Skin Deep

She's no doctor, but when the glitterati needed beauty triage during Miami's heyday, Ruth Regina always came through with coif medicine

"And awaaaaay we go!"
Gleason's program (called The Jackie Gleason Show after 1966) was canceled in 1970, but the plucky hairstylist endured. With the hippie era, fashion had forsaken high-maintenance hairdos for the natural look. Regina flowed with the times.

"Quick goatee and moustache now available in Dade County," reads one early-Seventies Miami Herald headline pasted into the third scrapbook in the pile.

"Ruth was a great promoter," confirms publicist Cinnamon. "She would see what was going on and see how she could get her business into the mix."

Regina walks to the salon area in the back of her shop, where there's a snakeskin-print stylist's chair and a bubble-top hair dryer. She brought them with her when she moved from Collins Avenue to Kane Concourse, just west of the Bal Harbour Shops, in 1982.

Behind the chair, where Regina and veteran assistant Maria McDonald cut and style clients' wigs, hangs a framed certificate, a souvenir from a job she did in 1972. It reads "With deep gratitude for your outstanding contribution to the success of the Republican Convention." Signed Richard M. Nixon.

The telephone rings for the sixth time in an hour. "We did it then and we're still doing it," Regina says into the receiver. "We will match your hair to perfection, and we will give you exactly what you want."

When she returns to the front of the shop with a cup of decaffeinated coffee and takes a seat on one of the white leather chairs, her perpetual smile fades for just a moment. She looks around the room at her pictures, her melancholy expression bringing out wrinkles around her eyes and mouth that hadn't seemed to be there before.

"With all this and all that I didn't discover a cure for cancer," she shrugs. She straightens, puts on her smile once again. "I just make people look good. But it's been a pretty good life so far. The most important thing is that tomorrow's another day. Who knows who I'm going to meet and what I'm going to do for them? In walks an heiress, a couple of stars, a princess. How could life be dull? Why should I give it all up? To play cards?"

The buzzer rings. In walks the postman. "I knew I'd find a movie star in here today!" he exclaims. He takes a package from his pouch, and holds out his clipboard. "Here you go, Miss Regina, could you autograph this for me please?"

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