Fernando “Chopper” Amarilla is not just the coolest barber you will ever met, he probably ranks as one of the coolest humans you will ever meet. He and his shop should, by all rights, be the set for a scene in Entourage, not a real life place in Buenos Aires where you can go and get a trim any old time. And yet, despite its dazzling onda, it is real.

I went with my part time friend and full-time co-worker Manu. “I’m getting my haircut, you’re coming,” he announces. “At long last,” I whisper timidly to myself. “See you there,” is what I say as I smile cheerily at him.

Stepping inside the shop is a step into another world, a pastiche of american chopper culture, something straight out of Sons of Anarchy. Every inch is adorned with a knick-knack, with a sticker, with liquor bottles and bumper stickers announcing “F*ck Yoga, break stuff” and “Zombie empire”; tributes to youth-in-revolt brands like Dickies, Burton, and Volcom. The chalkboard sign in the street is emblazoned with the Jameson logo and sunnily declares ‘we shave everything but balls.’

“Each object has a personal history. I always felt attracted by the vintage, by the style,” Chopper tells us, handing me a beer from the fridge. “I wanted a place where people could have a cut or a shave and listen to good music… from Chet Baker to the Ramones.”

The man at work.
The man at work. (Photo Jennifer Sands via facebook.com/Barbería-Tradicional-Chopper-Cuts)

But the don’t let the décor fool you, Chopper’s shop is a throwback to traditional barbers of yore, the sort of gentleman’s experience that’s been replaced with hurried shaves over the sink before work and buzzcuts performed over fernet at previas by the friend who can handle a pair of scissors. “Despite the resurgence of barbers, not all are dedicated to the barbershop tradition… What we want to do here is rescue the old spirit of the Barber”.

He would know, he worked for three years in hipster mecca Berlin, at the Barber Shop Lounge. In fact, most things about Chopper seem to be straight out of an ad campaign, a movie, and then you learn that you are not the only person who has thought this about him: he was the star of Bolivia’s Summer Winter 2016 campaign and reps Jameson whiskey.

As he works with casual ease we chat about California, cutting hair and how to improve my Spanish. I see two pendants adorning the walls “Independiente or River?” I ask pointing to the conflicting banners. “Independiente” Chopper answers. A pause. “I don’t really care about football, I’m more into skating and surfing.” I crack a wide yanqui grin, this we have in common. “Well, really I’m more into cutting hair.”  I stare at his envy-inducing mustache and my friend’s transformed visage, and nod in agreement. Despite the decor and fanfare, what truly stand out is his talent… and, of course, excellent taste in liquor.

Chopper Cuts | Uriarte 1306