Getting my haircut, at Cuts and Curls by Richard.
Back in Amsterdam from my house at Crete, first things first, I need a haircut before I see my friends and business relations. I need to look good to feel good and upfront I have made an appointment with Richard from Cuts and Curls for a trim. I know Richard from my wild years at the beginning of the ’90s when I was housing and shaking my bonbon at IT, Havana upstairs and Richter in the Reguliersdwarsstraat and Richard was a hairstylist at We Cut Heads from Leoni across the street from the Stopera.
Being early for my appointment at 14:00 o’clock, I sit down and get a glass of good tea from Richard. I am telling him about the new project Amsterdam365 we are working on and that he needs to part of it because a gay hairdresser with a male hair salon is just as much a part of Amsterdam as “broodje kwekkeboom”. In the chair for my hair wash and haircut, we start talking.
I was born in the hippie year 1972 in Sittard (Limburg) coming into a mixed European family. When I was little we lived just a few km from Sittard, in the middle of nowhere, in a small village. We moved a couple of times out of the Netherlands and then finally back again to Limburg, don’t get me wrong Limburg is great for recreation, but it never felt livable and as a home for me. As far as I can remember my thoughts where; as soon as I grow up and I have the change, I will move away from here. My first step was Maastricht, still Limburg but it was already a great start in life, then I stayed for some short periods in Milan, Amsterdam and London, all great life experiences.
My dad owned a slaughterhouse, with big macho man, handling dead animals cutting and preparing meat for big supermarket-chains, hospitals and jails. In the chosen family of my parents was an “uncle” with a hair salon. That “uncle” was my father’s best friend and he had two hair salons, he always told me; I make a hairdresser from you. I was never fond of my fathers’ work and business, having an interest in hair styling my interest drew me to that uncle with a hair salon and at the age of 15, he took me in working in his salon.
My grandparents where very liberal people they lived in Paris and Muenchen before settling in the Netherlands. My grandfather designed clothes and had an atelier at their home, with several people as staff working for him. He really hated that his own kids were not creative, so he adored that his grandchildren were creative. I have 2 cousins who are also hairdressers and several kids of friends of the family are in the same business. With one cousin am still very close and she is a great woman, she and I are also doing business together as she has a wholesale business in Limburg. During the time I was studying at the beauty school, I often did my homework at my grandfather’s atelier on the dummy-doll. The same atelier my grandfather and his employees were working designing and sewing wonderful clothes, the workers adored me. Little did I know that the 4 old men working for grandfather were all gay men? On later age, my grandmother explained and told it to me, she never asked them about it and they never told her. She told me it was simply not her business to nose in the lives of the staff.
I started lessons at a private beauty day school and had my internship at a handsome salon in Heerlen. Up until today, I am still friends with my teacher from those years and one of the girls from my class. After I finished my education I started working in Maastricht in the super chique Villapark. I can tell you it is not all silver and gold that shines with so-called chique people… hahah. My first employer made me learn to remember by heart, what all clients had in their coffee… one was not allowed to ask the client or to check the list. I learned the best by adding a joke to a face, a coffee black … like her black soul. Today I rather remember something personal from a client than coffee info.
In my years as a trainee, I joined a couple of hairstyling competitions and did the styling for miss elections, nowadays I prefer staying in my salon and making men beautiful.
At a very young age, 13 years old, I came out as being gay, not easy in those years. Lucky for me there were already some other members of the family that had they’re coming out. But they were suffering from HIV and Aids. After a few years, my transgender cousin passed away as first (still being half in transition) her passing away had a huge impact on me. I felt the loss and the need to do something so I started doing volunteer work for the Schorer stichting via the DGD in Maastricht. During those years I was the youngest volunteer ever at the stichting, work during those years was a lot about creating awareness and giving information about how to prevent to become HIV-positive. Because in the ’80s once you were diagnosed with HIV life expectations were very short. As a volunteer, we went in teams from bars to cruising areas handing out leaflets and warning people, to have safe sex only. Later in my professional work as a hairdresser, I went often for the last haircut to a dying gay guy because his regular hairdresser would not be willing to do it, or was afraid to do it because of the aids disease. A period, of very intense, but very grateful work.
