Damea Dorsey from Bali


My name is Damea Dorsey. I am from San Diego, which is California Southern California. I am from all over San Diego. To pinpoint that is tough; I’ve lived everywhere, all along the coast. The one constant in my life would be the ocean. So surfing has always been a big part of my life. Living by the ocean is a big part of my life. So that’s kind of what it needs to be. It needs to be, I need to be, near the ocean. I was a professional surfer for several years. I was a professional lifeguard for 10 years. I was also a club and party promoter in San Diego, and I was the marketing manager at Rip Curl USA for several years. I opened up a salon in San Diego. Then I was a photographer in the surf industry for 13 years, working for top brands and the magazine Transworld Surf. So the things that are important to me are the ocean, friends, family, and my kids. Those are my ‘things’; what’s important to me that was it. There it is.



It’s made me experienced. First and foremost. All the many different things I’ve done at such different levels. They’re all big accomplishments in my eyes, you know? Being on the beach as a lifeguard for ten years, I did that just so I could be close to the ocean, surfing. But I learnt so much and became so experienced and saved so many lives.
I did things that I will never do again in my life; I delivered a baby. I actually saved people from dying! I got a lot of good karma coming my way, but I’m not going to, you know, I’m not going to keep a tally on it or anything…
But the time passing has made my experience, and I’ve learnt a lot of really cool things. That was just one part of my life. Since then, I’ve done marketing in the surf industry at a very high level for a very large brand; I’ve opened up a salon and cut hair in California for many years. I’ve been a photographer, travelling the world, and always it was surf photography, so it was always the beaches. My photography skills have grown over time. And coming back to ‘this’ where I am now, living on an island, and I own a barber shop. I haven’t mastered all (of these things). It’s always changing; I’m always changing. I’m still learning. All the time. So with all that experience and as confident as I feel about a lot of things, I am humble because I’m learning something new every day.


I’ll get started with the easy part as I don’t think there are really a whole lot of people that look up to me! I think that I have a really good relationship with the barbers in my shop; Chris is one of my barbers. I helped them, I put them in this thing so there is an opportunity for them, and they are grateful that they look up to me for guidance and for knowledge and for the wisdom I’ve acquired, so I know they look up to me in a way. I know my children look up to me a lot, and I’m obviously a big influence in their lives – they’re amazing – and I am so happy to have that. As far as anyone else goes, I don’t know. I have people in the surfing world that look to me for advice in photography. And as far as whom I look up to? Gosh, it varies. Again, I just sound like I’m all over the place, but I do really focus on things, and I do my research on the people that do things well, from going to get a tattoo, to marketing, to photography, to surfing, to everything. I look up to mentors, people that I find to do things well and with whom I click. I learn by being friends with them and being around them, and having the fortunate opportunity to get mentored. There have been so many people I couldn’t even mention them all right. It would be too tough. So I’m always looking for somebody else to look up to, I guess. Yes, the passing on of skills is very much important, and that’s why I try to do the same thing; I’ve helped people become photographers, I’ve helped people become barbers, I’ve helped another lifeguard when they were starting.
I’ve helped friends of mine break free from the idea that it was too difficult to travel, to get out of, not necessarily of the USA, but out of their bubble.
Kristen (Damea’s girlfriend) is a good example. She had never travelled outside of the USA. We took her to Bali three years ago, the first place we took her and (she gets the) travel bug. She went from being ‘I don’t need to travel anywhere’ to ‘Where are we going next? What’s next on the radar.’ It’s passing on knowledge, helping people feel confident to do something they’re timid about.

(Q: Who taught you to be a barber?) Barbering was from when I was married. My ex-wife was constantly telling me you should be a stylist; you’re always helping my friends to look better. She’s like, all our friends come to you for advice on what looks good, and you’re always right. My lifeguarding and surfing career had not ended, but I got offered an opportunity in marketing. Obviously, it was in surf marketing, so it was a good direction to go, but she kept telling me to pursue the stylist thing. I was like, whatever, I don’t know. She’s a hairstylist, and I was flattered that someone should think I could be something. I never gave it serious thought, and then I helped her with her business as a hairstylist, and eventually, I looked at it a little closer. As my freedom came from marketing, I thought, alright, and she taught me a lot. She taught me about the business of it, she taught me about the colours, she was a colour specialist, and it was just about having communication skills and being artistic. These two things coming together, and you’re frigging stylist or a barber or whatever it is! You’re a people person, a person who can connect with people easily and can shoot the shit about anything. It’s like your bartender, you know? Same thing. Psychology.



