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Q: Where can I get an old-school barbershop shave?

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A: In an age of Mach 3's and NASA-inspired shave creams, you can get a killer shave in the comfort of your own home, of course. That said, there really is no substitute for reclining in a chair and having someone rub warm foam onto your face, is there? A few places that will make you feel like a natural man:

  • The Art of Shaving (373 Madison Avenue, near 46th Street; 986-2905). Their 45-minute Royal Shave, which includes a mud mask après-rasage, is something to behold, but it all seems a bit much. Frighteningly smooth, almost too much so, as the price you pay for baby's-bottom softness is razor burn. $45 or $25 (nomud mask).

  • Harrison James (5 West 54th Street; 541-6870). When Felipe is not practicing his tonsorial art at the neighboring University Club, he provides a full menu of services at this midtown clothier's fourth-floor barbershop. Not as close a shave as at the Art of Shaving, but also less irritating -- a welcome tradeoff. Something of an ersatz experience, since a barbershop shave is supposed to take place in a barbershop, not some nouveau-antique-men's-clothing store. $27.

  • Paul Molé (1031 Lexington Avenue, near 74th Street; 535-8461). Everything you expect a barbershop to be, and then some. Levi, the shop's top practitioner, strikes the perfect balance between smoothness and comfort. So comfortable, in fact, that I fell asleep inthe chair. $23.


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