Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Hair Angel: Interview with Hair Artist Angel Ruiz. PART III

Celiac disease damages the small intestine wall, disabling nutrient absorption. Untreated, it can lead to malnutrition. People suffering from celiac disease cannot eat gluten, a protein found in wheat.

Over one year ago, when his digestive system became, seemingly, unable to handle any food anymore, Angel Ruiz thought he got a stomach bug from a local diner. But symptoms persisted and his health started to deteriorate. In a fairly short time, he seemed to become allergic to almost any food products--his body seemed to be rejecting everything he was trying to eat. As a result, Angel started to lose weight drastically, so much so that, when he finally went to a doctor, he was advised to take his HIV medications.

Nowadays, the hair artist recalls that the advice made him cry. Because he didn't (and doesn't) have HIV. The problem was that he didn't know what he had. His doctors didn't know either. He ended up going to a gay clinic in the city, a place where he didn't feel judged, but accepted. 

It took several doctors more than one year to diagnose the hair artist with celiac disease. The illness has changed Angel's life forever. It has turned him into a vegan, which he doesn't mind, especially when, now, he knows what food products he's allowed to eat. But his health problems have taken a huge toll on the hair artist, stripping away his safety-net, layer by layer, threatening to leave nothing untouched. "I used to have a place, clients," he comments. "I lost it [all] because of my health."

Through it all, though, Angel has never lost his optimism, nor his passion to create hair art. He knows, now, how to keep his disease under control and he's eager to share the lesson he's learned the hard way. "It can happen to anybody," he comments, talking about his disease.

Angel Ruiz also returned to work, which, he explains, is for everybody. That's what he loves about doing hair. His clients come from all paths of life--all races, ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs and sexual orientations. He enjoys the opportunity to do his clients hair and, thus, make them feel better overall. There's nothing more awarding, for Angel. "[It's priceless] to watch the clients look at themselves in the mirror, see the expression on their faces and thank you," the hair artist explains. He's also thankful for his clients, for the lessons he's learned from them, life's lessons that have made him a better man.


1. Angel on AIDS: "I don't understand why people take the risk of bare-backing."

2. Angel on Bullies and Bullied: "People are angry. You don't have to have anger for them. [...] You have to believe in yourself, no matter what age you are."

3. Angel on Gay Marriages: "[Gay marriage] needs to be federal, [otherwise] it's not 100 percent right." "[...] The majority can live in harmony with gay marriages [being legal], only a minority [of people] has a problem."

4. Angel on Gay Marriages and Politics: "[President Obama] could have approved gay marriages, but people around him keep him from doing that. [...] Obama can do something really good for two main minorities [in the United States]--the immigrant and the [LGBT] minorities."

5. Angel on Doing Hair: "I never say no to anybody. I love to freelance [as a hair artist] and that I can do it here, in this country. I live for my work, not the other way around."

6. Angel on Lessons Learned from His Disease: "You are what you eat."

7. Angel on Lessons Learned from Life: "You need to be honest to yourself and to others."

For more about the Hair Angel, check out my Out IN Jersey article on Angel.

As always, thanks for stopping by.
Alina Oswald
Author of Journeys Through Darkness


  1. Angel is absolutely correct on evrything and he is the most amazing hair stylist & colorist!

  2. Hi Bernadette,

    Thanks so much for your post. I'm glad you enjoyed the read.
    Indeed, Angel is, well, an angel. He creates not only fantastic hairdos but also the space for "therapy sessions," as my friend, artist Kelly B. Dar, calls them, referring the fact that, while your hair is in Angel's hands, your soul is allowed to also reach an angelic place, to find its bliss, if only for a moment. That, in itself, helps us rediscover the strength to move on. It's very peaceful and empowering, in the same time.

    Thanks again!