“Black Shampoo”: John Daniels stars as a hair stylist who’s a bad, mean lovin’/killin’ machine!

By on January 16, 2019

Writer-director Greydon Clark’s 1976 Blaxploitation action-drama Black Shampoo — riffing off the impending success of Hal Ashby’s sexy comedy, Shampoo — stars John Daniels as “Jonathan Knight,” a black playboy hairdresser and West Hollywood hair salon owner, who, as the movie poster’s tagline tells us, is “bad… he’s mean… he’s a lovin’ machine,” but… “when he’s mad, he’s mean, he’s a killing machine.”

Watch Black Shampoo on Night Flight Plus.

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In Black Shampoo (also known as Shampoo Negro), the handsome and muscular hair stylist “Jonathan Knight” (Daniels) has made a successful life for himself, cutting women’s hair at his Mr. Jonathan’s hair salon on the Sunset Strip diagonally located across the street from the long-gone Tower Records.

His lonely lady clientele also book him for illicit sexplay, apparently, so expect to see lots of NSFW fully-frontal and back-al nudity.

Seriously, there’s a lot of T&A here, most of it accompanied by wah-wah pedaled electric guitar and a funky ’70s musical score, including a sexy shower sequence and a backyard poolside frolic between Knight with two bikini-clad teen cuties.

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When his foxy new receptionist “Brenda St. John” (Tanya Boyd, best known as the diva from the daytime soap “Days of Our Lives”) starts getting hassled by her former employer, mob boss “Mr. Wilson” (played by Joseph Carlo, using the pseudonym “Joe Ortiz”) and some of his gangster hoods, our Black Knight hero springs into action, fighting off the chainsaw-wielding, pool cue-clubbing bad dudes with impressive fighting skill.

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Director Greydon Clark wrote the script with his writing partner/producer, Alvin L. Fast, financing the film’s $50,000-budgeted production off the profits off his previous Blaxploitation film, The Bad Bunch (also known as Tom and N*gger Lover), lensing Black Shampoo over a two-week period in 1975.

Clark cast actor John Daniels as his leading man after seeing him playing a charismatic mack daddy pimp in Candy Tangerine Man.

As Black Shampoo was a non-Screen Actors Guild project, several of his SAG-member actors used pseudonyms, including “Jack Mehoff” (Bill Bonner) and “Salvator Benissimo” (Sheldon Lee).

When Director of Photography Michael J. Mileham was seriously injured in an auto accident and had to leave the production, Clark’s gaffer, Dean Cundey, continued shooting the film for Clark.

(Coincidentally, character actor Bonner was paralyzed in a car accident shortly after the production wrapped).

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Clark and Cundey would work together for several more years, on Clark’s Satan’s Cheerleaders (1977), The Hi-Riders (1978), Angel’s Brigade (1979, a.k.a. Angel’s Revenge) and Without Warning (1980).

Cundey eventually went on to become one of the movie business’s top cinematographers, shooting John Carpenter‘s Halloween as well as several blockbusters, including Steven Spielberg‘s Jurassic Park and Robert Zemeckis’s Back To the Future.

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Read more below about Greydon Clark.

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Greydon Clark as “Jim” in The Bad Bunch

Greydon Clark (b. 1943 in Niles, Michigan) came to Los Angeles, California, in 1965, age 22, hoping to be a movie actor.

He studied with acting teacher John Morley after finding Morley’s name and phone number published in The Young Actor’s Guide to Hollywood.

Clark supported himself selling various items door-to-door, as they did back in the old days decades before Amazon Prime.

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In 1967, Clark met director Al Adamson while pretending to be the boyfriend of one of Adamson’s actresses, Jacqulin “Jackie” Cole, who’d asked him to help her out since Adamson was sexually harassing her on-set.

Cole — who used several pseudonyms during her acting career, including “Jackie Taylor” and “Edith Wheeler” — and Clark fell in love, married and had two sons together, staying together for another thirty-four years.

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That’s Clark’s wife Jackie Cole in the hot pink shirt in Black Shampoo

Clark became friends with Adamson, and was soon writing screenplays for — as well as acting in — several of Adamson’s low-budget exploitation flicks, including the biker movie Satan’s Sadist’s (1969) and the comedic horror spoof Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971).

Using his own money, Clark was soon financing his own directorial debut, 1970’s Mothers, Fathers and Lovers, starring wife Jackie Cole.

The extremely low-budget project — made for just $12,500 — was about a Vietnam vet who returns to his country and rebels against the establishment (Clark was very active in the civil rights movement during the late Sixties).

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Clark’s first attempt at Blaxploitation was his next film, 1976’s The Bad Bunch, which actually featured several scenes — as well as cast members reprising roles — from Mothers, Fathers and Lovers (Clark co-starred as “Jim”).

For his third film, Clark stuck with Blaxploitation, but he wanted his black hero to be, in his own words, an “upper class businessman,” and not a pimp, gangster or drug dealer as they were usually being depicted.

The still-forthcoming release of Shampoo — which Clark knew was going to be a box-office hit, starring Warren Beatty — inspired his script for Black Shampoo.

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Instead of distributing the movie himself, Clark’s Black Shampoo was distributed by Dimension Pictures, the tiny independent distribution company headed up by former partners of Roger Corman at New World.

Greydon Clark directed one movie after the next over the next five years, financing each new project with profits from the previous release.

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He ultimately directed more than twenty feature films this way, including Satan’s Cheerleaders (1977), and a couple from the early ’80s that we absolutely love here at Night Flight HQ, including 1982’s Wacko (starring Joe Don Baker and the late, great George Kennedy, which we told you about here), as well as 1983’s Joysticks, which Night Flight contributor Mike Vanderbilt told us about here.

Watch Black Shampoo on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.