At the beginning of the year, barber Teddiboy Greg moved from California to Moscow to open his barbershop and instill an American culture of caring for himself Moscow men. "Daily Billboard" talked with an immigrant to understand how Russia attracts Americans.
- Russia is not the most obvious place for a foreigner to start a business. When and how did you first learn about our country?
I travel a lot - I learn to cut and do tattoos in all corners of the world. Four years ago I came here for Moscow. In America you are always told: "Russia is a poor, dangerous country, people are evil in it" - I did not believe in it. And in Moscow I realized that I like Russian people more than Americans, here I feel more comfortable.
- Yes, most of American films and TV series position Russian as villains ...
Just like the Russians watch American films and they think, Oh, America is a beautiful place. But they do not quite understand how life in the States really works. Yes, it may be interesting for us to come for a short while, but do not move.
- And what made you move?
- Here I finally feel free, I feel freedom of speech.
- You did not feel free speech in the US?
America is a very politically correct and liberal state. That's what I like about Russian people - you are not offended by anything. This is another reason for my move, in Russia I can say everything I think about. In the States, if you hit someone with a word, they can complain about you, try to destroy your business if they do not like your political views, your thoughts. So you have to keep track of everything that you say.
- Many Russian citizens would tell you that there is no freedom of speech in Russia.
These are slightly different things. If the average Russian comes to the States, he will be extremely surprised. There you have to monitor everything that you say, and you can not even use the slang you want. Roughly speaking, what can be said in Russia can not be said in America, and vice versa.
- But is America any better than Russia for you?
I came from Los Angeles, and the only thing that's better there is the weather. But I grew up in New Jersey, there, of course, it was not as cold as now in Moscow, but to the frosts I was ready.
- You started building your business pretty quickly here - how did it happen?
I was planning a business for about two years and I was doing all kinds of paperwork all this time. For these two years I was in Russia somewhere 20 times and was looking for a location. I needed a place so that people could see the barber shop from the street. All I found for reasonable money in the center was either in the basement or on the second floor, and this did not suit me. Unfortunately, all the rooms with access to the street in the center of Moscow are insanely expensive. Starting a business, it is not very logical to spend so much money on a lease. So I found this place (at the Paveletskaya metro station.) - Ed.) - almost center, but it's cheaper, I like that people can get here by metro. The Moscow traffic jams are another problem that I encountered. I never saw such traffic jams, wherever I was. I think this happened because the city was built in the Soviet era and no one planned such a huge number of cars. At the same time, your metro is beautiful, you have the most beautiful stations of all that I have ever seen. Unfortunately, when I'm alone, I mostly travel by taxi - the most under ground while it's hard to navigate.
- Is it hard for you without a tongue?" Will you learn Russian?
In the States, I spent a year and a half teaching Russian, I went to Olga, a girl whom I met on the Internet, she is from Moscow. We practiced three times a week, but I did not use the language, except that I watched the films. I know the alphabet, I can read everything, but I do not understand. I understand somewhere half of what I hear, and I can say even less. I think that if you want to move to some country, you must know its language, at least at a minimum level. Of course, I want to learn Russian, but it's a very difficult language for me. It is especially difficult to conjugate verbs, we have none. "I work, you work, it works" - it's unclear. When I say, I often miss this part. I also do not understand why you have so many translations for cat, cat and cat.
"I like this in Russia: you have family values, traditions. In my country, too, they were, but we lost them"
- Russian people in the majority are pretty conservative, which you, apparently, like. But their conservatism also affects the issues of appearance - someone with tattoos on his face may seem as strange as a man in a dress will seem to you. Have you encountered this and how do you feel about it?
Of course, when I go out into people, I understand that I attract a lot of attention, because in Moscow there are not so many people with tattoos on the whole face, I only know the Soviet punk Max Chirik . Older people look at me with reproach, because in Soviet times people with tattoos were either criminal authorities or prisoners. All my tattoos are made professionally, there are no prison portals, but people who do not understand this, of course, do not see it. Similarly, in America, the older generation does not understand tattoos, because they were not such a part of their culture. My grandmother told me: "What are you doing with your face, you look stupid."
Older people are very conservative, and I understand them, I myself am, while everyone in my country has become very liberal. I like this in Russia: you have family values, traditions. In my country, too, they were, but we lost them. Indeed, men in dresses are everywhere in America, and if he comes to your store, you have to serve him as a woman, otherwise you can be sued. I, like many Russians, do not believe that such people should walk around.
- But among the same conservative stratum there is an opinion that a real man should wash his hair, there can not be any hair styling, and behind barbershop a foolish stereotype was established that this is a place for metrosexuals.
This is a view from the Soviet era, and it is changing. In Russia there were barbershops before the revolution, you had a culture of men's clubs. After the barbershops disappeared and appeared only in the 2000s. Therefore, the barber culture in Russia lags behind. In America we always had barbershops, we are born with this idea. Fathers take their sons to their first barbershop, it's part of tradition. The boys go to the barbershop, and the girls go to the salons. Of course, haircutting in barbershop is more expensive, but the quality of work and the experience gained here are completely different: in the usual salon you will not be shaved with a wet hot towel. Yes, you can cut your hair for 300-400 rubles. in the hairdresser at the house, and can we have for 1000-2000 rubles. But it will be a completely different quality of haircuts, it will keep the shape longer.
