Meet The Barber Shop’s John Davidson Jr

John_Davidson_CP84935John Davidson Jr credit: Christopher Pearce

If you’ve visited Sydney’s The Barber Shop, chances are you’ve met John — a nominee for Rookie of the Year last year, he’s the one with the dry wit and the (through his own admission) “shit jokes”. The guy can tell a story though, so we asked him to tell us a bit about himself for this month’s Introducing column.

As told to Sam Bygrave

I was trying to put myself through uni, I was living in the Blue Mountains and travelling down to Sydney everyday at 6am; finishing in the bars at 4am — I was just rooted every day.

I decided I was having more fun polishing glasses than studying, and I would rather keep working in bars as opposed to continuing formal study.


I was studying music. I lost a lot of passion for it, and started getting a passion for booze — as you do.

I was at the Hazy Rose when I first moved to Sydney — I was out of my league for sure. They fired me on my 21st birthday — Harriet Leigh called me and was like: you’re fucking shit, see you later. She didn’t actually say that. But she saw on Facebook it was my birthday and called me back 10 minutes later and said, “I’m so sorry, come in, I’ve got a bottle of Old Pulteney 21 — we’ll drink all of it.”
So we did. It was amazing – ended up being an alright birthday.

I’ve learned a lot here. I was here a month or two before we opened, just putting fridges together, lifting cases of beer and stuff. They paid me in lunch. It was a good place to gain confidence, learn at my own pace.

It’s guest first — it changes from guest to guest. If you’ve got guys coming in with southern cross tattoos on their neck you’re going to speak to them differently than you would if they were these old American tourists that come through the city — it’s about reading the people you’re talking to, making assumptions about them, and addressing them accordingly.

Usually you test the water — you don’t start swearing like a sailor to people [because of the assumptions you make]. More often people will think you’re boring than you’re too loose.

It was Anzac Day last weekend, yeah? You get a bunch of drunk sailors in — it’s their day, and I get that. They just belittle you — they’re out to ruin bartenders’ and cab drivers’ nights. There’s so many bartenders and cab drivers crying that night.

On people who are rude to cab drivers: I just think their mothers failed them. It’s not that hard to have some fucking manners, to say please and thank you. Aussies are the worst.

Generally speaking British people, they never forget their pleases and thankyous — it’s nice. Americans are funny because they’re loud, and that can be misconstrued as rude, but it’s just because you can hear them across the room above everyone else because they’re arrogant. But generally they’re really interested to learn about what we’re doing here, and to try new things — they’re quite inquisitive. I enjoy that.

When I came here, Mikey [Enright] loaded us up with trainings, very generously. It’s been really easy to learn.

I was studying jazz composition. My interest is like in jazz and world music, I take a lot of inspiration from that.

Not so much the 1920s. Sixties jazz and Sixties fashion, I like a lot of that culture and the cocktails coming out then.

Miles Davis is my Elvis. Coltrane is my Jesus.

I’m really good at apologising. When you have that many shit jokes, you get really good at apologising.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.