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Stepford For Metalheads by Lianvis

Frank and Jake were a couple. Frank and Jake loved metal, and it was that love of metal that had gotten them into this situation.
"Calling all heavy metal lovebirds!" the metal review site had screamed. "Two true metal heads will be treated to the tour of a lifetime. They'll be whisked away on an all-expenses paid trip across South America, the United States and Scandinavia to see all the heaviest underground acts you never thought you'd get to see live!"

In order to win you had to submit an essay about your relationship and how metal was involved in it, If you won you'd have to agree to makeovers for a photo shoot for the magazine, about metal love. The photographer had some concept or other in mind. Frank and Jake figured since it was for a metal-focused site (Metalstolerable.com) it wouldn’t be anything too out of their comfort zone.

So they wrote about how they'd met at a Xegren show and recognized each other from Grindr and how they'd hooked up before running into one another at several more shows, hooking up each time until they'd realized that they liked each other liked each other and the rest was history. It was a love story for the ages, or at least the early 21ist century.

On the day they’d found out they’d won, they’d both let out whoops of delight and Jake had broken their coffee table by jumping up on it in sheer enthusiasm. Now, however, it was the day of their makeovers. There’d been little communication as to what said makeovers would consist of, but for airfare, tickets, meals, nice hotels and all the merch you could ask for along with backstage passes all over the place… well it couldn’t be that bad, could it?

Jake and Frank stood outside the barber shop for one last moment.

"F***," said Frank, running his fingers through his waist length jet black hair for possibly the last time.

"F***," agreed his boyfriend, Jake, a redhead whose coppery waves reached all the way to the top of his slim hips in tight black jeans. Neither of them knew what was coming. All they knew was Frank was to go into this barber where the hired car had delivered him for a haircut, while Jake was going to be whisked away to who knows where and for who knows what.

Frank was really very good-looking in a rough around the edges way, a tall lean guy with green eyes, rather impressive sideburns and a lot of tattoos. He wore his dyed black hair loose down his back, shoulders tense as he entered the barber shop. He hadn't been in a place like this in years. Normally, nothing would induce him to even enter a barber shop, but he and his boyfriend had won a contest that promised them an all-expenses paid luxury trip to see a dream lineup of bands. Bands including Witchery, Satyricon, Archgoat, Lolth, Non-Serviam, K LID SA, Black Angel, Goat Semen, Profane Creation and innumerable others and so there was no way he was going to pass that up. Besides, they probably just wanted an undercut or something like that. That’d be cool, with the sides of his head shaved he’d have more room for tattoos. Still, the vintage-style decor of the place gave him pause. He walked over to the lone barber who seemed to be working that day..

"So, uh, I'm Frank... I’m here for the Metal’s Tolerable contest winners thing," Frank explained sounding more nervous than he’d like.

"Frank, good to meet you," said the barber with a nod sitting Frank down in the chair before checking his phone for the instructions. At the sight of them the barber raised his eyebrows, running his fingers through Frank's well-tended tresses and whistled.

"There's going to be a lot of hair on the floor," said the barber, absent-mindedly touching his own clippered nape.

"Don't remind me," said Frank grimly, looking at himself in the mirror, long legs in tight jeans, his tank top exposing full-sleeve tattoos.

"Sorry man," replied the barber, and Frank shrugged.

"Well that’s the price I’ve gotta pay to see all those bands," the dark-haired musician replied.

The barber lifted up the cape.

"You sure you want to do this? It's not like I can undo my work once it starts..."

"What are we actually doing?" asked the brunet.

"Can’t say, I’m afraid, just have to trust me," replied the barber.

Frank sighed, considering a moment before nodding.

"I'm positive," said Frank, "I can’t pass up a chance like this, if I did my boyfriend’d kill me. Besides it's just hair, it'll grow back."
He said the last as if he was trying to convince himself of the fact. The barber nodded and gathered Frank's hair into a ponytail at the nape of his neck.