For some reason, it is considered that barbershop is a place for hipsters, of course, we are happy with hipsters, but in America everyone goes from small to large in barbershops. This place is even more for the working class, a place where men come after work to cut their hair, chat, drink, do not go home to their wife and children. When a man is in a female society, he must choose expressions, in barbershop a man can afford to speak like a man. Just like girls communicate on their topics in beauty salons.
- Many barbershops do not accept women as clients and do not take on the position of barber.
I do not do women's haircuts, but in America I had female clients who wore men's hairstyles. In America, many lesbians want short male haircuts, if they pay me, I do not care, I cut them. Yes, even if the dog goes to my barbershop and asks me to do her hair, I'll do it, I can cut anyone.
I do not hire girls as barbers, it just seems to me that they are not very good in this, not all, of course, but in my barbershop there will be only male barbers. If a man goes to a girl-barber just because she's hot and she has big tits, probably this is not the best reason for choosing the person who cuts you.
- Nevertheless, there are still a lot of barber shops in Moscow, how will yours differ?
- In my barbershop there will be no administrator, they are a relic of the salons. In American shops there are only barbers, owners, well, someone who follows the money. Soda, whiskey or beer my client can take himself - there's a refrigerator.
Barbershop will be open around the clock. Day 5 barber, and at night only 2. Moscow is a 24-hour city. In America, the bars close at 2 am, and here there is a 24-hour restaurant right next door. Anyone who works the same around the clock, may well want to have a haircut at night or in the morning.
This is only my first shop, but within a year I want to open another one in Tyumen. There are a lot of barber networks in Russia, but I do not want to sell franchises. This greatly affects the quality and reputation of the network, I want to do everything myself. I also want to establish a barber school, I think in Russia it's not very good. In America, to become a barber, you have to study for a year, and in Moscow I saw courses that promise to make you a barber for a month or three.
- Why Tyumen, and not Petersburg, for example?
- Of course, I plan to open my barbershops in many cities of Russia, but in Tyumen I have many friends, plus I already went there with courses. It is a small city in comparison with Moscow, it's cheaper to open your business, but at the same time people are rich there.
I already flown in Russia and gave master classes on courses. I was in Volgograd, Kursk, Krasnodar. My second passion except for barbering is the history of World War II. I was in Volgograd, which, of course, is the most decisive place for the war. I like that, wherever I go in Russia, I everywhere find many historical artifacts.
- Let's touch your specialty. I'll show you pictures of famous Russian men, and you'll try to imagine and describe what hair style would suit them most.
"Why do not you ask me about Trump ?"
"You want to talk about him?"
- Yes, I voted for Trump and was very glad that he was chosen. That's why I also find it hard to live in America. I like everything he says, from the very beginning. Even before the elections, I came to Moscow with a huge poster with Putin, Trump and the inscription "Donald Trump for Russian-American Friendship," I went with him throughout Moscow and even on Red Square. I was stopped by the police, because this is a poster, obviously, but they did not arrest me and said they agreed with me. All the bad things that happen between Russia and the United States are not due to Trump.
In the American government there are people who hate Russia, they say that Russian hackers have rigged the election results, but it's not so. Trump won, because conservative people like me more and we like his ideas. We have a lot of illegal migrants in our country, and we really want, that this wall was built. Trump can and wants to establish relations with Russia, but his hands are connected. I believe that he will sooner or later put things right. The remaining people in our government still have views left over from Soviet times. They are afraid of Russians. SameJohn McCain , but this, of course, is not important, because he has cancer and he will soon die, but all the same. Russia and the States have never really been friends, yes, there was an alliance during World War II, but it was also questionable. And after the Cold War, our entire government still considers Russia a dangerous and a bad country.
Plus, if the government supports Trump, this will anger feminists or gays. There is so much dirt in our country. You saw this flash mob #MeToo - such nonsense. That's why in Russia I feel calmer, here I do not see all this. Yes, you may also have many feminists, but I do not see them in the news every day. Of course, in Russia there are gays, but they do not kiss on the street, imposing their habits on children. I'm not bothered by gays while they are doing all their gay affairs at home, and not in front of me. I had a regular customer - gay, and I always told him that while you're at my barbershop, no one will call you fagot. He brought his friends. Generally, gays are cut more often, so they bring more money. But if in America you say that you do not want to see kissing gays in your barbershop, you will be accused of homophobia, and this is a big blow to business. There if a person does not like something that you said, he will write about it on the Internet or even sue you; if in Russia someone does not like what I say, we'll just fuck up in the yard, and then we'll have a beer.
Before I began to understand Russian a little, I was in St. Petersburg two years ago. The man in the bar heard that I was an American and got into a fight. I could not really communicate, and he did not even realize that I also hate the American government, like him, if not more. I believe that the West is poisoning the Eastern European countries. A good example is Ukraine. The East needs to be more attached to Russia. I like how Kim Jong-un behaves.
I will become a citizen of Russia in five years, because I opened a business here and started this process, but I want to become famous, so that I am given citizenship as a public person. I also want to become a political person here. I do not like the US policy towards Russia, I would set my financial sanctions to the States. When I share my discontent about America, it's not Russian. "Everything is bad in America, America is shit." I still have more experience of life in the States themselves. In general, I like many of those who under US sanctions - that guy from "Night Wolves", Dugin - I'd like to meet with him, we think the same way. Or someone who opened a store with the inscription "Pidarasam entry is forbidden!" , Let him come to me to get a haircut.