‘The hairdresser is half the husband’

“The hairdresser is half the husband,” she starts the conversation. He operates his salon on Çankırı Street, in the notorious spot where the capital’s pavilions, nightclubs and saz halls have been lined up since the beginning of the Republic. This is the birthplace of Ankara’s pavilions and saz halls, which are the predecessors of pavilions, but there are other districts that have found popularity over the years. Rüzgârlı Sokak, Cebeci, Maltepe and Küçükesat are full of places that night diners with different classes and cultures don’t leave empty. Among these places, the most popular are still those on Çankırı Street, the star of Turkish night entertainment. But the most expensive are in Maltepe. The busiest places are in Esat. If you ask about Cebeci, the night world is dying of indifference here. Decaying pubs, sporadic pavilions and saz salons… Maltepe retains its popularity even after the 1980s, when it was updated with Russian magazines. The cost is partly due to the fact that women here are more in demand.

Şenay and I had short conversations with 17 hairdressers who work in these districts, and we asked about the importance of the “pavilion hairdresser”, its difference from other hairdressers and its role as an indispensable part of the nightlife. We only talked to the hairdressers, but we also had the opportunity to observe the women waiting their turn or sitting in front of the mirror. Sometimes they insulted us, sometimes they interfered and sometimes they showed their discomfort with our presence with their words or body language.

Our conversations in these places, always full of people, everything in a hurry, and where the noise and bustle abound, were short and memorable. For women who work as hostesses, singers, dancers or prostitutes in pavilions, being attractive, clean and well-groomed is, above all, a professional requirement. For this, they looked for reliable, close and reasonably priced places. The relationships with those who manage these places and with those who work there were different from the usual service provider-client relationship. Let’s talk a little about these.

Photo: Baris Kilicbay



The pavilion hairdresser opens in the evening. Most “outsiders” don’t get “regular” customers. Very few hairdressers, in Kenan’s words, “serve both the family and the entertainment world.” But even then, day and night customers never come face to face. After all, the pavilion customer arrives after 5 pm. It is necessary to remove unnecessary hair and hair from the body, which the different ideals of beauty and the traditional moral norms of each age impose on everyone, especially women, and “prepare” the necessary ones, and make them suitable for fashion and sometimes their own preferences and body structure. Customers of the pavilion’s hairdressers rent costumes, accessories, wigs, unlike other hairdressers. It is a requirement of the profession that the hair of women working in the nightlife should be flamboyant and attractive. In a competitive environment, it is important for a woman to have an assertive hairstyle and color to attract the customer’s attention. Models that Sabri calls “crazy models” find popularity. It’s exaggerated hair, shiny with sequins and sprays, moving with curls and elongated with barrettes. Not models that represent the urban and anarchist attitude of a subculture, of course. But it is also possible that this kind of European style leaks into the Turkish world from time to time. These models are also the showcase of a pavilion singer who will thrill the customer, a hostess or sex worker who will promise joy and pleasure and put her hands on purses. Although blonde hair is the neon light of this showcase in our culture, where blondes are considered a rare and respected trait that evokes westernity, beauty and even availability in the eyes of men, shades of caramel, scarlet reds, purples, reds, blues midnight and a transition color scale will also be included as times change. Noting that black is the cheapest of all paints, Sinan says, “Naturalness is not at a premium in this world.”

The Pavilion’s hairdressers are not just hairdressers. There is sincerity, complicity, solidarity and even contempt, thinking that the work done is considered immoral by society, hidden in the words of Veysel, who says: “The hairdresser who works during the day cannot easily please our customers”. In the chaos of big cities, in the loneliness of the countryside, in the nightlife woven of fear and violence, these lonely and insecure young hostesses, old singers/pavilion dancers and hairdressers/beauty salons can be a shelter for old or young sex workers. . Most of them are above eye level, on the first floors of buildings, where those who are used to continuing continue. They are suitable for showering, napping and snacking while standing up. In some places, alcohol is also taken to get enough of the night shift. Those who drink alcohol are usually sex workers or dancers. The less the hostess drinks, the more she drinks and protects herself.