Oh s**t, thought Frank, realizing that the ponytail could mean only one thing. They were going short, like real short. He momentarily considered calling it all off. He’d thought maybe some makeup, maybe a trim or a dye job or something, but this was something else. Why the f*** would a metal website want to cut off his extremely metal mane and give him some business-casual crap that’d make him look like he listened to whatever easy-listening bulls**t guys with normal haircuts liked?

"Ready?" asked the barber.
Frank considered what to do, but remembered all those bands, and though it pained him. He nodded once and took a deep breath as the barber took up not scissors but clippers. The barber flicked them on and pressed the vibrating blade to the base of Frank's ponytail. The vibration against his skull made him shudder as the blades did their work. He felt the tug as they sheared with terrible finality through his glorious locks.
The ponytail began to fall away as more hair was severed. Frank knew he shouldn't feel shocked. He knew it was going to be shor, Still, the sudden chill on the denuded nape of his neck was shocking when the thick tail finally fell, slithering down to the floor with a swish..

"F***," said Frank, stunned, gazing at the rough chin-length cut that then framing his handsome face. Next the barber ruthlessly sheered away Frank's beloved sideburns with no guard on the clippers to a spot around the top of Frank's ear, before popping a relatively long guard onto the clippers and making quick work of the bulk, leaving only two inches of hair all over.
It had been so long since Frank had felt clippers against his scalp. He'd forgotten how good it felt. The way they vibrated almost like a head massage, and the sensation of hair falling away felt almost refreshing, like a rebirth almost. Next he took a much shorter guard and began to carve out a line over the top of the Frank's ears for the beginning of the main blend of the fade.
This was going to be a skin-fade, a haircut that would leave most of the back and sides of Frank's head almost entirely bare. For Frank, seeing the haircut take shape was fascinating as well as slightly terrifying. He could see the angular architecture of the cut bringing out the severe shape of his chiseled features. It was an aggressively masculine cut, and with his dyed black hair and pale skin, the contrast just made the entire look more intense. Once the barber had finished with the fade he began slicing away at the top using a scissors over comb technique.

Even Frank had to admit the guy obviously knew his stuff, the cut fit his face perfectly. As a final touch the barber took up the clippers again and buzzed in a deep, narrow hard part in the right side of Frank's hair. He then used an electric razor at the bottom of the zero blade section to take the minimal stubble all the way down to the skin, before grabbing hot towels, the shaving lather and a straight razor to clean up the nape of Frank's neck and around his ears, as well as taking down the couple of days stubble left on Frank's face, and cleaning up his eyebrows. To finish the barber takes little pomade and combs it through to hold the slick style in place.
Frank's hair was hardly long enough on top to comb, let alone pull or run one's fingers through in a passionate moment, and the sides were down to the slightest hint of dark stubble. Between that and the cleaned up brows, and fresh shave and he looked tidier than he'd ever seen himself. It made him look dangerous somehow, the way it drew attention to his eyes, the way the whole look seemed to say "I mean business"

What would Jake think? He wondered, before remembering that Jake was receiving his own "special treatment" that day at a different venue. Jake meanwhile was at a salon rather than a barber, and the slender coppery-haired musician was sitting ill at ease in the pink interior of the retro salon.
He twisted a lock of his hip-length mane of titian waves around his finger, resembling nothing so much as a preraphaelite painting with incongruous sleeve tattoos and biker boots. He could hardly believe he was doing this, but like Frank he had to admit the bands they'd be able to see, and the travel was just too good an opportunity to miss. Still, what the hell was Metal's Tolerable doing sending him to a place like this? The whole place was all Louis XIV reproductions and leopard print

"You must be Jake," came the musical voice of the stylist, who appeared to be in fact a very attractive, and extremely androgynous man. His jet black hair was a bit past his shoulders, and styled in carefully set vintage waves and he wore a little red dress that hugged a leanly muscled body. It was an unusual look, but it suited him. Jake nodded, and half waved, no more at ease here than Frank was in his hyper-masculine barber shop across town.
"Yeah, I am," he said, uneasily, as the stylist glanced at a page of notes.
"Charmed," said the stylist, "I'm José, and I'll be taking care of you today."
"Great," said Jake with a note of nervousness in his voice.
José nodded sympathetically. "At least it’s for a good cause," the stylist replied
"I guess," agreed Jake, as José lead him not to a chair in the salon but to a back room, with a paper-covered massage table, and bright lighting. The whole scene seemed almost clinical.