It was 25 years ago and I was deeply in love with my first big love and I decided to move to Amsterdam. I ended up living on the Waterlooplein, right in the middle of everything next to Fabiola the living piece of art it was all an amazing positive shock for a young man coming from Maastricht.
There is much to like about Amsterdam, it is as living in an open-air museum, and one can be totally 100% yourself in Amsterdam. The availability of art, culture and bar-life and the directness of the Amsterdammers. In Amsterdam, we are not afraid of change; I think that that’s the thing I like the most about Amsterdammers, not being afraid of changes. We are living in a constantly changing world and in NL it often changes the first in our great city.
My love, Olivier lives in Brussels so we commute, nowadays he is more in Amsterdam then I am in Brussels, but I also have locked that city in my heart. I just love cities and what they have to offer to people no matter if you are 8 or 100 years old.
Nowadays I don’t go out so much anymore as I work 4 nights a week in my own shop, but if I go out and enjoy nightlife you can find me in “the Eagle” or “the Web” in the Warmoestraat. My favourite hangout is in my own street Korte Leidsedwarsstraat, well they cheat they are on the Lijnbaansgracht, but all the way to the Korte Leidsedwarstraats. It is called SHIRAZ a nice wine bar with great friendly staff, amazing wines and a great mixture of clients, from me, being that old leather gay to neighbours to celebs and a few lost tourists. All of them in a very cosy atmosphere, you will often find me and Olivier up there on a Saturday night after work celebrating a great week.
Aandacht Is Het Nieuwe Luxe. (Attention Is The New Luxury)
In 1996 I opened my hair salon up here in the Korte Leidsedwarsstraat, in those years not many papers were needed just a vestigingsverguning. Basically, in that time, you needed guts and money and a good location and you were set to go. They would measure how many meters there were between salons and checked how many there were allowed to open in one area. Since I had all the papers it was easy to open a business. And so I did.
Opening a salon is easy, keeping it open for 23 years is a lot of work, rents go up, and things have gotten very expensive in the city to run a salon if you want to keep it up to code. Clients pass away or go bold and or move with their newborns away from the city. It is constant work to find new men that are a match and stay loyal. Luckily word to mouth is my best advertisement and many clients travel to me even as far as from Gent in Belgium, Marseille, Den Haag and still 2 from Maastricht from my younger years. I always feel very honoured that they keep coming, by now they are more friends than clients; with most of my clients I have a stronger bond than being just their hairdresser, and I really like that part of my job.
I have to tell you the story about my shops’ name; I was on holiday in Florida and we were driving to Key West and we passed Key Largo, and there it was, a HUGE pink building with on the side in bright neon letters “Cindy’s Cuts and Curls” what a gimmick. We made a picture of me underneath the bright neon. Later when I needed a name for my shop we used the name Cuts and Curls, we dropped the Cindy…. that would be too much hahha. The logo of a bold man is a drawing of me, but in the nineties scanning an image was not as easy on a computer as it is now, so after scanning it several times, this came out, looks nothing like me no more, except that I am bold as well. And I love my logo and in 23 years it never changed and everybody in Amsterdam knows it now.
It is just like a thin chef in a kitchen can make you a lovely meal a bold man can do your hair right!!
From the beginning I used to work with staff, it was then not only this salon it was also the business next door. It was about 9 years go my best employee Leon left he wanted to go back to Drenthe, which was a sad moment we worked so good together. After Leon left it was a constant struggle with staff so when the last one left 9 years ago, I decided I am going to change the way I work. So from that moment I decided I do it on my own and it’s and will be only ONE on ONE and I don’t regret it a single moment. I love it I can give personal attention to every client and I can guarantee that I am on time which is a big pre if you as a client have to pick kids from daycare or you want to be back at work at a set time. #AandachtIsHetNieuweLuxe.
Korte Leidse, Never a Dull Moment.
