Cheap and Cheerful, for the Boys: Pinaud Clubman aftershave

I was a little too young and perhaps a little too, er, stylish to ever get too into barbershops. Now I know that I got my hair cut somewhere when I was a kid. I do remember going to one place that I suppose could have been classified as one way back in the day.

Story time (get a snack, I’ll wait):

So some of you know my dad was a sea captain. Of large freighters. This meant that his job would take him away for months at a time as he would fly to Florida or wherever the boat was being loaded, captain it on it’s voyage to it’s destination, unload, load up and captain it back. This meant that he had the odd schedule of a few months on and a few months off- something that guidance counselors at the time made much of, blaming everything from my snarky attitude to my tendency to acidic retorts to my aversion to sports on an absent male authority figure. Now, I did at the time and do still take issue with this, since my father when he was there, was THERE, planning trips, spending quality time with us, helping with homework, etc. Not coming home tired after a long day at the office and expecting a Martini, a meal, and the rugrats in bed.

In any case at one point he came back and found that mom had just not bothered to take yours truly to get a haircut since all the other kids were growing theirs out. So he sent me to a little bastion of heterosexuality in a new strip mall down the hill from our house.

I say heterosexuality because as I remember it, it consciously eschewed anything that might have said “Salon” to anyone passing by. It was all black and white without being industrial, which might have come across as chic. The men who worked there looked as if they were as likely to lube your car as cut your hair, but I was there for a cut, not a do, so I let him have at it. Almost upon finishing he said to me:

Barber: “kid, anyone every tell you you have Audubon hair?”


Barber: “Well you have Audubon hair. Know what that is?”

Me: (even less interested) “No

Barber: “Audu-been on a donkey’s ass!” (great heterosexual guffaws ensue)

Me: “Really?”

Barber: (guffaws, finishing)

Me: (Handing him his fee, sans tip) “It’s really crazy that you’re cutting peoples dirty hair in a strip mall in Florence, Massachusetts when you really should be opening for Carson

He complained to my parents. They told him where to stick his scissors. I went to salons after that.

There was up until ten or so years ago an actual barbershop in Beverly Hills. Not one of the hipster places that are all over West Hollywood these days, where men in ironic hats offer rosemary beard conditioners but the real deal, where guys named Swifty went for their weekly trims (if they no longer had the barber come to them.) I never went because A) it was expensive and 2) I thought I needed more styling and less mowing. But I did pass by almost daily as I worked as well as lived in the ‘hood and it was right between the hardware store and the grocery place I frequented. And it did smell like this aftershave. The interwebs list orange, lemon, and bergamot at the top, geranium, lavender, and jasmine in the middle, and musk at the base and I daresay if you put on a pith helmet and go spelunking you might be able to discern these notes. I get them all under a layer of wooly alcohol and spices like cloves. It’s certainly a throwback if you’re old enough to remember old-style barber shops and who knows, may be in heavy use at the hip places that offer $150 fades.

Will I use it? Well it certainly isn’t going to throw Jicky off my rotation list but sure, it’s a nice retro-smelling thing and after a walk on a hot day a few pats of this on the back of my neck would be very refreshing. It is certainly fleeting enough that you won’t be smelling it forever and a day. It’s also under $9 at Amazon for a 6 ounce bottle and there are larger sizes available should you wish as well as other flavors. I don’t think I need to investigate them further, but if you have please chime in in the comments. Or share your barbershop stories, good and bad..

Images: Pexels, my iPhone, Wikimedia Commons

  • Musette says:

    I don’t know where my dad got his haircut but I’m sure it was in a barbershop. However, I do remember Clubman, since every man over the age of 40 wore it 0 and at the first sight of the notes the smell came roaring back into my memory!

  • Portia says:

    Hey Tom,
    My first paid job was sweeping hair in a barbershop/tobacconist that also had one chair for women (the only hairdresser). I was technically too young to be working so it had to be cash. No, I don’t remember my hourly rate but I was super flush with $$$$. They were really good people, taught me simple business practice, how to wash hair, make the perfect cuppa from instant coffee and how to upsell.
    MANY happy memories and that barbershop smell, it fills me with nostalgia.
    Portia xx

    • Tom says:

      I actually do love that smell.

      I worked in a clothing store/hair salon in the 80’s. I had been growing my hair out and the owner hated it so he gave me as a hair model to one of the stylists who wanted to give me a “new look.” He did. A mullet. (I don’t know if he secretly disliked me or just really didn’t know me at all) I walked right out of the salon and took the clippers I had and gave myself a crew cut. There was no way in hell I was wearing a mullet and I didn’t care if I lost the job over it. They may as well have asked me to wear acid washed jeans and cowboy boots.

  • alityke says:

    DH let me loose with his clippers. Only once though. I gave him a reverse mohawk, forget to put a guard cover on! I’m amazed we’re still married!
    The top village has a barbers that has been there for decades, barbers pole the works. The barber spends most summer sat outside in a striped fold up chair reading the papers.
    The bottom village has two new Turkish barbers, very swish, hot towels & cut throat razors. Apparently these barbers are allegedly fronts for money laundering. Who knows?
    As far as barbershop scents go I do have a memory of going to the barbers with my grandad & playing on the up & down chair, yes there was a sickly lolly involved as well. I was only about two & don’t really remember the smells, other than that of the lolly

    • Tom says:

      I honestly think the place I get mine cut is a bokkie joint or something. It’s a 7 station place that only ever had 2 stylists in there and one retired. Either they own the building or it’s money laundering, but as long as I get a decent, cheap haircut that’s literally on the corner I kind of don’t care..

