<-- -!>

Featured Article

Showing posts with label The Barber. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Barber. Show all posts

An Interview With Pierre Santino - The Dreamcast Barber

It took us over a year, with countless emails and tweets and hours of internet searching. But we finally did it, we found The Barber. The full story is documented in this series of articles:


We know how the tl;dr (too long, didn't read) modern internet works though, so the abridged version is this: a guy played a barber in a Dreamcast commercial. He was the face of the console in Europe and his image was everywhere for a few months in late 1999 and early 2000...then he simply disappeared. No record of his name, or who he was left anywhere on the promotional materials, and internet searches turned up nothing. His identity could have been lost to the digital mists of internet lore...that is until The Dreamcast Junkyard stepped in and decided to find out who he was. If you've been following this whole saga you'll know how we did it (and the assistance we had from the wider Dreamcast community), but if not I urge you to read the previous In Search Of The Barber articles to get a full appreciation for how mammoth a task this has been.
This photo is from Pierre's private collection and has never been published before.
Anyway, it's all come to this. We have found him. His name is Pierre Santino and he is alive and well living and working in France. An actor and comedian with an extensive portfolio of work spanning 40 years, Pierre was only too happy (and possibly a little surprised) when we showed him the previous articles documenting our search for him. As he is French and speaks very little English, we enlisted the help of Arnaud Bonnet (author of 1000 Jeux Vidéo, 1000 Anecdotes published by Pix'n Love Editions) who acted as an interpreter. Huge thanks go to Arnaud for his assistance in the translation of this interview from English, to French...and back again. Enough from me though. Let us turn our attention to the man of the moment - The Barber himself, Mr Pierre Santino...

In Search Of The Barber: Part Three - We Found Him

Recently we published the second part of our series in which we've been searching for the identity of the mystery man who fronted the European Dreamcast advertising campaign. There is almost nothing online detailing who this guy was, and considering his face was everywhere during a brief period in late 1999, it drove me to distraction that it was documented nowhere. Until now.

I can't accurately convey how much time I've spent trying to find the actor who portrayed The Barber (you could check out In Search Of The Barber: Part One and Part Two to get an idea, though), but now I'm overjoyed to announce that yes, we've found him. And the way we found him was every bit as interesting as the rest of this whole saga, to be honest - a true tale of the Dreamcast community coming together to overcome insurmountable odds. It goes a little something like this...

In Search Of The Barber: Part Two

Several months ago I published an article here titled In Search Of The Barber. In case you missed it, go here and have a quick scan to familiarise yourself. If you can’t be bothered, allow me to briefly recap the gist of the previous chapter in this seemingly unsolvable missing persons case.

During the early period of the Dreamcast’s brief lifespan in Europe, Sega promoted the console through a series of TV and cinema adverts where multiplayer gaming was pushed as the system’s key unique selling point. I’m sure you’ll recall the whole ‘6 billion players’ controversy. The adverts in question featured two scenarios - one was titled ‘Buoy’ had a load of kids stood on a shoreline trying to hit a buoy with stones; the other was titled ‘Shave’ and involved a group of French foreign legion conscripts having their heads shaved by a trio of military barbers. It was the latter of these two promotional films that was chosen as Sega’s flagship advertising tool and the victorious barber (named Player Two in the advert) was depicted on a host of posters, billboards, in-game leaflets and even on the Dreamarena European online portal.
The Barber. On Dreamarena.
As explained in my previous article on this subject, this guy’s characteristic face, bare chest and distinctive tattoos* were all over the place for the first six months of the Dreamcast’s life - in magazines, on bus stops and even splashed across cinema screens before some of the biggest movies of the time (well, Star Wars Episode 1, anyway). He was literally everywhere. The thing is, there is no record of who he actually is. No credits on the Dreamography VHS tapes given away with pre-orders of the Dreamcast, no crew listings or location photos anywhere on the internet…and believe me - I’ve looked.
What my life now looks like.
Is he an actor? If so, why can’t I find anything else he’s appeared in? Hell, why can’t I find a single image of him anywhere, other than the few uploads of the Dreamcast ‘barber’ picture (most of which have been uploaded by me)? It's this complete erasure or nonexistence of The Barber that is the driving force behind this whole saga, and using the power of the internet I've decided to pick up the case and dig further into the mystery of this bloke's true identity.

Dreamkey's Hidden Video

This probably won't mean much to you if you're not familiar with the European internet browsers for Dreamcast, but allow me to explain. Dreamkey was the PAL equivalent to SegaNet and Dream Passport and represented the default method of connection to online portal Dreamarena back in the day. Now we've established that, I'll continue. I was randomly browsing YouTube t'other day when I happened across a rather strange video. Upon closer inspection, the video appeared to have been uploaded by regular Junkyard commenter and MSR aficionado RJAY63 and was actually posted in 2011...but until now I'd never seen anything about this.
Apparently, by inserting the Dreamkey 1.0 internet browser disc into your Dreamcast, going to the address box and simply typing 'about:' you can view a secret video crediting the creators of Dreamkey. The video isn't really all that special - it's basically the European 'Shave' advert with credits laid over the top and the Robbie Williams song removed, but it's an interesting discovery nonetheless. I watched intently hoping it might credit the actors in the video, thus solving the riddle of who Player One / The Barber actually is (you can read out that little quest here); but alas it does not. Enough preamble though - here's the hidden video (click 'continue reading' if on the main page):

In Search Of The Barber

The various Dreamcast advertising campaigns hold a certain fascination for me. The It's Thinking and Mr Sega/Yukawa campaigns from the US and Japan respectively were massively successful and we've looked at them in the recent past (just don't mention the Spud Dive). Before you groan 'not another advertising post' though, please bear with me. This is slightly different for reasons which will become apparent. The European advertising campaign for the Dreamcast launch was made up of several different TV and cinema adverts, but the one most people will be familiar with is this one:


The advert is known as Shave, and I'm sure you've seen it before or possibly even remember when it was shown on (European) TV and in cinemas back in that brief period in 1999/2000 when the world was gripped by Dreamcast-mania.

So let's break it down. Robbie Williams' Let Me Entertain You blares, rather appropriately from the speakers as a bunch of fresh-faced Foreign Legion recruits are lead into the barbers studio of some form of military installation. Three barbers await, and are labelled as players one, two and three and then quickly set about engaging in a battle to see who can shave their conscript's head the fastest. Player Two comes out on top as the guard looks on, the younger competitors beaten by the experience of their older adversary. Victorious, the character whom we will henceforth refer to as The Barber, gives a wry smile to the camera as the story comes to a close. It's not a bad advert by any means, and sets the scene perfectly - the Dreamcast was all about multi-player competition after all, what with all the online gubbins. There are some negative points, such as the way no game footage at all was used (and likewise in the other advert from this campaign entitled Buoy) but that's a different story.

Now, I did do a post fairly recently where I looked briefly at the (slightly xenophobic) European campaigns, but this time I want to focus solely on something that has been bugging me for a while: just who is the winning barber in this advert? For a very short period between 1999 and 2000, this gentleman's face was plastered all over TV and cinema screens; a poster showing him posing with a barber's chair and hair clippers could be found in pretty much every games shop in the land, and the vast majority of Dreamcast games came with a 'coming soon' pamphlet in the rear compartment with this guy all over them. But do a Google search for 'Dreamcast barber' or words to that effect...and do you know what you'll find? Nothing. Not a bean, other than a few images like this - most of which come from this very site:
So the question remains: just who is the actor who portrays The Barber? What is his name? Did he appear in any other productions and what did he make of his five minutes of fame? In the famous words of Sherlock Holmes, the game is afoot...