinner display. "One of the problems was, the salon is a very touchy place, everybody is always touching everybody else and one day this woman put her hand on my head and she could feel it was a hairpiece! She didn't freak out, but of course, I died."
"There's an elegance in natural," said Stinson, who wears a beige and salt beard.
"I don't know anything about hair," said Bob Johnson, the florist who supplied the calla lilies. "I said to Charles, 'You won't tell me how to arrange flowers and I won't tell you how to cut my hair, is that not what I said, Charles?' "
Other guests included Shannon Rodes, a woman who is advertising manager of a newspaper called The Washington Blade, once known as The Gay Blade, and Larry Uhrig, who, as pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church, officiated at the union of Charles and Garrey Stinson in January. "We have 200 branches around the world, primarily gay and lesbian except for the Nigerian church," Uhrig said.
Barnard mentioned that he's writing a book about gay divorce. "The title is 'Thank God There Were No Children.' I'm also writing one called 'Inside Out' about all aspects of the beautiful life--clothes, cosmetics, parties, how to throw a successful dinner party. Do you know the most important element at a dinner party? Lighting!"
Beauty, and its creation, was much on people's minds.
Said Barnard: "When I'm in my natural thought pattern and rhythm, I'm going to give you the best hairdo you've ever had, but if your thought patterns get in the way, I get dizzy and start doing my little dance around the chair."
He added: "The pedicure is my favorite thing. It's awfully hard to surrender your foot to another human being."
"My grandfather believed that the children and grandchildren should do pedicures for the older members of the family," said Stinson. "I always wanted to be the best so I could do my grandfather's. I said, 'Grandpa, am I the best one?' He said, 'Oh, yeah.' So pedicures have been a way of life for me."
"I grew up on a farm in North Carolina," Barnard replied. "On Sundays there is absolutely nothing to do. My parents would ask me to brush their hair. I'd be brushing their hair and they'd fall asleep. Actually, I worked it up into a very profitable situation because I made them pay me."
There was talk of cats (Barnard's is a black Siamese named Margaret Ann Kitty) and politics (Barnard was proud that the salon has survived the vagaries of three administrations) and of the necessity of ending parties while the guests are still having a good time. This Stinson did, only one cigarette past the eating of strawberry cheesecake, and in plenty of time for all to get ready for Roi Barnard Day.