Going Ham at Beauty World
One Saturday evening, a bunch of friends from out of town were in Durham for this huge benefit dance party, so we decided to take them to Beauty World.
I live with a bunch of my friends in Durham, North Carolina. We all fled here half a year ago to escape the conservative yuppie culture that was taking over the town we were living in at the time. Durham has been a known hub for Southern queers since the 1950s, so it was a clear choice for us. Not long after moving here, we were taken to the infamous and locally adored beauty supply store Beauty World. It’s a slice of heaven – what my friend describes as the “one-stop shop, the K-Mart for every fag, hag, and drag in North Carolina.” Beauty World has something for everyone planning a crazy night out. My crew of friends are notorious for bringing the nast to the dance floor, so this place is a real asset to us.
All of us had gathered at my house to get ready. As we were trying to figure out what we were gonna wear to the party, everyone seemed to be experiencing some sort of fashion crisis – like a group of middle schoolers before the big 7th grade dance, but gayer. Every piece either didn’t fit right, was too dull, or was in serious need of fresh accessories. One of us suggested that we all go to Beauty World. “What in the hell is a Beauty World?” one of our out-of-town friends asked. “Shit bitch! Has no one taken y’all yet? Okay, you’re in for a real treat, let’s do this shit!” Our motley crew of fourteen freaks and queers loaded up into cars, and drove the half mile down the street to our beloved beauty store.
Upon entering the 10,000-square-foot store, Savannah gathered everyone at the entrance.
“Alright y’all, listen up. The shoe department is overpriced and ugly – except for the Doc Martens rip-offs – and the same goes for the makeup and swag by the counter. To find real bargains you gotta dig deeper. And although half the store is wigs, you wanna stay away from those until you can afford the investment. There are three aisles filled with makeup and nail polish for a dollar ninety-nine. And when you’re ready to move on to jewelry, ignore all that “gold plated” shit locked in cases and find me in the ninety-nine-cent earring aisles between the incense and the body suits. The back right corner is where you’ll find the beanies, balaclavas, shoe laces, pleather, leggings, fitteds, and fishnets. Let me know if you need help finding the section with magic oils, candles, and stuff from the eighties – you gotta kinda sit on the ground and look between shelves to notice it. Oh, and the entire middle shorter aisles of the store is bulk product for hair salons and barber shops, it’s great if you want natural oils and butters.”
Those of us that weren’t ready for the avalanche of makeup headed straight to the ninety-nine-cent earring aisle. As we were sifting through the goldmine of hoops, doorknockers, and studs, Savannah started cracking up. “Oh man I just remembered this amazing thing that happened last time I was here. It was before one of the Queer it in/ Queer it out dance parties, and I was here desperately trying to find those Rihanna “Trust No Man” earrings. I was digging hard through everything and kept crossing paths with the same woman. When I looked up to smile – in an attempt to be like ‘sorry we keep bumping into each other even though there’s no one else around’ – I caught her stuffing earrings by the handful into her peacoat! I couldn’t help but laugh because in my head I was like “bitch we’re in the ninety-nine-cent aisle and you are still going ham!’. Of course I was trying to give off that “I’m not a snitch and I think you’re cool” vibe. Apparently I failed because the woman bucked at me and told me I better not say shit. At that point I just busted out laughing and said, ‘Oh honey you’re barking up the wrong tree, I feel you,’ and gave her some privacy. But I was pissed that I never found that earring!”
The crowd excitedly paired off and dispersed. I followed my friends Savannah and Butch towards the back of the store. After digging around for a while, Savannah looked at Butch, who was gracefully gawking at the amazing selection of crop-tops, and asked, “Okay, so how does this compare to places in Oakland?”
“This is like a mega store compared to the beauty supply stores that I’ve been to in Oakland, but I gotta admit it, the selection of leather could be better.”
I chimed in,“Oh shit! I hear a critic!”
“I’m just saying, compared to Oakland, there could be a lot more leather.”
“Damn! That’s real. I’m hearing that Oakland has more leather and mesh options than us. But I think that has to do the fact that there is a big leather scene in the the Bay, so I mean, you gotta have your knock-off options too, ya know?”
