Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

China, Barbershops, Brothels and Bribes

Posted by w_thames_the_d on April 3, 2011

Your humble author would like announce that his little housing community has a new member, a ‘barber shop’- wink wink nudge nudge. Yes, in her pursuit of all things economic, China is rapidly growing/changing and must meet the needs of her people.
So what, you may ask? It’s just a barber shop right?
Well if you have to ask this, then my dear reader, you probably have never been to China. For China, as the Olympics and government have shown, is truly the land of smoke, mirrors and obfuscation. For in China there are barber shops and there are barber shops.
Lets explore the first type of barber shop. It is a place that has those large columns with the spinning ‘barber poles’


These things are a sign that the place is indeed a place, where for a few dollars one cant get a little taken off the top and sides. In China, this convention hold true about 70% of the time. Typically you can walk into a place where you see these spinning poles and for a price range of $0.50 to $200 you will have some pandering emaciated Chinese guy hack at your beautiful western locks all the while trying to practice his English. The place will be fetid and stink of garlic, cigarettes and cheap floozies who for some unknown reason also love to frequent these establishment with their ear splitting hip hop music. .
The other type of barber shop, has the spinning pole shown above, but a different focus. This type of establishment, while not your conventional barber shop will meet your needs of a different sort.
In order to prove or disprove this theory, I recently walked into the newest member of commerce in your humble author’s neighborhood. After spying the neon pink lights ( a dead give away) and spinning barber pole, I decided to see just how good this team at giving me a haircut.
Upon arriving I plopped onto a seat as 5 woman dressed in what appeared to be thongs and tube tops stared at me open mouthed. I mimed a cutting motion and said what sounds like “gin to fa” or haircut and sat before one of the three small mirrors in the place. The smallest of the bunch who seemed to have forgotten her bra and undergarments found my suggestion exceedlingy funny as she covered her Indian corn colored teeth with a meaty little paw and cackled. Quickly the elderly stateswoman/mama san entered the fray and asked what was up.
Smiling at the toothless old sage I reiterated that I was in need of a haircut and made the same cutting motion. A cacophony of some obscure Chinese dialect erupted from the throats of these hallowed professionals as they considered how to handle the foreign barbarian.
Suddenly the paunch of the mamasan was at my side. Smiling she said that I could get a ‘massage’ or ‘massageeeee sexy massageee’ if I wanted, but I had to got to the back room. Feigning ignorance, I smiled and said ‘great’! while staring at my image in the mirror. Ms. mamasan waited patiently and said ‘you go’ while motioning for a woman to join me.
“here is fine” I said while once again checking out my hair in the mirror and explaining how I like my hair cut. I tried to explain that I’d like to keep the manly look as my last barber seemed to have a weakness in this area. In addition, I said that I’d like to look adventurous but not too wild.
Frustrated by my insolence, the angry owner yelled and told the pleasure worker to sit down then ran to the back. A large older man with a head like a shit house rat appeared. Apparently he was the resident co-owner thug/payer of bribes. In rapid fire Chinese he told me that I was no persona non grata in his place and if i were smart I’d leave right now- or at least from his tone and movements he seemed to be saying this.
Deciding that discretion is the better part of valor, I bid a hasty retreat and informed them that Chinese are impolite and if they are not willing to cut a man’s hair they they should remove the damned sign…
My learning from all of the above is that yes, in China be careful of what you do and where you go for all is not as it would appear. Although I had heard that the neon pink lights of a barber shop are a sign that this is not your conventional barbers, i really wanted to see for myself. I guess it does not take a genius to figure out that any company purporting to offer a hair cut at 230am is probably not as it would outwardly appear, but I tend to be the sort of guy who really likes to be sure of things.

4 Responses to “China, Barbershops, Brothels and Bribes”

  1. Hi! I’ve been reading your web site for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Lubbock Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the excellent job!

    • Taters said

      Hi newport, I ate there once and had the shits for a week. what is worse is that i got cancer sores, are you sure your standards are up to snuff?

  2. Wow thanks, am I guiding here? Hmmm, wonder if this was a spam comment?

  3. pallmall said

    these 2 comments are indeed spam. i would delete them if i were you.

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