BIKINI-CLAD hairdressers, a complimentary can of beer, a handful of snacks and highlights of cage-fighting, Crusty Demons and State of Origin.
It’s the Man Cave Bikini Barbershop – a controversial new hairdresser attempting to infiltrate the already congested Charlestown hair and beauty market by targeting tradies and ‘‘blokey blokes’’ with the complete man pamper package.
But critics of the region’s first bikini barbershop have labelled it degrading to staff and unlikely to succeed.
The owner, who asked to be known only as Gav, initially planned to open a tattoo studio on the Charlestown Road premises, but with all the extra space the idea for the Man Cave was born.
He said customers were greeted, handed a beer (provided they are of age), plonked down in a comfy chair in front of a TV screen and treated to a cut, shave and scalp massage from a bikini-clad hairdresser.
‘‘We had the tattoo studio next door and a barbershop comes under the same rules and regulations so why not have two incomes coming out of the same place,’’ he said.
‘‘There are quite a few other barbers in Charlestown. So, how do you take their business?
‘‘You know people will stick to their regular barber, but here you get a free beer with every cut.
‘‘We thought we’d do something different, we’ve got sporting memorabilia on the walls and it’s just a relaxed setting. I’ve got a man cave at home, so that’s where the name came from.’’
Gav expects the public reaction to be mixed, but said he didn’t get into business expecting everyone to like it.
‘‘There are always going to be people who disagree with stuff,’’ Gav said. ‘‘Each to their own. You’ve got to take the criticism. It’s been popular so far – we definitely can’t complain. But at the end of the day you’re definitely going to have your knockers in pretty much anything you do.
‘‘At the end of the day it may be a bikini barbershop, but we try to keep it as classy as we could, so we didn’t want the whole sleazy kind of look.’’
Social commentator, author and feminist Jane Caro said the shop appeared to be making a desperate attempt to establish a point of difference in the market.
‘‘It doesn’t set feminism back, it helps feminism by simply saying ‘exhibit A’,’’ she said. ‘‘It sets men back, how sad for them that they are seen as so superficial and captive to their testosterone that they want to have their haircut by someone wearing a bikini.’’
She said the concept was insulting to men and degrading to women: ‘‘It’s an all-round dumb idea and I don’t suspect it will last very long.’’
Other hairdressers around Charlestown suggested that while the the bikini barbershop might be popular short term it was doomed to fail in the long run.
Bikini barbershops have been trialled before with varied success in the US. In Darwin, Sexy Scissors offers a burlesque-style experience.