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Chris DeVino

On stronzo life, being honest and the punk rock ethos of his barbershop



Posters and pop culture memorabilia cover the walls at Boise barber shop Barbiere DeVino in the Belgravia Building (441 W. Main St.). Punk, rap and ska pump through the speakers, and the retro barber chairs are usually full thanks to a steady stream of customers, who emerge from the subterranean shop with sharp 'dos, clean shaves and immaculately edged beards courtesy of stylists who can talk a customer's ear off without nicking it.

At the center of it all is the eponymous shop owner Chris DeVino. A longtime punk musician, DeVino was often the one wielding the clippers when his bandmates needed trims. While touching up a summer haircut, he talked about why he went into barbery, the decor of his shop and the meaning of the Barbiere DeVino tagline: "Gentlemen First, Stronzo Forever."

What's your story?

I have a 6-year-old son, and his mom bailed. I had to step up a lot. I was working in a kitchen, and in that industry you don't have freedom of your schedule. You're stuck making a minimum, shitty wage, and I didn't want to do that. I wanted to be able to go to kindergarten functions and be there for my son.

What made you think you'd be good at this?

I've been in punk bands since I was about 12, and somebody had to do haircuts. My parents had these clippers under their bathroom sink, so I was the dude giving mohawks and shaving heads. Just being a shithead kid, really. I remembered doing that stuff, and it fit my personality.

You turned cutting hair into something you do for a living. What's the biggest change?

I'm no longer a slave. I didn't do it for anybody but myself. This shop was opened for me to hang out with my friends and listen to the music we want to listen to and do shit the way we want to. We're giving you honest bullshit instead of just bullshit.

What do you do that's special, and what is 'stronzo'?

"Stronzo" means "asshole" or "bastard" in Italian. I think that's what's different: We do it for us, and we're not afraid to tell you we do it for us. We take our time, we talk to people. We care about our craft and how you look when you leave here, and we're not going to rush you out in 20 minutes. We grew up as punk rock kids. You can take the kid out of punk rock, but you can't take the punk rock out of the kid.

This place has a distinct look. How long did it take to make the space your own?

We immediately changed the vibe down here [from the more traditional barber shop previously in the space] the minute we stepped into it. It's different. It's cluttered. It feels like what I think a barber shop should look like.

What's your favorite piece?

Probably the "wall nuts." It's a Polaroid picture of someone's nuts. I really like the Elvis bust—it used to be an old whiskey decanter.

There was a barber shop here before you moved in. Did that mean you had a built-in customer base?

[Customers of the former shop] were hesitant at first. They had a quiet woman who cut their hair who didn't really talk to them very much. They came down here and were, like, "What the fuck?" But the haircuts were good. Some of them waited until I was open for a year. We had someone tell us we should not advertise that we do kids' haircuts. We didn't advertise that, but we do have people who love coming here and love bringing their kids here.

You say people come from as far away as the Idaho panhandle to get haircuts here. Why?

I've got a guy that lives past Coeur d'Alene, and he comes down once a month. He was in town getting tattooed, and he came by because it was convenient. He got another haircut where he was from and they fucked his hair up. I have a customer who does business in Utah, and he waits to get his hair cut until he knows he has some business here. When people find the barber they like or the shop where they're comfortable, they'll do anything they can to come back.

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