September 8, 2017
Written by Larry Buhl
This article originally appeared on A&U America’s AIDS Magazine.
When Eric Leonardos casually asks me where I go to get my haircut, I freeze. I’m sitting in his mid-century inspired living room in West Hollywood, expecting him to throw shade when I confess. Supercuts. Every month. I prepare to explain that haircuts are a transactional thing with me, and I don’t like to make appointments and curly hair is pretty goof-proof, isn’t it?
I assume saying this to a hair and make up artist, one who retains some celebrity clients as well, would be sacrilege. But Leonardos simply smiles and reassures me that my approach to hair is fine for me. Still, I’m missing out, he adds.
“Some people want to come back to the same stylist not only for their skill but for their experience and the connection with that person,” Leonardos says. “I get to know them and they get to know me and we share things about our lives.”
Leonardos wasn’t asking me about my hair habits to shame me. He was making a largerpoint about human connection and how the quest for beauty should be more than running away from ugliness, which ties into his initiative, Beauty Allies.
But before I get to Beauty Allies, it’s important to understand how Leonardos gained a national platform to talk about these things. It all started with that prototypical “meet a stranger, get a gig on a reality show, come out as HIV-positive to the world” Hollywood fairytale.
Prince Charming, found and lost
In early 2016 the casting people behind the LOGO TV series Finding Prince Charming reached out to Leonardos via Facebook. One of the casting editors had met him at a party a month earlier.
“Just before I was contacted by the show I had just made a decision to focus more on helping people in the HIV community,” Leonardos says. And, thanks to Shonda Rhimes, who wrote the best-selling book, Year of Yes, he designated 2016 as his year of saying yes.