"So, first I'm going to need you to strip," said the beautician, turning his back.

"Wait, what?" replied the bewildered redhead.

"Get undressed," clarified José as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, "you're getting waxed to start with."

'I can't believe I'm doing that,' thought Jake as he obediently shed boots, jeans and Pan Opticon t-shirt. He sat on the table. His marble pale skin almost luminous in the light, tattoos showing vivid against his pallor. He wasn't particularly hairy, but his bold coloring made what little there was somewhat striking. If he was honest with himself, he'd always found that a touch embarrassing. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad after all.

José returned a moment later, wearing a smock over his dress, pulling on a pair of latex medical gloves. "Now, I'm going to start with your legs. This will probably hurt a bit, but it's nothing you can't handle."

Jake was pretty sure José had lied to him as he applied the first wax strip to his leg. Then José yanked the strip back he was sure José had been lying. He gripped the table and clenched his jaw to keep from screaming. He wasn't sure how he was going to cope with this. Eventually, after the first few strips though, a sort of floaty dreamy sensation came over him and the pain seemed less vivid. He almost couldn't keep from laughing after the forth or fifth strip as the endorphins kicked in.

By the time José was done, Jake was smooth as marble everywhere below the neck. He looked in the mirror on the wall, examining himself. It was a surreal sight. Without his body hair, his tattoos stood out more vividly, and one could more clearly see the slim grace of his form. He cocked his head to the side.

"Weird, we done?" he asked, hopefully. If this was all, despite all the agony, he'd have to admit, this was totally worth it for the trip they’d be getting. With his clothes on, you could hardly tell the difference. It wasn't like he'd had particularly hairy arms to start with.

José shook his head.

"Nope, we're just getting started," he said with a little laugh, "the next part won't hurt as much at least," he added leading Jake over to a leopard vinyl upholstered salon chair with gold rococo detailing and sitting him down.

Jake sat, looking at himself in the mirror as José began to brush out his hair in smooth graceful strokes. "So like... what else are we actually going to be doing?" he asked, meeting José's dark gaze in the mirror.
"That's the thing," replied the stylist, "I'm not actually supposed to tell you in advance. I just have to do it unfortunately, I can give you a hint though, old-school."
Jake made a face. What was this all about? Were they going to make him get some square short back and sides thing? That hardly seemed likely for a metal website. And besides if that was the idea, why was he here at this froufrou salon rather than with Frank at the barber? Was Frank getting waxed too? If he had to, he sure hoped Frank would be joining him in the "silky smooth gams" club. José merely smiled enigmatically.

Jake made a face. What was this all about? Were they going to make him get some square short back and sides thing? That hardly seemed likely for a metal website. José merely smiled enigmatically.

Before Jake knew what was happening, he heard a schnick-schnick-shnick sound behind him and felt his head grow suddenly lighter. José had sliced off a curtain of Jake's formerly hip-length mane, chopping it to just below the shoulder blades. Jake gasped and put a hand to his head, touching the much shorter ends of his hair. He almost wanted to cry.

José patted his shoulder apologetically.

"I know, it must be a shock, but it was best to get it out of the way before the color so as not to waste product, besides I think it's best get most of the length off quickly, so you don’t have to spend too much time dreading it?"

A hip-length curtain of hair was gone, and the sight of his cheekbones, now set off by his newly shorn hair took his breath away. He turned his head, watching the thick blunt cut ends move as he shifted. His hair had more volume now as it was no longer weighed down by its own length.

"Color?" asked Jake, unable to process what had happened and thus unable to process what was about to happen.

"The bleach job," replied José, "you'll be going blonde, very light blonde, almost white."

"Wait what?" asked Jake, stunned at the very idea.

"That's all I can tell you, I'm afraid," said the stylist.

He could hardly speak as José sauntered off to mix bleach. Jake was left to contemplate what his fate might be. José returned and began to apply the bleach. Jake could feel the chemicals working on his coppery red locks. It smelled sharp, like a cleaning product almost, and made his scalp itch. Each lock was neatly folded into a packet of foil after José had saturated it.

