Christina Comella has been cutting, trimming and shaving at the neat little barbershop inside the Forbes five star award-winning Spa at Wynn since the resort opened more than seven years ago. It’s far from your average neighborhood barbershop, and Comella certainly isn’t the average barber. She’s broken into this particular boys club with grace and skill, thanks to a true passion for the job.
You’ve been a barber for 12 years. What were you doing before Las Vegas? I was in Wisconsin. It wasn’t high-end, fancy, half-hour shaves. It was mostly back-of-the-neck stuff, high and tights. Older men came in for shaves, younger guys didn’t. There, everyone who goes to school learns barbering and cosmetology, which means you can perform both at the same station, a perm for an older lady and then shave her husband. I would do entire families.
But now it’s just men. Initially when I went to school, I was thinking brides. But then I got to barbering. I enjoyed the power the blade gave me. I started shaving my boyfriend at the time, practicing, when I was in school, and I loved how quiet he was when I shaved him.
It’s pretty easy to get a guy to shut up when you’ve got a blade at his throat. Extremely easy. But the trust he gave me was an awesome feeling. That power … I’ve always liked it. Then I moved to Vegas, and found out I was rare. When I applied at Wynn, the manager was looking over the list of services I do, and he got to the straight razor shave and stopped. “You shave? Can you give me a shave?” So, that was it. I’m a barber. I love it. And men are easier to deal with than women.
How so? Less maintenance. A cut is a cut. They come every two weeks or once a month and usually get the same cut. With women, it’s a shampoo, a cut, a blow-dry, they change cuts, change styles, they want something done different after you cut it. Whatever drama a woman is going through that day, she’s bringing it to the stylist.
But when you think of old-school barbershops, it’s a bunch of guys sitting around complaining and talking about sports or whatever. That’s because it’s man to man. They’re not telling me about their woman problems, or talking about money or sports. It’s different.
When did you realize that being a woman was creating this different barbershop dynamic? I had this one customer that really put it in perspective for me. All the time, I hear, “I didn’t know you were going to be good, but this is the best shave ever.” This one client, an older man who worked in oil and had lived all over the world, he said: “Don’t take offense to this, but you touch me like a woman and shave me like a man.” It made sense. I have a softer touch; I don’t have the heavy hand. That stuck with me.
And you had to audition for the job at Wynn. When they hired me, 30 people applied, and five made it to the audition. I was the only person that didn’t cut my client. And I was the only woman at the time.
The first time I went in for a shave, I was shocked. It was such a relaxing experience. Someone who’s never done it before doesn’t understand how detailed it is. You think of shaving at home, something you do quickly. And guys who have a thick, heavy beard like you, a lot of them think it’s a pain in the butt. They don’t like doing it, so to come here and relax, lay back and have it done is nice in itself.
It is pretty nice. We do what you don’t do at home. The preparations, the hot towels, the lather from the machine, the special oils, you don’t have that.
What do you do when you’re not working? I travel. I golf once a week. I was just golfing in Cabo, but I couldn’t get my swing together down there for some reason. It was still fun. I snowboard in the winter. And I box on Fridays, not sparring, just training. It’s my therapy.
When you travel, do you check out barbershops? I do.
Are they different? They’re the same. I was in the Ritz-Carlton in Qatar, and it was the same thing. But women can’t work there, can’t be a barber for men. I did hear of something in Turkey, though, where they use a flame to singe the little fuzzy hair on the ears. That sounds interesting.
That sounds kind of dangerous. It’s not something we’ll be doing at Wynn.