When I was a kid, I had a telephone songbook. Basically, it taught you how to play songs using your phone keypad. Obviously, this was in the era before cell phones. I can only imagine how many random people I called trying to play “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” One song that I recall was “Shave and a Hair Cut, Two Bits.”
Now, these days, it’s not common to find a place to get a shave with your hair cut, and it doesn’t cost two bits. (How much is that, anyway? Google: the value of a quarter of a dollar. Good to know.)
I digress. Now, it IS possible to grab a cut and a hot shave in Claremore, thanks to Dusty Hopper, proprietor of The Handsome Hare Shaving Parlor. He’s set up shop inside Root 66 Salon, just south of Warehouse Market. If you’re technical, that’s 517 W. 5th St.
Dusty has an interesting history. For starters, he hasn’t been a barber his entire career; he spent 20 years as a grave digger. I asked him why he chose that particular route, and he told me that he wanted to marry his wife, and he needed a job that provided benefits, so that her father would give his blessing. Additionally, he was keen to learn how to operate a backhoe. That’s a win-win.
Along the way, he’s dabbled in other ventures; his father owns a fire extinguisher repair business, so he’s been doing that most recently. He also has experience in house framing. But after 20 years of working for the cemetery, he decided to make a change. According to Dusty, “Being a grave digger was weighing on my soul.” Also, he was ready to work inside for a change. Growing up, his friend’s grandfather was a barber, and he thought that would be an interesting move, so he headed off to barber school in Tulsa. He enjoys cutting hair, but his true passion is the nearly lost art of the hot shave.
A hot shave starts with the customer getting a hot towel laid over his face. The heat opens up the pores, allowing for a closer shave. Plus, it’s relaxing! After the lather and shave portions, another hot towel is used. Traditionally, the shave ends with a cold towel, but let’s face it: unless it’s 90 degrees outside, that doesn’t feel nearly as comfortable.
Dusty’s shaves are gaining popularity in Claremore; he has many customers who come in each week. For many men, they chafe at the thought of going to the salon, but the hot shave adds a manly aspect to it, reminiscent of the Old West and Chicago gangsters. In fact, there’s a scene in The Magnificent Seven with Ethan Hawke getting a hot shave while he chats with Chris Pratt.
For men today, it’s a great way to be pampered while still being rough and tough. It’s also a great idea for a groomsmen gift. On the wedding day, while the ladies are having hair and make-up done, the guys can get lathered up and looking spiffy, just in time for photos.
The Handsome Hare offers haircuts for $10 and hot shaves for $15. Hours are Saturday from 7:30a – 2p. Gift certificates are available; this would be a terrific gift, ladies! If you bring your kiddo with you for a haircut, let your child choose a book from Dusty’s basket and read aloud to save $2 on your service. Because no electronics are allowed in Dusty’s chair. It goes back to the simpler time that goes hand-in-hand with a hot shave.
Please note that The Handsome Hare accepts cash only, so be prepared.
Gentlemen, if you’re looking to get cleaned up and feel fantastic, check out The Handsome Hare at 517 W. 5th. Ladies, it’s also a neat gift idea! If you have questions, please send Dusty a Facebook message at The Handsome Hare Shaving Parlor.
Also, special thanks to Justin Baldwin for being the shave model for this piece!