Updated: Tuesday, 01 July 2014 00:05 | By Agence France-Presse

Neymarmania (literally) goes to Brazilians' heads

Anderson Guimaraes walked into a barber shop decorated with Brazil flags to get the latest popular hairstyle in Rio's slums: The face of football star Neymar sculpted in the back of his head.


Neymarmania (© literally)

A man with a haircut by 22-year-old Brazilian barber Marcelo Anderson Martins Ferreira showing the portrait of Brazilian football player Neymar in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 27, 2014 - by Yasuyoshi Chiba

World Cup fever and Neymarmania have literally gone to some Brazilians' heads.

Fourteen barbers work seven days a week at the barbershop lying between the Manguinhos and Jacarezinho favelas, as Brazilian slums are known.

Each barber pays $9 a day to rent one of the rundown chairs in the shop, which quickly fills with clients who want to get a shave, chat and watch a football game.

The house special is the "jaca cut." Invented a decade ago in the nearby Jacare slum, the hair is shaved around the ears and neck, leaving the top longer.

But customers can get variations on the cut, courtesy of Marcelo Ferreira, the barbershop's 22-year-old "craque" -- or whiz.

With a razor, Ferreira will turn a neck into Neymar's face, Brazil's flag, the tournament's armadillo mascot Fuleco or the six stars representing the sixth World Cup title that the nation hopes to capture.

- Success with girls -

Guimaraes, 24, came to get the Neymar special for a second time.

He held up a tablet with a black and white picture of the Barcelona forward. Ferreira used a black pen to carefully trace the face in the back of the client's head and sharpened his razor before getting to work.

The first time he got the haircut, at the start of the Cup, "people wanted to take pictures with me," Guimaraes said.

"When I took the subway, people asked where I got it and the barbershop's phone number. I had a lot of success with the girls," he said, laughing.

It takes Ferreira three hours to finish his masterpiece. It costs $45, quite a sum for favela residents.

Yuri Nascimento, 11, would love to get the Neymar special, but his mother has no job and raises three children with government welfare checks of $191 per month.

He finally settles for a $6 "delta wing:" A curly mohawk with the sides shaved.

"Some clients want their hair cut like Messi's. Others like Cristiano Ronaldo's. But what I like the most is drawing Neymar," Ferreira said.

His Neymar figures are precise, featuring the player's diamond earrings, baseball cap and blondish hair.

A few months ago, the Manguinhos resident won a "barber battle" thanks to his hair masterpieces. His prize was a barber lesson in Copacabana, an upscale tourist zone that is an hour away by bus.

- Getting kids off streets -

The barbershop's owner, Pedro Faria, 43, watched over as clients came in and out, satisfied that he was giving young men in the slum a chance for a better life.

"I'm generating jobs here. I gave opportunities to kids who live in the street, who were crack addicts or drug dealers," Faria said.

"Here we teach them to cut hair and beards, and then I rent them a chair for them to get clients," he added.

"If the government did the same thing in other favelas, if it helped me do the same thing in other places, we wouldn't have as many criminals as we do now."

Marcos Adriel, a 23-year-old former soldier-turned-barber, said some clients used to come in carrying guns until police took control of the slums.

"The atmosphere was much more violent. We didn't know who was who," Adriel said.

"Suddenly, the hill's boss would sit on your chair. You couldn't mess up. Your life was at risk if you messed up the haircut. That's how I learned more, practicing day and night," he said with a laugh.

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