"The reality that we are facing is that we have to learn about other cultures. (The festival) has opened it up a little bit, and that is something that needs to happen. . . . The bottom line is, we are all facing the same situation in terms of lack of opportunity in finding jobs, language barriers. Through the festival, people have a different way to perceive communities and to join with them."
Vernon S. Williamson
Keith Antar Mason has asked that the names and locations of the six barbershops he has chosen for his taping sessions remain anonymous so the patrons don't begin altering their conversations. So all we will say about Vernon S. Williamson is that his shop is in Santa Monica and he cuts Mason's hair.
Mason has not yet begun taping at the shop, but Williamson gave his OK because he has seen Mason's other stage works and liked them. He puts flyers up on his bulletin board when the Hittite Empire has a performance in town.
Actually, Williamson said he didn't think too hard about the request, and hasn't thought much about the Los Angeles Festival either. "When Keith is in here, I'm usually pretty busy," he said. "Customers want you to pay attention to what you are doing. If I've got a customer in the chair, I don't do a lot of talking."
Plus, he added: "In my line of work we have people say \o7 everything\f7 . They say it all, from A to Z. It goes in one ear and out the other. You hear everything, from politics to religion to sports. Sometimes, you hear a lot. Sometimes, you don't hear nothing."
While Mason's project focuses on black men, Williamson said his shop is a barber and beauty shop for both men and women, and caters to all types of clientele. He added he does not want to endorse any personal political statements of Mason's, such as his support for the "L.A. 4." "Our barber ethics are, we are not supposed to talk about politics and religion," he said.
"I do all kinds of hair," Williamson said. "Straight and curly, Spanish hair, black people's hair, white people's hair. I don't want to show any favoritism. You have to be real careful. You say something, the next thing you know, the window is being shot out. You walk a very careful line."