Chris Rock: "I Touched Oprah’s Hair!"
Gus Ruelas/AP, Peter Kramer/AP
In Good Hair, Chris Rock’s hilarious documentary for HBO, the comedian and a number of well-known personalities discuss the extremes men and women will go to to straighten African-American hair. One of the major running jokes of the film is that because of the complexity of a “weave,” African-American women do not want their hair touched. But Rock told PEOPLE that when he appeared on Oprah, “I ran my hands through her hair. I thought it was nice,” he said. When asked if he might touch Ashanti’s elaborate coif at the Cinema Society and Target screening of his film in New York — she showed up with one side of her hair woven into corn rows and the other straightened into large curls — Rock answered, “No, you can’t touch that!”, before turning to the singer to tell her that “Your hair’s great.” Ashanti told PEOPLE of her coif that night, “It took maybe 45 minutes,” mentioning that it had been inspired by an asymmetrical coif that Pepa of Salt ‘n Pepa was once forced to wear after being burned by a perm, and losing the hair on one side of her head. “Tonight, we mixed it up,” said Ashani, “I didn’t want to burn it. It’s braids and curls. And, no . . . you can’t touch that.” Pepa, also in the documentary, admitted inventing that particular type of asymmetrical hairdo. “I got a bad perm one time,” she said. “And I burned off half of my hair. I had to shave it off. I was totally crying. I was destroyed. And Salt was trying to pencil it back in.” At the Standard Hotel afterparty, with his galpal Coco on his arm, Ice-T admitted to an even more embarrassing look for such a tough guy, a mug shot with “curlers in my hair” when he was arrested some 20 years back. –Jeffrey Slonim