Thaitanium rapper Way Prinya opens a barbershop to let hairstyles do the talking
Some 10 years ago, rapper Prinya “Way” Inthachai, a member of the popular Thai hip-hop trio Thaitanium, headed out from his Bangkok home in search of a haircut.
Having been born and brought up in New Jersey and only spent time in Thailand during trips back to visit his grandparents, he knew from experience that asking a barber to tidy up his skinhead style was akin to disaster.
But Lady Luck was shining on that fateful day.
“Most people think that the skinhead cut is simple to do, but it relies on delicacy and detail in the cropping. I stopped off at a barbershop on Sukhumvit 39 near my home and told the barber to shape and sharpen my New York cut with a razor. He did such a good job that Thaitanium fans became regular customers,” says Way.
“Then we found out that the shop was going to be demolished to make way for a new development. I decided there and then to open a barbershop of my own and asked Samai ‘Jack’ Sudsang and Annop ‘Nop’ Niemjit, if they’d work for me.
“They agreed and brought their customers along and that’s how Never Say Cutz was born.”
Way’s shop, which is on Sukhumvit between sois 49 and 51, is a good advertisement for the skinhead look – all five barbers sport close-cropped or shaved heads. That’s not to say that Never Say Cutz don’t offer other styles.
“It’s like a New York barbershop. In the US, barbershops are like convenience stores, with at least one on every street. When I’m back in the States, I go to the barbershop near to my house and one near my girlfriend’s home. They aren’t barbers for hip-hoppers only.”
“At Never Say Cutz we maintain a barbershop atmosphere but we pay attention to the trends in men’s hair fashions. I’m always honing my skills and we only use the best tools,” says Ubon Ratchathani-born Jack.
“My customers include Tab AF5 [Thanapol Mahathorn] as well as one of the contestants in ‘Iron Chef Thailand’.”
Jack and the Si Sa Ket-born Nop are the top barbers at Never Say Cutz and getting an appointment with either of them can be hard.
What makes them so special?
“It’s in the details,” says Way. “Most barbers here use hair clippers for a skinhead cut. In the US, they also use a razor to shape the hairline in the nape and sideburns. I brought special hair clippers from America to shape the face, moustache and beard.”
Traditionally buzzcut fans have been identified by their close-cropped or shaved heads, but over the years the more fashionable among them have shown a preference for a pattern.
“It’s an art tattoo on the head but done in the way we shape the hair. Patterns are very popular. At the end of the school year, we had loads of students coming in to have their hair buzzed in a pattern, which gives us a chance to practise and craft new patterns. The price depends on the difficulty level,” says Way.
“One customer wanted the Mona Lisa on his head, which took many hours. The more usual star takes about half an hour and the customer returns every week for a reshaping.”
“The hardest to do are portraits, which can take almost three hours to shape and sharpen and cost Bt2,000. We’re more often asked for a kind of graffiti like Mild’s singer Bodin ‘Pae’ Charoenrat sports on his head,” says Jack, who prepares the scale of the drawing on the head before shaping.
Nop once spent three hours shaping a carp. “It wasn’t easy,” he says. “The customer was from the South and on his way to Japan. I charged him Bt2,000. If he wanted colour too, the price would have been Bt200 to Bt300 more.”
But Never Say Kutz’s customers aren’t just hip-hoppers or trend-setters. They also include professional types like architects and advertising executives.
“My oldest customer is 70 and I’ve been doing his hair for a decade,” says Jack.
“A 50-year-old man with white hair asked me to design a younger look for him. I gave him an undercut and he was so pleased with the result that he’s been a regular ever since,” says Nop, who’s also styled singer Pichaya “Golf” Nitipaisalkul and Preeti “Bank” Barameeanat of Clash.
“Right now the most popular hairstyle is the cut Pee Mak sported in the movie ‘Pee Mak Phra Khanong’. Undercuts and Mohawks are in demand too,” says Way.
Way, who also owns a clothing line under the same name, has opened branches of Never Say Cutz in Siam Square and on Soi Ari Samphan off Phahalyothin. Another branch will open soon on Ramkhamhaeng Road. Each is staffed by five barbers.
But while Way spends many of his waking hours on his businesses, he also finds time to work with Thaitanium bandmates Khanngoen “Khan” Nuanual and Nay Myo “Day” Thant. Their new single, “Baby, Don’t Stop” features Lydia, and the trio recently returned from Japan, where they recorded an album and promoted “Love For My City”, a track featuring Japan’s artist Big Ron.
“The hip hop culture in Japan has really grown over the past 30 years. Now when I take a walk in Tokyo, it feels like New York,” says Way.