Fact Check

The Hairdresser's Error

Hairdresser attacks male customer for masturbating under sheet.

Published Dec 10, 2000

Legend:   A scruffy-looking older man enters a hairdressing shop just before closing time one evening, looking to get his hair cut. A young, female stylist is the only one left in the shop, and though she feels uneasy about remaining alone with a stranger, she agrees to give him a quick haircut and motions him to her chair.

The stylist pins a sheet around the customer's neck and turns around to pick up her instruments. When she turns back again she notices that the man's hands are under the sheet, performing a rhythmic back-and-forth motion. Thinking that her customer is masturbating (and might possibly be a dangerous sex offender), the stylist quickly cracks him over the head with a hair dryer and calls 911. When the police arrive, the customer is still unconscious; lifting the sheet, they discover that the man had merely been cleaning his glasses.


[Collected on the Internet, 1994]

A drunken old man went into this hairdresser's for a cut. He was most drunk and quite scruffy looking, but the hairdresser sat him down and put the Catch-o-Hair (tm) cape over him.

She then went to pick up her scissors and on returning, saw his hand moving up and down under this cape as if he was masturbating. "Dirty old man" she thought, cracked him over the noggin with a hair drier and rung the police. They turned up and removed the cape only to find that he had been cleaning his glasses.

[Collected on the Internet, 1994]

Gentleman visits predominantly female hairdressers to get his hair cut (surprise, surprise). The man was sat in the seat covered with the large nylon cloaks they give you to keep your clothes clean. Whilst cutting his hair, the attractive young female hairdresser noticed that her client was staring curiously at her in the mirror. Not only that but his hand was making suspect oscillating motions under the cover at his groin.

The hairdresser screamed 'Pervert!' at him, and smacked him over the head with his hairdryer. At which point the cloak fell, to reveal that the customer was merely cleaning his glasses.


  • The object used by the hairdresser to subdue her customer varies: a shampoo bottle, a hair dryer, or a large hairbrush.
  • In some versions the hairdresser strikes the moving area under the sheet instead of hitting the customer over the head.
  • Sometimes the customer is found to have been winding his watch rather than cleaning his glasses.
  • Some versions end with the hairdresser's being charged with assault (or being sued for "grievous bodily injury").

Origins:   This

Cartoon of the legend

legend appears to have originated in the late 1970s, with its first-known printed version appearing in Paul Smith's Book of Nasty Legends in 1983. This early version is little more than an anecdote about an unfortunate mistake, omitting details such as the lateness of the hour, the customer's disheveled appearance, and the summoning of the police. Presumably these embellishments were added later as the tale spread, changing it from a mere embarrassment story to a cautionary tale about the dangers of judging people merely by appearances.

An unusual variation collected by Brunvand in 1996 moves the action onto an airplane. The flight attendant asks the captain to speak with a passenger in coach who appears to be masturbating under a blanket. The captain checks, only to find the miscreant had been trying to unjam a roll of film stuck in his new camera, an activity that needed to be performed in a darkened area.

Last updated:   18 May 2010


  Sources Sources:

    Brunvand, Jan Harold.  
The Baby Train

    New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.   ISBN 0-393-31208-9   (pp. 44-46).

    Brunvand, Jan Harold.   Too Good To Be True.

    New York: W. W. Norton, 1999.   ISBN 0-393-04734-2   (pp. 36-37).

    Healey & Glanvill.   "Urban Myths."

    The Guardian.   30 December 1995   (p. 43).

    Smith, Paul.   The Book of Nasty Legends.

    Glasgow: Fontana/Collins, 1984.   ISBN 0-00-636856-5   (p. 30).

    Playboy.   "After Hours."

    August 1985   (p. 17).

  Sources Also told in:

The Big Book of Urban Legends

    New York: Paradox Press, 1994.   ISBN 1-56389-165-4   (p. 160).

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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