Johnny the Barber, a staple of Nevada County, dies at 49 |

Johnny the Barber, a staple of Nevada County, dies at 49

Cody Permenter, top row from left, Casey Undajon and Johnny "The Barber" Permenter; bottom row, Jessi Permenter and Aunt Nancy.
Submitted photo |

The barbershop pole outside Shear Bliss Contemporary Salon is unlit, a strange change for customers of Johnny the Barber.

They’d know Johnny Permenter, who operated out of the Argall Way salon, was open for business when they saw the barbershop pole lighted.

He’d worked out of Shear Bliss for years, cutting his customers’ hair amid his large display of Oakland Raiders’ memorabilia.

Customers no longer will have the chance to see Johnny’s barbershop pole swing into action, step into his chair and get their hair cut. The 49-year-old, commonly known as “Johnny the Barber” died Oct. 22.

“He was a very boisterous character,” said Casey Undajon, Permenter’s stepson. “He kind of grew on you.”

Johnny could talk to anyone and had no issues with sharing his strong opinions. Undajon called him headstrong and stubborn, but he was also a man who was happiest when around family.

He liked fishing and, of course, his Raiders.

Rita Harvey, co-owner of Shear Bliss, worked side-by-side with Johnny for the past several years. She said Johnny was involved in any conversation near him, invited or not.

“Whether he was right or wrong, he was in the conversation,” Harvey added. “He was very outspoken. We would just go, ‘Johnny knows everything.’”

Harvey’s voice then grew quiet.

“It’s odd with him not around,” she said.

Johnny moved to Nevada County in the early ’90s. He started working at a local barbershop and became its owner several years later.

Dubbed “The Miners’ Barber Shop,” Johnny’s business drew regular customers of all ages. His collection of Raiders memorabilia began to grow. Banners, caps, cups, posters and pictures of players, some autographed, adorned his shop.

Johnny’s barbershop was at one end of Argall Way with Harvey’s workplace a few storefronts down.

At one point Harvey’s shop, then owned by someone else, appeared likely to close. Johnny offered her a spot in his shop.

Harvey and her mother bought Shear Bliss weeks later and the move wasn’t necessary. Years later The Miners’ Barber Shop closed, and Harvey returned to Johnny with the same offer.

The Raiders then made their final move under Johnny.

“The whole station was overwhelmed with layers,” Harvey said of the sports materials. “Every day that he came in he wore Raiders stuff.”

Most of the items are now gone. Undajon, the only Raiders fan in the family, now has his stepfather’s memorabilia and intends to keep Johnny’s legacy alive.

Harvey plans on keeping Johnny’s prices unchanged for his customers.

Undajon and Harvey have scheduled a celebration of life gathering on Nov. 13 for Johnny at Shear Bliss, 110 Argall Way, Nevada City. They haven’t yet set the time for the event.

“You can go anywhere and people know Johnny the Barber,” Harvey said.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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