DC The Barber has been cutting hair for over 15 years. But the artistry of the perfect cut didn’t occur to him until he started working at Bay Area barbershop/art gallery/lifestyle boutique MASSIVE.
“Truthfully, the actual art of barbering started for me when I started working at MASSIVE — it opened my mind to the art side of it. I suck at drawing! I can carve something into someone’s head better than I can draw it.”
MASSIVE is a combination of multiple, seemingly disparate, artistic pursuits, rolled into one shop. It flies in the face of the conventional retail chain/strip mall barbershop ethos – soul sucking fluorescent lights, crusty barbers hurriedly clipping hair to get nowhere fast – and offers a full scale sensory experience. What is it about the unique environment that made DC look at his craft in a completely new way?
“It’s such an artsy feel. Everything around you makes you want to better your craft. You’re surrounded by a bunch of artwork. It’s pretty much a mixture of all kinds of creative self-expression – clothing, artwork, haircuts – and urban culture in general. On top of that, every single one of the barbers is really good, so you feel a lot of pressure to give a great cut every time. And that’s how an artist, regardless of discipline, progresses.”
We asked DC about the weirdest haircut he’s ever given, the most popular trends in the shop right now, and who he credits for inventing the side cut.
Paul Eide: What’s one type of experience you’ve had at MASSIVE that you couldn’t have anywhere else?
DC The Barber: Just the diversity. It literally is unreal. It makes you take a step back. And it’s just so cool. We’re right across the street from police station, so we have a lot of police officers come into the shop. Then, there’s a jail right down the street. So you have people that are coming out of jail, police officers, everything. But once you set foot into MASSIVE it’s like everyone is on that equal level. Whatever you get into once you walk out of the doors is on you! But inside, it’s welcoming to everybody.
PE: Who’s the typical customer at MASSIVE?
DC: We have everything – literally one-year-olds to senior citizens. We have all walks of earth as far as nationalities, styles, cultures. It’s a straight-up melting pot. For the most part, every barber shop I worked at prior to MASSIVE attracted a specific clientele and I felt like I would max out, essentially doing the same cuts all the time. But this is completely different; it has a feel all its own which is reflected in the different people I’m blessed to meet and cut every day.
PE: How did you start working in the shop?
DC: Completely by chance. I heard about MASSIVE through a friend, but had no idea where the shop was located. I had just moved back from Hawaii at the time so I was actually looking for a shop to work in. And one day, I was headed to an interview with another barbershop, and on my way there I stopped at a random place for some coffee. And I noticed MASSIVE was literally right next door, so I decided to go in and check it out. I started talking to one of the barbers and he told me they had chairs open and were looking to hire. So, I started talking to everyone in the shop and liked it so much, I never made it to the interview I had scheduled – I stayed at MASSIVE and talked to everyone the whole time! I was just trying to grab some coffee next door and it worked out.
PE: Have you ever cut hair and then sold a piece of art or an outfit?
DC: Yeah, all the time. Literally as we’re cutting hair, people are coming into the shop. And they’ll come up to you and ask how much a certain shirt or hat is. I’ll go find out how much a shirt is, ring it up and sell it, then come back to the haircut. We’re answering phones. People are buying vape stuff. It’s completely unique.
PE: What’s trending in the shop? What cuts or grooming requests are you getting most frequently right now?
DC: Absolutely the beard; the beard is completely in. Even people that don’t have beards are trying to grow out the three longest hairs on their chin to have one. The beard and the comb over take the cake right now. The whole hipster trend.
A lot of women come into the shop. I’d say in the last three or four years, there’s been a big increase in short cuts or side cuts with women. It’s gotten to the point where women are getting their sides fully shaved down, and keeping the hair long on top. With women I am completely gentle with everything I do, including using the razor.
You know who started the side cut? The singer Cassie. When she had that little side shave, she started a whole entire trend.
PE: Weirdest place you’ve ever given a haircut?
DC: Oh my goodness, there’s been so many! I’d say in the smallest, tightest public bathrooms you could ever imagine. Where its super-hot, sweat in your eyes, and you’re trying to work with the lighting because lighting is so important in delivering a great cut.
PE: Weirdest customer haircut request?
DC: This guy asked for a reverse fade. Imagine a guy that is balding, OK? His hair is completely bald up top, but he wanted to have a bald fade going into a number three clipper guard on the side. So rather than having the longer hair on top and then going into a fade, it was bald up top and reversing into a number three! It came out pretty cool.