North Texas Daily

The Bearded Lady barbershop offers a unique haircut experience

The Bearded Lady barbershop offers a unique haircut experience

The Bearded Lady barbershop offers a unique haircut experience
July 26
03:00 2018

By contributing writer Diego Chavez

The soft patter of rain hitting the pavement can be heard from inside The Bearded Lady, where Gary Barnhart, 31, measures and cuts a customer’s hair.

“I come here because I like the consistency,” said Eric, one of Barnhart’s regular customers. “Everything is just really chill — I really enjoy coming to get my haircut.”

Barnhart goes to his classic wooden cabinet to change guards on his trimmer before heading back to work on Eric’s hair. The walls are covered in neon green paint, and a painted mural of a mermaid watches over the barber chairs. The inside of the barber shop on the Square feels incredibly similar to the inside of the traveling barber truck where The Bearded Lady began in 2011 prior to the opening of the permanent store location.

Barnhart appears confident in his appearance with a large, well groomed beard. He said being a barber is an incredibly fulfilling profession because it gives him the freedom he desires. Until recently, he had long dreads that were usually tied up in the back.

“Being a barber is everything I never knew I wanted,” Barnhart said. “I really just fell into it without realizing it was my dream job.”

He has become a proficient barber, even dedicating his own body to his work.

“I have rulers tattooed on my index fingers so that when customers ask for a few inches off, I can just measure it really quick,” said Barnhart, revealing the black lines tattooed at precise intervals along the insides of both his index fingers.

Gary Barnhart is dedicated to his barber practice as he tattooed rulers onto his hands to make it easier to measure customer’s hair. Image Diego Chavez

Barnhart has worked the night shift, sometimes cutting hair past midnight, for the past three years. Although he no longer works inside the Traveling Parlor, the original barber shop is still open in Denton, parked outside of East Side Denton, a rustic bar where multiple food trucks have also made their home.

The inside lighting of the truck is warm and inviting, offering cigars and liquor for those getting their haircut.

“You also see some funny things working so late,” Barnhart said, while fellow barber Joey Medina nodded in agreement.

Barnhart recalled how less-than-sober individuals would stumble into the truck asking what food was being served. The permanent location has also seen some interesting late-night antics.

“Even after the store opened — which is on the Square away from the bars — we’ve had people stumble into the store not really knowing what’s going on,” Barnhart said. “This one time, we had someone walk in through the back door. He was clearly drunk and had no idea what was going on. He looked like he had just stumbled into something crazy. His wife had to come get him, it was really funny.”

Barnhart grew up in Mineola, a small conservative town east of Dallas. He was eight years old when his father died, and he was often left alone because his mother worked hard, long hours to support their family. In 2005, Barnhart decided to move to Mesquite.

“I was glad to get out of there,” Barnhart said. “It was good to have a change of location.”

Shortly after moving, Barnhart hung out and had a few drinks with a friend who lived at the now-closed Ramsgate apartment complex in Denton. Barnhart explained that he really wanted a job where he could be in control and do what he wants.

Gary Barnhart is a barber at the Bearded Lady located on the Square. The Bearded Lady began in a portable barber truck before finding their permanent location. Image by Diego Chavez

“Why not try being a barber?” he said his friend asked him.

Within a week, Barnhart was enrolled in the Texas Barber College. After going through the process he graduated with a Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, allowing him to professionally cut hair in the state of Texas.

Luckily, being a barber is everything that Barnhart could ever want. It allows him to have time for himself, his wife and his son. Barnhart and his wife will often take their son to shopping malls, where he can interact and play with other kids.

It also gives him time to enjoy some of his other hobbies, one of which is playing guitar and singing with some of his friends in a band called Starparty. They’ve been around for about five years and mostly play live electronic music, similar to the band MGMT.

“We have even been able to play in House of Blues in Dallas, which was super cool,” Barnhart said. “The room was packed.”

Barnhart’s first live show with Starparty was where he met his wife.

“She came with a friend and we hit it off,” Barnhart said. “I actually hung out with her at the afterparty.”

A few years in, Barnhart decided to take a break, but it wasn’t long before he returned.

“I disagreed on some things, and I felt it was best to put it aside at the time,” Barnhart said. “I just recently rejoined, which feels really good.”

This was a good turn of events, especially for his business with The Bearded Lady. He ended up gaining a lot of regulars among the band’s audience who enjoy going to the shop for their haircuts.

Donald D’Amico, a UNT student and regular customer, said The Bearded Lady is a completely unique experience, especially when getting his hair cut by Barnhart.

“Gary is one of the best barbers at The Bearded Lady,” D’Amico said. “He’s the philosophical hair-cutting Jesus you get to talk to while getting a clean cut. I highly recommend it because it is such a unique experience.”

As for Barnhart’s future, as well as the future of The Bearded Lady, there isn’t going to be much that is changing — except he has recently changed his shifts to mornings, freeing up more time in the afternoon to spend at his leisure or with his family.

“I can’t wait to do this job ’til I die,” Barnhart said.

Featured Image by Diego Chavez

About Author

North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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