Glitzy, outrageous Dallas hairdresser and salon owner Paul Neinast was found dead Thursday in his Turtle Creek Boulevard high-rise apartment, according to a Dallas police report. Neinast was 59 years old. This morning, the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office says his next of kin, a brother, has been notified. But the cause of death has not been determined: Police — who were called to the apartment yesterday a little before noon, after he failed to show up to work — and the medical examiner still classify it as “unexplained.” An autopsy is scheduled for this morning.
Neinast — who opened his first salon in 1978, in Snider Plaza, at the wise old age of 25 — was a fixture on the Dallas social scene. His website listed a slew of high-profile clients, including Anne Rice, Olivia Newton John, Bruce Jenner, Linda Gray, Rock Hudson and Zsa Zsa Gabor. He once did makeup for George H. W. Bush, proudly declaring, “I’ve been cleared through the FBI and the CIA.”
Neinast’s longtime client and muse — he called her a “Soul Sister” in a Neinast Salon Facebook post on December 3 — was Dallas fashion model Jan Strimple, whom he met in 1980. Strimple told D last night that Neinast, who had been battling cancer, was at a Christmas party the night before he died.
At the time of his death, he plied his scissors and foils at the Neinast Salon at 6116 Luther Lane.
We knew Neinast as an over-the-top personality on the town, always laughing, always charming. Writer Glenna Whitley profiled the gregarious stylist in a 1988 Dallas Morning News story. Some highlights:
“Born in Denison, Neinast was the second-oldest of four boys born to a father who worked for the phone company and a homemaker who grew up in a well-to-do family. Neinast paints a picture of himself as an artistic, fun-loving troublemaker, raised in a tight-knit Catholic family by a mother who had lots of style. His maternal grandmother had designed handbags for I. Magnin, and they both instilled in him an appreciation for the finer things, and the finer people. To Neinast, calling someone a snob is a compliment.”
“In 1971, at age 17, he enrolled in Isbell’s University of Beauty Culture on McKinney Avenue and got his own apartment. His grandparents paid his tuition and rent. In 1973, when he was 19, his mother died after a long illness. It is her death, he says, that first heightened his determination to make it big, to be not just a hair stylist but a salon owner, and not just a salon owner but the owner of the biggest, most fashionable salon in Dallas.”
“In the early ’80s, a Londoner named Alan Stone, a female stylist named Mia, a Japanese haircutter named Aki and Paul Neinast ruled the Dallas hair scene. Each found a niche — Mia and Stone, the fashion crowd; Aki, the young North Dallas rich; and Neinast, the Old Guard, true Dallas society.”
“As fast as he was making money, he was spending it. He bought cars, entertained lavishly, and invested in stocks and real estate, acting on tips from wealthy clients. In 1983, he bought an Oak Lawn condominium. It was small, but exquisitely furnished, with a Baccarat chandelier, black carpets, granite countertops and baseboards, and Rembrandt and Renoir etchings.”
Writer Skip Hollandsworth, in D magazine’s December 1985 issue, said it all. “The greatest warlord of Dallas party coiffeurs,” Hollandsworth proclaimed, “is Paul Neinast.”
UPDATE Sept 1, 2013