'Blonde...' thought Jake, considering how such a color might look on him. Blond was glamorous, blond, especially bleach blond was for glam rockers and Hollywood starlets. If José had cut his hair to avoid wasting bleach, then he couldn't be going too much shorter than this, right? So if he wasn't getting some kind of short back and sides thing, what had José meant by old school? Some kind of 1970s rockstar thing?
Something like from one of the 1980s sunset strip bands. He wasn't sure how well he'd go over with the rest of their friends if he ended up looking like a member of Poison back in their heyday.

‘If they’re doing some kind of stupid retrospective and I end up looking like a young Brett Michaels I’m going to f***ing kill whoever’s in charge. I won't be able to show my face in public looking like that.’

José finished the foils, set him under a heat lamp to process and left a timer going. Jake considered. He knew Frank had ended up at an old-school barber shop. This pink decked place with its retro bonnet dryers was decidedly not a barber shop but the feminine equivalent, the beauty parlour. He wanted to text Frank. To ask him how he was fairing, but he'd had to leave his phone with the magazine people as part of the terms and conditions. Jake looked at the coppery waves on the floor surrounding the chair, the hair that had until so recently been part of him. He then considered the selection of magazines available.
Old issues of fashion magazines with faded covers, but clearly carefully preserved. He leafed through a 1975 issue of Vogue, seeing models with Farah Fawcett waves in prairie dresses and slinky evening gowns. Sometime during this process a pretty redheaded assistant came over to get to work on his nails. Jake hardly noticed her so lost in thought was he. Eventually, the time was up, and José returned to check the color.

"Fabulous," said the hairdresser, "you've lightened perfectly, let's get you rinsed and toned."
'Toned?" What was that? He hadn't heard that term except in reference to printers.
"It's a sort of sheer dye that'll neutralise the yellow tones in your hair, to get you to a true icy platinum blond," replied José lightly, leading him over to the sink. The shampoo was heavenly,
José's exquisitely manicured hands massaged Jake's scalp as he washed the chemicals from his hair, before applying a fruity scented cream of some kind. He then left Jake for another few minutes before rinsing, conditioning, and squeezing it gently dry with a soft fluffy towel, which he wrapped Jake's newly silvery blond locks in for the journey back to the chair.

When he saw the color he gasped, his hair was a shimmering, icy platinum, a color so light that it made his naturally pale complexion look slightly tanned simply by comparison. José was efficient in combing out his hair and sectioning it off for the rest of the cut. Jake considered leaving now. He couldn't possibly imagine what the magazine had planned for him and yet he found he couldn't move, after all there was so much at stake, and if Frank went through with it and he didn’t and they didn’t get the trip, well that’d f***ing suck, so he sat still.
Again the scissors flashed, shorter lengths of much lighter hair falling now. Long bangs were shaped falling around to his lips.
José added layers to add bounce and make it easier to style. Jake couldn't help but notice the cut was shaping up to be quite feminine, and find himself rather surprised by how well it suited him. Once José had finished with the scissors out came the rollers.

"You're not giving me a perm?" asked Jake in alarm and José laughed and shook his head.

"No, just a roller set, you’ll be able to wash out the curls," the stylist explained as he wound Jake's shortened locks around big barrelled rollers and secured the results with clips. Jake wasn't sure if he would be happy with the results, but he was helpless to do anything about it. Once he was under the dryer, José came over with a pot of wax and some sticks.

"What's all this?" asked Jake, looking anxiously at by now familiar items.

"Wax," replied José matter-of-factly.

"Wax? For what? Didn't you finish with that earlier"

"Your eyebrows, of course. You can't have hair like that and a pair of caterpillars on your face, and obviously, they need to be shaped before they're bleached."

"Bleached?" asked a somewhat offended Jake. He didn't think his brows looked like caterpillars, and in truth, although they were thick they had a relatively nice shape naturally, but he guessed they weren't what José... or the photographer at Metal’s Tolerable had in mind.

José looked at him as if he were a particularly slow child.

