Move over, dogs — barbers are a man’s real best friend.
Sure, the job description has changed since the days when tooth-pulling and blood-letting were as common as fades and Pompadours, but it goes without saying that Brooklynites and their haircutters share a sacred bond.
That unbreakable connection — an attachment so strong that men actually allow barbers near their exposed necks with straight razors! — begins with trust.
And the most-trusting customers are the ones who wind up with the finest follicles, according to legendary Fort Greene shearer Jessy Hall.
“The best haircuts come from mind of the barber,” said Hall, who has trimmed, snipped and shaved heads in his Greene Avenue shop, Jessy’s House of Styles, for 40 years.
Hall listens to his customers’ requests, but when a man asks for a cut that just won’t match his cranium, the talented tonsorial artist reasons with the client.
“Nobody ever went out of here with a bad haircut,” Hall said.
Gaining customers’ confidence is as easy as giving a bald man a buzz cut, according to Court Street haircutter Damian, whose first name is synonymous with a tight-cropped Caesar.
“The best way to keep customers is to give them a good haircut,” said Damian, whose old school barbershop — unsurprisingly named Damian — has been in Carroll Gardens for 20 years. “I have customers who moved away and still come back to me for a haircut when they are in the neighborhood. That’s a satisfied customer.”
But not every man goes to the barber for a quality haircut — some just visit for the camaraderie.
“People look for different things in barbers,” said Hall. “Professional people look for quality. Some of these younger guys, they’re looking for friendship.”
And when Brooklynites aren’t looking for a pal in their barber, they’re looking for a psychoanalyst.
“Sometimes, it’s like I’m a doctor and they’re the patient,” said Hall. “People will tell you everything. They relieve all their stress on the barber. Sometimes I’m like — ‘Yo, you’re stressing me out!’”
Barbers learn the dirt on just about everyone in the neighborhood, and they’re usually willing to dole out advice.
Despite the recession and the proliferation of electric razors in households across the borough, old-school haircutters continue to persevere.
If they survived the haircutting dark ages (that would be the 1960s, not the Medieval period), they can survive anything, according to Angelo Fiumefreddo of Park Slope Barber Shop, which has been on the same block of Seventh Avenue for 104 years.
“It’s better than in the 1960s, with the Hippies,” said Fiumefreddo, who has cut hair for 55 years. “They were a mess. I really thought we were going to close because no one was getting haircuts. The style then was to just let it grow. To be honest, and you can quote me, they were filthy. I call it ‘the Filthy Era.’”
But many of Brooklyn’s most classic-styled barbershops — with their spinning poles and window charts advertising the periodic table of haircuts — have survived, and almost all of them can trim hair into everything from an Afro to whiffle cuts.
“You can’t be half a barber,” said Joe, a haircutter at Rome Style Barber Shop on Third Avenue in Bay Ridge who declined to give his last name. “Either you know how to do the old cuts and the new cuts, or you don’t cut at all.”
There are many barbers to choose from in this hairy borough, but here are our favorites:
This amply mirrored Carroll Gardens joint draws a steady crowd of regulars looking for close cuts from expert barbers who can shear sideburns and necks with straight razors — and no shaving cream.
Damian Hair Styling [417 Court St. beween Second and Third places in Carroll Gardens (718) 596-6902].
Whether your hair is long or short, curly or straight, you can trust Jessy Hall — a barber so good he cuts his own hair (seriously).
Jessy’s House of Styles [11 Greene Ave. between South Oxford and Cumberland streets in Fort Greene (718) 624-8920].
Classic to the core, this 104-year-old shop still boasts the same original sinks and marble counters.
Park Slope Barber Shop [223 Seventh Ave. between Third and Fourth streets in Park Slope, (718) 965-4366].
This vintage shop boasts wood-paneled walls, antique reclining chairs, and a skilled team of barbers capable of all kinds of cuts, old and new.
Rome Style Barber Shop [6826 Third Ave. between 68th and 69th streets in Bay Ridge, (718) 833-0998].