“Sure.” Butch said, with a side smile.
“To be fair, it’s kinda too hot down here to wear leather most of the year,” Savannah added. Next, Butch was holding up some amazing, strappy piece of clothing.
“Wait, what in the actual fuck are you holding up right now?” I asked with an excited confusment.
Butch smiled, “Pure mesh.”
“Pure mesh?” Savannah grabbed the oddly shaped black crop-top out of Butch’s hands. “Hold on, we’re having a pure mesh moment. Ooooh yeah, the lace, the pleather and the mesh...there is a Stevie Nicks song about this, it called Leather and Lace.”
The three of us giggled.
“We should be listening to it right now!”
“Ugh, but the clothes are actually expensive. For cheaper clothes you’ve gotta go to Citi Trends.” After a little more digging around, Butch found a meshy lace crop-top with upside-down crosses burnt into it.
“That would look so good on you!” Savannah screeched excitedly.
“It’s a shame that I didn’t bring my black lace fingerless gloves, they would have been a perfect combo.What was i thinking?!”
I got a little bored of the clothes and decided to mozy over to my friend Basil, who was with our friends Mai and Jason, all circled around the balaclavas.
“B-money, will you give us a breakdown of how you feel about the selection of balaclavas here in Beauty World?” Jason asked Basil.
“It’s a pretty nice selection, they’re definitely more longish, which is nice because it conceals more of your neck. Um, they’ve got a good texture to them, not just the same ol’ same ol’ boring mask. I mean, this one has a zipper in the front and a flat brim attached! They’re definitely not as furry as some balaclavas can be...more, like, ribbed.”
Everyone bursted out into laughter.
“For your pleasure!” Mai joked.
“How do you feel about their ability to protect your anonymity in a situation in which that could be necessary? Like, could you give us a 1-10 get-outta-jail scale?” Jason teased jokingly.
Basil shifted his weight and put his hand on his hip, “I mean, I’m always a t-shirt-wrapped-around-the-head fan, honestly. I think that balaclavas leave a lot of eyebrow and mouth showing. *But *I do think that if you’re gonna need something, and you’re gonna have to pull it off in a pinch, they’re worthwhile. I mean, they’re basically disposable, and at three dollars ninety-nine cents, who cares? Just toss one off and get another one.”
“Yeah.” I agreed.
Basil gave me a snarky smile, “I mean, you have like 20 of them in your closet, don’t you?”
The crowd roared with laughter.
“Yeah, totally! I mean, it’s just like Doug Funny’s closet, except for instead of having all of the same t-shirt, I’ve got all of the same balaclava!”
I looked over my shoulder and a couple of aisles down I saw my friend Sabina kneeling on the floor in some trashy pose, with my friend Eli standing over her trying to take a photo. I could hear them moaning, “Ugh, your camera isn’t working right!” I turned around to tease them.
“Oh my god, we’re having a selfie moment right now!”
“I’m having a selfie crisis!” Sabina whined from the dirt-stained floor. I turned back to my out-of-town friends, who were now cracking up at Sabina.
“Okay, so there is this new trend in North Carolina right now – the Beauty World selfie… You should check out that hashtag, follow it on twitter...I mean, like, for the south it’s a pretty big deal...”
“I can’t do it. I can’t get the angle. Really, it takes a true professional to master the Beauty World selfie.”
“Well, technically, this isn’t even a true selfie right now, I just want everyone to know that Sabina is clearly not holding the camera right now.”
Sabina rolled onto her back in the middle of the aisle, “Snitch!”
After a little while longer of trolling each other and hagging it up, we had tons of stuff to try on, and all met at the dressing rooms. “Are you ready? Because I am very ready to try this on,” Alex told us, half excited and half annoyed after waiting 15 minutes for everyone else to catch up. This was Alex’s first trip to Beauty World, even though they had been to Durham several times before.
We all tried on various amazing, tacky and downright raunchy items. After most of us were done trying on clothes, Alex was left with an amazing black and gold shirt that read BITCHES MUST KNOW. Alex lives in Atlanta, so I was dying to know what their thoughts were on their Beauty World experience.
