Can Haircuts Help Curb Addiction? This Star Barber Says Yes!
Jason Schneidman has been into haircuts since the age of 14. He also spent a large part of his life battling addiction. So it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about the transformative powers of both.
Very safe to say. See Schneidman isn’t just a Star Barber. He’s become Star Barber to the Stars. Jonah Hill, Rob Lowe and ex-Dodger Chase Utley are among his long list of permanent regulars. And he hits CBS Studios to tidy-up James Corden before The Late Late Show four days a week.
Schneidman’s also got his own spot. Actually, it’s more like a spread. A huge swath of Venice Beach real estate outfitted as much like a clubhouse as a salon. It’s called THEMENSGROOMER. And it’s located right on Lincoln Boulevard, Venice’s main money drag.
But each and every month Schneidman and crew steps out of the well-appointed clubhouse to hit Venice’s Boardwalk. Granted, Venice’s other strip may have seen better days. But the infamous stretch is still not without its magic. And that magic is never more apparent than when Schneidman’s team shows up. See the men’s groomers aren’t just there to cut hair; they’re there to cut the hair of every homeless person willing to take a chair. The instant clients even get to munch from stacks of pizza and other assorted goodies while they wait for their turn.
And oh what a turn it is too. A turn of the head, yes. Both theirs and everyone else’s. Yet also a turn for the better. In fact, it’s often a downright transformative turn. Especially if Jason’s message of hope and positivity happens to sink in while those scissors are working.
See Schneidman used to be in their shoes. That’s right. He was homeless. For two years in fact. He was also an addict. And it took four stabs at rehab before he could finally get clean. Now though, Schneidman’s not just a walking, talking poster boy for sobriety — he’s one of its most active advocates. And he has been for over 16 years.
Taking it to the Streets
Schneidman didn’t hit the streets right after he became sober though. Oh, he worked with recovering addicts right from the get. All the while trying to build and maintain a hairstylist career. However something seemed to be missing.
“I was taught I had to be of service [to other addicts] to keep my sobriety,” Schneidman told Good Morning America. “I was working a lot and wasn’t feeling good about the work I was doing to give back.”
Then one day Schneidman was hired to do hair on an extreme makeover show. One of the recipients happened to be homeless. He also happened to be an alcoholic.
“That one really stuck with me,” continued Schneidman. “One day it came to me like, ‘Oh my God, that’s what I’m supposed to do.'”
So do he did. That very day Schneidman and his business partner went out with a backpack and cordless clippers and began asking homeless people if they needed haircuts. The two didn’t just pick any street though. They chose Hollywood Boulevard.
Why not? If you’re going to go, go big. And go consequential. Schneidman knows that. After all, he’s a lifelong Southern Californian, where laid back and high profile are pretty much synonymous. By then he’d also been at the top of his game for over a decade.
Five years later that random act of kindness has transformed into a bonafide movement. Yes, things have moved from Hollywood to Venice. But the intention remains the same.
“I cut celebrities’ hair and I cut homeless people’s hair,” Schneidman told GMA. “When they leave, they’re walking different, with confidence. From celebrities to homeless – it’s the same feeling.”
Some People Do
Some people quit drinking too much
And some people quit lying
Those lines come from the Old Dominion song “Some People Do.” It’s a poignant song. As much heartbreaking as heart-lifting. All about keeping hope alive in the face of grave disappointment and regret. Most importantly perhaps, it’s an honest song. And that honesty resonates with anyone who’s ever battled addiction.
It certainly resonated with Schneidman. Why? Well, perhaps because he very well could’ve been the person Old Dominion had in mind when they originally wrote the song. He certainly represents its resonance. Old Dominion even said so.
“Everything about our friend Jason’s life and mission is what this song is all about,” the band wrote on Instagram. “We’re grateful to him for telling his story and helping us capture the spirit of the song. We hope it helps lift you up a bit.”
That quote also refers to the song’s ensuing video. The Mason Allen-directed clip shows Schneidman and the band teaming up for a day of haircuts and generally helping of the homeless along Venice’s infamous Boardwalk. It also “shows the snowball effect of a simple good deed… and how it can lead to a much bigger transformation,” wrote Sounds Like Nashville wordslinger Chris Parton.
Chris Parton seems to have seen and heard the same thing we saw and heard in the song, as well as its attendant video. A thing that’s Schneidman’s been intentionally echoing since his first haircut.
“The first time I [cut hair] I thought the whole transformation was amazing,” Schneidman told GMA.
In fact, transformative powers seem to abound. They’re there in the song’s official video. And they’re there in the endeavor-supporting doc. And while the band did bring their own high harmoniousness to the occasion, they most certainly were lured by the inherent harmony of the thing itself. Good deeds just have that certain something about them.
Haircuts Are Never Really Just Haircuts
Healing Properties salutes Jason Schneidman and THEMENSGROOMER for stepping up and out on behalf of those who could most use a helping hand. Their great good efforts are a great way to effect the greater good. And they should be applauded and supported wherever and whenever possible. We also salute Old Dominion for writing such an inspiring song, and for finding just the right place to pair their inspiration. Mostly we salute them all for providing such a resounding reminder:
Haircuts are never just haircuts. For anyone. Give us a ring and we’ll tell you why.