We interviewed Hannu Viitala, senior colourist at MUKU Hair salon London, about his 63 facial piercings and 14 tattoos which often make people stop at stare. Hannu started hairdressing at the age of 14 after one of his teachers recommended that he should give it a go. Now at the age of 34, he splits his time between London and his Finnish homeland cutting and colouring hair.
I notice the majority of your tattoos are of beetles and bugs, why is this?
I love beetles, like this big Atlas beetle on my head. Nothing can stop them and they just do their thing. I believe when all the life dies on the planet, they will survive and still be here.
Where did you get your piercings done and what inspired them?
Some of the ones on my lips and the majority of my ears I did myself. I usually pierce an area to get rid of anger. When things get bad or there’s big changes happening in my life – moving locations, breaking up with a partner – I will make a new piercing.
Which was the most painful piercing?
One down there… Also I got metal chest implants inserted but they got infected. It really put me off getting head implants inserted. People often have them there so they can screw things like metal spikes in.
Which was your most painful tattoo?
Probably the one I’ve just had done on my hand. I got it done two days ago, that’s why I have to wear this strange white glove. The ink covers the back of my hand entirely and it was really painful. I was warned it would hurt and it did.
Can you eat food and drink OK with your facial piercings?
Sometimes liquid comes out. If I eat beetroot, the red juice will often ooze through and look a bit like blood. It’s not very attractive.
Do you have problems at the airport going through the security body scanner?
People always think I would have trouble but the earrings actually don’t set anything off. I always get the security officers flustered and get lots of concerned looks from fellow passengers.
How do your clients react to your piercings and tattoos?
Some customers worry about what kind of hair cut or colour they will get. But I enjoy gaining their trust and winning them over. It’s not easy and it’s something I’ve had to learn how to master. My hairdressing teacher said I would never get a job with my piercings, back then I only had a few, but I went on to prove her wrong. I want to prove just because you look different you can still be a nice person. Some people do get aggressive with me though.
What do your parents think about your piercings and tattoos?
They weren’t too sure at first but now they don’t mind at all. My mum actually loves going shopping with me and getting lots of attention from passersby.
What was the last thing that really made you stop and stare?
I saw a man in the street earlier today and he had really nice underground style. I was staring at him in a good way, in admiration.
You can visit Hannu at MUKU Hair salon in Shoreditch, 020 7033 6520.