There has been a lot of exciting news with Shorn: Toys to Men. Within the last month, my memoir has been nominated for a Stonewall Book Award, sponsored by the American Library Association; and review copies have been requested by The Advocate and New York Journal of Books. All three of these notices are national and would be great exposure. There is no guarantee anything will come of the recent attention but my fingers are crossed.
I have been under the impression that I am the first person to write and publish a memoir detailing a haircutting paraphilia.
I am not.
Someone recently emailed me a link to a book on amazon.com called Trophies by David Warren. I ordered it and read it immediately. The book was self-published by the author in 2009. The book, just 140 pages, is very poorly written but chronicles the struggles of it’s author with his uncontrollable compulsion to cut women’s hair in secret or against their will.
“Just in the theaters alone, I must have cut over four hundred locks of hair from every type of nationality, and ages from eight to fifty years old from 1977 to 1989. I’m still living with my hair fetish, probably will until I die. I think the best thing to ever happen to me was meeting my wife, settling down and starting a family. Everything I wrote was based on facts. Not all the events happened the way I describe them, but which of the events did will be something I will take to my grave. I apologize to all those I hurt, the victims, their families, and especially to my family.”
David Warren had numerous encounters with the law because of his paraphilia. He was arrested several times for battery and served time in jail for terrorizing and cutting the hair of his victims. He also spent time in a state mental hospital, yet was never really treated for his condition. He was dubbed by the media as “The Hair Bandit”. A nickname he seemed to take pride in at the time.
My experience reading Mr. Warren’s book was difficult. I kept thinking that it could have been me getting sent to jail or being locked away in a mental hospital because of my uncontrollable compulsions.
As a fellow paraphiliac, I did identify with many aspects of the book the author tried to convey: The feeling of being out of control; the sexual confusion; the detachment from friends and family; a loss of hope; low self esteem.
Yet the book lacks any emotional explanation or background for the writer’s behavior. It is all grit and comes across as a diabolical horror story with no motive or heart. Perhaps the author doesn’t have an explanation for his overwhelming urges to cut hair. As a reader, I wanted to know more about him as a person. I wanted to forgive the hair bandit, but the book didn’t inspire sympathy.
The book ends abruptly with Mr. Warren meeting a woman, falling in love, and marrying her in 1993. He implies that his paraphilia is mostly cured by the love of his wife and two sons. I hope that he has, indeed, found a peaceful life. Again, I wanted to know more. How did he just stop? Does he still have urges and how does he cope with them?
There certainly is room for any person with paraphilia (haircutting or any other kind) to come forward and tell their story. I admire David Warren for writing his memoir. I would encourage him to dig deeper inside himself and keep working on the book with the help of a ghost writer or skilled editor. I am sure there is more to tell than what I read in Trophies.