JeffinOKC Gets Trim At El Cortez

By A Guy Named Ernesto

Posted by JeffInOKC

El Cortez Barbershop

VT reader JeffInOKC got some trim at El Cortez - his wife loved it and didn't complain at all! Uh... hrm... by trim, we mean haircut. At the barbershop. There. El Cortez. I'll shut up now. Thanks for the report Jeff!

Being a degenerate Las Vegas lover, I am constantly studying about Las Vegas and boring my poor wife to tears with some pathetic piece of related trivia. One item I saw on one of the sites was a mention about the El Cortez having a barber shop. The description sounded quaint, and Lisa actually put it on the list of things to do when we were in Las Vegas the weekend before Memorial Day.

We went over on Monday to find that the El Cortez barbershop is closed on Sunday & Monday - bummer. Since we were staying at the Golden Nugget, heading back on Tuesday wasn't that big a problem if we went back.

When the fateful day arrived, we packed, ate and trotted down to the El Cortez to get the trim. The plastic sign on the wall of the casino pointed towards the second level. We walked up the stairs, down and around some hallways through a bank of post-World War II-era guest rooms - narrow halls, creaky floors and panel doors. Not bad, just different for "Vegas".

At the end of the hall is an aluminum framed, glass door with "Barber Shop" in the window. Inside are two chairs, one barber working and three other men ahead of me in line, including the senior citizen currently getting his trim.

I asked the barber if he took walk ins, and he replied that was all he did. I sat down, casually read the Sun, and soaked up the atmosphere. In the front is a little lobby, with about six plastic chairs surrounding a bleached wood stand/cabinet from the 1980's atop which sat a 19" TV tuned to the local ABC station - probably the only station that hadn't changed over to digital signal yet. In fact, everything in the shop looked like it was straight out of the early 80's.

The other customers were all men who looked older than I (I'm 50), who thought clean blue jeans was dressing up and has just left the Gary Loveman (Harrah's CEO) hair -alike convention. They also were as talkative as I would be in the presence of Megan Fox (self conscious silence).

After about 45 minutes, it was my turn. Being knowledgeable about Las Vegas politics and local stuff, I was able to get the barber to open up and gained some of the following info. His name is Ernesto Ortiz, and he had lived in Las Vegas for about 40 years., He had been cutting hair downtown since the early 1980's, and is currently the only barber left there. I think he said the 4 Queens and Plaza had Barber Shops until the last 10 years or so. I took it that he leases the Shop from the El Cortez, has been there for about 6 years and wants to add another barber, but he is unsure because of the recession. He thinks the Fremont East development was starting to turn into something good until the economy slowed down last year and will turn around eventually. Jackie Gaughan comes in once a month to get his hair cut, as well as much of the rank and file up to top managers.

A haircut is $12, I don't know if he offers a wash & style. He trims the back with electric scissors (God already trimmed most of the top), and finishes with a little scissor and trimmer touch up. I felt like a high roller giving him $20. My wife said Ernesto's trim looked good, and she hasn't suggested I get it "fixed" - even 2 weeks later! That's a major success in my world.

All in all, I had a great time, and would recommend it without reservation for anyone looking to do something offbeat in Las Vegas.

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