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'Ocean's Eleven'


Splitting Hairs: Is George Clooney wigging out in 'Ocean's Eleven'?

Rug Burn

Bud E. Luv takes on the secret world of hair in 'Ocean's Eleven'

Writer David Templeton takes interesting people to interesting movies in his ongoing quest for the ultimate post-film conversation.

"So what was with George Clooney's rug?" The closing credits for Ocean's Eleven are migrating tenuously up the screen, and throughout the room, small pockets of critical murmuring are breaking out. Like ugly rumors. Or hives.

While the invitation-only crowd, made up mainly of movie critics and other pop-culture opinion makers, are hotly debating the merits of the movie (a pumped-up remake of the 1960 Rat Pack vehicle, this time with Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, and George Clooney) a well-groomed guy in the middle of the room clears his throat and states again, "I'm serious. What was with that rug?"

The hubbub recedes. All eyes are now on Bud E. Luv.

"Trust me, I know a rug when I see one, and the guy was ruggin' it," Luv gleefully insists. "He wore at least three, maybe four different toupees in this movie. Expensive toupees, I'll give you that. Real quality rugs. I'd guess at least a million dollars of this movie's budget was up on Clooney's head."

And that's when we leave.

"Hey, I'm not saying the guy's bald or anything," Luv tells me as we exit the building in search of some supper. "I'm just saying he was wearing a rug."

Bud E. Luv is an enigma, a lounge-singing spoof artist whose own overachieving, all-natural hairstyle is a follicular legend stretching from Las Vegas to his unofficial second home in San Francisco. The Budster's big-band-backed stage shows--and his numerous CDs--are tongue-in-cheek homages to the great Vegas lounge singers, such as the original Ocean's Eleven stars, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr. In 1993, Luv wrote You Oughta Be Me: How to Be a Lounge Singer and Live Like One (St. Martin's Press).

In other words, Bud E. Luv is the walking, talking embodiment of everything that the original Ocean's Eleven stood for, which more than entitles him to say this about the remake: "It didn't swing. It hip-hopped a little. But it just didn't swing. You gotta understand. In 1960, the Rat Pack was it. They ruled the Hollywood scene. Frank, Dean, and Sammy were the Beatles of their day. And Ocean's Eleven was the Rat Pack's equivalent to A Hard Day's Night."

"Yet another movie," I point out, "that spawned a lot of talk about hair."

"True," Luv agrees, hopping a tangent to discuss the secret lounge-singer code names for the hairstyles seen in the movie.

"The Caesar is the poor guy who doesn't have much hair in the front, but has enough in the back to pull forward into wispy little bangs," Luv explains. "Hail Caesar! Elliott Gould had that going in the movie. Even Brad Pitt was going for a kind of a Caesar--sort of a crewcut Caesar--though he has a great head of hair, that guy. I don't think we saw a scramble. A scramble, of course, is the Zero Mostel look, growing the hair 10 or 12 inches on the side of the head and then combing it straight across."

"Isn't that a comb over?" I interject.

"You can call it a comb over," allows Luv. "But we Vegas guys call it a scramble, though the classic scramble is when you grow it about 16 inches, and then you whip it around in a swirl on the top of your head and then lock it down with hair spray."

"Is there a name for my hairstyle?" I suddenly want to know.

He levels his gaze at my gleaming scalp, conspicuously crowned with close-cropped hair specifically designed not to look like I'm hiding something.

"Oh, yeah, there's a name for that hairstyle," he replies. "It's called Proud to Be. You're just proud to be. And, I can respect that, 'cause hey, unlike certain movie stars we could mention, at least you're not wearing a rug."

From the December 13-19, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

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