Park City barber brings an L.A. twist
December 31, 2015
The memories are still thick for Danny Chesley, who smiles as he recounts them while carefully trimming the sides of a client’s hair with electric clippers.
He grew up in the Los Angeles punk rock scene, playing in bands and spending his nights checking out the local talent at the city’s many music venues. In a world where extreme appearances are embraced and mohawks are worn like badges of honor and credibility, it wasn’t long before he assumed an important role.
"I started cutting all kinds of crazy haircuts for friends and everybody," he said. "It was one of those things where I was kind of the resident barber, I guess you could call it."
Cutting hair remained a big part of his life when he left L.A. and joined the U.S. Navy. The barber on his ship wasn’t up to snuff, so he set up a chair in his office and began cutting hair every day, from the time he was off-duty until midnight.
"I didn’t even spend a paycheck for two and a half years because I was making so much money cutting hair," he said, smiling.
He became an electrician after his enlistment ended, but the dream of opening his own barber shop lingered. And now, finally, Chesley has returned to his roots. He recently opened Electric Chair Barbershop on Main Street, where he hopes to forge a career out of his lifelong passion.
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"I truly love men’s grooming," he said. "I guess you could say that I really know what men want to look like. I know where they want their hair to be shorter. I have that sense, and I really dig it. I think it’s so cool."
For Chesley, being a barber is a lifestyle, more craft than job, and he is an artisan. He speaks of "looking like it and living it." His haircuts often take nearly 45 minutes because it is attention to the details, he said, that set haircuts — and barbers — apart from the rest.
"We don’t call ourselves barbers anymore — we call ourselves barber-stylists," he said. "It’s someone who spends a lot of time, making it right and getting all the lines and edges just so. That’s what I like about it.
"I usually have to do almost two cuts on everybody," he added. "I have to cut what they have down to something I can see, and then I have to give them the cut that they want. I want to make sure that I’m learning their hair."
The atmosphere of Chesley’s shop drips with L.A. influence. Bearded and wearing jeans, a flannel shirt and an industrial-looking apron, he looks the part. And with punk rock and metal music pumping in from the speakers, and the smell of pomade wafting through the air, the sensory experience is authentic.
Chesley’s wants to create a place where men can get precise and stylish haircuts like in the barber shops of old, but with a different vibe than the hipster tone that defines many of the shops riding the resurgence of classic barbering.
"I am not a hipster," he said. "I won’t call myself this, but my wife calls me a man’s man. I’m a dude. I’m not going to wear some tie or a vest. I’m going to wear boots and some jeans and a punk t-shirt. That’s who I am. I have to be myself here. That’s what’s going to make this shop. It’s crazy and wild and punk and metal, and whatever that is, that’s what it’s going to be. That’s the style and personality of the shop."
Electric Barber Shop certainly has its own, specific flair, but Chesley anticipates it being a place for people of all kinds. When he was young, he followed the popular style trends in GQ Magazine, and he appreciates the clean-cut, classic look many men these days are choosing. But, hearkening back to his days as a punk scene’s resident barber, he is also adept in more edgy hairstyles.
You name the style, he said, and he can cut it.
"It’s kind of all over the place," he said. "I don’t think there will be a niche here. The only niche I think it’ll be is people who want a real good haircut."
Electric Chair Barbershop
352 Main Street
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