Give our regards to Broadway

Colfax gets all the attention. But Broadway ties this town together.

11:30 a.m.: A Little Off the Top, 5 West Radcliffe, Englewood

Inside A Little Off the Top, the "Gentleman's Hair Salon," a large man named Lonnie is getting his hair cut by a woman wearing a thong and a teddy. She crouches over him, clipping behind his ears and around the back of his head, while her lingerie flutters across his face. Lonnie is talking about tax deductions. A friend of his runs a business out of his home, and that friend's accountant showed him how to write off services done at his house as business expenses. Landscaping, paying a kid to shovel the walk, anything. The stylist listens as if enthralled, peppering her responses with enthusiastic affirmations.

A sign on the wall broadcasts the services offered at this establishment: haircuts, shaves, waxing, manicures, pedicures, facials, massages, electrolysis. A full-service haircut, which includes a hot towel for your face, a shampoo and a neck, shoulder and scalp massage, costs $40. A massage alone runs $60 for a half-hour, $90 for an hour, and $120 for ninety minutes. There is no mention of "happy endings."

Civic Center Park is the heart of Denver.
Civic Center Park is the heart of Denver.
Kitty's South may be Denver's crotch.
Anthony Camera
Kitty's South may be Denver's crotch.

Above the shampoo chairs on the back wall are framed glamour shots of the girls who work here, all arching and bending and posturing in colorful underwear. On the side walls are two copper sculptures depicting various nudes. Beyond that, the place is like any other barbershop, with a coffee table covered with copies of Playboy and the strong smell of aftershave and dead hair in the air.

While Lonnie settles his bill -- removing not one, not two, but three punch cards from his wallet -- a blonde dressed in a sweat suit enters carrying a tray loaded with Starbucks drinks. "Did you bring in a movie?" she asks the receptionist, handing her a concoction overflowing with whipped cream.

"Oh, I forgot," the receptionist says. "I'll call my auntie and go pick something up."

"I'll be with you in a second," the blonde tells a waiting client. Moments later she's transformed, clad in an all-purple "outfit" and clumsy plastic high heels that she removes before beginning the $20 shave.

The blonde explains that she doesn't do shaves very often, so it might take a while. As she goes about her task, leaning low over the chair to reveal the top of her breasts, she discusses her time spent in Los Angeles, modeling and trying to act. She talks about how she works another job as a cocktail waitress at a strip club and how most nights she only gets about two hours of sleep. She says she would love to write a horror-fiction book someday, turning some of her awful dreams into text. She expresses a desire to be a doctor. She mentions a dirtbag who got a haircut and gave her a dollar tip. She vows that she will make six figures in the coming year. She confesses that she wants to move out of her parents' house in Westminster and down to Denver, but she doesn't think her mother is ready to let her go. She is nineteen years old.

Shave successfully completed, the blonde joins the other stylist on one of the two black leather couches that face an enormous television in the corner of the salon. Like kids dressed in their mother's clothing, they curl up together in anticipation of the receptionist's chosen feature, Shall We Dance?. Mere steps from the cars hurtling down Broadway, the girls of A Little Off the Top fast-forward through the coming attractions to the movie.

They like the ones with happy endings. -- Adam Cayton-Holland

11:59 a.m.: Blinky's Antiques and Collectibles, 1590 South Broadway

At high noon the sky is cloudless, but the intersection of Broadway and Iowa is gray with exhaust. Jazz fills the inside of Blinky's Antiques and Collectibles, the tiny, cluttered space that Russell Scott, Denver' s beloved celebrity clown, has been renting from the Masonic Lodge above him for over twenty years. With bifocals, bad knees and a stiff back, the 83-year-old retired slapsticker is out of uniform from his television days -- he's now sporting, among other things, three silver-and-turquoise rings per hand, a dapper gray porkpie, a charcoal sweater and a long, blood-red scarf with matching socks.

Seated next to a wall sink (the only remnant from when this spot was a one-chair barbershop), Scott is surrounded by yesterday's artifacts: top hats, fly rods, Indian snowshoes, tin soldiers, rug beaters, toy robots, butter churns, sombreros, cuckoo clocks, war medals, trombones, autoharps, pocket Derringers, paper umbrellas, tube radios, Hummel figurines, rotary telephones, a Pee-Wee Herman doll, a Dukes of Hazzard lunch box.

"There's no one particular hot item," he says. "The rare stuff I've got, I could point out. But if it's too rare, I can afford to sit on it."

Besides the 1904 Victrola and a hand-carved bear that plays a marimba when the string is pulled, Scott seems most proud of the framed and autographed black-and-white photos that adorn the back wall: Tom Mix, the Cisco Kid, Laurel and Hardy, Jimmy Durante, one of himself in early clown regalia standing next to Charles "Buddy" Rogers, Scott's second cousin and then the husband of silent-screen legend Mary Pickford. "She took that one," he says. "I wanted her to pose with us, but she said she was too fat."

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