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Hawleywood's Barber Shop

Hawleywood's Barber Shop

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Published by SherriLCruz

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Published by: SherriLCruz on Dec 21, 2010
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05/12/2014

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STRAIGHT EDGECruz, Sherri23 October 2006Orange County Business JournalOld School Meets Urban Hip at Hawleywood'sI walked into Hawleywood's Barber Shop in Costa Mesa and tattooed barbers and men bibbed in chairsglowered. Owner Donnie Hawley promptly banished me to a chair outside.From the outside looking in, I could see the signs in the window: "The Biggest Little Shop in CostaMesa," "World Famous," "The Proper Way to Barber."Alas, Hawley popped his head back out."I talked to the guys," he said. "They're going to let you come in."Rule No. 1 broken: "No broads."The next unspoken rule: Don't call Hawley a "hairdresser."He's a barber, a decidedly old school with rockabilly flair.He and his fellow barbers give hot-towel shaves using a straight razor."You'll feel like a million dollars," he said.It's a place where guys drink Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, cuss, flip through Playboy and share manly woes(think women problems).Some more rules: No Ugg boots, no Oakley Razorblade glasses, no fanny packs (unless you're a cop),no "tough guy attitudes."On the jukebox: Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, early Elvis, Ronnie Dawson, Johnny Cash.The decor: A tuxedoed monster named Benson at the door, a mounted deer head, Hank Williams andJohnny Cash photos, two-tone brown tiled floor, Pabst Blue Ribbon signs.This ain't no metrosexual salon."I wanted to have a place where men can come to be men," Hawley said.Glass beer mugs sit on window shelves. Each has a customer's name on it."That's the Pabst VIP club," he said.Pabst Brewing Co. sponsors the display.Guys who don't show up for three months are kicked out of the club, he said. If Hawleywood's findsout you've been to another barber, you're out for sure.
 
Hawleywood's customers range from the everyday to the famous. They include a local high school principal (who shall remain nameless), pilots, cops (the police station is nearby) and doctors.Even Newport Beach hairdressers featured in a reality TV pilot go to Hawleywood's, according toHawley.Bigger celebrity customers include Kiefer Sutherland and Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats.Clean-cut guys such as Costa Mesa entrepreneur Milo Benigno are regulars.Benigno considers Hawleywood's a sanctuary."The guys here actually listen to you," he said. "It's like therapy."The haircuts?"This is by far definitely the best," Benigno said."People see our haircuts and know it's our haircuts," Hawley said. "See how everything blends. Youcan only get that with the razor and the clipper."Hawleywood's does flat tops, tapers, pomps and puffs.Cuts are $15.Hawley is opening another shop in Long Beach.Hawleywood's Two is set to have four times the space of the teeny tiny Costa Mesa shop. It also willhave an outside area with a bar and Tiki grass huts.Hawley has a side business selling his Layrite brand of pomade.Layrite is sold in about 70 barbershops and stores, including Flamingo Barbershop in Las Vegas, RedZone in Los Angeles and Grease Monkey in Canada."This holds like wax but washes out like gel," he said.Dressed in a tie and white barber jacket, Hawley sports a gold star on his front tooth and is covered intattoos.On his left hand is "Love Lost," or "Lost Love," depending on which way you look at him. He's gotclippers inked on his thumb, a razor on his neck, a barber pole under his right eye and a star in his ear.He got some of them at Sid's Tattoo Parlor in Santa Ana, which also did Hawleywood's kitschy logo.Hawley travels to tattoo and art festivals spreading his brand of barbering. He just got back from Japan,where they think he's famous. He said he even signed autographs.
 
"I was a star in Tokyo," he said.So where's the reality show, you ask.Hawleywood's is being filmed for a possible A&E reality series, he said.Hawley has little competition in at least one respect: There are few barbers.The profession has faded since its 1940s and 1950s heyday. Barbers became stylists and men got usedto going to places such as Great Expectations and Supercuts, he said."Everything turned unisex," Hawley laments. "It makes me sick and hurts my heart."The technical difference between a barber and a stylist is a barber also does shaves and trims beards.But Hawley argues there's more to being a barber than that.Barbers know better how to cut men's hair, he said.Recruiting barbers is tough, Hawley said."I apprentice everybody," he said.He hired one of his four barbers from a nearby coffeehouse. All barbers need a state license, so theyhave to go to school. There are plenty of cosmetology schools but few barber schools.Augustine Souza, owner of Real Barber College in Anaheim, said his students are in demand."Schools don't teach men's haircutting," he said.Souza was a barber for 52 years, including 30 years in the Navy."We have jobs waiting for students," he said.Right now, the school has about 50 barbering students, mostly guys. Barbering is good money, he said.Barbers who complete the state's required 1,500 hours of coursework can earn $800 to $ 1,000 a week.A short history of barbers, according to Hawley: They "were the first doctors."The red in the barber pole symbolizes blood and blue veins, he said. Barbers kept bloodsucking leechesin a container that looked like a barber pole for medicinal purposes."They also pulled teeth," he said. "It's in our history."Hawley said he got the idea to be a barber as a kid, when he moved in with his aunt and uncle. Theyowned a few barbershops in Torrance.After giving Mohawks to a local high school football team, he said he discovered his calling."I haven't stopped since," he said.

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