My new hairdresser is a revelation. After a decade of mediocre and inconsistent cuts from someone I should have charged for therapy, I am now in the hands of the skilled and interesting Prodromos at the Barbershop Salon. He is a man who concentrates on his art, takes his time, gives a shit about the details, and actually knows how to give me my James Dean quiff. Why is he so good at this particular style? “I used to have many pompadour customers – we called them Rockabillys in Greece – so I have a lot of experience.”
“When I cut hair,” he says, “I am deaf, lost, not connected to the environment.” It is true. The man focuses on what he is doing with intensity. Prodromos developed his unique Zen-like approach over 27 years of cutting hair in many countries. In fact, he has observed real differences between his customers – both women and men – in the different countries. Greece is the hardest place to work because “the women like to change their hair styles at least three times per year, depending on how the latest pop stars are wearing their hair.” It is hard, he implied but did not say, to turn every Greek fan into their idols. In contrast, in Milan, where he worked for 18 months, he found his customers unwilling to change their styles at all.
London was a mixed bag. For two years he dealt with two different kinds of customers. “The very English women with the straight blond hair all look the same. They might go so far as to get a few mild highlights. But many of the young women and men don’t have taboos and try amazing haircuts. Even if they work in an office, they still like their extreme hair styles.” I knew just what he meant. In London people are not much judged for what they wear and how they look. Unless one works in a “uniformed” profession (law, investments, etc), there is a great deal of freedom to be expressive about one’s fashion.
His biggest adjustment is working in the US, where people seem to think more about “getting a trim” than a haircut. “They just want to cut off the dead ends. Perhaps because I work differently from others, they are afraid of me at first. When we get to know each other, it’s okay. But many don’t ever ask for a change.” Men are especially reluctant to change and barely know what he is talking about when Prodromos suggests a style better suited to the shape of their face. “But this has been my fucking style for 35 years,” they tell him. To me he shakes his head and says what he wishes he could say, “And for 35 fucking years it has been wrong for you.”
“When I cut it and show them front, back, and sides – very few have seen themselves from the side – they tell me: Oh, now I see.” Because he prefers collaboration with the people he works on, he is gratified to hear that response.
Thanks to my friend Jyl Lynn Felman, who keeps her wonderful hair very short and must have it attended to very frequently, for turning me on to Prodromos. Jyl is also a writer and you can check her out here.
If you’re in the Boston area, you can reach Prodromos at the Barbershop Salon in Watertown.