"Obviously, platinum hair and carrot red eyebrows? You don't want to look ridiculous, do you?"

Jake felt that finding a detail as small as eyebrows ridiculous given the bigger picture of just what José was doing to him was putting the cart before the horse, but again, who was he to say. He did have to admit the lighter color suited him. So on went the wax, as José sculpted crisp shapely arches from Jake's unkempt brows. After a time, the wax was replaced by bleach which was rinsed away just in time for him to be finished under the dryer. José lead him back over to the chair.
Jake stared at his reflection, the lighter, shapely brows leant his face a seductive glamorous femininity he'd never suspected he possessed. It brought attention to the vivid blue of his eyes, the fullness of his lips and the delicate angularity of his defined bone structure.

"What's next?"

"Next we style you," said José, as he began to remove the rollers, leaving a mass of bouncy white blond curls falling about Jake's shoulders. Combined with the eyebrows, the softness of his hair framing his face just added to the seductive glamour he now seemed to possess.

The curls didn't last long however because José was quick with the teasing comb and hair spray, backcombing the crown of Jake's head to create impressive volume in seemingly no time at all.

Jake stared at himself, thinking of old photos of 1980s goths at the Batcave he'd seen in back issues of music magazines. Was that where this was going? He'd never had his hair teased before and the sensation was peculiar. Section by section José worked, teasing, smoothing, shaping, pinning. His lean tattooed arms and nimble long-fingered hands moving with ease and efficiency as they coaxed Jake's drastically altered locks into the intended shape.
It was strangely relaxing and Jake found himself closing his eyes and sinking into the surprisingly comfortable chair.
Eventually, he felt himself being turned away from the mirror and found José's attention turned from his hair to his face. Creams and powders and something slick and violet-scented on his lips, something wet dragging across an eyelid. Makeup? Jake had worn corpse paint before but this certainly didn't feel similar to that, but it seemed the only explanation.

ick's eyes opened slowly, the lids felt surprisingly heavy, but when he caught sight of himself, he stared. The transformation was remarkable. His hair had been teased and curled and coaxed into an elegant half-up bouffant style, reminiscent of a blonder and less undone Brigitte Bardot. An American Brigitte Bardot, sexier, more so, with less left to nature. His face was exquisitely painted, with crimson lips, cat eyeliner, a beauty mark and dramatic false eyelashes, all of it serving to emphasize his androgynous high cheekboned beauty.
He felt...sexy, and he liked feeling that way. Never in his life had he expected to want to look like this. To look like a warped vision of ideal feminine beauty from the past. He felt the pale curls bounce around his shoulders as he turned his head from side to side. It was a surreal moment. Something he'd never expected.

"I... I like it," said Jake stunned, "hell, I love it. I'd never have... I mean I didn't even think but damn."

He raised a hand to touch his face and only then did he notice his nails. They'd been transformed into crimson talons of absurd sharpness and length.

He paused then. How would Frank feel about this new look? Was it too feminine? Would his boyfriend still want him all done up like a tramp from 1962? Would he object to the hair? He'd already come to the decision that he was going to stay blond. It simply looked too good for him to do anything else. Something had clicked within him the second he'd seen his new reflection in the mirror, and there was no turning back now.

José smiled, obviously pleased with himself, and with the results of his work. He smoothed Jake's hair with a proprietary hand.

"Even I have to admit I'm impressed with myself," the stylist said with a note of pride, stripping the cape off Jake, before turning to collect some packages the magazine had left for the new-minted blond. Jake opened them curiously. They were wrapped in Tiffany blue paper with big silver bows.

Inside were unfamiliar garments: a tight little black dress; garter belt; stockings with seams up the back; a waist cincher, stiletto heels with pointed toes; a white fur evening wrap and what appeared to be about a mine's worth of diamonds in the form of bracelets, chandelier earrings and one of those necklaces with dramatic festoons of stones draping down from a decked out choker.

"You're supposed to change into those," said José, with an eloquent gesture of his hand, as if to say 'who am I to question this situation?'

Jake blinked, staring at the garments. "I'll... uh, do you have a bathroom?"

