Joe Pesci the barber -- A glimpse into the actor's first career

Artistry grows from many seeds. Chekhov’s years as a physician, for instance, undoubtedly informed his later work as an incisive observer of the human condition. To see how Joe Pesci’s longtime experience as a barber influenced his second career, we spoke to several people who had their hair cut by Pesci in the 1960s and ’70s:

At Mike’s Barber Shop in Belleville, N.J., Pesci’s earliest work adhered to prevailing convention. In the late ’60s, that meant ”the DA haircut, with long sides and the short top,” recalls former customer Tony Carrino, now a Newark city councilman. Gradually, though, Pesci progressed to a more refined sense of aesthetics. By the early ’70s he had opened his own salon in Nutley, N.J. — dubbed ”Studio 548” (the building’s address). ”That was the time of ‘styling,”’ remembers ex-client John Alati, now a business consultant, ”when blow-dryers came in. He was into the styling when I used him.”

Even in the tonsorial arena, a perceptive observer could sense Pesci’s attraction to the spotlight. Mike’s, Carrino says, ”was a neighborhood place, where there were always people telling stories. And Joe, he was the best of the storytellers.”

”Joe would always interrupt the cutting of hair to act out a story or tell a joke or practice his routines,” adds former client Ron DeVito, an art director. ”Took a long time to get a haircut, though.”