HairCutHarry may need the most effective job on this planet.
Each video on his 500,000-subscriber-strong YouTube channel follows the very same format: Harry, the pseudonymous man in entrance of the digicam, wanders right into a barbershop someplace in Tokyo, or Mumbai, or Lisbon, and asks for a haircut. The barber whirrs into motion and showcases the sumptuousness of his craft, snipping away on the particular person strands of Harry’s bangs, lathering up his chin for a therapeutic massage, or pleating a scorching towel to suit completely over his face. In different phrases, Harry is there to unwind, a lot to the envy of these tuning in.
In that sense, HairCutHarry works as each a journey vlog and an anthology of rest tapes. It’s fascinating to witness the proclivities and traditions of worldwide barbershop tradition—due to HairCutHarry, I’ll at all times know what a moist shave in Seoul seems to be like—however his content material can be freed from the grating small-talk and bustling chaos that tends to outline a typical journey to the barber. The soundscape is the buzzing of clippers, the sloshing of spray bottles, the crimping of scissors, and foam effervescent on pores and skin. Harry calls it “unintentional ASMR,” or the proper white noise to nod off to after a protracted day. Maybe that’s why a few of his hottest movies have gathered greater than 10 million views.
Harry retains his actual title personal. The one who movies the movies—his longtime romantic companion—is understood solely as “Thriller Lady.” He doesn’t disclose how a lot he’s making from the YouTube channel, however does admit that that is now his full-time job, and that they cleared the benchmark they set for themselves: $50,000 yearly. That makes Harry one of many only a few individuals who makes a residing out of getting haircuts. We talked about how he fell into this line of labor, and why he thinks barbershops are an amazing locus to grasp the world. This dialog has been flippantly edited for size and readability.
Luke Winkie: What first bought you interested by barbershop tradition?
Harry: I at all times needed to journey. At the same time as a teen. I’d hitchhike, I’d backpack, and I used to be at all times looking for some kind of reference to native communities. I didn’t wish to be perceived as a vacationer who’d be someplace for a short time earlier than leaving. As an alternative, I discovered myself in want of a real interplay. As my journeys bought longer, I began to appreciate that whereas I used to be on the highway, I’d finally want a haircut. And that appeared like an effective way to get that interplay.
When did you notice that documenting these haircuts could be an effective way to border a journey vlog?
I had achieved a couple of large journeys within the Nineteen Nineties. I went by way of Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia, doing a little extra excessive journey. In 1993, I principally hitchhiked from Europe down by way of the Sahara. It at all times struck me, in these days, that it will’ve been enjoyable to carry a video digicam with me and doc these experiences. So by 1999, as I used to be making ready to make a journey to India with my companion, I used to be like, “I’ve to carry a digicam.” I spent $3,500 on a Canon XL1, which was a extremely cumbersome early residence video digicam. I put all of it on a bank card, and carried that stability by way of India.
On that journey, I used to be filming stuff that may later be what you’d affiliate with a contemporary journey blogger. However I didn’t have a lot expertise with the tools, so plenty of what I used to be capturing didn’t prove. However one factor that did work was this cool little barbershop that me and my companion had handed a few instances. I advised her, “You’re going to movie me getting a haircut in there.” Once more, this was the late ’90s, and the one method you could possibly watch the tape was if we plugged the digicam into the TV. However I beloved exhibiting it to my family and friends. You possibly can see their eyes gentle up once I put it on.
In order that’s how you bought the concept for a YouTube channel?
Yeah, by 2006, I used to be working as a mission supervisor for a telecom firm, and I noticed one in all my co-workers taking a look at a web site known as YouTube. He tells me what it’s, and I’m like, “Bingo, that is what I used to be ready for.” I slapped that video up on the positioning, and my brother stated, “Hey, you do plenty of touring, you need to get a haircut each time you permit residence and put it on the web.” In 2010, we filmed the second, in Turkey, deep within the Grand Bazaar. That saved progressing, and in 2013, YouTube allowed me to monetize the channel. That’s when HairCutHarry began in earnest. At this time, it’s my full-time job.
What do you suppose your viewers likes about these movies? Why do thousands and thousands of individuals tune in to look at you get a haircut?
Within the early days, with the one I bought in India, I believe my family and friends had been simply enthralled by the weird expertise—or what’s perceived to be a weird expertise—of a haircut in India on the aspect of a avenue. It made them chuckle. Different folks have advised me that they use our movies as an academic useful resource in barber faculties, and a few inform us that they got here throughout our channel as a result of they had been trying to discover a place to get their hair reduce in a brand new metropolis.
