CHICAGO – Rod Blagojevich's famously thick, dark hair is dyed and will turn gray within months as he serves his 14-year sentence in a Colorado prison, where dyes are strictly banned, the former Illinois governor's longtime barber said Wednesday.
Peter Vodovoz, Blagojevich's Chicago-area barber for more than two decades, told The Associated Press that the 55-year-old ex-governor has dyed his hair for years and that his last dye will fade within three months.
"His hair will turn gray, like Jay Leno's," Vodovoz said, speaking a week after Blagojevich entered federal prison to serve his sentence on corruption charges.
John Sell, a spokesman for the Federal Correctional Institution Englewood outside Denver, where Blagojevich is held, said hair dyes are prohibited because prisoners could potentially use them to disguise their appearance in attempted escapes.
Vodovoz said he gave Blagojevich some friendly advice the ex-governor may have a hard time taking: He told him not to worry about his hair in prison because no cameras will be around to document his change in appearance.
"'There's no media, so don't worry,' I told him," he said. "Who's going to care?"
The one-term congressman and two-term governor was closely identified with and parodied for his thick helmet of hair that was a throwback to a Beatles mop top. A drawing of his hair alone could be enough for political cartoonists to indicate Blagojevich.
So obsessive was he about ensuring his hair looked perfect, Blagojevich famously had a security official carry around a hair brush everywhere he went when he was governor.
And some in the disgraced politician's dwindling fan base remain awed by his hair. After he gave a parting farewell statement outside his house a day before walking through the prison gates, one woman in a crowd of well-wishers reached out to caress his hair.
But it's not all bad hair news for Blagojevich.
Prison rules allow him to wear it at whatever length and in whatever style he wants -- though barbers available to him in prison likely won't take the same care as Vodovoz.
The 48-year-old who emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1990 said he thought Blagojevich's more than decade long sentence was far too harsh.
"In the Soviet Union, you have to kill someone to get a sentence like that," Vodovoz said in a thick Russian accent. "Blagojevich should have been given community service or something. Now, his life is destroyed. His children's life is destroyed."