News & Politics

Great Hair 2012: Barbershop Quartet

Even politicians and bureaucrats are serious about their hair: Nearly a dozen federal entities have on-site barbers. Here’s a look at four.

Joe Quattrone. Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

House of Representatives

Barber: Joe Quattrone, formerly a farmer in
Italy, heads the House’s privatized barbershop. His is one of the best
jobs, he says, “because you come in contact every day with the people who
control the world.”

Inside look: He has trimmed everyone from Prime
Minister Giulio Andreotti of Italy—who insisted on having his picture
taken with Quattrone—to Dick Cheney, Al Gore, and Gerald Ford. He cut
Ford’s hair two days before he became President.

Top secret: “Ford didn’t come once without
asking about my wife,” says Quattrone, who eventually brought his wife to
meet the then-Vice President. “He shook her hand, and they talked. Things
like that you don’t forget. Every day I get out of bed and kiss the ground
that I live the American dream.”

David Besenyei. Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

Department of Energy

Barber: David Besenyei has been cutting hair
in the Forrestal Building since the 1970s, after being honorably
discharged from the Army. (He spent 18 months in Korea.)

Inside look: Although Besenyei considers
“every person who enters the shop to be a very important person” and has
snipped and shaved several Energy Secretaries, cutting the hair of singer
James Brown when Besenyei worked at a barbershop at Reagan National
Airport was a big moment.

Top secret: Besenyei says that nowadays most
of his clients ask for short, razor-style cuts, a trend that seemed to
pick up after September 11, 2001.

Daivon Davis. Photograph courtesy of the CIA.

Central Intelligence Agency

Barber: Daivon Davis is not only the first
African-American to own the CIA’s barbershop but the first to cut hair in
the shop, which opened in 1955. Now 24, he got the gig at age 18, then
bought the shop in 2010.

Inside look: Davis’s chair has seen the likes
of General Michael Hayden and former CIA director Leon Panetta. “You know
they’re bigwigs when you see bodyguards standing outside the door,” Davis
says. “A lot of them are adrenaline junkies, so we talk about cars and

Top secret: Davis knows something big is
happening when regulars aren’t coming in: “Last year during the Egypt
situation, when the president finally stepped down, about 30 minutes later
I had a big flock of people come in.”

Lenny Gilleo. Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

Federal Reserve

Barber: Lenny Gilleo, self-proclaimed Hairman
of the Board, has been cutting hair for half a century, including the past
five Fed chairmen. His business cards say: “My monetary policy is greatly
affected by your growth rate.”

Inside look: Gilleo, who may cut “the hair of
the chairman one minute, the guy sweeping floors the next,” says he knows
something’s up when people carry yellow notepads: “Just a guess, but that
tells you they’re not doing anything on e-mail, so they don’t want anybody
to know.”

Top secret: “I haven’t seen anyone who doesn’t
come back looking better,” Gilleo says of chairmen who have retired and
returned for a cut. “They look more relaxed.”

Other federal institutions with on-site barbers include the US
Senate, the Pentagon, the Agriculture Department, the Interior Department,
and the Federal Aviation Administration.

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