Gays and lesbians across the country have been talking about Richard Savvy for more than a year.
It’s not that the 33-year-old is particularly outspoken about gay rights, nor that he has taken on a high-profile community job.
For those not in the know, Richard Savvy is the Naked Barber and his grooming service has been cutting into conversations since it was launched last year.
“The Naked Barber started from a plan to open a men’s barbershop in Kings Cross, staffed by topless hairdressers,” Savvy said.
“But it worked out to be too expensive to do and it was going to be hard to find good female hairdressers willing to work in Kings Cross, at night, topless.
“At that time I was managing a salon in North Sydney, but I wasn’t finding it very satisfying or fulfilling, so I was trying to find something else to do. I’d been hairdressing and barbering for a long time but was starting to feel the need to do something fresh and new.
“I was talking to some friends at a dinner party one night and I just blurted out this idea about a naked barbering service. Everyone at the table loved it and kept pushing me to think more about it.”
Far from being an overnight sensation, the Naked Barber is really a story more than 17 years in the making. Savvy started in hairdressing at the age of 14 as a tea and trolley boy at a Gold Coast salon. After a year of sweeping up enough hair to keep a drag queen in wigs for a lifetime, he was offered an apprenticeship.
It didn’t take Savvy long to show a natural ability with a pair of scissors and a comb and, soon after completing his apprenticeship, he opened his own salon in the middle of Surfers Paradise.
“It was called Hello Gorgeous and I had it for about four years. It was pretty camp, I have to say.
“I was doing a lot of hair shows while I was there, perfecting and adding to my skills. I even got to do the hair for a lot of the Gold Coast’s strippers — so it was a lot of fun.
“But I started to lose interest when my grandfather became ill and I ended up moving to Wagga Wagga to help my mother, who was nursing him.”
Far from pining over the loss of his salon, Savvy used the move to up-skill.
“I got a job in a barber shop there and the guy who owned it also owned the barbershop at the RAAF base nearby.
“So I did a basic grooming course and used to spend one day a week at the RAAF salon, waxing and grooming all the soldiers at the base — that was a lot of fun and certainly very different.”
After his grandfather died, Savvy moved to Sydney, but after just six months he packed his bags and headed to London. He scored a job in a salon in the uber-cool Camden area where he specialised in hair extensions. He even got to work on a Kate Moss commercial while there.
Of course, Savvy yearned for a return to blue skies and warm sun, so after a couple of years he headed back to Sydney and what was to become the Naked Barber concept.
As word of his business idea spread — and people started talking about his advertisements in Sydney Star Observer — Savvy became something of a Sydney identity.
“I was getting phone calls from friends who were overhearing people talking about my advertisement in Sydney Star Observer. Then I would hear people talking about me in coffee shops and at clubs and bars. And then people started recognising me. It was one of the strangest experiences of my life,” Savvy said.
But with notoriety comes misunderstandings and misinformation — something the Naked Barber is keen to clear up.
“I am naturally voyeuristic. I classify myself more as a kink than anything and I created the business to suit myself — it is the perfect blend of passion and skill.
“I get a lot of straight girls, lesbians and gay guys who just want a good haircut or some body grooming with someone they feel comfortable with. There are people who want to get naked with me, or those who want to try something unusual.
“There are a lot of people who get off on going to the barber shop, having their hair clippered, having their neck or face razored with a cut-throat … some people enjoy getting waxed.
“But there’s a misconception the client has to be naked as well. And I am not always naked either. Sometimes I will be in jeans and a T-shirt, or my leather gear, or footy shorts. One guy got me to wear his wife’s knickers. It is about what the customer wants.
“But there are those who think I am going to have sex with them afterwards. I am an easygoing fellow and I try to keep the service open so it is always enjoyable for the clients. But if you are going to push the barrier of respect then I need to step in.”
So what next for the sexy man with the cut-throat razor? From next month he’ll have his own night at SaddleBar — a spin-off from his regular gig at Sydney Leather Pride’s Dog Tag nights.
“It starts on May 7 and will be a man’s pub night. Ben Drayton will be playing man tunes and I’ll be doing buzz cuts and sling shaving while I am there.
“People can just get in line for a haircut or a shave … people seem to like the experience of other people watching them getting a shave or a haircut on stage.”
info: Find out more at http://thenakedbarber.com.au, phone 0406 777 048 or email firstname.lastname@example.org