There's a case to be made for the straight-razor shave. I think it may be something akin to the pedicure for women, but I can't be sure. Yes, we can paint our own toenails, but the extra care and outside attention to our arches, toes and heels makes us feel cared for and elevates the mundane to the magical. Likewise, men can shave themselves, but I suspect that when they've got a safety razor in hand, they rip right on through with nary a hint of intent. By going to someone to get a shave, they honor their manliness, add a dose of danger and, hopefully, get a little quality me-time to boot. I mean, who can turn down a hot towel? Not me!
Here's what you're looking for: To not get cut. That's achieved with as few strokes as possible. A second pass-through in a different direction can get you a mega-close shave, but it can also get you some ingrown hairs. You're looking for a steady and light hand—both with the razor and towels. Rubbing of any kind will yield painful bumps and burn. And, if you're just plain scared, this probably isn't for you. As you've probably guessed, skittish ticks and straight razors aren't peanut butter and chocolate. And maybe this will make you feel more at ease: It's terribly unlikely for a blade to pass on infection—for that to occur, the barber would have to cut two customers in a row and a good barber rarely cuts a customer at all.
San Diego is blessed with a number of places to get a straight shave. The same can't be said for, say, Kansas, where it's not just frowned upon, but actually banned in some parts.
Ask around about a straight-razor shave and all chatter points to Two Roses, the tattoo parlor / coffeehouse/ barber / in Barrio Logan (2181 Logan Ave., 619- 702-4822, tworosesinc.com). You'll sit in a classic 1940sstyle chair, get shaved by a guy with a striped coat and be served Italian espresso. The straight-razor shave here runs $16. Word on the street is they keep their tools the sharpest.
Many a man have mourned the loss of Lefty's, the Downtown shop, but fear not! You only have to drive to Pacific Beach to find the skillful hands of the Lefty's boys. I know that for some, that's a fate not worth choosing, but if you don't mind a little P.B. action, you should know that Lefty's hasn't lost its talent: Chuck and AJ are at the new location (4684 Cass St., 858-274-1878), and Dougie and Brian are at the original location (1339 Garnet Ave., 858-274-5913). All have big, big fans.
There are two shops in Normal Heights, which seems weird considering all the unkempt scruff on the avenue. Barber Side (3506 Adams Ave., 619-269-8639, barberside.com), a tiny but stylish shop, and the wellnamed Fellowship of Barber Surgeons (4684 Mansfield St., 619-564-8942, barbersurgeons.com) both of have beer and big fans.
Rayzor's Barber Shop in Banker's Hill (3144 Fifth Ave., 619-543-0182, rayzorsbarbershop.com) will charge you a bit more—$25 bucks, in fact—but they also give you a full 45 minutes of hot lather, towels and even a little neck rubbing. They don't say the word—it's not exactly a manly one—but their shave, like my pedicure of choice, is about the pamper.
The tiny shop of Billy Joe Gruppo, not named for himself but rather called Vince's Barber Shop (2030 India St., Little Italy, 619-623-0798, vincesbarbershop.com) now offers straight shaves from a guy named Boris. I haven't found anyone who's been shaved by Boris, but if I were a betting man (or just a man at all), I might give a guy named Boris a go. I just think it'd be fun to tell people I get shaved by a guy named Boris. But I guess just the fact that I feel that way is simply more evidence that I am in fact, a total girl.
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