That’s actually true, however folks additionally like your movies due to their enjoyable, ASMR-like high quality. Do you perceive that attraction?
We’re one of many first unintentional ASMR YouTube channels. Whenever you first hear about ASMR you’re like, “That’s type of bizarre.” However the extra you study it, and the way somebody like Bob Ross was in tune with that sensation even earlier than it had a reputation, it begins to make sense. I’m attempting to doc actuality with our filming. It’s one take, and we’ve got to get the entire technique of the haircut. In case you have dangerous sound and dangerous visuals, no one goes to look at what you’ve filmed, so I believe these two issues overlap.
How do you scout for places?
We’re continually on the lookout for locations that catch our eye. I may need an inkling of a barbershop I wish to movie in. I particularly sought out a haircut in Korea final yr at a spot that I wasn’t certain nonetheless existed. We filmed in Dubrovnik at a spot that has since closed down. It’s undoubtedly modified because the outdated days, the place I’d stroll right into a barbershop on the fly and attempt to discuss the folks working there into letting us movie. We’re a barely larger manufacturing now, and which means we wish to schedule our shoots forward of time as a lot as doable. A whole lot of the time a barbershop will block off time, or allow us to are available in after hours, for privateness. It’s good to movie after common enterprise is over.
What have you ever realized concerning the totally different male grooming patterns across the planet? How has your definition of what a “haircut” is expanded?
I at all times must suppose again to my Indian barbershop expertise in 1999 after we filmed our first video. This was my first go to to an Indian barbershop, and I bought the complete works from Ramesh. What I believed was going to be only a haircut quickly advanced right into a full face shave adopted by a face therapeutic massage with a tool that resembled a automobile buffer. A thick pink cream was lathered throughout my face; the colour jogged my memory of Pepto-Bismol. At one level the plate from the buffer fell off, and for a cut up second there, I believed the buffer would proceed drilling a gap by way of my nostril! It didn’t. Ramesh calmly reattached it and continued. Once I thought it couldn’t get any higher than that, Ramesh sat me up within the chair and began slapping my head round in what appeared to be a random vogue, adopted by the grand finale of cracking every ear, in addition to hair, with this excellent popping sound. It’s vital so as to add that at no time was I harm. This made among the finest journey experiences, and Ramesh will at all times have a particular place in our hearts.
Is being featured in a HairCutHarry video good for enterprise? Have you ever heard of barbershops getting an inflow of consumers after you stopped by?
Yeah, we’ve got a little bit of clout now, and there’s some energy behind what we do. Once we filmed in Minnesota, with this barber named Patrick, we heard that one in all our followers on the East Coast took the evening practice all the way in which to the Midwest to get his hair reduce by him. He made a little bit of a trip of it. He took his spouse with him. So sure, visitors undoubtedly come into these spots after seeing our movies, which is actually cool.
Through the years, we’ve got stayed in contact with most of the barbers we’ve met and at all times strive our greatest to cease by and go to if we’re within the space. We initially visited and filmed with Mr. Shimomae in Kyoto in 2019, and we returned to him this yr. Once we arrived at his store, Mr. Shimomae was ready and gave me the kindest observe written in English stating the next: “Mr. Harry: Due to the YouTube movies you uploaded, I can work energetically eternally. It’s because many individuals from everywhere in the world come to see me and ask me to shave their faces after watching the video. The need to satisfy expectations is an element that retains me in good spirits, thanks. I by no means thought we’d meet once more so I’m pleased right this moment.”
When you’re occurring a visit, are you acutely aware about ensuring your hair and beard are grown out so the barbers have one thing to chop?
In fact. I understand how lengthy it takes for the hair to develop on my face, and I wish to give the barbers a problem. We have now to offer them not less than seven days of progress there.
Why do you suppose getting your haircut is an efficient method to immerse your self in a international tradition?
I believe it’s since you’re not going to a spot that’s about servicing vacationers. Barbers are doing their very own factor, for his or her neighborhood. You possibly can sit down and discuss to the barber, and the opposite clients there, and also you’ll study a lot extra about the place you might be. You’ll study what persons are fascinated by, or what they’re hoping for. For me, the barbershop is the gateway to the place you’re visiting.