Polk Street is an odd San Francisco thoroughfare. It runs through several very schmancy neighborhoods and yet it manages to be shabby. Castro is the more well known gay center, but Polk was the original gay ghetto. We lived near it and I got to know it well enough to realize every block had a liquor store, a dry cleaner, a cheap diner and a gay bar. Every block. A very short hop down from the center of what was the rentboy stroll is the front door of City Hall. It’s San Francisco, there’s not a lot of room to spread out.
But the last decade of skyrocketing rents has routed pretty much every bohemian or louche or plain old funky neighborhood and Polk Street is no exception. Almost all the old gay hustler bars have given way to guys with oversized glasses and teeny tiny hats drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon.
It’s Hipsterland: expensive, ironic and grimy.
Pretty much I don’t care, they got to go someplace, I suppose, but this week my barber called to say his back had given out and I needed my hair cut and somehow I wound up at the People’s Barbershop on Polk at Bush Street.
A temple to hipster’s fetish of guy-ism with a hearty dash of steampunk thrown in for decor, if it was any more hip, I would have been issued a monocle and a wool vest. Who am I kidding, if it was any more hip, I would have been barred at the door.
So now I have a $60 haircut I don’t like. The sides are fine, but the top has sort of a poufy roll which, considering how little hair I have to work with, is pretty amazing. I look sort of like Julie Harris in Member of the Wedding, but not as attractive. Or butch.