On another morning, I catch Arevalo in her home on the border between North Park and South Park. Standing in the doorway, I can see most of the place, and I’d be surprised if it was 200 square feet. Directly ahead, a clothing rack is crammed between a stack of hatboxes and a wire kitchen-pantry shelf stacked with boxed foods. To the right, there’s a couch and a bed. Lining the wall to the left, there’s an old television (remember when they weren’t flat?), a drum set, and turntables. This place is the antithesis of the Smetses’ almost-bare, clutter-free living environment. But Arevalo, too, has her collections: vintage hatboxes, hats, and dresses.
This morning, though dressed down from the dance costume she wore at the show, Arevalo’s high-cut bangs and long dark hair still call Bettie Page to mind. She wears a vintage black shirt with a gold oriental print tucked into a pair of ladylike high-waisted pants. A black peep-toe heel completes the look. It all reads fancy — something from a long-gone era, maybe the 1940s. In an hour or so, Arevalo has to be at her job at a retail tea shop, but the bike ride takes less than ten minutes, so we have time to talk Don Draper.
“I’m attracted to that classic vintage style, a man in a fitted suit,” says the 26-year-old, “but I date rock-and-rollers and skateboarders.”
Her current boyfriend is a musician-bartender who is “often bearded and mustached.” Though he’s more a jeans-and-tees kind of guy, he has a couple of vintage pieces for special occasions.
She walks over to the rack of clothing in the kitchen and pulls out the red dress he bought her at a local vintage shop for their first anniversary. The dress is printed with black-and-white foliage — ferns, and so on. Arevalo wraps the waist tie around the middle and says, “It’s gorgeous, with a petticoat underneath.”
Although she owned a few vintage dresses in high school, Arevalo wore sweats and sports bras during her college years as a dance major. But when she began to dance with (and became co-owner of) Hell on Heels in 2010, it gave her an excuse to “start a collection with a purpose.”
She flips through the rack and shows me her favorite pieces, including a recent find: a black, red, and gold drop-waist dress with gold buttons. Then she pulls out a red hatbox and shows me a selection of pillbox hats, some with feathers, some with netting.
Arevalo doesn’t have the same kind of “This is ours, and we were here first” possessiveness as Reynolds, but she is relieved that the vintage craze Mad Men has inspired is specific to the early ’60s, rather than reaching back to the ’40s and ’50s, the eras she loves.
“When anything becomes commercial and mass-produced, it loses its quality of” — she pauses to find the right word — “specialness.”
Then, too, Arevalo finds the world of the burlesque dancer more interesting than that of the wealthy housewife.
“Part of the appeal of burlesque is that these women were typically trying to get out of poverty, or to make their own way. It gave them an opportunity to make their rent. It might be nice to drink wine in your day dress and watch TV, but I have too many dreams and aspirations.”
Still, she admits that streaming Mad Men on her computer and pining over Joan’s clothes is one of her guilty pleasures.
We’re not a theme — we don’t have an agenda
An antique glass case full of vintage barber tools stands in one corner of Dapper Jay’s. Beside it stands a tall marble-top console table. On the table is a picture of the late Jayme Hooker, the shop’s founder, who died a year and a half ago at age 31, and four tall glass candles printed with brightly colored pictures of saints and the Virgin Mary.
The barbers take on a tone of reverence when they speak of Hooker.
Hooker was Dapper Jay, Angielczyk tells me. “He was old-school classy, and he dressed nice.”
“Look at an old picture of a baseball game,” says Reynolds. “They got on hats, fedoras…” He looks around at the other guys. They nod and shrug as if it’s a given. “Right?” he says. “I mean, ain’t no one ever got a hand job in cargo shorts.”
Reynolds’s crass comment aside, Hooker’s vision was a classy, appointment-only barbershop that would provide old-fashioned haircuts and straight-razor shaves in an atmosphere where a man can be a man.
“Not no nicey-nice place where you can’t fucking cuss,” Reynolds says.
When Hooker died, his wife took over ownership of the shop. She still owns it, but lives out of state. Her one request is that they leave everything as is and keep Jayme’s vision intact.
On the walls: a Blues Brothers poster; an Arthur Sarnoff print of dogs playing pool; a black-and-white photo of a pinup girl on her back on the floor of a car-parts store; a Pabst mirror; another pinup girl; a photo of Jake LaMotta framed in the same ornate gold as the mirror behind each barber chair.
The place has an old-school vibe, especially with each barber standing in place behind the four chairs. Their looks are different flavors (newsboy, tough guy, dandy, and Father Knows Best), but the vintage vibe reigns. As much as Reynolds fusses about not wanting to fit into a trendy, shrink-wrapped image-box, it comes as no surprise to discover he drives a black 1952 Buick Special.
When I pose the Betty Draper or Bettie Page question, Reynolds is the first to respond.
“We’re not a bunch of ’50s wannabes,” he says. “We don’t have an agenda.”
“Yeah,” Grossman says. “We do have the pinups and the cars and stuff, but that’s more personal. We’re not overly looking for that.”
“We’re not Floyd’s 99,” Angielczyk says. He explains that Floyd’s 99 is a chain that refers to itself as “the original rock-and-roll barbershop.”