(Reviewed by Cathy Carey)
“George Masters had done another one of his disappearing acts from Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills more than a month ago. George had a reputation for being unreliable and outspoken. My favorite George story was about a lady he was styling who kept changing her mind on how she wanted her bangs, this side, that side, back, parted in the middle. George, exasperated trying to please her, picked up the scissors cut her bangs to her scalp, and handed them to her. He said “Here, lady, put ‘em where you want them.””
This is just one of the many anecdotal stories of her experiences with the rich and famous in Hollywood throughout her career. Upper Cut is an autobiography written by Carrie White about her path to becoming a ground breaking hair stylist in the 60’s and 70’s.
Abandoned by her father at an early age, left with an alcoholic mother, and her sexually abusive stepfather, Carrie had no role models to guide her. Carrie was left to figure out how to survive and grow up on her own. Fortunately the one talent that she did get from her mother was her artistic nature which helped shape the path that led her into her career of hair dressing.
Upper Cut takes you to the streets of Pacoima, CA where Carrie tried to deal with the reality of being abused by turning to alcohol. It was here that Carrie set up a pattern of substance abuse that would define her life. In survival mode Carrie developed an art of inventing and constantly reinventing herself as you will see throughout the book.
Her mother then made her move back to Hollywood where she enrolled at Hollywood High. A complete culture shock from what she had grown accustomed to, it was there that you see how once again she reinvented herself to survive high school.
It is from there that her artistic nature lead her to beauty school and then into the all-male profession of hair styling. Carrie was able to take every opportunity that came in front of her, not only meeting the expectations of her clients or employers, but exceeding them. During that time, it was important not only to be as good as the men in her field but better because she was a woman. Carrie became the A-list hairdresser with A-list clients, and was sought after by movie and television studios as well as by many famous photographers for magazine shoots.
Carrie was flown to Europe and the Middle East and partied with rock royalty such as Mick Jagger, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones, and Janis Joplin to name a few. Unfortunately, substance use was a way of surviving the fast lane at the time and she just couldn’t slow down.
Throughout the book you get a history lesson of what it was like to work in such a demanding profession in Hollywood and Beverly Hills, while raising a family of four kids.
Carrie White has a gift of telling stories no matter how funny or tragic they were.
Upper Cut is truly an inspiring story about one who almost lost it all. Carrie is now enriching and inspiring people’s lives for the better.
Anyone who is in hair styling, struggling with addiction, or just loves stories and gossip of the good old days in Hollywood would love this book.