I don’t like people that are fake; I’m about as straight-up and honest as you can be. Sometimes I am too honest. But I just prefer to get the truth. People like to sugar-coat things, fluff them up, and it’s just bullshit. I would rather just; tell me straight. So I don’t care for bullshit. I like straight from the hips straight in my face. I can fucking handle it; it’s not going to hurt my feelings. If I’m not the right person for the fucking job or the freaking girl or for whatever it is, you know, just fucking tell me. And if I don’t agree with it, I’ll tell ya!! It’s my opinion, too, right? Everyone’s entitled to one. Opinions are like assholes. We all have one.


I would say that being really diverse can be a curse too because I get bored with the same thing, you know. I can’t be in the same thing. I mean, gosh, it’s hard to say because surfing in the ocean has been the one constant; it’s the one thing I’ll do forever and ever. Still, I’ve switched from being a lifeguard and surfing to trying to surf competitively and switched to marketing, then to being a barber and then to photography. I can’t say that it’s a commitment that I have an issue with. It’s just that I always wanted to do something else. I like everything! I want to be good at everything! So I guess by wanting to be good at everything makes you, not the best at everything. Although I feel I’m pretty damn good at everything if I put my mind to it, they say a jack of all trades and a master of none.
The square peg that goes in the round hole? I like to shave off the fucking corners and try and make it fit in the round hole. And see if I can shove the star-shaped one in there as well.
The square peg that goes in the round hole? I like to shave off the fucking corners and try and make it fit in the round hole. And see if I can shove the star-shaped one in there as well.



I’m a big fan of doing what your passion is, so sometimes work and play are really close to each other. I chose to do things I have a passion for. So beach life, life-guarding, surfing, photography. I don’t want to be like ok, I’ll work, work, and work just so that I can take 2 weeks off – fuck that. I want to live every day like ‘living’. If you’re going to work a minimum of 8 hours, punch in and punch out in a place that you hate? When I have a job, I’ll do it for 20 hours, 24 hours…get it done multiple days in a row, and none stop because I love it, from cutting hair to shooting photos to my surfing and life-guarding. Whatever it is, you can go full-on because you have a passion for it. You’re getting paid to do what you love, and that’s fucking amazing. I find out what I love and what I want to do, and what fun is and make that my living. That’s why there have been a couple of different things. It’s because, you know, a lot of things are fun. If you can make it your living, why the fuck not? Watching the damn sunset relaxes the shit out of me. Watching the sunrise at the beach is amazing. You know, as a photographer and as a surfer, I would get to the beach at various times in the morning to get that sun-rise, and I would be there at sunset too. Those 2 times a day relax me and make me appreciate everything that’s going on around me, all the time, every time. I always stop and just soak it in. Even if I’m working, I stop, and I look, and I soak it in. It’s what relaxes me; it’s what makes me feel good. And a sense of accomplishment makes me feel good. The beautiful thing about being a barber is I get that sense of satisfaction every 20 / to 30 minutes. Boom! You look good! Great, I got paid, and I did a good job. Get out; next! When they come in, they look like shit, and they leave looking good. That’s relaxation right there.


Everything is a constant work in progress. I don’t care if you think you’ve got it at its best it’s always a work in progress. The current work-in-progress is planning a vacation with the kids and Kristen to Switzerland and then down to Rome, Italy, which has been a dream of mine for a long time. We are both really looking forward to that.
I’m working on opening another barber shop in Seminyak. What you’re seeing here in Bali are multiple cultures. The Indonesian, more local style, is where we are tonight*
My barber shop at the Deus shop is more about the Westerners coming through. The other shop is going to be in Seminyak, which is just a little more mainstream and high-end as an area. It’s just a different market. But my shop won’t be ‘stuffy’ high-end. I like nice, comfortable, cool-vibe stuff, you know. The boys and what they have here in their shop that’s rad and killer, and that’s why I’m here to support them. In our neck of the woods (Deus), the locals wouldn’t really pay that kind of money to go to my shop, so I do things like sponsor the local surf club; you come in and get free haircuts, and boom. We know we are not for the locals for the most part, but we get a lot of other Indonesian tourists, a large amount from Jakarta and Bandung and all from the big cities. Bali is not like ‘big city’ stuff.
*We are in the city; of Denpasar. It’s not a tourist spot.



Just like me, everything is changing all the time. Currently, the soundtrack of my life is classic rock. Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin. Even into the 80s stuff; The Cars, Rod Stewart and all sorts of random stuff. Rod Stewart is a playboy. He’s like a fucking legend. And David Bowie. Early Metallica – which isn’t classic rock, but you know. When I was a kid, they were all just starting out and stuff. Neil Young. There are a million racing through my head, but you know what I mean. Jimi Hendricks, The Doors. And it’s what I’m pumping into the shops right now. I get these cycles, I get bored with what’s fresh and new, and I revert back to what I knew in my past. I hit a dead end on stuff, and I start getting into stuff that I was listening to when I was really young and from before I was born. Steely Dan – I fucking love them!
And the quote?

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
Hunter S. Thompson

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