WASHINGTON -- Robin Weir wants to get something straight right up front: 'I'm a waste if you want to know who's sleeping with who. I don't know who's having affairs.'
Even if this hairdresser knew for sure -- indeed, he may -- the guy who Nancy Reagan, Maureen Reagan, Elizabeth Dole, Joan Rivers and Edie Gorme trust with their tresses wouldn't dream of coiffing and telling.
During official state visits to Washington, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Ghandi and Queen Beatrix have also gone under his comb.
'If a hairdresser develops a reputation for not talking, his clients keep coming back,' Weir, a homegrown Washingtonian, explains tartly. 'People looooove to ask about the personal lives of some of my clients, you know, 'what's she reallllly like'?. I say, 'Well she has moles on her chin and lumps on her head.''
But there are some subjects Weir will broach. Take the misconceptions about Mrs. Reagan's puffy do.
'I've heard the jokes, like if she falls down, she'll break her hair,' he relays. 'You read that it's stiff, but it's very soft. At any time, you can run your fingers through it. It's just that she has very thick, good hair -- that I don't have.' He lets out a sarcastic howl and flips his eyes upward to his thinning crown.
As for the 'does she or doesn't she' question, Weir admits she does. 'It's not Moongold, it's hmmmm...', he's at loss for the exact name of the bottled hue. Touch-ups are done by Julius Bengtsson, her West Coast hairdresser of 20 years.
What's the story on President Reagan's hair, which seems to thicken and darken with age? 'It's absolutely real. I mean, there's a lot of gray there,' insists Weir.
Nancy Reagan may be the country's grand dame, but that doesn't mean she gets a free ride with Weir. He says she pays his going price of $18 for a cut, $18 for a set: 'I bill her monthly and I don't take tips.'
But this client, of course, doesn't get groomed with the masses that frequent Weir's namesake shop near Georgetown. Rather, decked in coat and tie, he tools to the White House 'at least once a week' in his Mercedes 380 SL and works out of Mrs. Reagan's private salon.
'It's a little, teeny room that was John John and Caroline Kennedy's playroom,' he explains. 'Patricia Nixon put in the salon. Mrs. Carter decided to remodel it. After Carter lost, the project was completed when the Reagans came in.'
Must be a real thrill, huh, to pull up to the Pennsylvania Avenue gates and say to the guard: 'I'm here to see Mrs. Reagan?'' Adjacent tables at the Jockey Club grow silent awaiting a juicy reply. 'I don't get the chill anymore. I mean, I go in, get the job done and get out,' he says, then takes a nonchalant sip of Campari and soda.
Oh, come on, not even one tiny goose bump? 'Well, when the president comes in, it's a little more ...', Weir leaves the sentence in mid-air then slices into his steak au poivre. 'President Reagan comes in after work and sometimes tells jokes that he heard at the office,' he continues.
Yeah? What's his funniest joke so far? 'I cannot remember jokes told by anybody, much less the president,' Weir retorts, but does recall that the stories are 'absolutely' always clean.
All jokes aside, there's usually no time for chit-chat during Mrs. Reagan's one-hour sessions.
'There are only two women that I do who work while I'm shampooing, work while they're getting their hair set, work while they're being combed,' remarks Weir. 'And that's Elizabeth Dole and Mrs. Reagan.
'I mean, she (the first lady) doesn't just go to lunches,' he huffs. 'She really works hard -- paper work, answering letters, going over schedules.'
He bristles when it's mentioned that Nancy Reagan has been portrayed as a woman who prefers clothes and parties to the dirty business of politics.
'That's absolute myth,' he argues with a swoop of his hand, the light dancing off his three-karat diamond ring. 'She understands the issues. But she also wears nice clothes. It's not a crime to wear nice clothes. She's gotten a bad rap. I mean, if she was a dog and wore gingham pass-me-downs, they'd bitch about that.'
You won't hear any moans come out of Weir's mouth on Nancy Reagan's Chinadoll image. When she looks good, his business surges accordingly.
Robin Weir and Co. is 'that close' from hitting the $1 million mark this year, he reports. His staff has mushroomed to 25, and he has secured himself a lucrative slot as a special consultant to Clairol. The company has commissioned him to provide free hairdos at the Republican National Convention in Dallas this week.
In the spirit of success, Weir recently treated himself to a trinket -- a sleek gold bracelet encrusted with six and a half karats of diamonds. On the other wrist he wears a red and green Gucci watch, a birthday gift from Joan Rivers.
'Look, I'm in this to make money,' he offers openly. 'I'm not in it for my health. It's more of a clean, cold business relationship with me. I get them wet, do their hair, and I get out.'