Barber shops in Chicago are now offering the 'Obama' cut. Guy walks in with dreads and has them cut off. He said it was time for a change.
It's medium-short, tapered at the end of the neckline; the hairline is natural, finished with shears.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Obama cut, now appearing on heads from Washington, D.C., to Sacramento.
"It's a custom cut, customized for him. I did create the cut. We simplified it and we called it the 'Obama,' " said Zariff, President-elect Barack Obama's barber and owner of Hyde Park Hair Salon and Barber Shop in Chicago.
Zariff, who goes by one name, didn't have much time to talk. Even at 10 below zero in Chicago, the salon stays busy. At $21, "We're getting a lot of people asking for that, people internationally, tourists."
Presidential hair has always been subject to gossip and controversy, from Ronald Reagan's "Does he dye it?" locks to Bill Clinton's $200 haircut aboard Air Force One.
But Obama's conservative cut – think a modified high taper – blends well with his slender, athletic frame and dark, tailored suits and has become a symbol of success to many.
And, though it's unclear whether demand for the president-elect's taper cut has boosted business at Sacramento-area barbers, many had their own Obama cut stories.
Sacramento's Barber Zone, a converted house at 28th Street off Broadway, has a small poster of Barack Obama on the wall declaring, "Hope."
You can see variations on the same theme these days at other African American barber shops: a button on a barber at Fly Cuts & Styles on Stockton Boulevard; a portrait of America's new first family taped to the mirror at The One on Broadway.
At Barber Zone, the haircutter customers call Ms. Moka was putting the finishing touches on a fade cut and talking about how the man who will become the nation's 44th president is influencing hair styles.
"You're seeing more younger kids who were going to fades, now they're going for the more prestigious look," Ms. Moka said. "They're going into that interview and they say, 'I need that Obama look.' "
Distinguished. Prestigious. Presidential. For young African American men seeing for the first time a president who looks like them, the look is its own statement.
"Before they were saying it was a business cut. Now, a lot of clients say, 'Give me the cut that the president is wearing,' " said Tony Thomas, owner of Outward Appearance barber shop on Florin Road. "People want what's popular. You try to relate to somebody you know."
"I think tapers are in right now. Everybody wants tapers right now," said Dee Lara, owner of Shorty's, a busy four-chair shop as small as its name at 24th Street and Fruitridge Road. A barber school instructor for nearly 20 years, everyone here calls her Mama Dee.
One of Lara's charges, Josh Hunt, is barely voting age himself but is the shop's taper specialist.
"It's the style," Hunt said simply. "To the younger dudes, it's popular."
Tall and lanky and dressed in black with a Houston Astros baseball cap perched on his head, he flips proudly through photos of his other specialty, designs of pro team logos, stars and other patterns etched freehand into haircuts.
He recalled a recent request during the presidential campaign.
"Some lady came in and said, 'Can you put Obama on my kid's head?' " he said. "Usually though, older ladies come in and say, 'Give him a haircut like Obama's cut.' "
For some, the Obama cut represents more than just a new look.
"A guy walked in, he'd had dreads for eight, nine years, and he cut them off. He said it was time for a change," said Gerald Rodia, a barber at Fly Cuts & Styles, a button with Obama's image pinned to his apron. "We're changing presidents, so they want to change their lives."