Judy Jetson Hair is a Staple of Cambridge

Judy Jetson hairPhoto courtesy of Judy Jetson Hair.


Scout Cambridge: How did you get started with cutting hair?

Judy Jetson: I went to school at the Wilfred Academy. That was a long time ago, 1976. Right out of high school.

S: And where did you get your haircut when you were growing up?

J: At a barbershop, believe it or not. When I was a little kid, my mom took me. I loved the smell of it. I think that’s what made me get into hairdressing, and cutting my Barbie dolls’ hair.

S: If someone is coming in with a request for a haircut, how much do you take what they’re asking for versus you put in?

J: Like what they see on YouTube or on the magazine? I go by the shape of the face. And the type of hair they have. Hair will speak to me—it sounds silly, but it does. So if your hair grows a certain way, I’m gonna follow that direction of the hair, where it grows. So that’s the best haircut. People aren’t going to spend 45 minutes blow-drying the hair. It’s not necessary. It’s a good haircut, it falls right into place.

S: What do you think this salon brings to the community?

J: We’re an icon, we’re like a staple. We’re the, ‘Oh Judy Jetson, the one on the corner. I live down the street.’ So people use us as a marker. We’re like the water tanks in New York City. Everybody knows, because I’ve been here so long, that I’ve done the parents’ hair before they were married. I do the children. Now, I’m doing their grandchildren. That’s how long it’s been. So to me, it’s like that stable staple store. That small business.

S: Have you ever created a personal connection with someone whose hair you cut?

J: We had one client, she’s been coming to us since the previous owner, probably about 60 years. I did her sister’s hair. Her sister had cancer, it makes me cry. She had an apartment across the street from the Mass General. I went there and cut her hair and it was kind of one of those heart-warming [moments] … and then she passed away. I felt so close, you know? That’s how it is when you’re a hairdresser; you get really close to people.

I had another client that had died of AIDS. And I was around when the AIDS … I would have to wear gloves, and I didn’t want to. Many of those clients are dead now. They used to say coming here was the gay culture. Everybody knew to go to Judy Jetson. I would hand out condoms.

S: How did that start?

J: My sister was gay. I guess that made me accept it more, and it’s personal now. It’s my sister, it’s my cousin. People refused to cut people’s hair, because [a] girl was gay. And that, to me is disgusting. That’s why they come here—this is a safe place here. I got every flag. I used to have flags in the window. That was back in 1985.

S: Did you ever get pushback from the community for having so many flags?

J: No, because I was too ballsy. You know what I mean? I don’t give a f***. You can go somewhere else and get your haircut if you don’t like it here.

I’m a woman-owned business, you understand that? I had a guy once come in, a sales rep, and said, ‘Can I speak to the owner?’ And I said, ‘I am the owner.’ He almost fell over because it was a woman. This is how long I go back.

S: After 45 years, what is your favorite part of cutting someone’s hair?
J: Talking to people. I still love cutting hair. I love the feel of the hair. But I like talking to people, what they did, what they do. I think people are fascinating. They’ve been places I haven’t been, or done things I haven’t done. You kind of live vicariously through them.

This story appears in the Scout’s Honored print issue of Scout Cambridge, which is available for free at more than 220 drop spots throughout Cambridge (and just beyond its borders) or by subscription.

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