Want to impress your fellow sports fans at the game — and also then freak out everyone you meet outside the stadium? Head to Cruz Cutz Barbershop in Moline, Ill.
Yes, it might not be convenient for most folks to make their way 165 miles west of Chicago, near the Iowa border, but when you see the work of barber Jesus Cruz you're either likely to book a ticket today, or go running for the hills.
That's no slam on Cruz, whose tonsorial craftsmanship is, uh, rather incredible.
Cruz, 23, has been cutting hair since 2006 and has had his own shop since 2010. His mother also cuts hair, but nothing like what her son does today. "She did mostly women's hair," Cruz told Yahoo by phone on Friday. "But she taught me a lot of tricks growing up." Combine that with an artist's hand — Cruz said he grew up drawing a lot as a kid — and you have the seeds of a rather fascinating cottage industry.
About two years ago, Cruz was approached with an innocent request: cut a large star on the back of a customer's head. No problem. A a few zips of the razor later, it was done. And done well. But from there, an idea was born.
"I just kind of pushed myself to the limit, I guess," Cruz said.
The ideas started to flow, and the clientele became more creative — and brave — with their requests. Sports logos. Intricate designs. Anything and everything was considered, and then expertly cut. Cruz started posting his artistry on social media, including his popular Instagram account, and the compliments came flowing in.
Then, at the start of this NFL season, came his finest hour: A stunningly good likeness of Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. On the back of a man's head, no less.
Cruz, a Redskins fan by way of his father, couldn't wait to get started on this RG3 face he couldn't get out of his mind. So Cruz recruited a friend of the barber shop, who — get this — doesn't even root for the Skins. But the friend was game to have this artwork cut into his head, anyway.
"I think he liked the attention," Cruz said of his Griffin model. Or maybe he liked frightening people — a new definition of having eyes in the back of one's head.
Through the slow progression of clippings, trimmings, shavings and shadings, Cruz completed his masterpiece. To date, that is.
“The (RG3) one is my best work so far," he said. "But I have not done my best work yet. I like a challenge.”
It took Cruz two-and-a-half hours, and the price ... a mere $40.
"Now, that was a friend price," Cruz said with a laugh. "Once I realized how long it was going to take and color and all that, I realized I could have cut a lot more hair in that time than ($40 worth). My next one that detailed might cost a little more."
On the RG3 cut, Cruz is most proud of the facial shape and detail: the white under the eyes, the braiding on the left side of the head, the shape of the nose, and the movement of the lips and chin. It's all there in a stunning rendition.
Sadly, now, four weeks have passed the the Griffin hair is but a memory, grown over with hair. But Cruz's reputation has soared since then, and the pictures have lived on in glory. He has had people from as far away as Chicago request his services — and he's more than willing to cater to athletes and celebrities, Cruz says. He thinks Ochocinco might appreciate his work the most. Of course, he would.
“A lot of people, it starts with the social media, which has helped out a lot," he said. "They see me on Facebook and Instagram, and they just ask me to do something. I just can't believe how many messages and calls I get.”
And nothing is off limits. It’s the same approach that tattoo artists would take, he said.
“We just put our heads together and brainstorm.”
Cruz isn't sure if Griffin himself has seen his work, but that would be the ultimate compliment, Cruz said, if he liked it. With the power of social media, who knows?
To date, Cruz has done at least 100 intricate designs, "and maybe as many as 200," he said, and Cruz isn't stopping anytime soon. About 40 or 50 percent of his designs are NFL- or football-related, and sports is a big draw. But nothing is out of bounds.
Including, Cruz, said a promised cut for a certain middle-aged Yahoo writer. It might be his toughest task yet, making this head look good.
Here are a few more examples of Cruz's work:
Plain and simple:
And of course ...