Perfecting the Vibe: Wisdom coming from Four Brooklyn Barbers

Interviews by Akornefa Akyea
Photographs by Sam Polcer

Written by Nigerian-British poet as well as playwright Inua Ellams, international sensation Barber Shop Chronicles, which comes to BAM Dec 3—8 for its US premiere—can be set in cities across the African continent (Lagos, Johannesburg, Accra, Kampala, as well as Harare) as well as London, as well as conjures the sacred space where men—in This kind of case Black men—come together not only for a Great trim, however for necessary as well as unfiltered discussion on black masculinity, immigration, identity as well as more.

While the services provided at barber shops around the earth are similar, each shop has its own unique atmosphere as well as distinct character. We visited four shops on Fulton St., home also to the Harvey Theater at BAM Strong, where the play will be performed, to find out how they foster a sense of community.

Respect for Life Barber Shop: Positive Thinking
Claim to fame: was Biggie Smalls’ preferred barber shop

“I deal with the law of attraction. I try to always give positive energy as well as keep a positive head, because my energy definitely goes into people whose heads I’m touching. A guy came inside the different day complaining about his job. I told him he shouldn’t do in which anymore because there are people sitting here right currently without jobs. You have a job! You gotta find the positive thing in in which job in which makes you go to work as well as make the best of in which situation. No matter where you work, you chose to work there. Because everything in which happens to you can be what you’ve allowed or made happen. Thoughts become things. Words are powerful. in which’s how I live, through the law of attraction. We see hundreds of people in which come through here as well as everybody’s going through all their different situations, so you have to stay in a positive mind.” —Reggie, barber, 52


3 Suns Barbershop: Art

Added attraction: boasts a tattoo parlor within

“I was going to FIT for book illustration. in which’s what I genuinely wanted to do. I kind of always had This kind of craft in my back pocket. This kind of just ended up in which I got into barbering as well as fell in love with This kind of. Drawing, painting, sculpting, eye-hand coordination: I’m using all the same creative skills. If you look around the shop, you’ll notice in which there are a lot of paintings on the wall. I got a painting inside the back in which’s mine. I used to have just my paintings however different artists used to come in as well as ask who the artist can be as well as if they could show their work. This kind of started out to become like a rotation, just representing artists inside the neighborhood. I do This kind of every two months—rotating the walls for local artists. This kind of’s decor, This kind of’s a Great look as well as I like the different energy as well as feel of change as well as different art coming in. as well as each artist kind of just improvements the whole feel of the shop. in which’s what I genuinely like.”—Rahkeem, barber/owner, 42


Levels Barbershop: Music

Proof they’re doing something right: there are seven branches across fresh York City



“We play music in here all the time! What This kind of can be, can be we have songs in which we’ve played too much in which will cause a problem in here. So one song we cannot play in here—we don’t play in here—can be ‘No Diggity.’ They have so many versions of ‘No Diggity’ This kind of don’t make sense. They said they heard This kind of too many times. If This kind of comes on, everyone’s like, ‘Oh! What you doing?’ We don’t play ‘No Diggity!’”—Damian, barber, 39


The Stoop: Balance 
This kind of’s a family affair: owned by fun-loving twin brothers Quan as well as Tav 

“People always leave here which has a smile. I feel like people just embrace the fun as well as love in which we give off because I think in which we embrace This kind of all. People come here as well as they just talk. Whether they’re whispering just to their barber or talking to everybody, they’re able to get This kind of off their chest. Just like people go into the church as well as do their Hail Marys, they come in here as well as do their Hail Marys, however This kind of’s judgement free in here.

“Since we’ve opened up the shop, I’ve never seen so many grown men cry out in public. Like literally bawling in here. as well as you know This kind of isn’t a bad thing, because like I said sometimes you just need to get This kind of out as well as then move forward.

“We do everything in here. We have game nights, we do Karaoke Fridays; we do Cutting Karaoke. The customer can pick a song as well as then we sing along. however none of us can genuinely sing, we’re just doing This kind of for fun. Don’t try to book us!”—Quan, barber/owner, 33


Barber Shop Chronicles will be at BAM Dec 3—8, as part of Next Wave 2019, a season of artists creating their BAM debuts.

© 2019, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Inc. All rights reserved.

Perfecting the Vibe: Wisdom coming from Four Brooklyn Barbers

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