When everyday life is like this, the store becomes a home, and the employees and customers become a kind of family. It is this family atmosphere that attracts women who stay in hotels or makeshift homes and feel alone with certain hairdressers. Loans are exchanged, gossip is spread, disturbed and haunted men are expelled. It is also possible to indicate a place to sleep for those who do not want to return to the hotel at night or stay on the street.


Of course, it’s not the family’s coat that always welcomes women in these places. Good deeds have a price, they get paid. The relationships that Veli professionalizes by saying that “debauchery is a profession” sometimes include paying for the service received for having sex. This is partly why Caner, who we introduced at the beginning, says that “hairdressing is half the husband”. The hairdresser of the pavilion gives financial and moral support to the client when necessary, attends to her whim and expects from him service / obedience when necessary. This expectation can also be seen as the hairdresser demanding eye rights from the woman that society sees as “passengers on that road” and pushed to the margins of social life.

But there is another aspect of this relationship between the hairdresser and the client. Osman Özarslan’s work on entertainment and masculinity in the countryside Libertarian KingdomAt the same time, some of the hairdressers are “beautiful”, which he categorized under . Özarslan, who divides a woman’s nightlife body into two as the erotic body and the sexual body, describes the erotic body as a fetish body that lives in men’s minds rather than a public body. The sexual body, on the other hand, is an object of desire that has exceptional access and makes it advantageous. This is the person the author calls handsome, who is not the boss, client or troublemaker of the woman who works at night, but who can have sex with her, make friends with her, establish affective bonds and live with her. The approach by Veli, who says flirting is a job requirement, and Caner, who says the hairdresser is half her husband, is a declaration of intimacy that threatens to take over the man’s daily life, emotions, financial savings and sexual body. couple. woman who works at night. It will be good for women and it will reproduce the patriarchal order and the practice of exploitation.

The hairdresser believes that the woman who prepared for the night, the desire and the forbidden/sinful of working hours has a right and a favor over him. If we do not limit the husband to the marital relationship, but view it as a committed relationship, the hairdresser in the pavilion is half husband. It doesn’t want to be complete. Because the woman to be her husband and to be remembered with her is a woman who presents herself to the appetites and desires of other men. According to her place, he is immoral, affectionate and desirous. Once the husband is held responsible for his wife’s chastity, the advantages of the husband’s role are eagerly embraced while he is freed from other obligations.

According to the hairdressers who serve them, the “girls of the Pavilion” have a different atmosphere. Hüseyin said: “Nightlife girls are capricious. He makes art. ‘How did you fall?’ If you say so, he’d like to sit down and talk to you,” he says. The brutality of life these women lived made them a little hardened, aggressive and a little capricious. The arguments we witnessed during interviews and the fights that resulted in physical violence confirm this. Maybe they need this deterrent image to protect themselves. On the other hand, pavilion hairdressers also have a deterrent image. This deterrent attitude is against clients, troublemakers, bosses and even police. arms and chest, usually visible by the open collars of their shirts, and the “boy” jargon they use show that they are no strangers to the world they are trying to exist in, at least they are trying to keep up.


The hidden population of the neighborhoods who cut from head to toe at night, as well as the masters and journeymen we spoke to, young, middle-aged, single, widowed, weak, suspicious, with or without children, who carelessly poke at the phone or they watch us with a curiosity they don’t try to hide, as we talk to them. They were sad and happy women. They lived in the neighborhoods where they earned their bread, some lived far away without seeing their family and children, and completed their daily routines by remaining in that circle. The pressure generated by the fact that their work was seen as work that would undermine the morals of society, on the one hand, and the prohibitions imposed by their so-called patrons, who confiscated part of their income by making them work, on the other hand, confined them to work. them to a narrow circle. Not counting the exceptions, they lived in neighborhoods where they knew their inhabitants, culture and places, aging and dying peacefully and without disapproval, especially in precarious conditions, on the edge of what was considered “normal”.

Note: Şenay Yılmaz met with most hairdressers. He also shared his accurate findings in creating the content. Without Şenay, this article would not have been written. A larger version of the article is in Front of the Mirror, At the Tip of the Tweezers: The Hairdresser’s Book, Der. Funda Şenol Cantek, Communication Publications.

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