Senior Dave Lamm is a jack of all trades. You can find him in the business classroom, on the Pub grill or at the Crafton gym. But there’s one place where the bearded brother truly excels: the Williams House men’s bathroom, his haircutting haven.
“What draws me to haircutting is the whole experience. A fresh haircut is really priceless,” he said. “The experience of sitting down and getting a haircut is similar to a girl going out and getting their nails done. It’s more than the material part of it; it’s an experience. That’s what I like: giving that experience to other people, as well as making them look their best.”
Lamm described his early history with haircutting, emphasizing his patronage of one barber for his entire life: Dante Bova of Dante’s Barber Shop in Malden, Massachusetts. “When he started cutting my hair, he was a young dude. He was probably 15 or 16 when I was in elementary school,” Lamm said. “Prior to that, my mom would take me to get haircuts, so I would have no say in where I got a haircut. Once I was in elementary school and middle school, I could walk to a barber shop of my choice. He cut my hair for the first time, and immediately the feeling when I got that haircut – old-fashioned Italian haircut, hot lather, straight-blade shave – it’s really a unique experience.”
When Lamm began attending Principia Upper School in 2002, however, it was a whole different story when it came to hair care. “When I came to Principia for high school, I had one option: this guy named Mr. Haircut,” Lamm said. “Nothing against him, he gave a terrible haircut. I got some clippers, went out and was like, ‘OK, I’m going to learn how to cut hair, because this is not an option.’ So that’s how I started cutting hair, at the Upper School. I’ve been cutting hair for approximately 12 years.”
Lamm is a self-taught stylist. “When I initially started, I would just watch my barber. My barber is a good friend of mine, so I would go sit and spend half a day talking and sitting in the barber shop in my free time,” he said. “As I got into it more and more, I trained myself. A lot of trial and error; I messed up a lot of people’s haircuts. I cut my own hair as well, so I messed up my own hair a lot. I had to suffer myself, shave my head and move on with life.”
Now at Principia College, word eventually spread that Lamm was the go-to guy for haircuts. “People come to me and say, ‘Hey, dude, do you do haircuts?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah. When’s a good time for you?’ So we’ll do it either at my dorm [Williams] or go to their dorm,” he said. “Usually, if it’s just one person, they tell others, ‘Oh, Dave’s coming over,’ and there’ll be a couple of people there by the time I get there.”
Lamm walked through his process. “Depending on the cut, it can take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. I have a couple different types of clippers. I have some standard barber things, some brushes, a cape so you don’t get hair all over yourself,” he said. “We get one of the dorm chairs. If you have a La-Z-Boy, that would be cool or whatever.”
The customer has always been right for Lamm, apparently. “Everyone’s hair that I cut, they’re all happy with the product, and that makes me happy. Everybody is happy when they get a good haircut,” he said. “It’s extended to people telling people, so if a positive word is spreading, then that makes me happy. So I’d say overall, pretty good.”
Lamm likes to play music from his iPhone or speakers when chopping it up. Some of his recent favorites include August Alsina, Future and Tory Lanez, but his true love is for the rapper Drake. “Drake’s cool. He’s pretty dope. He speaks that real stuff,” he said. “If you don’t like Drake, or if you don’t know Drake, then you should just go listen to him. That’s all I have to say. Listen to ‘So Far Gone,’ and if you don’t like Drake after that, then I don’t know what to tell you.”
Music also translates to the actual haircutting itself. “All music is an art form. Cutting hair is art to me. If you’ve created something from nothing, or even more than nothing… If you have this palette of old hair, make it look presentable and nice. That’s art to me,” he said, “especially when I get into designs and very clean lineups.”
Some people like to have a silent haircut. But for Lamm, it’s the opposite. “I prefer talking. For whatever reason, when people are getting their hair cut, they love to just talk and talk and talk,” he said. “I have a different perspective on life than a lot of students here, so it’s really cool to talk to my peers and give them some knowledge and listen to them.”
When asked what this knowledge is, Lamm replied, “How to be awesome at life, pretty much. It’s self-explanatory. I like to keep it real from time to time.”
Many students the Pilot talked with about Lamm expressed a combination of admiration and respect for him. But Lamm had an interesting take on his image.
“I don’t really care how I’m received or perceived because I know what I stand for, I know what I’m about, I know what I radiate,” he said. “People can perceive me however they choose to. You feel what I’m throwing your way? I’m very grateful I can have that effect on people because if we’re not changing other people and making other people better – making other people feel happy and good – then what are we really doing? That’s what it’s all about.”