Not included in Mr. Haute Coiffure, nor a mere hinting anywhere inside my book’s press release is the little-known backstory behind author Jehr Schiavo, writing as Gerard Saint D’Angelo. Making the shift from hairstylist to hairstylist/writer, concerning how and why this occurred will be imparted directly. A warning however, today’s particular letter is not appropriate for anyone browsing around seeking amusement — this entry contains graphic subject matter.
Dear kindred spirits,
Long ago and far away in San Francisco’s edgy Mission Creek lived famiglia di Schiavo; we leased a brand-spanking-new three bedroom, three bath, tri-level live work loft. Clients arrived and received their Jehrcuts on the ground floor — meanwhile, Jeanette and LouLou, our then one year-old daughter remained private if they wished anywhere upstairs.
Slowly but surely abnormal incidents began occurring in Jeanette’s immediate vicinity. These calamities started happening much more frequently and with increased serious effect as LouLou got older — four years old to be exact. When I was engaged downstairs, Jeanette upstairs tried in vain to prevent what her subconscious actions were causing while our daughter was in Mommy’s care. On the whole these accidents transpired around our kitchen. A yet defrosted Pyrex casserole dish containing leftovers that shattered inside our preheated 375-degree oven was an awful mess cleaning up. An episode or two of slit fingers by butcher knife, but mainly broken glass, whether mixed with dinner’s dessert — strawberries alongside fresh whipped cream or Sunday brunch — spinach, parmesan and mushroom omelettes, bowls or platefuls which LouLou could barely hold herself back from eating were now inedible.
If I’d been concentrating on a client and Jeanette made an appearance, I could tell by her expression whether something terrible happened upstairs or possibly another dark situation occurred elsewhere. For instance: Jeanette drove LouLou to Potrero Hill Library one sunny afternoon, returning with LouLou’s weekly load of classics, although Jeanette’s face expressed something else had befallen her. Asking in front of my client if everything was alright, Jeanette swiftly replied, “Yeah fine,” I knew otherwise. It wasn’t until finishing appointments that evening, going back upstairs, did Jeanette reveal the actual specifics. She calmly explained the front end of our Honda Element got creased negotiating a turn in our underground garage, building upon — “Don’t worry, Marin Honda said they can replace that section without any problem.”
Apparently knowing me at that juncture for five years, my wife hadn’t realized I could give two hoots about our SUV. I wanted reassurance, “Were either of you hurt?” Jeanette and I normally waited to speak about these unfortunate situations until later, after LouLou’s bedtime. I was always flabbergasted why such bad luck kept attracting itself to Jeanette; beyond other positive attributes — my wife is a very competent individual.
Is it me? Did we marry too soon? Perhaps being a mother is unfamiliar and has something to do with these derailments? “No.” “Absolutely not.” “Are you crazy?” Inevitably each were Jeanette’s typical response until her radical breakthrough right after an outburst on the morning of December 31, 2007.
All of us have experienced different cries in our lifetime, on others and felt within ourselves. Jeanette’s sorrow that pivotal New Year’s Eve morning arrived with inconsolable weeping; her tears and mucus saturated my sweatshirt’s shoulder, spreading to the chest. About two hours later, stouthearted Jeanette regained composure to indeed divulge what she bottled up for over twenty-five years.
Jeanette displayed tremendous courage by picking up our landline — dialed the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, in attempt to file charges against her father, a subhuman who molested his firstborn and only daughter during four sadistic years — between Jeanette’s tender age of six through ten. In addition to California’s pathetic five-year statute of limitations law which absolved him, that callous sheriff grilling Jeanette left her feeling more at fault than the perpetrator — Reginald Edward Fennell Jr.
Of the many excuses I used holding out a quarter century to wed: I hadn’t met that perfect partner I could thoroughly trust; not until peering into Jeanette’s eyes was it recognized her soul values honesty as much as mine.
Reginald Edward Fennell Jr. is guilty on each and every count. Nothing less than the unmitigated truth resides within Jeanette’s being — I believe Jeanette and most who are prepared to stomach hearing her hell emphatically as well.
