Ever since my girlfriend chewed out my last hair stylist, I've been looking for a new barber. Wasn't easy. In the mean time, my hair got pretty long, to the point where it was on the verge of mullethood.
Before my girlfriend, I'd just go to Supercuts and pray to the Hair Gods that the resulting haircut didn't look like a black cat that tried to mate with a chainsaw. I really didn't care all that much. I mean, how hard was it to cut Asian guy hair? Just put a bowl over the fucker and shave off the rest, then heavily gel the top into sharp, menacing spikes.
My girlfriend got me into the habit of paying $30 for a cut. The guy was quite good - never had to pray with him. But he did tend to overbook, which meant that even if you made an appointment, you sometimes had to wait up to 15 minutes. This annoyed me, but my girlfriend told me that I had to be patient with him, as she really liked how he trimmed my dome. Several years and about a hundred haircuts later, she's the one yelling at him for making me wait. Even after he meekly apologized and cut my hair to near perfection, she swore it was the last time.
"We're not going back to that bitch," she said as we walked out.
Almost two months later, as my hair started to go Swayze
, my girlfriend still hadn't made up her mind as to who'd cut my hair. She simply didn't trust anybody.
"Maybe we can just go back to him," she asked out of desperation.
But there was no way I was going back. I realized that I'd have to find a barber on my own. I asked my friends and coworkers for references. My art director got his hair cut at a woman's house in the Valley. Another copywriter had been going to the same stylist for almost a decade, but mentioned that the dude was expensive.
"He gives me a discount since I've been with him for so long," he said.
"How much?" I asked.
"Seventy bucks," he answered. Noticing the stunned look on my face, he added, "But I get a massage too."
For that amount of cash, it's probably the kind of massage that ends with erotic emission. Definitely not something I wanted to continue thinking about.
I finally ended up deciding on Todd's barber. Mostly because I was running out of time: I'm hitting a wedding in Vegas this weekend, and Lord knows I don't want people to mistake me for a lesbian.
The establishment had a peculiar name: The Tonsorial Parlor. I pictured a dusty room filled with antique Victorian furniture and giant jars containing tonsils floating in formaldehyde. Why? Because I'm loco like that, ese. Turns out "tonsorial parlor" is what they used to call barbershops back in the Old Days, when people rode around on horses, worshipped fire, and slapped each other for sport.
After Dale, my barber, gave my hair the most thorough shampooing of my life and began to cut my hair, he gave me an interesting history of the joint. Remember that Johnny Depp drug flick "Blow?"
The original owner of the Tonsorial Parlor was one of the main characters, a Manhattan Beach drug dealer played by Paul "Pee-Wee Herman" Reubens. In fact they shot several scenes in the barbershop.
"He looked nothing like Pee-Wee," said Dale, as he snipped away my sprouting mulletling. "The guy looked exactly like a young Cheech. Scruffy hair, short, wore flip-flops. Wasn't really gay at all."
But apparently it was written somewhere on an FBI file that the owner was possibly gay. So the film's director saw it as an opportunity to turn the character into a full-blown homo, as they're chock-full of hilarity. And that's how gayish Pee-Wee got cast. For legal reasons, they had to change the character's name, so Pee-Wee came up with "Derek Foreal."
Dale was actually working there when it all took place, back in the early Seventies. He'd only planned to work there for the summer ... and next thing you know, the owner ended up in jail and Dale ended up taking over the place. Dale even got a small part in the movie, playing an FBI agent. The original owner now lived in Mexico, probably writing death threats to Pee-Wee.
"That'll be nineteen dollars," Dale said. I gave him twenty-five.