Melbourne’s Barbering Angel: The Streets Barber salonnv January 10, 2018 Walking the streets of Melbourne in his ripped jeans and backpack, tattoos covering his visible skin, your average, uninformed passer-by might confuse Nasir Sobhani with the people that he’s there to help. While they’re wide of the mark, Nasir has been as low as it’s possible to go, and his troubles and trials are what have led to him picking up his case and using his barbering skills to help the city’s homeless. How did you get into giving homeless people haircuts? I am a recovering drug addict and cutting hair is what I love what I do. As a Baha’i, it also encourages me to serve humanity and so cutting hair has become a new drug for me. It’s how I get high. I never took a day off getting high, but now that I’m sober and cutting hair has become my new high, I never take a day off doing that either. How big an effect can a good haircut have on a homeless person’s life? Whether you’re homeless or not I think getting a hair cut, a good hair cut, can make a huge impact on anyone. People love the fact that when they wash their hands they feel clean, when they take a shower they feel new. So imagine getting a full on make over. Imagine how good that’s going to make you feel. You’re going to feel clean, you’re going to feel new. So maybe you can then start thinking new and maybe you can start thinking clean. You tell the stories of the people you cut on Facebook, how important is it to get their stories out there? I think it’s very important to get their messages out there. I feel like it humanises people – it puts a face to the faceless and gives a voice to the voiceless. Sometimes we walk by homeless people like they’re props on the street and not actual humans. By taking the time to actually share their stories we realise that everyone’s got a story. No one wants to be homeless, no one wants to be in the situation that they end up in sometimes. Also, I don’t ask for anybody’s story. It’s only if they want to share it because it’s not about likes on Facebook or on Instagram, you know what I mean, that’s bullshit. It’s all about spreading awareness. Why do you think they are so willing to open up to you? I think they’re willing to open up to anybody, but no body gives them the chance. I’m one of the only people who does, that’s why, it’s simple. Has what you’ve been through in your past has made you more empathetic to the struggles of your clients? Yeah, I guess the fact that I’ve gone through my own drug addiction, it’s definitely helped me gain a connection with them. I think they feel comfortable with me sharing certain things and we joke about how this is my new way of getting high and they often tell me, “oh wicked, so I’m essentially your new drug dealer.” We can joke about that. You’re incredibly passionate when it comes to cutting hair. Can you tell us where this passion stems from? My passion comes from the fact that I was able to replace one addiction with another. The art form of cutting hair, making people happy and making them feel good – that’s something that’s addictive. To do that for someone else…to make someone feel like that, and the rush that I then get, that of course accelerates the passion. Also, the fact that I know that I have this responsibility and that I can make people look better on the streets or in the shop, it makes me just want to be a better barber all around so I can make them feel as best as possible. It’s like an athlete who trains their best to deliver their best performance. That’s like me, in the sense that I train my hardest so that I can give the best cuts. Your Baha’i faith plays a big part in what you do, could you tell us a little more about that and how it came about? The Baha’i faith is the most important thing that drives me to do what I do. Well, I grew up in a Baha’i family, and in recent years the Baha’i Faith has served as a great inspiration to a lot of what has transpired—starting with my recovery from substance abuse and newfound sobriety, to a lot of what drives me to offer my services as The Streets Barber. Baha’is believe in the oneness of humanity, the importance of unity, and the elimination of all forms of prejudice. That we are all children of one God, and that we should love all of humanity, regardless of race, creed, gender, or faith. Lastly, that we are spiritual beings on a physical journey, and one way to make use of our time here on this beautiful earth is to try and develop our spiritual qualities, to love others, and be of selfless service! Do your clients value the ideas of the companionship and intimacy that comes with a free, friendly haircut, rather than somebody just tossing cash at them? A lot of my clients value the idea of companionship and intimacy. It is way more beneficial than giving them a gold coin, because then at the end of the day, that’s what they’d all feel like they’re worthy of. A dollar or two, maybe five dollars at most or a coffee and meat pie from 7/11. That’s nonsense. At the end of the day, by me taking the time to actually show them love and make them feel like they’re actually worthy of a make over and worthy of my time, that’s moving for both them and me. To see their appreciation and see them being so grateful for what I’m doing. It’s like a two-way part. How do you enjoy working at Brother Wolf during the week? Do you prefer working on the initiative, or do you see them both in an equal light? I love working at Brother Wolf man, but the thing is whether I’m on the street or whether I’m in the shop, at the end of the day as long as I’m cutting hair, I’m cutting hair. That’s how I see it so it is an equal light. What does the future hold for the Clean Cut Clean Start initiative? Do you have any big plans? I don’t want to just be The Streets Barber; I want there to be a team of Street Barbers. We can’t have a global movement with just two hands. That’s the whole thing. I want all of us to use our talents and our skills to benefit mankind. We’ve been blessed with something that can help change people’s lives. Why is it just up to a select few of us in this world to actually do that? Why don’t we all do that? That would be sick. So that’s my big plan. I want everybody to be able to do this. It’s an army, you know?