The Ink link – A barber with a twist

The Ink Link is an ongoing project at CN&CO that showcases tattoos in the workplace. One of the great things about a tattoo is it goes against the commonly-held viewpoint that “what you see is what you get”. There’s a misguided belief in certain quarters that in order to be a working professional, it is categorically impossible to have a tattoo… because how can someone with a tattoo be a professional? We are putting paid to that perception through the stories showcased in the Ink Link.

I like going to my barber. After many years trying to find the right one in the area, I eventually popped into the local Barber Shop. This was not my first time visiting this franchise, but it was the first at this branch. I waited my turn and eventually I was called up. Since then, barring a one-year break where a mate got me going to a hair salon, I have had my hair cut by the same barber for probably the last 8 years. Don’t you find it funny how there is an unspoken word about who your barber is and who the client “belongs” to among the barbers in the shop.

Rickie is not your usual barber though. When you think barber shop, it may conjure images of the candy stripe pole or the movies. But typically, it is filled with old men cutting hair and moving to the next person. Not Rickie, she is an anomaly. She’s a self-described alternative, punk-rock, goth. Yet she does have a softer side, as her station in the shop has a number of photos of her dogs. Read below to find out more about the female, MMA fighter, gun-nut, vegetarian, tattooed barber

Allan Bader: When did you get your first tattoo?
Rickie Hartzenberg: I got my first tattoo when I was 16 at Kevin’s Tattoos in Rocky street, Yeoville. It was on my left shoulder and it was an Anarchy sign

AB: What made you get it?
RH: I got into Punk Rock and Goth when I was 13 years old. Tattoos were still very Taboo in 1991. There were literally two tattoo parlours in Johannesburg. Getting a tattoo was a very big form of rebellion and a spit in the face of our then extremely conservative government

AB: After your first one had the “bug bit” or did it take a while for you to get your second one.
RH: I definitely wanted more but was underage at that point, so the artists didn’t really want to tattoo us. Added to that, I was an Apprentice Hairdresser we earned very little so could not really afford it. I got my second one on my right shoulder when I was 18 it was a spider web

AB: Were any of them decided upon and gotten while under the influence?
RH: Hahahahaha yes. During the 1995 Rugby World Cup, a few of us went to the underground Flea market in Hillbrow. We all felt patriotic so decided to get our national flags tattooed. I am of half Irish descent, so decided on that. Needless to say, I got the colours mixed up and ended up with an Ivory Coast flag.

AB: How many do you have in total?
RH: It’s hard to say I sat for at least 25 sessions but have more than 25 Tattoos. Some are cover ups or redone.

AB: You come across as this badass, heavy-metal, MMA fighter, goth chick but you have a Hello Kitty on your thigh. How? What? Why? 
RH: I love cartoon characters very much. I have the Powerpuff Girls on my arm and a Hello Kitty on my leg with an AK47.

I love martial arts. I am a bit rough around the edges, so to me it symbolises cute but can kickass when needed.

AB: On that note, please elaborate the diversity of your tattoos
RH: I have cute animals on my arms. I am a vegan, bunny hugger. Although I am not religious, I have a Celtic cross on my leg. Some Gaelic writing on my arm and leg, meaning mainly Never give up never surrender. I have a Babydoll from the movie Sucker Punch on my left forearm because I loved her character and I was in Psychiatric institutions twice in the 90s.

My passion is music, so I have a few band names or symbols on my thigh and arms.

AB: How have your life choices influenced your decisions on if and what to get tattooed?
RH: I have always been alternative. I lived the rock and roll lifestyle. Party all the time drink, drugs and everything that goes with it. I loved to shock people and be in their face. I like it when people underestimate me.

Most of the tattoos are because I love them, and I want to see them. They are for me, so why would I want a tattoo on my ass? I can’t see my ass?

I decided to stop drinking and drugs one day. Simple as that. I realised that no one wanted to be around me anymore. I won’t call it growing up though, I didn’t want to be seen as this drunken fool anymore.

I love my husband very much and was tired of embarrassing him

Rickie Hart

AB: What is next on the cards?
RH: Sometimes I get five tattoos a year. Some years I have nothing done. I’m not sure which kind of year I’m in right now.

AB: Do you think you will stop? And why if the answer is Yes or No
RH: Hahahaha I’ll probably never stop, although I am starting to run out of good places to get one. There are still a few things I want to have done.

AB: You mentioned the last time I was in the chair that everyone has tattoos these days and maybe one day it will be the those without tattoos that are frowned upon. What makes you say this? Where are you seeing this?
RH: Well as I mentioned, I like to be in people’s faces purely to see the reaction but also, it’s mainly for myself. This whole hipster movement started a while back. In my opinion tattoos were a working-class thing, kicking against the system, a rebellion of sorts. Then the hipsters made it a fashion statement. Which goes against everything I stand for. We used to be laughed at, sworn at, spat on, etc and then it just became “normal” to look like me.

With that being said I am very happy with the way I look. Those poor hipsters however will probably want their tattoos removed in a few years hahahahaha.

Rickie works at the Barber Shop in the Blairgowrie Plaza on Conrad Drive.