Page 3 of 14

Even in a business serving a 2,000-year-old institution, there are signs of modern technology. Copies of religious-themed movies stand near the cash register. The 1938 classic Boys Town, starring Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney, is available on VHS for $14.95. More contemporary CDs and DVDs, such as the evangelical VeggieTales, round out the selection. "We're getting more and more DVDs," McGinty says. "People buy a lot of them."

The man and the woman on crutches make their purchase -- a handful of medals bearing images of saints. The total comes to under $5. As they walk off, the man stops by a box of videos at the front door that a Catholic television station is giving away and picks one out. "Have a great day," he says. "A really great day." -- Ernie Tucker

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."

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

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Laura Bond
Contact: Laura Bond
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun
Adam Cayton-Holland
Eric Dexheimer
Contact: Eric Dexheimer
Bill Gallo
Contact: Bill Gallo
Amy Haimerl
Corey Helland
Jason Heller
Contact: Jason Heller
Dave Herrera
Contact: Dave Herrera
John LaBriola