The hairdresser

In one of the streets of Amsterdam's Westerpark lies the hairdressing salon of Mr. Schnurr. The interior consists of old dryers, posters of glamorous hairstyles from the ‘80s and wooden panelling against the walls. One day I decide to ask if I can take a portrait of him and walk into his salon. He immediately agrees.

On the question of what kind of people come to his salon, he says he’s specialised in water perms for the women in the neighbourhood. We unanimously decide this can make for a beautiful picture. We only have to wait for a customer. ‘Would you like a beer?’ he asks. It's one o'clock in the afternoon. Although I don’t like beer, I decide to join him. Moments later we are smoking and drinking on the couch in the back of the salon.

An hour later it’s still quiet. We open up another beer.

Then the doorbell sounds. ‘My best friend!’ Mr. Schnurr exclaims, 'Come in!' Arie joins us on the couch, rolls a cigarette and cracks open his first beer.

Another hour passes by. ‘It has never been this quiet,’ says Mr. Schnurr, "normally this place is completely filled with women.’ He sighs, looks at the door and then looks at me with pity. ‘Now you have come here for nothing.’

Then the two friends have an idea.

They decide to help me by acting. Mr. Schnurr will pretend to cut Arie. He’s going to act as if, but you can’t see that in the picture, can you? ‘What a brilliant idea,’ I say, 'let's just try it.’ Arie sits down in the barber chair and gets a cape thrown over his shoulders. I put my Hasselblad on a tripod, install a light and wait for things to come. I’ve never done a series on 'fake haircutting’. We giggle a lot.

‘Oh my, unfortunately your hair’s a bit short for a water perm,' Mr. Schnurr acts, ‘but I will give you an ever better haircut!’ Then he winks at the camera and picks up the clippers. Before I well and truly see what’s going on, he shaves a big lane on top of Arie's head. Grade zero. 'Oops!' I say. For a moment he looks at the result and then creates a new lane, making it a cross.

Arie is still laughing and acting as a happy customer, but that is mainly because he has no mirror. 'Oops!’ I repeat. But with every oops I take a picture. 'Oops! Oops! Oops!’  

‘I’m done’, concludes Mr. Schnurr. 'Now you're a handsome boy again.’ The top of Arie's head is completely shaved, with a thick edge showing the border. ‘Look in the mirror if you dare!’ With his cape still on, Arie walks over to a mirror and nearly chokes on his beer. ‘Oh no, what have you done?!’ he shouts startled. ‘Ha ha!’ Mr. Schnurr can’t stop laughing. ‘Just kidding!’ and in the direction of the camera, triumphantly: ‘It was not fake, it was real.’

Grumbling, Arie and his new haircut move from the chair back to the couch. As a thank you for his acting job, he gets an extra beer, which seems to do a lot of good. I decide to leave the two friends alone and go home. Mr. Schnurr is still laughing as he holds the door open for me.

Whether he gave Arie a descent haircut afterwards, I cannot tell...