  • Dina C. says:

    My mom always cut everyone’s hair in our family, so when I
    got engaged to my husband, she bought me an electric clipper kit, haircutting scissors, a cape, and I’ve been cutting his hair ever since (33 years). I use the powder made by that same brand for at the end of the haircut on his neck when I use the neck duster brush. It does have a nice fresh barber shop scent. Our daughter went to Paul Mitchell and became a licensed hair stylist! Ha!

    • Tom says:

      I have a clipper and use it to make cuts last longer. I wish I was more adept and could just do the whole thing myself. Alas..

      • MzCrz says:

        I suspect you are younger than my friend, Chas, who is 68. I say that because back in the 80s, a device called the Flowbee came out and was mostly sold on late night t.v. It was a hair cutting/pet grooming invention that you attached to your vacuum cleaner. The suction would lift the hair into the cutting attachment and would also swoop in the cut hair. Chas cut his own hair and groomed his Samoyed’s coat with the Flowbee for years. He looked okay and so did the dog.

        Intrigued? They are still being sold.

  • March says:

    Ha! There is an actual barber shop here down the street that’s been there for decades and it is the real deal, I must investigate and see if that barbershop smell is Clubman … probably! I’ve actually gotten my hair trimmed there and they put the ladies in a secret second room in the back so as not to kill the vibe (fine by me.) When the kids were small I used to get their hair trimmed at the Greek barbershop around the corner from our house. They got a booster seat and a lollipop. Thanks for the memories!

    • Tom says:

      Your barbershop sounds very cool- the seperate room for the ladies is very “Bernice Bobs Her Hair”

      Booster seat and a lollipop! I do have vague memories of the latter if not the former. Figures, right?

  • Eldarwen22 says:

    It’s been many years since I have been to a salon. I find the ones in my area to either be too expensive or not very good. But cheap and cheerful to be just as good as the expensive stuff.

    • Tom says:

      I go to a place that charges $20 and is on the corner. Still a salon, but pretty bare bones. I do have to clean up stray hairs, but that’s fine at $20. I’ve had very pricey and very mediocre haircuts in LA and I just can’t..

  • cinnamon says:

    Big up to your parents for standing up for you and your hair. What a twat (the long-ago barber). Here, there are actually a lot of barbers (we are right near a marine training camp and these guys like that short back and side and top and …) which are cheap and cheerful. Salons too but these barbers are packed even on weekday afternoons. I think the hipsters go to these too. That cologne sounds good for the summer. I’ve found since covid I no longer love getting my hair cut. Used to be a treat. I don’t like being inside (even with windows open and fans going) with people yacking away about their whatever for an hour. But, as I like having short hair now, must be done.

    • Tom says:

      I was pretty lucky with the ‘rents.

      I wish we had a marine base with a plethora of inexpensive barber options. I have very definite directions on how I want my hair mowed that are fairly straightforward and I don’t need a free-range rosemary infused hot towel treatment and the $150 price tag it comes with. One of the better ones I had was at a barbershop in the East Village. Zip, Zap with the clippers and off I went. This was years ago and I am sure they have ironic hatsandtats and cost the earth now.

  • Maya says:

    I love your story! I could picture it all. It gave me a good laugh.
    I remember barber shops and have a vague memory of my dad taking me with him sometimes when he got a haircut.

    • Tom says:

      That really the only one I remember- only because the guy was such a d-bag. I went to low priced salons like Regis until I moved to NYC and became friends with hairdressers and they started doing it.

      • Maya says:

        Lucky you, and I mean it about knowing (good, I hope) hairdressers. Good ones are amazingly hard to find and bad ones are a dime a dozen. That’s been my experience.

        • Tom says:

          I did know quite a few, including one who ended up being quite famous (and with whom I long ago lost touch) and deservedly so, Not only is he very talented but he is also the sweetest and looked like a young Marlon Brando. I think 1/2 of his customers would have gone if he was terrible.

  • Pat Borow says:

    They had it in the men’s locker room at our gym (closed now). My husband would come out of there smelling pretty good.

    • Tom says:

      That’s a nice gym!

      • Pat says:

        It was. It got bought by a chain (Wellbridge) and they ran it into the ground. The Clubman was the firing thing to go. They slammed their doors shut in January.

        • Tom says:

          That famously happened here: the Sports Connection (which they even used in a terrible movie with John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis called “Perfect”) was bought out by the 24 Hour Fitness chain. It went from Cadillac comfort to Changli cheap practically overnight. It closed and has been empty for years now until some new high-end place is giving it a try.

          • Pat says:

            When I lived in LA I was a member of Sports Connection. It was pretty upscale, actually had a few minor celebs, until LA Sports Club opened. Sad to hear. Part of the general downgrading of everything, for what used to be called the middle class. Now it’s LA Fitness or the Y.

          • Tom says:

            LA Sports Club is gone I believe as well. There’s some new place opening up where the Sports Connection used to be, but with at least two Equinoxes and a Crunch within a mile I am not sure how meny expensive gyms can be supported..