Day 4

The Fringe Festival

My hate-hate relationship with Kate Tastrophe is morphing into mild affection, now that she’s sporting a proper lob. Sectioning, trimming and double checking the cut moves so much faster without mermaid-length plastic hair.

Now if only I could master the comb transfer issue. Scissors never leave our cutting hand, so the comb has to toggle back and forth between hands while we’re sectioning and trimming.

At present, my method of comb transfer is… not graceful. More like an amateur juggler who keeps dropping everything.

tumblr_m8yteqnFZt1ro8ysbo1_500

Another student guinea pigged (that’s a verb, right?) for today’s hair demo, featuring longer clipper guards (#3 and #2). After two demos in 2 days, the general flow of men’s cuts is becoming clearer.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

All of this was the educational part of today. The real entertainment happened next:

My fellow lady student was in dire need of a bang trim (“fringe”, they say here). At some point Papi agreed to trim hers up. But once she hopped into the barber chair and Papi grabbed his scissors…

… he had second thoughts. We thought he was kidding at first, seeing as he grew up in barber shops. But women’s bangs/fringe is outside his wheelhouse.

He popped into the back office, where several pro barbers were hanging out, and asked if any of them wanted to do the honors.

NOPE.

So I volunteered, and their reaction was priceless. The pro guys came out of their office to observe the process, as if I was performing open heart surgery. The tension was palpable—it felt like no one except us ladies was even breathing.

I did my usual thing (asked her how she wanted her bangs to lie and where the start/end points of her bangs should be, as she wanted an angled cut). Then snippity snip, they were done.

IMG_9930_G
Voila! Le Bang Trim

Afterward, I said “gentlemen, your balls may descend now.”

Pretty sure I earned some macho points for stepping up to the plate when none of the professional barbers with 10+ years experience would take a chance on girl hair.

Day 3

Everyone Hates Kate

I have some very lovely human friends named Kate, but if I ever meet another mannequin Kate, it’ll be all out war. I’m fairly certain she’s knotting her synthetic hair up on purpose.

At our current rate of trimming (approximately 0.001 mm snipped off per round), it could take years to even out the slightest inconsistency in Kate’s lob.

As soon as we finish one round, Papi checks our Kutwerk™, approves it, then says “well done, looks great. Go again.”

I’m living in the barber student version of Groundhog Day.

giphy
My inner monologue

Just to break the monotony— and to preserve our sanity— Papi demonstrated a zero fade on our fellow student. Every step he cycled through looks methodical, logical and precise.

In other words, there is NO WAY I’ll be able to replicate that.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Then it was back to Straight Cuts With Kate. Shoot me now.

IMG_9892
A very unflattering picture of me plotting Kate’s trip to the rubbish bin.

Day 2

Day 2 was a barber school version of the ‘Red Wedding’ episode from Game Of Thrones.

749731_GOT3_HS_1019_EP309_DSC3570.jpg_cmyk.jpg
An artist’s rendition of our class.

 

I spotted an Iron Maiden houseboat en route to the academy. Clearly, a sign that things were about to get metal.

IMG_9872
But for real, I wanna BFF whoever owns this boat!

Where Day 1 was about the super basics, Day 2 focused on fundamentals and building muscle memory. Specifically, learning “straight cuts” by trimming Kate’s raggedy plastic hair to a perfectly even length all the way around.

We practiced and practiced cutting her hair, leveling up by microscopic intervals. For a while we all got into the straight cut zone, and it almost felt like we’d gotten the hang of that whole “handling barber shears” thing.

Then it happened: BLOOD.

One student nicked his index finger while trimming up a section. We scrambled to find band-aids (“plasters”, they call them here). He got all patched up and went back to work.

MORE BLOOD. Same guy got sliced twice. Shortly thereafter, a 2nd student got nicked.

I’m aware that there is a large quantity of blood gushing around inside our bodies, but the sheer amount of red liquid spurting out of the tiniest finger slit continues to amaze me.

tumblr_mk4161MUbF1s3oe2qo1_500

Finally, it was my turn to bleed. I wish I had a cool or bizarre story related to my first barbering injury, but I don’t.

However, I did learn a valuable lesson from it: If you’re going to wipe hair clumps off a razor-sharp object with your finger, you really should check the angle of your blade first.

I make these kinds of mistakes so that you don’t have to. Also, I blame Kate Tastrophe.

IMG_9873
It’s definitely her fault. ALL of it.

 

Day 1

A few things of note on my 1st day of barber school. Namely:

 

1. My commute. In Los Angeles, it’s normal to spend 2+ hours a day driving to and from work. My new London commute is a tranquil 30 minute walk along houseboat-lined Regent’s Canal.

IMG_9878.jpg
Sure beats morning gridlock on the 101/110/10 freeways.

 

2. The barber academy. Our school is located inside Gents of London, a bustling barber shop in central London. The shop itself has a great old-school vibe, and they rock a killer playlist all day long (lots of Northern Soul & Madchester classics).IMG_9854

 

3. Kate. Each of us received a full barber kit and a mannequin head named “Kate” with super long hair, on which we will practice our sectioning, cutting and clipper technique bit by bit, until she is sporting an army-short buzz cut. I dubbed mine ‘Kate Tastrophe’.

IMG_9855
Kate Tastrophe + my shiny new barber kit

4. Papi! Our main instructor and barber overlord for the next 10 weeks is Papi Georgiou, a 3rd generation barber from East London. I’m pretty sure he would like me to mention that he is a very fashionably dressed gentleman scholar, or something like that.

IMG_9863 (1)
Papi, our main man.

 

5. Technique. First things first: Forget everything you thought you knew about scissors. We spent a good chunk of time practicing holding the scissors perfectly level/still and moving the blades with our thumb, which is WAY harder than it sounds—the whole class struggled with it at first.

Next, we practiced a scissor-over-comb combo. Again, way harder than it sounds. Finally, we moved on to sections and splits, because this is my life now.

IMG_9866
Practice makes less imperfect.

 

Lots of information to process, and there is tons more heading our way.

FAQ

FAQ

I’ve been fielding a ton of questions about my decision to enroll in barber school and temporarily relocate to London.

I figured it might be worth my while to write out a quick FAQ as a way of addressing the main queries, so here goes:

Q: Barber school? RANDOM!
A: Yeah, I know. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while. I started cutting dude hair for fun in high school/college and have been doing it here and there ever since. I figured I might as well learn how to do it properly.

Q: Why in London?
A: I researched a bunch of barbering courses on the internetz; the one I chose was by far the highest quality training course and best fit for me in every way. The fact that it’s based in London was part of the allure– the London barber scene is having a moment right now, and it’s broadly recognized as THE culture to emulate at shops across the globe, in places as far-flung as Singapore, Dubai and Australia. Might as well learn from the best, right?

Q: What about your producing career?
A: I haven’t decided yet. I came to London/barber school with the intention of jumping back into producing when I return to Los Angeles. BUT, I’m having so much fun in barber school that I will leave the door open to that career path as well. In a perfect world, I could produce great projects AND play with hair all day. We’ll see how everything shakes down over the next few months…

Q: Which city do you like better, Los Angeles or London?
A: To be determined…

 

barber-supplies_6_3
Cutthroat razor, which I don’t know how to use yet.