Brookyln Heights’ the Cutting Den barbershop celebrates 90 years

Blades of glory: Brooklyn Heights barbershop celebrates 90 years

Test of time: The Cutting Den has been providing haircuts in Brooklyn Heights for 90 years. Owner Thomas LaMarca shows off the register that the shop has been using since 1926.
Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn Heights’ oldest barbershop offers more bangs for your buck!

Clark Street’s the Cutting Den is celebrating 90 years of lopping off some of the city’s most famous locks — including Truman Capote’s coif and James Dean’s ’do — and the owner says it has survived this long by regaling customers with these top-notch tales alongside their trims.

“We give a lot of people stories and good haircuts,” said Tommy LaMarca, proprietor of the scissor shop between Hicks and Henry streets inside the Clark Street Subway stop. “You can get a haircut anywhere, but you can’t get a story everywhere.”

And LaMarca has plenty of material to draw from.

His grandfather Giueseppe opened the parlor as the St. George Barber Shop in 1926 in what was then the Hotel St. George and LaMarca took over for his father in 1965, shearing Capote’s scruff when the writer came in to swim at the hotel’s salt-water pool three times a week, he said.

The “In Cold Blood” author used to take out crumpled bills from his pocket and drop them on the counter after getting the works, LaMarca said.

“He used to come up here and get a shave, facial, and mud-pack,” he said. “He was a nice guy, a little peculiar.”

Dean — whose picture still hangs on the wall — sat in the Cutting Den’s chair twice in the early ’50s and used to brag about how he was attending the prestigious Actors Studio school in Manhattan while smoking a cigarette as the barber went to work on his locks, according to LaMarca.

Writers Arthur Miller and Norman Mailer also frequented the shop when they lived in the borough’s original hipster ’hood, and it became known as the place for a haircut amongst the bohemian crowd, he said.

“There were a lot of artsy people around here and word got out about where to get a haircut,” he said.

More recently, local resident Marky Ramone of band the Ramones used to come in around 2006 to get his long-haired “rock wig” trimmed, according to LaMarca.

These days, college kids from the dorms upstairs come in for cheap haircuts — they start at $16 — but the shop still has some of the same customers from the ’70s.

And it still sports the same chairs that Capote, Dean, Miller, and Mailer used to park their posteriors in, too — plus the original cash register from 1926, which LaMarca expects to outlast even his tales of shaving the stars.

“All you do is put a little WD-40 inside the levers,” he said.

“It will last forever — longer than I will.”

The Cutting Den [50 Clark St. between Hicks and Henry streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 403–0301].

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Andrew Porter from Bklyn Hgts says:
Hey, Lauren, headline is spelled wrong...
Nov. 26, 2016, 12:01 am

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