Richie the Barber is an area celeb hiding in plain sight – although he’s not precisely inconspicuous, together with his fuzzy crimson hair and completely exaggerated smile.
Richie has carried out on “America’s Got Talent,” concurrently juggling and rapping about juggling to the pointed grimace of Simon Cowell. Twice, he has appeared on TMZ, confetti-bombing the Kardashian sisters and Jennifer Lopez.
So famend is the Barber – albeit in his personal circles – that “Ripley’s Imagine It or Not” singled him out for recognition.
“I’m the one real-life clown on the earth,” boasted Richie, 35, whose final title shouldn’t be truly “the Barber” however Esposito.
Changing into a “real-life clown” was a course of. Over the course of some months in 2013, tattoo by tattoo, Esposito remodeled his face into that of a clown’s.
No want for make-up. The tats make his nostril without end crimson, his cheeks perpetually blue, and his mouth immutably grinning from ear to ear.
“I’ll by no means remorse it,” he assured. “I’m actually a clown. I juggle. I do magic methods. I journey a unicycle. It’s my life-style.
“I consider you gotta go all in in your ardour.”
Esposito hails from Huntington Seashore. After a decade of chopping hair in Los Angeles, he returned to his hometown final fall to work at Orange County Barbers Parlor on Important Road.
Wearing loud costume – plaid pants, polka-dot shirt, over-sized sneakers, under-sized fedora – Esposito could be discovered clipping and buzzing and tapering and fading.
Typically, his clients comply with sport a crimson nostril extra bulbous that his personal. Typically, he treats them to his circus routine. Typically, he sprinkles freshly coiffed scalps with colourful bits of paper.
All the time, he jokes round and hams it up – tooting his clown horn and bugging his eyes.
Good-natured, effervescent and surreal, Esposito is famend in clowning and barbering communities – two professions that not often intersect.
“I’ve adopted Richie for years,” mentioned Jasmine Sanchez, his girlfriend and colleague at OC Barbers. “I all the time considered him as a celeb. I by no means thought I’d meet him, a lot much less work beside him. And by no means in 1,000,000 years did I dream I’d date him.”
Tattoo fans additionally embrace Richie the Barber, paying him to journey the globe for physique artwork conventions. Esposito has acted the clown in Russia, England, Spain, Finland and France. J-Lo wound up with that confetti in her hair at LAX.
“I’m undoubtedly well-known within the tattoo world,” Esposito mentioned. “In case you see me one time, you’re going to recollect me.”
No matter first impressions Esposito may elicit, they’re most likely mistaken.
Esposito grew up in a tight-knit household, the oldest of three boys. “He was all the time very constructive and outgoing,” mentioned brother Joey Esposito, a recruiter for the U.S. Military. “He needed to make everyone snort. That’s simply who he’s.”
Their dad and mom divorced once they have been younger teenagers. The boys moved into their grandmother’s home with their mother, who ran a day care heart there.
Richie Esposito – a artistic child who loved drawing, enjoying guitar and skateboarding – graduated from Marina Excessive, though barely. “I by no means made good grades,” he mentioned. “I used to be a scrawny child and bought picked on lots. I wasn’t on the soccer group, I’ll let you know that a lot.”
Then he went to barber faculty and launched his profession as a hair stylist.
“I moved to Hollywood as a result of I needed to chop celebrities’ hair,” Esposito mentioned. When the pandemic strangled enterprise, Esposito returned to Orange County to dwell with household.
Through the years, shoppers have included Bruno Mars, Benji Madden of Good Charlotte and “Jackass” daredevil Steve-O (Stephen Gilchrist Glover) – a daily who tweeted final August about Richie the Barber’s go to to his home.
Esposito bought his first tattoo at 17, on his left arm. “Then I went loopy, going again each week to get one other tattoo. I labored at Albertsons bagging groceries and spent each paycheck on tattoos.”
Six years later, neck tattoos started creeping as much as his face.
“It began small, with a rose on my jaw, and regularly grew,” Esposito mentioned. “I used to be already clowning, so I bought the clown nostril. Then I had the smile tattooed on me. I blued out my face, as a result of blue is my favourite coloration. I did the eyebrow implants.”
Esposito additionally shaved off his brunette hair. “However that didn’t look too pleasant, so I grew out my hair and dyed it crimson,” he mentioned.
His brother recalled the household’s preliminary response. “He’s all the time had an obsession with clowns, however I used to be form of shocked he did that to his face,” Joey Esposito mentioned. “I used to be afraid it will smash his profession. Nevertheless it truly made his profession higher.”
Their mother “was actually upset,” the youthful Esposito remembered.
“She was extra, like, ‘Nooooo!’,” he mentioned. “However she bought over it. It hasn’t stopped him from reaching his desires.”
Richie Esposito mentioned his dad and mom – together with his dad, an Military veteran – provide “help and unconditional love.”
“I’m not harming anybody. I’m not in jail; I’m not on medicine,” he shrugged.
Esposito has a 15-year-old daughter with a former girlfriend. She, too, is “cool with my tattoos.”
His nieces and nephews are accepting, as nicely. “He’s simply Uncle Richie to my youngsters,” Joey Esposito mentioned. “He’s been like that since they have been born, so it’s simply who he’s.”
Nonetheless, not surprisingly, Esposito hears the occasional mocking comment – issues like, “That’s ugly!”
“I simply inform them, ‘There’s no should be impolite,’ and stroll away,” he mentioned. “I don’t dwell on it. They don’t know who I’m.”
For Sanchez, the tattoos solely add to her boyfriend’s attract.
“I simply discover him fascinating,” she mentioned. “He’s an excellent barber, he’s brilliant, he’s humorous.
“He’s only a regular one who selected to be a real-life clown. Speaking to him, these tattoos simply go away. I don’t even see them anymore.”