The prison stretch for a male pedophile is notorious. It’s commonplace he is victim of pummeling and gang rape by the 250 lb. lifer along with iron pile cohorts impatiently waiting to take their turn. That is the retribution Reggie should have received violating Jeanette.
Jeanette’s mother, Lorrie Lynn Fennell, betrayed her firstborn and only daughter too, the ultimate betrayal I might add. Lorrie still won’t acknowledge, let alone accept responsibility, nor plead for Jeanette’s forgiveness. Lorrie’s not capable of accepting responsibility for her daughter’s pain; this is a woman who remains in utter denial til this very day. Lorrie ignored Reggie tiptoeing into Jeanette’s bedroom while the entire household was asleep in their rooms. Each morning, week after weeks, months on end, turning into years, Lorrie Lynn Fennell laundered her husband’s DNA evidence, never once curious enough to question why was his dried semen on fabric it shouldn’t have been. Reginald Edward Fennell Jr. and Lorrie Lynn Fennell’s fate shall be saved for a judicious Creator.
Suffering brought about by major surgery can take up to a year for any patient’s complete recovery. As I saw it on December 31, 2007, alongside this day, eight challenging years later (based upon multiple conversations with psychotherapists) the horror Jeanette endured will take her whole life — not for complete recovery, rather in Jeanette’s case, coming to terms with “emotional contamination,” quoting my peerless wife.
Of the few childhood photographs Jeanette has, one never ceases to shred her heart. In that studio portrait she is framed by the photographer who executed this shot using a three-quarter profile — Jeanette, probably two years old — Isadora fringe — cherub cheeks — flouncy crimson dress under white ruffled jumper — ankle socks and black patent leather Buster Brown shoes. These days, a forty year old woman, Jeanette can’t begin to wrap her head around what the fuck were “born again Bible thumping” Reggie and Lorrie thinking — under their combined nitwit impressions this atrocity would go unnoticed after that blameless child became an adult. Ostracized by Jeanette’s naive brothers, Sean, along with Andrew Fennell, both deny their older sister’s existence since Jeanette filed charges against their father; thereafter posting the devastating truth online — as urged by a FBI acquaintance.
I took it upon myself during 2008’s earliest days to make a famiglia di Schiavo unilateral decision of great consequence. I was confidant Jeanette required quality time in order to begin her recovery, surrounded by love and warmth, not using central heat nor down comforters in San Francisco neither. We sold every stitch, I mean everything: Honda Element, fab car seat, three floors of Italian interspersed with mid-century American and Japanese designer furniture, then broke away after purchasing three-one-way tickets to Miami. I initially forfeited approximately 70% of my business; that uprooting decision was in fact made during the Recession of 2008. Together, we commuted every eight weeks, like a Rolex Daytona, scheduling commissioned Jehrcuts in San Francisco, later adding Los Angeles and New York to our roster.
I tossed, twisted and turned for weeks, an insomniac’s agony, “How will I take care of my angels in the manner they rightly deserve?” One sweltering South Beach night I dragged myself out of bed, went off into another room and began scrawling the past on lined college ruled paper using my pencil. Those scribbled pages suddenly became daybreak with Jeanette and LouLou discovering me absorbed in writer’s unblock. Every night during those subsequent five years, I’d rise at midnight and wrote until sunrise; Mr. Haute Coiffure was the latest of six manuscripts.
Famiglia di Schiavo morphed; frequently I’ll refer to this lifestyle we lead as modern bedouins. No real keys, except two puny ones, (they hardly count by most people’s standards) one opens a private mailbox, another unlocks our storage unit’s padlock. We live a five-star global vagabond way amid tending esteemed patrons every eight weeks.
Mr. Haute Coiffure is crucial — to me, the emerging writer — for Jeanette, an adult survivor of childhood sexual trauma; that same valiant person who inadvertently prompted my writing, transcribing every handwritten untidy page onto computer (including this blog) — and last, although certainly not least, LouLou, without wavering is convinced her Poppi’s first book will sell more copies than we could’ve imagined.
For those of you about ready — in the midst of — or have already finished reading Mr. Haute Coiffure, I do hope the central theme along with underlying memos are sufficient enough to inspire your effort championing this book.