Paul Montera, the owner of Hairlines Barbershop on Bloomfield Avenue, is a third-generation barber. And barbering might go back even further; he doesn’t know. “It’s a genetic curse,” he says, but he doesn’t mean it.
At 55, he has been cutting hair on Bloomfield Avenue since 1986. He likes the creativity needed to deal with the variables of a haircut. As far as he knows, no two customers are the same. You have to cut your head, the type of hair, the hairstyle, he says.
Montera tries to make clients look like celebrities because his father and grandfather both had Manhattan stores with star-studded client lists. Grandfather Rudy had a shop at the Warwick Hotel from the 1950s until the early 1970s. A picture of him cutting Frank Sinatra’s hair hangs on the wall of celebrity photos above his hairline. Another image shows him watching hairdresser and crooner Perry Como as he cuts Frankie Avalon’s wavy locks.
Errol Flynn has a place in family history. Paul’s father, also known as Paul, had a shop at the CBS Broadcasting Center on West 52nd St. He still lives in Raritan Township.
At least some encouragement comes from his son, who will show you a list of his celebrity clientele. “There are dozens of such names.
The Bloomfield Avenue store is not frequented by celebrities, but famous freelancers like John Lanza, Assemblyman Erik Peterson, and Raritan Township Committeeman Mike Mangin have enviable heads with wavy hair. Paul is quietly proud of his ancestors, but the clientele doesn’t seem to need that kind of excitement. For the hairdresser, the excitement goes to the next generation.
Paul has a son, Matthew, 20, who works exclusively with computers and built his first at the age of five. But he’s not a Barber. Daughters Alyssa and Amanda were not interested, and Amanda studied cosmetology but decided it wasn’t for her.
That has changed since the 1980s when there was no rush from customers. Now Paul wears new styles and keeps up with them, and customers bring pictures of the kind of cuts they want. He enjoys the walk-ins because they don’t have time to wait and chat with each other, as 80 percent of his clients make appointments these days. The children show him pictures on their smartphones.
(908) 788-3961, or better yet, appear at 17 Bloomfield Ave. The opening hours are weekdays from 7.30 am to 6 pm and Saturdays from 6.30 am to 2 pm.