by Fred Kirsch
photography by Rich-Joseph Facun
We’re talking real barber shops here.
They’re where you can get the local skinny, analyze last night’s game, trade memories with an old friend, agree to disagree on politics, or just sit a spell. And a real haircut is about $10. They’ve survived the invention of the disposable razor, those long-haired days of the Beatles and the hippie generation, the coming of hair salons and unisex shops.
That familiar red-and-white pole – or red, white and blue – beckons out from many neighborhoods.
On a summer day, almost all the seats are filled with customers – gray-haired guys, young dudes, moms with kids and, at Davenport’s Barber Shop in Norfolk, even a few women waiting for a haircut. The walls are covered with photos of customers; there’s a “Get Wildroot Cream Oil, Charlie” sign and a back room stuffed with trophies – hand delivered – from all the teams Hubert Davenport has sponsored.
Davenport, who began cutting hair in 1958, says, “The thing that makes a barber shop special is the sense of community you feel.”
You feel it at Bayside Barber Shop in Virginia Beach, where Navy ball caps and photos of ships and autographed pictures from astronauts dominate the walls. Barney, a 25-year-old parrot, oversees things.
At Mission Styles Barber Shop in Chesapeake, vintage sports jerseys hang from the ceiling, a pool table sits nears the back, and a sign reminds: “This is a public place. No displays of underwear.”
The shop is one of the few where you can still get a straight-razor shave, along with a ’fro or a fade. And if you come in with a bristly ego, a regular will gladly trim it.
Over at Asterio’s in Virginia Beach, more than half the clientele is from the nearby Filipino neighborhoods. The barbers, called “Uncle” by many, in the Filipino tradition, often break into karaoke. Customers are invited to join in. Tagalog is spoken here.
“Haircuts are free,” says owner Asterio Caras. “But you gotta pay for the singing and the ‘free’ coffee.”
And while the local barber shop remains largely a man-cave, at Holly Famous Barber Shop in Virginia Beach, Darlene Fulmer employs three women among her five barbers.
And as any regular of any shop will tell you, when you walk out with a fresh haircut and the smell of talc lingering, you’re feeling on top of the world.
DAVENPORT’S BARBER SHOP: NORFOLK, VA
BAYSIDE BARBER SHOP: VIRGINIA BEACH, VA
ASTERIO’S BARBER SHOP: VIRGINIA BEACH, VA
MISSION STYLE BARBER SHOP: CHESAPEAKE, VA
HOLLY FAMOUS BARBER SHOP: VIRGINIA BEACH, VA
Enjoy this video on Davenport’s Barber Shop: