John Datsis who put “Russian Expert” after his name
Russians in Australia. There once lived John Datsis. He was a Russian hairdresser in Sydney in 1926-1932. He run his salon at 74B King Street, Sydney and put “Russian Expert” after his name. He spoke ”very good” Russian, but very bad English.
The newspapers are full of articles telling a story of Mary Louisa Reynolds who went to his salon in February 1926 and two months later was claiming damages for negligence from John Datsis. Mary Reynolds went to do a permanent hair wave. Her head and hair were burnt and John himself dubbed her head with some oily substance. Few days later her face and head became irritated. She went to doctors to fix it. Eventually she was awarded some money for inconvenience.
Who was John Datsis?
The story goes that he was a celebrity (or at least well-known) hairdresser in Sydney back then. Before that John was a hairdresser with the Imperial Opera House in Moscow for nine years and a personal hairdresser to Anna Pavlova during her 1926 tour in Australia.
His name does not appear to be Russian at all. Naturalisation papers reveal his birth date. John was born on 6 January 1895 in Feodosia. He was a tall man with dark hair and brown eyes. His parents were Anfisa (per John’s death record) and Paul, making John – Ivan Pavlovich Datsis (Иван Павлович Дацис). The papers also state that, before coming to Australia, a Greek passport was issued to him in Harbin. As a result his original and true surname was possibly changed to reflect Greek surname with ending ”-is’.
From naturalization papers we also learn that he had a sister, who in 1929 was in goal somewhere in Russia, owing to her husband being a White Army officer, and that John had a shrapnel wound in the right arm and two operations on his stomach, probably from fighting in World War 1.
He sailed from Yokohama on 5 September 1923 escaping the most devastating pre-war earthquake which hit Japan on 1 September 1923 killing more than 100,000 people and destroying 90 percent of homes in Yokohama.
He arrived two weeks later on ”Eastern” which berthed at West Circular Quay in Sydney in the early morning of 20 September 1923. ”The closeness of Sydney’s weather this morning was compared to the Japanese weather just before the earthquake by an officer of the Eastern. Although the Eastern encountered two minor storms, her officers are convinced that the” had nothing to do with either the earthquake or the tidal wave which swept Japan”.
One and half-year forward and John is buying a hairdressing business in Sydney.
”Mr. Datsis, the Russian expert, late of Madame Augustus, has opened in conjunction with Mr. E. Barnes, an up-to-date ladies’ hairdressing saloon, Waters’ corner, King and George streets.”
The location was perfect, since The Feminist Club was located across the street at 77 King Street. In 1926 the Club hosted presentations with Anna Pavlova. This gave him an opportunity to become a personal hairdresser to Anna Pavlova during her first tour in Sydney. John was even able to attend her final performance in Sydney on 20 May. The audience that night included the State Governor and Lady de Chair. John was listed as the president of the Russian Society of New South Wales. He presented Anna Pavlova with an address of appreciation and a bouquet.
1926 also saw John mingling amongst Jewish community and promoting his business at the same time. He was also a judge at Randwick-Coogee Social Club in various competitions for a free shingle at his saloon.
After paying damages to Mrs Reynolds , John bought new equipment for the salon. In May 1926 he installed the very latest ”Eugene Latest Machine” for Permanent Waving. Results were guaranteed.
But from October 1930 to the end of 1932 John was in another trouble. This time he appeared in Chambers of NSW Court in debtor examination hearings ”McKinder v Datsis”.
After that everything went down. In 1931 he lost a pearl necklace at Rushcutters Bay baths, a ”dear remembrance”. His business moved to 4th floor at Shirley Arcade in Pitt Street, a smaller place, attracting fewer customers. By mid 1935 he sold his business to Mavis Rose.
Lost in life or may be taking it easy, since he had two major operations during the war, John disappears from the scene but continuing to live a comfortable life style.
He lived at Regents Courts in Springfield avenue in Potts Point in 1929 (a collection of 25 spacious self-contained studio apartments with views to die for) and later in a small house at 60 Doncaster avenue in Kensington, a walking distance to Centennial Park and Randwick racecourse.
John Datsis died on 12 April 1941, aged 46. He is buried at Rookwood cemetery in General section.
© Tsvetana Spasova, 2017
Datsis, J – Naturalisation certificate -NAA: A1, 1928/10939