Today, urban consumer life can be an impersonal experience. Grocery shopping sans human interaction is business-as-usual. The checkout chick was kidnapped by Siri and the gang. Now she’s a bussy at Room 680 and spends her nights sobbing uncontrollably. While I can’t save her, my mission is to rediscover one of the last vessels of communal transactions: the barbershop.
For us male-types, getting a trim has become a hassling chore for when our locks are too rowdy. And there’s nothing sloppier than the Sideshow Bob-meets-Aragorn kind of look. Out of laziness, we resort to clippers from K-mart, a friend who’s not going to make you earless or, at best, a ‘salon’ where they condition your hair.
This must stop.
I know it feels good when Barbara massages your scalp over the basin. But harden the fuck up, Stefan. Go home and have a glass of milk and a shower with some Aesop exfoliate while you’re at it. It’s time we re-embrace one of the last bastions of male banter. I’m here to help. I’ve done a comprehensive meta-analysis of Melbourne barbershops. My hair grows back slower than a food critic’s hunger, so it’s been a long hard slog. But here it is, years of taste-testing the barbers of Melbourne, all things considered, from quality of conversation to price.
RockIt Barber Shop – 546 Collins Street. Price: $30.
These guys will offer you a chilled European beer, sit you down and take you under a friendly wing. On the far right we have Rohan, probably the most skilled barber, a quiet man usually sporting a pristine Ned Kelly beard. Dan in the middle likes to complain about how he can no longer play Final Fantasy because it reminds him of his ex-boyfriend. He also has a photo of Gaga and will tell you how she inspired him. Good barber, funny chat. Then, on the far left, there’s Evan, the owner. Not a great barber, but straight-up, no bullshit conversation. The place is decked out with figurines and vintage chairs and really makes you want to stick around, but with the steep $30, it may be worth just a one-off visit. No appointments, just walk in (that’s how it should be). Disclaimer: ruthless back-itch from these guys.
The Melbourne Barber Shop – 394 Russell St. Price: $35.
Yes, the price is unsightly. No, you can’t just walk in. You’d go here for the automotive theme, the location, a great trim and a slice of Melbourne with some loyal clientele. Definitely a one-off, but you could also give it a miss altogether.
General Elizabeth St Barbers – Price: $10.
Irresistible price. There are a number of cheap barbers on Elizabeth St near the Vic Market. Conversation non-existent, but extremely economical. They can also cut, and Bill Brukner’s new do is testimony to that.
Ivan’s Smith St Barber Shop – 115 Smith St. Price: $22 student special.
The owner of this place (probably Ivan) is a really old man, but he and his wife are having a child. They’re about to become Australia’s oldest parents. At least, Smith Street’s oldest parents. You might catch the camera crew of ‘Australian Story’ in there. A friendly price for students, a relatively good cut and a walkable distance from REB. What better way to celebrate finishing exams than with a trim?
Dr Follicles – 240 Gertrude St Fitzroy. Price: $28.5
Doc Folloc is the man. These people won’t be nice to you unless your shirt hangs from pierced nipples and you’re wearing jellies and tight jeans, but call me a forelock and fit me a kipper these guys can cut hair. Reasonable price, complimentary beer, and a reminder of how uncool you are – priceless. The conversation won’t flow like a traditional barber shop. Alas, roll up your designer socks and bite into some amateur existentialism with these nihilist mavericks, and you’ll walk out trimmed and satisfied with minimal back-itch. A pig-tailed Smith Street pixie with a fringe and a number two buzz cut all-in-one handled my scalp like it was the statue of David itself, and Bowie throbbed in the speakers.
So Dr. Follicles does it for me, but what’s your cup of tea? NOW GO, bring back the banter.