Richie the Barber had started his tattoo addiction at 17, where he had gotten his left arm inked. He used his high school graduation money to get it, and the now 32-year-old barber has continued to pursue a tattooed-clown transformation.
Richie the Barber moved to Hollywood and walked past a tattoo parlor and asked if he could work there as a barber.
Richie learned clown tricks, like juggling and unicycle, to get more customers in the door. Then, he decided to tattoo his face to complete the clown aesthetic.
“My favorite color is blue, so I decided 'why not blue out the face?'” Richie said. “So I did and I did it with a smile.”
Richie the Barber dyes his hair red, and poses for pictures while holding razors or scissors-- all while showcasing his split-tongue and gold teeth.
His unusual look draws attention to his business, and for the most part, draws in customers. However, the father of a 12-year-old, says some people are sometimes scared of his appearance.
“People are people and that's okay. If you're kind I will give you love, if you're mean I'll smile and wave, honk and beep with my horn,” Richie said.
Richie said people are fascinated and curious about his looks. “I walk it and own it proud and with confidence, so they see that I break the ice with funny acts of a clown,” he said. He says this is what has made him a Melrose staple.
The clown transformation took years to finish, and each tattoo took hours, as well left Richie’s face with a lot of swelling.
“The process of my transformation was not easy. I was in so much pain from having needles stabbed into my skin over and over for so many hours,” he said. “But I did what I did because dreams can become reality and if you really want to do something in life you can achieve all your dreams with just a thought.”
Richie the barber said that his clown look represents his inner child, as well as highlights his fun-loving attitude. “One day I looked in the mirror and smiled, then I said out loud to myself, 'I want to smile, I love to smile’ so I got it tattooed on my face.”
Richie said his passion for the clown transformation sparked from a gifted unicycle.
“So, one day a guy comes to the shop and he brings me a unicycle and says 'hey, Richie, this is for you and I think it would be a good use to you',” Richie said. “My eyes light up, my hairs stand up and I began tearing with joy. Then I was clowning more and more and getting little tattoos on the face one at a time.”
An addition to his clown-makeup tattoo was confetti dots under Richie’s eyes, because he loved “seeing confetti fall from the sky, as it brings me joy.”
Aside from his 12-year-old daughter, Richie said that the women in his life haven’t liked his face tattoos, but he doesn’t regret getting them.
“Of course, all my girlfriends didn't like it but I liked it and I wanted to live my reality of what I see, not through the eyes of others,” he said. “Everyone is their own reality and people try to tell others what to do all the time, but we should just let people be who they want be and only reflect our reality with love and never force anything onto others.”
Richie’s face transformation has helped him with the confidence to continue living without thinking about others’ judgments.
“It's a reminder to always smile and always smile at others around you because a smile is a gift and you never know what they're going through,” Richie the Barber said. “So smile and show them that it's okay to smile and it's okay to be free and to be you.”
However, without the support of women swooning over Richie, Richie the Barber is doing just fine. He is a motivational speaker, a teacher for cutting hair, and has a clown school.
“I have eighty acres of land in El Paso and that will be the 'Richie the Barber' land,” he said. “Just call me Walt because I have a small Disneyland coming soon over the years.”