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L.A.'s old-school barbershops

Occasionally, it's nice to pamper yourself with hot towels and a straight razor. Your face will be smooth as a baby's you-know-what.

January 24, 2010|By Adam Tschorn
  • YOUR STUBBLE IS NO TROUBLE: Barber Cesar Paniagua applies a hot towel to Henry Vitale's face at the Shave in Beverly Hills.
YOUR STUBBLE IS NO TROUBLE: Barber Cesar Paniagua applies a hot towel to… (Christina House / For The…)

A professionally administered straight-razor shave is an indulgence every man should experience at least once during his lifetime.

Why pay a stranger to tilt you into a horizontal position and shave your grizzled visage to baby-butt smoothness when shaving is already a part of your daily grooming ritual? Well, if you're lucky, the man standing over you in the white smock has a better vantage point, an arsenal of lathers, oils and bracing after-shaves and a meticulous, methodical approach with a straight razor that will leave you feeling like a million bucks for less than 60.

Some men seek out the straight-razor shave for special occasions such as graduations or their wedding day, but here in Los Angeles, thanks to a combination of traditional old-school barbershops and newer "barber spas" like the mall-based Art of Shaving chain, the most momentous event you're likely to need is a lunch hour. What follows is a list of some of the places around town that will help you increase face value. While a few take walk-ins, calling ahead for an appointment is highly recommended.

The Shave of Beverly Hills

This clubby, wood-and-leather-filled man sanctuary, which opened on Beverly Drive in 2005, offers a host of services (including a $75 Nap in the Chair). But for first-timers we suggest their expeditious Out in 30 shave ($50). It's a whirl of hot towels, warm lather, cold steel and soothing emollients that'll leave you half your lunch hour to show off that pampered puss.

The Shave of Beverly Hills, 230 S. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. (310) 888-2898. www.theshavebeverlyhills.com

The Art of Shaving

The convenience of mall-based manscaping with all the benefits of barbershops gone by, the Art of Shaving chain boasts two local "barber spa" locations; one at Westfield Century City and another at the Americana at Brand. The entry-priced, in-and-out-in-half-an-hour shave is $35, but an extra $20 gets you the royal treatment -- the signature Royal Shave treatment -- an upgrade that means a multitude of hot towels (instead of just one), aromatherapy and a post-shave clay mask.

The Art of Shaving, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; noon to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. (310) 785-3993; 773 Americana Way, Glendale. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. (818) 244-6600. www.theartofshaving.com

Larchmont Barber Shop

Jerry Cottone's been cutting hair and shaving faces for the better part of five decades and continues to cater to his third generation of local menfolk from a Larchmont Boulevard storefront. A shave here will run you $25, which earns you an astonishingly close, surprisingly gentle shave.

Larchmont Barber Shop, 142 1/2 N. Larchmont Blvd., Los Angeles. 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday and Friday. (323) 464-6659.

Gornik & Drucker's Barber Shop

This Beverly Hills institution and self-proclaimed "barber to the stars" has been dispensing haircuts and shaves to the famous and infamous since 1936; gangsters Bugsy Siegel and Mickey Cohen were known to get clipped here, and Siegel supposedly stopped in on the very same day in 1947 he was gunned down.

About a year ago, it expanded from its original, nearly hidden Wilshire Boulevard location to an outpost at the Montage Beverly Hills. In addition to offering haircuts and straight-razor shaves (the latter will run you $55), owner William Gornik also sells a private-label shaving cream (a blend that includes whole wheat protein and natural botanical extracts).

Gornik & Drucker's, 9740 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, (310) 274-7131; 225 N. Canon Drive, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, (310) 860-7800. www.beverlyhillsbarbers.com/bh1.html

Sweeney Todd's Barber Shop

This Los Feliz hipster haunt might merit inclusion for the name alone. It's also one of the places in town you can bank on to get a straight-razor shave without an appointment.

The three-chair shop is vintage practically to the point of theme park. Touches include a rotary phone and a cigarette vending machine, Louis Prima and Keely Smith crooning through mint-green walls showing off cardboard displays of 99-cent Genco Pocket Hair Brushes and ancient ads that proclaim: "Dan-d hair tonic knocks out dan-druff."

The name didn't seem to dissuade the clientele that, on a recent Thursday, was stacked five hipsters deep. They were lined up for end-of-the-year trims, clips and fades dispensed by two nattily dressed barbers in neckties and white smocks. One sported a pencil-thin mustache and French cuffs (the namesake Todd), and the other a short goatee and a straight razor tattooed behind each ear (OK, that's dedication).

A shave here costs $23, which works out to about a dollar a minute, and ends with a tingly menthol splash of Jeris Osage Rub and the flourish of a couple of loud snaps of a towel just inches above your face.

You may not find it the best straight-razor shave you've ever had (our personal experience was hit or miss), but it's definitely among the least expensive in town.

And the fact that you don't end up in a meat pie? That's priceless.

Sweeney Todd's Barber Shop, 4639 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. (323) 667-9690. www.myspace.com/sweeneytoddbarber

adam.tschorn@latimes.com.

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