“So, as someone who lives in, like, one of the fabulous fashion capitals in the south, what do you think? Is this old news for you?”
“Oh no, this is where all of my dreams come true. Cheap, gaudy jewelry, and fanny packs! I mean, fanny packs, can we talk about them?!” Alex pointed to a huge rack of fanny packs that had undoubtedly been in the store since the 80’s. “I wish that people were finding ways to keep fanny packs relevant, I mean, it’s hard without looking like a total oogle or scumfuck, ya know?”
Sammy walked up with a basket full of stuff.
“Oh what the fuck, where did you get a basket? I want a basket!” Sabina exclaimed, juggling about fifteen items in her hands, including these amazing fake rose-gold earrings that said TRUST NO BITCH on them, and a thick pair of dolphin earrings that were too gay to function. “In the jewelry section, the lady came up to me and was like, ‘girl, you’re struggling’ because I was dropping all of my stuff!”
Sammie wanted to know about the leggings: “You say that their leggings are not for bigger people?” I was sad to admit it, because even though they have a larger-size selection called “queen size”, they still don’t fit most of the bigger kids I know.
“Yeah, big kids out there, regardless if you’re a kid or not, these leggings are *not *for you. Which is actually pretty strange, because there are a lot of bigger people that shop here/exist in the world, so I’m a little confused. I mean, I’ve been thinking about writing the company, and you know, speaking truth to power.” Everyone started cackling. “For all of the big kids out there, myself included”.
As we were grabbing our things to get ready to go, Winston walked up with a tightly folded package. Savannah walk over to him, “What’s that”?
“Booty shorts, I mean, like shorts that have a booty built into them. It’s important for people that don’t have butt!”
“Yo, the butt booster is a like, really important for people that don’t have a booty, but my question is, what do you do when you’re on a date, and you have the booty booster on, and then you…”
“And then you go home to get it on with the person later?”
“Yeah! And you know that there is gonna be that moment later, when they reach down and like, they feel that you have the booty booster on!”
“I have noidea! It seems as if it’s for the date where you just get food.”
“Yeah, it’s for the burrito date”
“Yeah, i mean, maybe a burrito, but maybe finer things… I don’t really know. I’ve been wondering this the whole time.”
“But like, as a bigger girl, I’ve been looking at the Magic Slim Body, being like, yeah, I’d wear that, but I wouldn’t wear that out, because the second that you get fresh with somebody in the club, and they go to touch your skin, they feel that you’ve got on this, like, nasty full on body slimmer!” Everybody laughs. “And I’m saying, like, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s gonna take the right kinda person to still be stoked. Ya know?”
“And you can’t can’t finger-bang in the club with that thing on, I mean, I don’t know how anyways”
“Dude, you’d have to like, lift the leg up, and like...I don’t know...it just seems like too much work”
“Wait, I actually have a story about that!” Fin interjected with excitement. “I went on a date with someone named Khyla, who was wearing a booty booster, but who could tell? ‘Cause they looked so good, and they felt great with pants on and all that stuff, it totally worked. And, um, we did in fact go home together, and um, basically, when things were getting sexy, like, after lots of making out, they were like ‘oh, just a sec, let me show you this amazing thing that exists in the world’ and unbuttoned their pants, pulled them down, and were like ‘this shit is the best!’”
“Whoa!” everyone squilled, “Fuck yes!”
“Then they were like, ‘cause you know, as a person of color with no ass, it’s pretty much the best thing that has ever happened to me in the whole world’”
“Yes!” the crowd cheered.
“That was so graceful!” Butch exclaimed.
Fin, “So yeah, that’s how you do it! It was so sexy, and they were so confident about it”.
Suddenly, we all realized that we were about to be late to our own damn party, and still needed to get dressed, so we all hussled to or past the checkout-line. Needless to say, everyone looked fabulous in their Beauty World swag. At the end of the night, the dance floor was littered with fake eyelashes, press on nails, glitter and broken earrings. A truly perfect ending to the night.
Published on March 6, 2014