He was lead to a highly decorated pink chamber with fresh-cut flowers beside the sink. In there he put on the outfit, careful as he took off his shirt not to disarrange his hair or makeup, and took longer than he wanted trying to figure out how to attach the stockings to the garter belt without putting runs in his stockings with the new nails. After that it was easy... except for the zipper up the back of the dress. He had to beg José's help with that. Once he had finished, he gazed in the full-length mirror in the lobby of the salon, the mental image of his former self forming a strange overlay with this new picture.
A redheaded metal dude, loose-limbed in his leather jacket faded into memory. Now in his place stood a vision, a high fashion androgyne, slim and breastless but with his waist nipped in. His slenderness accentuated by the tight dress, and his long smooth shapely legs set off by the stiletto heels and sheer black stockings, adding depth to every shadow.

The small rings in his ears had been replaced by glittering dangles that hung near to his shoulders. At his throat the necklace glittered. His hair elegantly arranged hair and painted face completed the image of perfect pinup glamour. It was almost as if he’d been plucked from some alternate history and dropped off here.

Frank, on the other hand, had undergone a more masculine makeover. His long hair had been cropped short into a sharp fade with a hard part. Histrademark sideburns shaved smooth to show off the perfect line of his jaw and his well defined cheekbones. He was shocked at how good he looked. Even dressed in the elegantly cut black suit the tattoos on his knuckles and the heavy rings he wore gave him an aura of danger.

Once their new looks had been fully completed, two separate town cars returned to take them to their final stop, a restaurant where the website hosting the contest could see (and record) the pair reacting to each other's new looks.

When Frank saw Jake sashay into the room , he couldn't help but let out a low whistle of appreciation. Jake had been transformed into a veritable bombshell, with his hair bleached blond and styled into a bouffant that framed his face perfectly. His make-up was heavy, but applied with an expert hand that made his eyes look smoky and inviting. He was wearing a tight little dress that hugged him in all the right places, and showed off broad shoulders and the lean musculature of his arms. It did all that in a way that accentuated all that was most appealingly feminine and all that was most appealingly masculine about him. He glittered. The confidence and poise in his walk made it look as if Jake had been strutting on stilettos all his life.

When Jake saw Frank he was equally stunned. Frank had had his hair cut into a sharp 1950s style that emphasised his chiselled features and the intensity of his green eyes, and he wore an impeccably tailored suit that showed off his broad shoulders and narrow waist. Rather than a rough around the edges but good-natured metalhead, his boyfriend now resembled something between a mafia boss and a male model. He looked good, with an intensity in his demeanour that made Jake's heart flutter like they were on a first date.

"Damn, babe," said the ex-redhead with obvious appreciation.

"Right back at you," replied Frank, sauntering over to pull Jake into a passionate kiss.

The two of them made quite the contrast, between Jake's glamorous beauty and Frank's sleek as a panther elegant masculinity. They were the kind of pair people wouldn’t be able to help noticing.
Both of them then pulled back to simply stare at one another, thinking of how the other had looked before and how they looked now. It was a stark contrast, but one that made them both even more attracted to each other. It was hard to believe that earlier that day they'd looked so alike. They'd been two long-haired metal dudes, mostly identical in band shirts and black jeans. Now the difference between them couldn't have been greater. Jake with his teased white blonde coiffure, figure-hugging dress and heavy makeup, and Frank in his perfectly tailored suit, looking more masculine than ever. Still both men, and yet, what utterly different men.

"I think we make a pretty good pair," said Jake with a grin.

"Yeah, I think so too," replied Frank. "But I'm not sure our friends are going to let us live this down anytime soon."

"Yeah," agreed Jake ruefully, "...what the hell was the site’s idea anyway?"

Timidly an assistant from the magazine interjected.

"So, uh, the idea the photographer had was a like… 1950s couple being all 1950s romantic in a metal club, with a milkshake and all, and then them like giving the horns and moshing and all that… we didn’t expect the couple who won to be two guys… but I think the photographer probably won’t mind."

Jake and Frank looked at the assistant, and then at each other and shrugged.

"Worth it to see Satyricon?"

"Worth it to see Satyricon."

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