Beauty Store Business

NOV 2017

Beauty Store Business provides solutions for better retailing! New products, industry news, savvy business moves and important trends affecting both brick-and-mortar and online retailers are included in each issue.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 31 of 67

30 November 2017 | BLONDIE AMBITION Growing up in the Bronx, the Bellomos were passionate about music. "We grew up singing together, putting on shows, dancing, putting on makeup and fooling around with our hair," Snooky says. Taking style cues from the iconic girl groups they admired like the Ronettes and the Shangri-Las, and later Tina Turner, Patti Smith and Debbie Harry, the sisters became deeply immersed in the heart of the thriving punk rock scene of the mid-1970s as frequenters of bars in the East Village like CBGB and Max's Kansas City—ones which embraced brazen hairstyles, daring outfits and rebellious youth culture. And at such bars, they befriended fellow scenesters like Tomata du Plenty of The Screamers and performance-artist Gorilla Rose, all part of a tightknit community. "It was gutter glam, trashy glamorous," Snooky says. "With Max's and all those early clubs, everyone had a free spirit and a DIY atti- tude because nobody had any money. Everyone was poor, so everybody made his or her own outfits and created their own looks. It was mostly thrift-shop glam and punk glam," Tish says. Across from CBGB, Tish and Snooky performed in a wacky vaudeville show called "Palm Casino Review" in Manhat- tan's Bouwerie Lane Theatre. There they met many drag queens at the show who shared their makeup tricks for applying eyelashes, contouring and using glitter, which they still use to this day. "They taught us practically everything we know about makeup and glamour," Snooky says. One day, at the recommendation of friend Gorilla Rose, Blondie members Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, who were in search of backup singers, came to watch Tish and Snooky perform. They liked what they saw and invited them to a rehearsal the next day, and the rest was history as the sisters joined Blondie as early backup vocalists. "It was that simple in those days; everybody knew each other and it was just very organic," Snooky says. "It was so cool back then because the nights would never end. We'd always be coming home from the clubs as everyone was running off to work in the morning," Tish adds. MAKING PUNK APPROACHABLE Even in their youth, others would ask the Bellomo sisters how they achieved their edgy style. Self-proclaimed packrats ("We're borderline hoarders," Tish says), they used to put on "rock 'n' roll rummage sales" at their friend Gina's apartment to sell surplus odds and ends—like a scarf that once belonged to one of the New York Dolls or vintage acces- sories collected on trips to England. As scenesters of the punk movement, people constantly inquiring about their style and cosmetics naturally led to opening up a store as a sideline to their singing career. Using a name coined by their art therapist mother and scrounging up $250 for rent, Tish, Snooky and Gina opened the Manic Panic boutique on St. Mark's Place in 1977. "New York City was almost bankrupt at the time," Snooky says, "so there was more opportunity in a way back then. Even though everyone was so poor, you could actually do things you can't do now." Local musicians, artists and music fans flocked to the punk store, which gained a lot of publicity as the first of its kind in America—owned and operated by authentic counterculturists. Soon people were traveling all the way from New Jersey, Hawaii and even Japan for a glimpse at their unconventional private- label cosmetics, curated hair dyes, thrift- shop clothing, wigs and huge eyelash selection ("We totally brought that to the forefront," Tish says). "We became known for beauty prod- ucts and cosmetics at Halloween because we were the only ones who had that kind of stuff, so there would be a line out the door," Tish says. Other than Manic Panic, if you wanted "anything interesting" you'd have to go to the theater district for theatrical makeup. Yet unlike their competitors, Tish and Snooky valued cus- tomer service and would do consultations or custom-mix hair dyes for patrons who wanted a specific shade they didn't offer. "We knew beauty and [our competi- tors] stole everything else from us, but "Nothing could stop us though. Whatever obstacles were put in front of us, we just kept going." –Tish Bellomo This image of Tish and Snooky from 1981 graces the label of a bottle of wine: Rock 'N Roll Red, made by the Cereghino Smith winery. Manic Panic's Professional line of semi-permanent colors Courtesy of Manic Panic

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Beauty Store Business - NOV 2017