Finding and keeping a good hairdresser or barber can be a tough task — especially when relocating and attempting to find someone who can continue doing a decent job. But according to past and current reports, such a conundrum hasn’t been a problem for President Barack Obama, who allegedly flies his Chicago barber to Washington, D.C., twice per month to cut his hair. Despite this claim, which has been discussed in media before, it seems his barber, Zariff, is refusing to provide details about his arrangement with the White House.
Recently, German Public Radio repeated the claim that the barber, who has been cutting the president’s hair for nearly two decades, gets regularly flown to the capitol, at the tune of $300. Taken in their entirety, these trips may cost up to $7,200 each year. When contacted by the Daily Mail, Zariff was purportedly cryptic and refused to confirm the frequency of his visits to Washington. Additionally, he declined to delve into how the funds are allocated from the trips — by Obama or by the government.
“I get there. I keep his hair well groomed,” Zariff told the Daily Mail. “It’s not important how I get there and when.”
While it may not seem important on a small scale, the latter prospect of taxpayer funding for presidential haircuts, especially ones that include cross-country trips, would cause outrage among some Americans, especially at a time when calls for tax increases and spending cuts are commonplace. While Zariff wouldn’t delve into these details, he did tell the Daily Mail that he works diligently to make sure that Obama looks spiffy and “his best at all times.” He also highlighted that the services the president receives are oddly cheap.
“He pays $21 like everyone else. We don’t care about how famous you are or who you are,” the barber said. “Everyone gets the same price.”
Zariff continued in his interview with the Daily Mail, claiming that Obama uses him because consistency is important. And because the president must look good, the barber believes that it’s perfectly acceptable that he’d be chosen to continue working on Obama’s hair.
“If you go to three or four different barbers, your hair will look like you’ve been to three or four different barbers. I’m his only barber,” he said. “His hair is pretty consistent. It’s my job. As with anyone; they have to look their best at all times.”
And Obama’s hairstyle is a hot commodity, Zariff explained. The president’s haircut is so popular that it’s on the establishment’s price list. Naturally, it’s called “The Obama.” The barber told Essence about this famed haircut back in 2009:
The Obama cut is a custom cut. It came about in 2004 when Mr. Obama came into the shop and said he was speaking at the Democratic National Convention that evening. So I had to make him look sharp. Before that he was wearing his hair longer and a little curlier. I took it down to a short cut, tapered on the sides, back and neck. I wanted it to look more natural.
Now, it’s important to note that the president’s barber has been mentioned many times in media before. The U.K. outlet, Metro, reported on Zariff last year, claiming that he is, indeed, flown regularly to Washington, D.C. But the web site made sure to note back in July 2011 that this is done “at the president’s expense.”
At the end of the day, it would seem that any president engaging in such a regular transaction would spend his own personal money on it and, according to Metro, this is the case. This in mind, it’s odd that Zariff wouldn’t have simply explained this in his interview with the Daily Mail.
And during a campaign where Ann Romney’s horse hobby is “exposed,” it could be said that, during a time of economic trouble, flying one’s barber to Washington every two weeks (pending the allegation is true) is, shall we say, out of the mainstream.