Welcome back to dapperQ’s ongoing queer barber and hair stylist interview series: Queer Cuts. This week we’re celebrating Rita DiLandro, a native New Yorker now working in a barber shop in sunny Boynton Beach, Florida!
dapperQ: Please tell us a bit about yourself and your shop/salon.
Rita: I hale from the great city of Queens, New York. I started cutting hair for my friends and myself at the age of 15. I received my barbering license at the age of 22 and then started working in a barbershop called Broadway Barbershop located in Flushing, New York. The atmosphere in a barbershop felt like home and I instantly fell in love with the creative energy and the social interaction of barbershop culture.
In 2011, I made a decision to move to South Florida and start a new chapter in my life. I’ve been clean and sober for over three years, married my beautiful wife, and started working right away in an amazing barbershop called Hair Culture America located in Boynton Beach, Florida. Some of the services I provide are: clipper cuts, specialty cuts (all fades, blowouts/tape-ups, Caesars, Mohawks/faux hawks), scissor cuts, hot towel shaves, and eyebrow shaping. My clients are all genders, all races, and all ages (yes, including children). Hair Culture America: 4727 N Congress Avenue, Boynton Beach, FL 33426. 561.439.8992
Mario Tennyu, the owner of the Hair Culture America, also owns a company called Entering The Art Zone. This brand is an online resource for the barbering industry, focusing on everything from barber trends to educational DVD’s, as well as a variety of custom made barbering tools (straight blade razors, clipper face plates…etc.). Because of this highly successful brand, he has given me the opportunity to travel around the country and participate in international hair shows and trade shows.
Rita giving a hot towel shave
dapperQ: Queer fashion sites like dapperQ and Qwear are often asked, “What is queer style?” Does it exist? And, if so, what sets queer style apart from other aesthetics? Along the same lines, many of our readers ask us about queer hair styles (e.g. is there such a thing and where are the best places to get one). Do you believe that “queer hair styles” are a discernible aesthetic? If so, what makes them unique?
Rita: I don’t feel there is such a thing as a queer hair style; it’s the queer wearing the hair cut that sets the trend. I believe that hair styles are genderless and without sexual orientation. The best part of being a barber and having clients of all genders who identify as straight, gay, lesbian, and transgender is that I am able to help each client personally express themselves through their hair style.
I feel any barber who is skilled, trained, and who understands the art of barbering can cut their clients hair the way the clients want it to look; I don’t necessarily think it is the shop or the salon that carries this ability. It is my responsibility as a barber to honor the style my clients are trying to achieve. So, with that being said, in answering “Where are the best places to get one?”, it should be any barbershop or salon that has quality barbers and stylist. Do your research; go for a consultation with your barber. If your hair style is that important to you, treat it importantly. Don’t make the assumption that just because a shop may look like it could give you what you want, that it will actually give you what you want. The relationship between you and your barber is important.
dapperQ: What are some trends you are seeing in queer and/or masculine cuts?
The latest trends that I have been seeing have been the pompadour, comb overs, hard parts and taper fade cuts.
dapperQ: How do you understand and approach your clientele different from the ways a classic barbershop/salon does?
Hair Culture America is a cool and down to earth environment: no intimidating vibes. We greet every customer and we value our costumers’ first impressions of us. We’re also diverse: one lesbian (me) and one transgender barber, which is rare in the industry.
When a client, old or new, sits in my chair, I make sure that they understand that I am just as vested in their hair cut and style as they are. I KNOW what it feels like to walk out of a shop and have a great cut and I KNOW what it feels like to walk out with a horrible one. I do everything in my power to make the experience of sitting in my chair a pleasant, painless, and an important part of my client’s and my day.
dapperQ: What are your rates?
$25/hot towel shave
$5/eyebrow shaping (done with straight blade)