It's a Thursday afternoon and two senior women have just finished a game of bingo. As they pass the hair salon just across the hall, they take in the signage, a provocatively posed blond woman in a neon green bikini, and shake their heads.
"I'd hate to be dressed like that and have to do hair," one of them says.
It's not exactly another customer lost for Exposed, the eye candy salon at the Plaza, where sexy hairstylists cut, color and style hair while wearing lingerie. Although female clients schedule appointments, the target demographic here is clear. It's a concept salon aimed at men.
"There are a million and one salons in Vegas," says Traleia McMahon, managing partner of Exposed. "It's basically just that way to stand out. It's a way to have an edge."
With Adele's "Someone Like You" ballad playing overhead, McMahon walks through the salon, her black lace panties revealing much more than her most talkative clients. She worked in a traditional salon for years and always dreamed of running her own operation. When Anthony Cools, owner of Exposed and hypnotist at Paris Las Vegas, offered her the opportunity to do just that, she couldn't pass it up. Even if it meant stripping down.
"We're not fully dressed but we're not giving lap dances, either," she says. "That's a big misconception we get. Guys will ask, 'What if I pay extra?' "
To which she jokingly offers a longer scalp massage.
Not all her male clients have the same expectations, though. When she told the clients from her old salon that she'd be moving, she had to explain the deal at the new digs. Some of them were into it, some weren't. A loyal male client who works as a mixed martial arts fighter simply couldn't bear the thought of his hairstylist shaping his faux hawk in her underwear. "Will you please put your clothes on when I see you?" he asked her.
For him and a few others who aren't comfortable with it, she wears a robe.
The concept hasn't reached its full potential, according to McMahon and Cools. But, with new developments downtown on the rise, they expect that will change.
"I am still very confident this is a winner," says Cools via email. "People that visit the salon get an amazing cut from some of the most talented stylists, and a general awesome experience and a great memory to bring back home to share with friends."
The services at Exposed are on par with most salons. Men's cuts start at $25 for a basic cut. Full service, which includes a hot towel scalp massage and style, costs $50. Women's cuts range from $40 to $60. Colors start at $60, highlights start at $75, styles start at $40. Waxing ($15-25), makeup ($50-$75) and tanning ($5-$10) also are available.
But, the tips here are much different from any other salon. At least according to stylists Amanda Khoshnevis and Dana Alfonso, whose stage names, although there are no stages at Exposed, are Babs and DD, respectively. DD (pronounced DeDe) derives from Alfonso's bra size.
"Men are very good tippers," she says, her sheer bodysuit living up to the name of the salon. "I've never had a problem pulling out their wallet."
Khoshnevis does both hair and makeup. Her tips increased 50 percent when she started working at Exposed. Alfonso, who specializes in vintage updos, previously worked as a cocktail waitress at The Venetian. Her tips have stabilized.
With the help of an Exposed mobile billboard that drives down East Fremont Street and the Strip, they often get the male client who had to see it to believe it. A lot of times they're nervous.
"We try to make them as comfortable as possible," Khoshnevis said. "We'll just reassure them."
Sometimes that simply means ordering them a drink from the cocktail waitresses downstairs. All three of them agree, other times it means heavy flirting.
But at the end of the day, they're there to do hair and "it's not a joke," says Alfonso.
In the 11 months it's been open, Exposed has seen its range of clients. Just the other day a 92-year-old woman came in for a roller set. Not too long after that, a 2½-year-old boy tagged along with his father.
"They wanted matching mohawks," says McMahon, whose stage name is Trae. "They took pictures with all of us."
Exposed, the eye candy salon, is at the Plaza, 1 S. Main St. Further information is available by calling 386-2590.
Contact Xazmin Garza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0477. Follow her on Twitter @startswithanx.