Kicking Cuts and Taking Names

By CHASE CUNNINGHAM
The Voice-Tribune Intern

Hairstyling is a woman’s world. Men too often find themselves enduring lotiony salons with cucumbers and flute music or half-off hair hacks at strip-mall pit stops, and plenty of them don’t know the difference.

Fortunately, while the future of the male head is less than obvious, it’s not obsolete, and a good barber is still easy to find if you know where to look. A great place to start would be the Beechmont neighborhood, just south of Churchill Downs and Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, where Cindy Venture and the Beechmont Bombshells have been righting wrongs of the follicle variety for years – and they do women’s and children’s cuts too.

A giant ‘50s-inspired cartoon bomb blankets the front glass. The shop looks like a tube of Aquafresh with an attitude with its heavy red and teal paint job as you step through the door. First-time guests may mistake it for a tattoo parlor, and if you’re there to put in a work application, you better disclose any ink you have. It might help you land the job.

Pinup girls, Texaco posters, vintage hairdressing equipment and exposed lighting adorn the walls. Customers unsatisfied with the standard row of waiting chairs can recline on the stuffed cheetah-pattern stiletto heel couch. The only commandment posted on the hearth of hair gels and beauty supplies is, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.”

Yellowing photographs from the building’s younger days and of its previous commander, Ken Vickers, are tacked just beside Venture’s mirror.

Vickers owned the formerly-named Beechmont Barbershop and rented out other spaces in the building for roughly 40 years. The shop and its barber were a central staple of the Beechmont community.

“I wanted to memorialize what it used to be a little bit,” Venture said, sporting a vintage dress and apron as she maneuvered around her chair. “We really tried to keep the neighborhood spirit alive.”

Unaware customers still wander in on occasion looking for their old barber, and although the trimmers have been passed to Venture and her girls, they don’t usually leave without a fresh cut and plans to return yet again.

Venture, now 28, took ownership of the shop three years ago. She paid the first month’s rent her first time visiting the property, and the partially renamed salon was open and operational once again in only three more weeks. It is the realization of the dream she has fostered since her early childhood outside Bowling Green, Kentucky.

The beginning of Venture’s scissoring pursuits was two-fold. First were her memories of walking past salons and admiring the exotic cuts on the girls inside. “I wanted to be the pretty girl that’s the hairstylist,” she said. “I was just kind of obsessed with it.”

Second was her youthful defiance. Venture’s grandmother was a lifelong and burned-out hairstylist. “I think sheer stubbornness is actually why I went through with it,” she said jokingly. The warnings to look for a career elsewhere only drove Venture to cosmetology school in 2007.

Jessica Greenwell, a Louisville Native from PRP, is Bombshell No. 2. The pair are very comfortable with each other and seem much more familiar than coworkers of only nine months. “We immediately hit it off,” Venture said. “It’s great to be able to work with someone you can be friends with.”

Don’t expect hesitation before a snip or apologies for snarky comments from the Bombshells, who have as much attitude as they do sureness in their skills. Customers can always expect a good time when they stop by – albeit an unpredictable one.

Even online, you never know if their next social media post will be about Louis CK, haircuts or Keystone Light. The Bombshells also recently visited the Beatersville Car and Bike Show to pass out coupons and bubbles.

“We get kinda crazy in here sometimes,” Venture said. “You don’t really ever know what’s gonna happen or what’s gonna be said.” Saltiness is, of course, kept at bay in the presence of children. “We just want to be a place that anybody can go to.”

Many of the Bombshells’ customers are young university students that aren’t used to making their own hairstyling decisions. Tactful sass removes most uncertainties. “Are you really gonna come in here and tell me how to do my job?” Venture may ask. She enjoys watching her younger clients evolve, in both style and personhood.

But college students aren’t Venture’s only regular customers. Families and businessmen are just as comfortable in the Bombshells’ chairs. Some travelers even catch a ride to Beechmont from the nearby airport after finding their positive ratings and reviews online.

Beechmont is one of Louisville’s more diverse neighborhoods, and for that reason became the perfect place for Venture to open her shop. Male or female, Caucasian, African, Vietnamese, Somali or Latino, the Bombshells are happy to conquer any scalp.

Venture’s teacher encouraged her to take on all kinds of hair, and for one candid reason: “You want everybody’s money!” Those looking for more than a trim may also receive color services, chemical services, beard trimming and facial waxing.

Guests to the area often stop by for a quick bite at the Vietnam Kitchen or Annie’s Café, but Venture sees more in the neighborhood’s future than tasty weekend commutes.

“There are more and more young couples with young kids,” she said. “Hopefully we can get some more hip, legit businesses in here.” The Bombshells are located just across the street from Sunergos Coffee. “You can tell it’s changing just walking down Southern Parkway.”

Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS  and CHASE CUNNINGHAM | The Voice-Tribune