Blades of Glory: Brooklyn, NYC
New York, New York… Shave your style hits the streets to find the freshest cuts in the city. First up in this two part series, three of the best barbershops in Brooklyn: Stepping Razor, Tom Cats and Brooklyn’s General Barbershop
Want a cut while salivating over a new fixed-wheel bike? Or perhaps get your beard trimmed as your BMX gets a service?
Get yourself down to Stepping Razor, where Danny Baptista will not only give you a fine service but will also fill you in on the local neighborhood music scene.
Stepping Razor is hidden in the back of Post BMX shop, in the quiet, Latino neighbourhood of Bushwick.
Danny’s gaff was named after the Peter Tosh track of the same name, and Danny’s other job is as front man of punk reggae group ‘The Cool and the Deadly’.
“But there’s nothin’ special about me – half my family are barbers and musicians!” explains Danny.
He opened his shop early in 2010. “I’d been touring with the band for years, and then I had a kid, so it was time to make some money” he explains of his move back into his first trade.
Danny, you say Bushwick’s home to artists, musicians and hipsters. But look – I’m a bumbling Englishman who’s just stepped off a plane. What exactly is a hipster?
Well, hipsters have got a negative image these days – the word was kind of resurrected in the late 1990s. But really, ‘hipsters’ came into being in the 40s. A hipster was someone who was in the know, a part of the alternative scenes. They were into jazz and clubs, and I guess it got carried into the Beatnik generations. It probably died out a bit with the hippies and the disco sh*t of the 70s.
OK – thanks for clearing that up. So can you tell us about the beards of Bushwick?
Yeah a lot of people come in wanting their beards styling. In the last two years it’s got really popular.
And the most popular style?
Around here, particularly the lumberjack beard. I try and keep it looking full, trimming round the ears, fading the hair in at the sides and back with the beard is tricky – you have to take care around the temples.
PRICES: Haircut: $20. Beard trim: Extra
IN THE NEXT CHAIR: Probably some hip young dude just like you, but he’ll be waiting for you to get done – Danny’s a sole trader running the shop on his own.
CONTACT: Stepping Razor Barbershop / 257 Varet St / tel: 917 586 7710 / search Facebook
“The way I figure it, you should be able to walk in to your barbershop and feel as comfortable as if you’re in your own living room,” explains Derek Hake of Tom Cat’s.
While listening to Derek, Shave your style is sitting in a comfortable leather sofa with a freshly opened beer in hand, and can testify to feeling quite at home – thank you very much.
“We’re basically one big dysfunctional family, drinking beer with our clients in the middle of the day, doing what the hell we like,” Derek continues.
However, it is Friday afternoon – and Tom Cats actually has a reputation for serious quality and men travel far and wide to reach this Brooklyn barbershop.
“Our business model is as a young barbershop is with have experienced barbers with a mid price point”, he continues.
When I ask about his take on the resurgence of ‘barbershop culture’, Derek is forthright.
“Any time you try and redo something that’s already been done and make it cool, it kind of smells a bit funny…” he says. “We’re the barbershop unculture!”
PRICES: Cuts start at $20.
IN THE NEXT CHAIR: An unreformed alcoholic art designer, an introverted member of a local indie band, a belligerent but non-the-less entertaining neo-liberal fashion designer wearing Ugly Betty glasses
CONTACT: Tom Cat’s/ 135 India Street / 718.349.9666 / www.tomcatsbarbershop.com
Step into this terrific little place and you’ll be greeted by wafts of eggnog incense and aftershave. What’s more there’s old school candies and toys for sale – Rock candy, Double Bubble Gum, whoopee cushions and books on pirates!
And with cheap cuts, it’s a locals’ favourite. It’s a great place to take kids too, with an old-fashioned children’s plane chair. “So – avoid Saturdays if you want a chilled experience!” advises Tamir, one of Brooklyn’s finest bladesmen.
Tamir tells us that he’s styling up to ten beards a week – after all, Williamsburg is AKA Beardsburg.
All in all, this barbershop serves up a great blend of nostalgia and hip. And the cuts are reasonably priced too. Actually – let’s keep this place a secret between us, hey?
PRICES: cuts start at $15 ($10 extra for beard trim).
IN THE NEXT CHAIRS: Vice magazine writer, a kid of a Russian millionaire, a local tramp
CONTACT: Brooklyn General Barber / 144 Bedford Avenue / www.brooklyngeneralbarber.com
NEXT WEEK: MANHATTAN’S FINEST BARBERSHOPS – AND THE ONES TO AVOID!