I Was Elvis Presley’s Personal Hairstylist

Ever the superstar, Elvis Presley enthralled audiences; he was the musical legend appearing larger then life,

sending shockwaves of energy, reaching into and inspiring every person. Elvis’ fantastic looks and persona are globally and instantaneously recognizable. His glossy jet-black hair arranged in its well known pompadour, his soaked falling curls and his face outlined with sideburns; all indicate a full, healthy head of thick hair. The ultimate image Elvis displayed to his audiences was exactly what the hordes of Elvis fans came to expect of their favorite. Yet many people don’t understand that an appearance of perfection is simply that: an image, a mirage. Though Elvis was gifted with a remarkable, full head of hair, it didn’t have enough strength and demanded consistent attention.

To gratify his ever-growing army of loving devotees, Elvis continually pushed harder and harder, exhausting himself and consuming his vigor, all at the price of his health. In addition to an assortment of prescribed medicines, a regular eating regimen of unhealthy food and a dearth of consistent physical fitness, his body paid the price of the full punishment of his exertions. Elvis was living to gratify his fans. If Elvis had cared for himself with the same consideration as he granted to his fans, we’ll never know; he could be here today.

I told Elvis my haircare philosophy the day we met: my approach is based on the knowledge that internal health and wellbeing are the foundation of beautiful hair. Elvis responded strongly, “Larry, you’re in charge of my hair, do whatever you think is necessary, only one thing…just make sure I keep it.”

Caring for Elvis’ hair, making sure it was healthy and styled for his image, or the movie he was making, was a responsibility I took very seriously. This was the look that would be seen in person and on photos around the world. He was the most iconic superstar on earth, and his hair was a trademark. Being totally aware of all that, I designed and employed nothing but the most effective, outstanding shampoos, conditioners, hair sprays and thickening agents to meet Elvis’ unique hair needs. As the black hair dye I used was stressful to Elvis’ hair, I was extremely sensitive to the need to be especially sure that it always looked great – and that he kept it! I probably looked like a mad scientist, or at the very least an alchemist, pouring and mixing many bottles of organic components in Elvis’ bathroom, generating exclusive formulas that worked wonders.

I’ll never forget one afternoon at Graceland, Elvis was watching me pouring some aloe vera gel and squeezing the oil from a vitamin E capsule into one of my hand-crafted shampoo recipes. I saw an odd expression on his face, and then Elvis smiled mischievously, “Larry, I don’t know exactly what you’re mixing there, but, if you’re goin’ to put that stuff on my hair it better not do anything weird.” Of course he was kidding around, as he was well aware that my special homemade mixtures always did the job.

Pungky Dwiasmoro Hiswardhani

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