Monday, February 15, 2010

The Kings Haircut by Jeff Wilkins

Elvis never leaves Brooklyn barbershop where clients can't help falling in love with King's haircut. This Brooklyn, New York barbershop is fit for a king.

Graceland Brooklyn, an Elvis Presley-themed barbershop and tattoo parlor that opened in Williamsburg last week, is drawing a steady stream of hipsters who want to go hillbilly.

"There's definitely a throwback, retro attraction to it," said 44-year-old Village resident Doug Vannoni as he waited for an appointment.

Vannoni said his pompadour hairstyle, which he nicknamed "Sheldon," gets him plenty of attention on his daily commute.

"I'll be on the subway and a bunch of will see me and yell, 'Yo, Elvis! What's going on?' It's been pretty interesting."

While Graceland Brooklyn cuts hair in all styles, co-owner and stylist Corvette Hunt said variations on Elvis' popular pompadour is seeing a resurgence in Brooklyn's trendiest neighborhood.

"There's a lot of pompadour haircuts that we've done," said Hunt, 39, who idolized Presley as a kid growing up in Denver.

"It's just a different version. Elvis' pompadour was actually pretty long. The guys still like to have that essence on top but definitely the sides and the back are cleaned up."

The haircuts at Graceland aren't the only things that harken back to a time when Elvis was king. The salon itself looks like it was plucked directly from Presley's sprawling Memphis home.

A black velvet painting of Elvis draped in fur tails greets customers as they enter the motorcycle garage-turned-salon on Lorimer St.

Animal skin rugs and vintage barber chairs made of reptile skin fill the space as a turntable plays a wide variety of classic rock records including - you guessed it - Elvis.

"I actually have my mom's first-pressing 45s in here," said co-owner and stylist Bethany Paul who has an Elvis tattoo that covers her entire back. "Every time he came out with a new one she went out and bought it."

There's even a candle-covered piano with sheet music of Elvis love songs and a guitar mounted on the wall for anyone who gets a sudden urge to shake, rattle and roll while waiting to have their muttonchops trimmed.

Some may scoff at the notion that Elvis' unique style still has a place in modern-day New York, but Vannoni and his throwback hairdo beg to differ.

"I think if Elvis fell out of the sky today and started walking the streets of Manhattan," Vannoni said, "people would think he is very fashionable and cool.

BY Jeff Wilkins