Dreadless in September

Wendy Rose
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St. John’s man cutting four-foot dreadlocks, rasing money for Young Adult Cancer Canada

Some know him as John Pike. Others know him as Johnny Rawkhard. Many know him as “the guy at the shows with the dreads.”
Who will John Pike be after his 13-year-old dreads meet Fogtown barber Chris Evans’ scissors on Sept. 30?

While posing for this photo, John Pike was told to “get a job” by a random passerby. Pike had just left work at CBC to take this photo. — Photo courtesy of Joel Upshall

“The guy who does the show, probably,” Pike said with a laugh.

“A lot of people give me that, which is why I want to cut it. When I was younger, a lot of people said I wasn’t going to get a decent job if I grew my hair out.”

Pike’s professional resume is a lengthy one, boasting titles such as graphic designer, show promoter and DJ. Pike is currently a switcher director and a cameraman at CBC, proving that eccentric haircuts aren’t a career deal breaker.

“Now everyone’s telling me that if I cut my hair, no one would know me and I’ll lose all my credibility. So I decided that I’m going to cut it now to spite people,” Pike said, quickly adding that he’s just kidding around.

On Monday, Pike will say goodbye to his knee-length dreadlocks, and the mop chop is not in vain.

“I felt like it was time so I figured I should put a cause behind it so I wouldn’t chicken out,” Pike said. “I want people to inspire me to be brave, people who had to go through a lot more than a haircut.”

By teaming up with Young Adult Cancer Canada (YACC), Pike hopes to raise awareness and money for a local organization that works to make living with cancer an easier endeavour for young people affected by the disease.

“YACC is local. I always support local. They started up the same month that I got my last haircut. They’re exactly as old as my dreads,” Pike said with a laugh.

“I like what they’re about. They’re not about cancer research. They’re about giving people with cancer things to do because once you get cancer your life can be kind of cut off,” Pike said. “They bring people together and I really like that.”

Pike hopes to reach his fundraising goal of $5,000 by the time he gets his hair cut.

“I kind of had low expectations. I expected to make more than the average person ... but not a whole lot more. They tell me that the average is about $400-$600,” Pike said.

As of Wednesday night, Pike had raised more than $3,500 for YACC.

So why cut the dreads now, after nearly a decade and a half?

“Well, I had to get it cut eventually. It’s getting caught in my car door constantly. Every time I use the bathroom I have to make sure it’s in front of me because if not, it will fall in the toilet. I think it got wet once in the toilet and I learned my lesson,” Pike said with a laugh.

“There are a bunch of little things like that. I started doing Muay Thai and it’s getting in my way. I’m dead set on getting a motorcycle but I don’t want my hair to get caught up in the back tire and kill me. That would be the worst death imaginable.”

Pike said he’s nervous about the impending drastic change to his appearance, but he’s determined to power through his fleeting feelings of apprehension.

“There’s a bunch of stuff that’s making me freak out. I haven’t had a haircut in so long that I can’t remember if it hurts or not. I’m really nervous but, I don’t know, it’s almost like Christmas. I can’t wait, but I don’t know what I’m getting. It could be bad, it could be good. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Pike is also admittedly freaked out about a deal he made with whoever donates the largest amount of money: The winner gets to chop off his last dreadlock, using whatever tools they want.

One of Pike’s friends donated $305 on Wednesday, topping the previous highest donor by a mere $5 in an effort to claim the prize of chopping the final dreadlock.

“He said he has something special in mind for my last one,” Pike said. “I’m kind of worried that I’m going to lose an ear. He asked me if he could pick and I told him to go for it because it’s his money. He donated it,” Pike said.

“I have this fear that he’s going to bring in a chopping block and an axe or something. But I’d let him do it, if it came down to it.”

Many of Pike’s friends are curious about what will happen to the dreadlocks after the haircut.

“People joke and tell me I should make one of those door hangings, which would be the grossest thing in the world. People keep telling me to make a mask. Other people tell me to put ‘em all together and see how long they are as a rope. That’s not a bad idea. I’m after hearing a bunch of crazy ones. People have been telling me that they want a section of one to use as a bookmark. I think that’s gross as well,” Pike said, shaking his head at the absurdity.

“They’re either going to be buried at sea, burnt or my mom is getting them,” Pike said. “I was thinking about building, well, I don’t want to call it a coffin, but a nice piece of woodworking so she won’t know they’re in there. I’ll just lay it on the mantle or something.”

When asked what his mom thought of the dreadlock chop, Pike said she’s sad about the upcoming transformation.

“She hates my beard, but that’s all. I’m kind of worried that she’s going to be at CBC bawling when it gets cut. She’s joked about it. I guess it’s her little boy growing up and she’s not too pumped about it.”

The highly anticipated haircut will be taking place at CBC on University Avenue in St. John’s Monday morning. The cut was originally supposed to take place downtown at Fogtown Barber and Shop with Chris Evans, but due to the overwhelming number of attending guests, the location had to be changed.

“CBC wanted to do it on the morning show from Day 1, but I wanted to do it with Chris. So we decided, why don’t we bring Chris to work and please both sides? CBC is on the way to MUN so if people want to stop in and donate money during the morning, they can,” Pike said, beaming with excitement.

Evans shares many of the same sentiments as Pike: excited and nervous at the same time.

“I’ve cut dreadlocks, but never on anybody who has been growing them for 13 years,” Evans said.

There has been much speculation on social media about how to go about cutting Pike’s dreads, which are more than four feet long. People have suggested everything from garden shears to katanas.

“If I use my fine barbering shears, it’s just going to blunt them. We’ll probably just use some household scissors for convenience sake to get things started. It’s definitely going to have to be something very sharp, because who knows what’s in those dreads?” the barber said.

“Dreads sort of weigh you down and are cumbersome in life, so I think he’s going to feel free. He’s going to feel like a man who has been unshackled from a ball and chain,” Evans said with a laugh.

Pike will be collecting donations both online at http://dreadlessinseptember.ca/ or in person until Evans makes the first snip on Monday morning.


Organizations: Young Adult Cancer Canada, CBC, Fogtown Barber and Shop

Geographic location: MUN

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Recent comments

  • Rick
    September 30, 2013 - 13:53

    Don't judge a book by its cover! Newfies in general are too quick to judge. Those of us who get to leave here for a while realize pretty quickly how close minded/opinionated we really are. If everyone would just mind their own business it would be a much nicer place to live.

  • Karen
    September 28, 2013 - 17:11

    I'm just curious.... Does this mean he hasn't washed his hair in 13 years???

    • ashley
      October 01, 2013 - 12:53

      having dreadlocks does not mean you do not wash your hair. I have dreads and I wash mine all the time