David Guerin of Albany, Oregon, is like no one I’ve ever interviewed. He’s an international sensation, teaching advanced barbering technique at Rock & Roll Hair Shows that might have 100,000 or more in attendance. What? Huh? Yeah, me too… initially. Unless you have a glimpse into this larger-than-life personality, until you’ve witnessed his obvious skillset, or have seen footage of him giving autographs to adoring throngs, it all sounds a little strange, right?
Strange but true, it turns out. But let’s back up a bit.
Guerin emailed a guess for the Where am I? game and was the fifth correct entrant, making him the winner. Before he knew he’d won, he sent a couple photos of his modern Indian motorcycles, dressed to the nines in leather and chrome. He threw in a YouTube channel link too. By the time I read his email and tried to phone, he was off. Chasing this Oregon gentleman down for an interview would prove challenging.
He was elk hunting in the Willamette Valley, base-camping on a four-acre family parcel where there are two homes and a tiny home-style treehouse to boot—all of this adjacent to a private nine-hole golf course. Not kidding. Add to that, a clubhouse with bar, multiple decks, exercise equipment, WiFi “so the grandkids can watch their Netflix,” ATVs, golf carts and 400 feet of frontage on the steelhead- and salmon-bearing Alsea River.
With time to kill, I looked at his Facebook page, finding some half a dozen videos, including one of him gnawing on a cigar whilst winching a stranger out of a nearby highway ditch. That filming timestamp suggested it occurred at the same time I was trying to corner the guy. But seeing all this before we talked well prepared me for this charismatic gentleman. A text arrived in the evening, David explaining that he had no cell coverage but I could phone him at the River House where he was about to whip up some dinner. No elk taken, so his evening wouldn’t be spent dressing out a big fellow.
Home is in Albany, Oregon, but an hour from Albany, the acreage on the Alsea River is where David, his wife Rhonda (60) and their two daughters, four grandchildren and extended family spend most all their time. They enjoy each other. Their daughters and families want to be there with David and Rhonda. David said, “We are a tight family, and somewhere along the way our daughters became our friends.” He explained that everyone in the family pitches in to take care of the property, purchased in 1985. “When we’re not working or traveling, this is home,” he said. “At night, there’s not a light in sight.”
Since 1979 the family storefront has been The Cutting Room Barber & Beauty Salon in Albany, Oregon. But David’s gig as global artistic manager for Oster, maker of haircutting tools, takes him way out of town on a regular basis. That’s the part of his life that appears to be supersized—like a rock star’s. His stage presence reminded me of Paul Sr. on Orange County Choppers, but much more personable and fit than that grumpy cuss. He explained the melding of the motorcycle culture, rock & roll, and hair shows. He didn’t say it, but as worldwide artistic director for Oster, he’s at the center orchestrating the cultural phenomenon.
David Guerin was born in Tacoma, Washington, and moved to his father’s childhood home in Las Vegas, New Mexico, at an early age. Guerin’s father had learned his barbering craft at the Roffton University of Hair in Long Beach, California, and barbered on the Alaska Pipeline in son David’s early life.
In Las Vegas, New Mexico, David graduated from Robertson High School and upon achieving that told his father he’d like to follow in his footsteps. David said, “I packed up my ’74 VW Bug, hit Route 66 and 1,400 miles later was in Long Beach.” Like his father, David attended Roffton, even taking his training from the same instructor as his father.
It was there that David met fellow student Rhonda Cook in 1975. They’ve been married 42 years, both of them styling hair for that long as well.
David and Rhonda’s adult daughter Shannon Guerin-Van Deusen, 40, has followed in the family business. Her sister, Dawn Guerin-Knoll, 38, operates her own photography business, Dawn Renee Photography, out of the same building as her mom, dad and sister. Dawn’s business well complements her family’s trade.
Dawn has two sons and Shannon two daughters; Shannon’s oldest, age 12, is her grandpa’s riding buddy.
Travel for Oster takes David to Europe, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and within the U.S. teaching his personal techniques with scissor and clipper cutting. He’s been educating fellow stylists since 1983.
YouTube is where I found his Style Renegade channel, showing footage of him barbering from the road, from a perch high above the street during Sturgis, and with the backdrop of the Grand Canyon. He even does how-to sessions showing how best to give haircuts to little ones.
He is an Indian Motorcycle rider, saying that, “I live my life on a bike every day of the year. Every summer, usually mid-July through mid-August, Rhonda and I hit the road and go wherever the front fender goes.”
A pleasure, David.