It was 1996 when I opened my business up here at the Korte Leidsedwarsstraat. The street was completely different then, much more different shops; there was an art shop, interior design shop, Asian arts, gay lifestyle shop and a Christine le Duc sex shop on the corner and a French supermarket. Too many different shops at that time, it was not a big party street like it is now. Do I sound like old? Sometimes I long back to those days. It was more diverse than it is now. They all left… only a few those are still her from those years, like Jeroen Bechthold, the ceramist opposite of my shop to the right and coffee shop the rookies and the whiskey bar, the rest they all changed owners or are gone and revamped into a bar.
Korte Leidsedwarsstraat NEVER a DULL MOMENT it is in the middle of everything of what the city has to offer. I am right-opposite of coffee shop the rookies, even for a nonsmoker, they are really the best neighbours one can have, friendly staff, great clientele and always something to see. Above my hair salon, there are 8 apartments, so I am also parcel dropping point for most of the neighbours, which is great we have to treasure the few real families and couples that still live in our street. From the Korte Leidse it is just a little jump away to all that is cool and beautiful in our city, every lunch break I enjoy my little walk in the city, no matter if it is a short stop at the Rijksmuseum, Leidseplein or the Spiegelgracht it all makes me smile every day again.
My clients are the best.
I don’t want to be judged on my sexuality; for sure I will not judge others on theirs. So I am open to everybody and everybody is welcome in my world and shop. My rule in life is; if you can deal with me, I can deal with you… so easy.
I have loads of businessmen, expats and locals as clients, these days the number of my straight clients are increasing and I am fine with that, it is great to have clients that feel well with me and visa-versa.
My clients are the best; they are the best mix a hair salon can wish for. It is from a guy on welfare who tells me; YOU are the holiday I am willing to save for. Businessmen like me, for being able to reserve a time online, and then work on time, and being able to book and even cancel up to 2 hours before the appointment free of charge (even booking…com does not allow you that). My youngest client is 15 years old, my oldest let’s saying in his ‘80s….. He will kill me if I confess his real age. All of my clients enjoy me giving them one on one attention, no students working in the salon, no one else that cuts your hair, only me.
Earn a Gay Dollar, Spend a Gay Dollar.
When I started my salon in the ’90s, my salon was 100% gay. Nowadays the younger generation does not work via the “earn a gay dollar, spend a gay dollar” system no more. As I mentioned before at a young age I was involved in community work, I love my community and I still work according to the old system. So I think it is important to know where you came from and where your heart is and for sure to give back to your own community, no matter if its drag, leather bears, rubber men … or give money to the playground for kids one street further from my shop.
Grooming a man, making him beautiful
I love making a man beautiful that’s why next to styling hair also groom man, nothing feels then making people happy and look amazing. A man who walks in with a two weeks old beard, to trim his beard back so everything looks like he did not shave for a few days, but everything is on the exact same length, and then shave the contours of the beard so he gets a very sharp jawline. There is no better job on this planet, it is not for nothing that the profession man’s hairdresser is chosen many times to be the happiest profession on this earth, I could not agree more with that choice. From removing a little bit of grey hair to making a dramatic makeover, or helping a man in a suit look smart, it is al fun to do and the variation makes my day.
I am so proud to have two products ranges in my salon that I use and sell one is named “Depot male grooming tools“, it’s a young Italian company that had a very good long look on the barber market to know what today’s needs are for the modern well-groomed man. They have it all, from shampoo, body wash to moustache wipes, room spray and candles. Matt-finish chique hair wax to gel and conditioner and beard care oils, I can really find everything I need in their range of amazing manly products to improve and perfect a man’s looks.
The second brand I really love is a local product named Mr. Dutchman; it is made here in the Netherlands by Jason who I know personally. He makes 3 hair waxes, two hair tonics a beard wax and beard oils, I really love that it is local and handmade in small batches. The names of the products are too funny the waxes are named “Matte Modder”, “Slimme Sjeper” and the hair tonic “Gin tonic”. The Slimme Sjeper hair wax is my favourite product it is a mixture of pliable and wax, exactly what a modern man needs, it is easy to apply and easy to rinse out again. It is great to be proud of a locally made product and people are coming back for it!
For our male readers, we have a giveaway for you from Richard, like our Facebook page and share this interview with Richard and Cuts and Curls. From all the shares we pick one who will receive a € 25,– discount voucher for a smashing haircut by Richard.