In São Paulo, 24-hour services are an old reality. You can find anything any time you want it, including hairdressers skilled at servicing prostitutes and transvestites. I walked into Giva’s beauty salon in the middle of the afternoon and found Ivani Barbosa sitting on the sofa watching television. The clients only start to arrive about six hours later, when Augusta Street, where the salon is located, becomes a living hell. I tried to come back and take photos but no one would let me. But I did get to Ivani about her profession.
Aren't most of your clientele prostitutes and transvestites?
There is a lot of variety. All sorts of people come here. There are the prostitutes, people who work in offices, hospitals...
But you're open at 4 AM. I'd imagine there aren't many accountants coming in at that hour. How many prostitutes and transvestites do you work with in a day, on average?
Ah, there are as many as ten in one night. And it gets crowded in here, mainly after midnight. Then it is crazy.
And they come before or after seeing their clients?
It doesn’t matter. They come and go, and come back again. They come to have their hair done, they come with it all wet, then they go out to have some action.
What is it like for you to work with them?
It’s OK, it’s just like having you here interviewing me. I work with them as I normally work with anyone: with respect and politeness. After all, we are all similar to one another, right?
Seems like your night clientele might have some really particular demands.
I will tell you something. It is easier to do make up on transvestites than on women because they are transformers—it’s a different style. But I enjoy doing everything. Hair, brushing... We also sell clothes here, acrylic sandals for them to parade in at night. Nightlife is very nice.
What you think of this little neighborhood?
I think it’s a very fashionable place. I love the transvestites’ clothes. Everything is so fancy.
Are they hotter than biological females?
Yeah. Sometimes we even get confused. I don’t even dare to say if it’s a woman or not. That one [pointing to a poster of a brunette with a long face and beautiful eyes] is the owner of the salon, Giva. She is a transvestite.
What kind of conversations do you have?
“What’s up, girl, let’s have the hair done, get a suntan.” We have an artificial tanning machine here so that they can be beautiful. This way she can have anyone, right? We do everything around here.
Do you also give advice? Listen to stories, act as a psychologist?
We have to know everything, man. You have to be a psychologist, a shrink, everything.
Do you like your job?
I’d rather work with them than with women. They are more understanding, they joke around with us. But sometimes they are quite needy and depressive.
Do you see a lot of drug use?
Who doesn’t do drugs nowadays? I’m the only one who doesn’t. Drugging for me is just a glass of beer and that’s it. Sometimes I even drink beer with them. But they are crazy, they have lots of adventures.
What are the hair and make up trends for this winter?
A lot of them are dyeing hair a rich chocolate color, but this is not a rule. In terms of clothes, lilac is in everything. Tight pants, scarf, mini skirts, thongs, dresses…. everything they can to get some attention.
You seem to have a lot of fun, but, before working here, did you have any bias regarding your typical clientele?
I have a lot of fun, I love it. But there was no bias. I’ve always been a very open person. I think that… I’m a mother, right? I have two children of my own and I have adopted other two. If one of them becomes gay or a transvestite some day, I will have no bias. That would be OK.