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Hairdresser Robert Cromeans is widely regarded as one of the most prolific – and flamboyant – showmen in the industry. The Glasgow born, US based creative, who has six salons under his belt and a prominent position as Global Artistic Director for John Paul Mitchell Systems, is perhaps best known for his dramatic, off-kilter performances as a platform artist. 

With a penchant for creating a spectacle out of a humble hair show, Cromeans is known for using unconventional methods to create a memorable viewing experience. “I’ve cut hair with a fork on stage, I’ve used a staple gun and I’ve raised helium balloons,” he says of his eccentric approach, “I think some hairdressers get fearful and end up taking all the risk out of a hair show. They prepare everything and then go on stage and poke holes in it. But the audience need to see it, they need to feel it – because they’ve got to go home and take a risk.” 

INFRINGE Editor-in-Chief Anthony Mascolo spoke to Cromeans about his career highlights.

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What first drew you to the world of hairdressing? My parents were in the restaurant business, so from the age of 16 to 23 I worked my family’s dream and hated it. There was a salon across the street and all these kids would come into the bar with overalls on, looking high and tight. I wanted to do that. It was more the lifestyle that appealed to me. I had a peculiar taste in the way I dressed and was often getting picked out of the crowd for wearing pink pants and so on. Even my parents were embarrassed by me. I wanted an occupation where I could look a certain way, be the character I wanted to become and be accepted… and I felt like hairdressing was the vehicle. 

Can you tell us about your first experiences performing on stage at hair shows? The first haircut I did on stage, scissor over comb, was lumpy city all the way up. At the next show I did finger waves, using a product called sculpting lotion, but it turned out to be shampoo! So as I start waving it, it starts lathering and I looked to the audience to see if they caught it and they did. So, I claimed it! The audience laughed so hard and I realised, no matter what you did, you can get away with it if you own it.

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I’ve noticed when you do the shows that the audience goes mad, you really get that rockstar energy going! It’s risky and I think that’s what I’m prepared to take. I don’t get stuck on a one model thing because why would you want to do one model, everyone else does – I wanna do 5 because hopefully they’ll like 3 of the haircuts! For me, that pace is what makes me more creative. I’ve cut hair with a fork on stage, I’ve used a staple gun and I’ve raised helium balloons. But I think some hairdressers get fearful and end up taking all the risk out of a hair show. They prepare everything and then go on stage and poke holes in it. But the audience need to see it, they need to feel it – because they’ve got to go home and take a risk.

As a platform artist I’ve been really lucky, the States are a great place to work. There’s a kind of circuit there. I started doing really little shows and it’s kind of like being a busker. I worked on a platform, they call it ‘the pit’, because you’re working on the floor. I like being there because that’s where the people are. So if I can engage with an audience, once I get into action because of the swagger and the look people are going to watch just to see it. I’ve heard people say, ‘what’s this guy about’ and they they’ll say, ‘I’m so sorry, you really inspired me’. I’m not a trend guy, I don’t really work on the latest trends. I tend to just want to work on making you feel a hunger inside and reigniting the passion you had, probably when you began, before you got kind of burned out. The purpose is not just making them laugh, it’s making them laugh and making a point with it. It’s all about making the client feel special.

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“I dressed up as a transvestite clown for a show once and sang about having a broken heart. Afterwards, Vidal Sassoon came on and quoted the song. My mum couldn't believe that Vidal Sassoon had said my name.”
Robert Cromeans
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Credits

Interview Anthony Mascolo
Images courtesy of Robert Cromeans Website robertcromeans.com and Paul Mitchell Website paul-mitchell.co.uk
Special Thanks Mary Cuomo

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