Battling barbers descend upon Hemet

Local barbershop hosts national haircut contest

Rusty Strait
There is no mirror, but this customer surely will like the results.

■ Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter

Barbers playing second fiddle to cosmetologists is passe. That went out with transistor radios and black-and-white TVs. Welcome to the modern world of barbering.
For the first time, barbers came to Hemet to battle over who rates number one in the field of haircuts. On Tuesday, Nov. 6, barbers from around the country assembled under white tenting behind Barbers and Razors at Meridian and Florida with razors and scissors, sharp and glistening, to decide once and for all: who is the best barber?
It was like a Hollywood movie premiere with bright lights, loud music, and young models being groomed by the best in the business. They had hairstyles to match their reputations and called it, “the battle of the barbers.” The only challenge was to decide who was the best at their craft among seven different divisions:
• Ladies creative cuts
• Fastest fade
• Student’s creative cuts
• Pro-creative cuts
• Dopest high top
• Creative cut challenge
Specific logo cut into design (Adidas or Puma Logos)
Don’t be confused about the titles. You and I may not understand them, but rest assured, to the younger generation, they need no explanation. Alex and Cristy Mercado provided the premises, and the rest came from hither and yon.
Actually, the event was more creation than battle. Some of the most exquisite and original hair designs and haircuts appeared seemingly out nowhere.
All the preliminaries from 3:00 in the afternoon until late into the night went by swiftly.
Although haircuts were the main event, the side shows were exciting.
Student models and their barbers were numbered the same and were separated from the judges prior to judging in order to prevent any collusion, according to Cristy. “We wanted equity in judging,” she explained.
The judges were not amateurs. For example, Tone is a nationally known master barber from Philadelphia that currently has a shop in North Carolina. He is also spokesman for a national clipper company. Angelina Nguyen (San Diego) is a 36-time champion barber.
Most of the young male models were local kids getting free haircuts, and believe me, they had some well designed heads when it was all over.
It was not all hair cutting contests. There were three ongoing teaching seminars being given throughout the day: haircuts, beard grooming, and makeup seminars.
Beverages for both kids and adults were available as were the most delicious tacos you ever tasted. Finally, the main event began around midnight and lasted into the following morning. Trophies and goodie bags went to one and all. However, there was only one winner of the $1,000 cash prize, and that went to a lucky stylist named Armando, who also won in an earlier category.
There were vendors galore (some with unexplainable names); Barber Supplies, Ladies Barber Club, Gentlemen’s Republic, TKO Barber Supply (from Hemet), Oliver’s Organics (San Bernardino), Namerros, Smurf Blood Shaving Gel (Orange County), Blood, Vein and Bandage (Barbers Clothing Design), Top Shelf Dolls (Lady Barber Bartenders), Hash (Cuts by Vic) San Jose, My Money Market (Clothing for Barbers and Cosmetologists), Moreno Valley, Sick Gel (hair products vendors/sponsors), Barbers from Los Angeles, Rawknyks (originally from Miami and currently setting the world on fire in San Diego), a master barber and educator.
There were no real losers. The DJ kept the music going strong to the very end. It was like a county fair where folks came from all over to meet and greet one another and enjoy the show. You’ll never believe the originality of these barbers. Hemet needs more events like this one if, for no other reason, than to just have a good time. I know I did. Just sayin’

Rusty Strait is a senior reporter with The Valley Chronicle and can be reached at

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