OAKLAND -- The Montclair Barber Shop recently hired its first lady barber when Linda Amorin joined the crew.

"I was looking for an old-fashioned barber shop," said Amorin, who has spent 16½ years working in barber shops around the Bay Area.

Montclair Barber Shop is the epitome of the traditional barber shop, with the candy striped pole in front, the Playboy magazines on the window seat and the occasional raunchy conversation within the confines of its walls.

"When we hired her, I thought I would have to behave myself," said barber Daniel Tin, who is often the ringleader of many barber shop ruses.

"But I found out she was used to it."

"I can tell a raunchy joke like the rest of them," Amorin said. "I guess I'm just one of the guys. I grew up in it. I just enjoyed it. I got along with the guys. I love sports ... football ... hockey."

Amorin's barber shop experience began when she was 11 years old.

A native of San Lorenzo, Amorin's older brother was a barber. One busy Saturday afternoon, Amorin was asked to bring her brother lunch.

She ended up staying the afternoon answering phones and shampooing hair. Amorin took to the job and began working there every Saturday.

"You name it. They did it. They put me through the ringer," Amorin said. "There is nothing you can say to offend me. My brother teased me always. Being a barber is like being a bartender.


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"You let customers talk and listen. You let them get things off their chest that they won't elsewhere. The barber shop is like Vegas. What is said in here stays in here."

"Daniel (Tin) sets the tone here," said customer Daniel Camp, of the Lake Merritt district. "The first time I came in here, I wondered if things would be different, but Daniel was the same."

"I desperately needed a haircut," said Montclair resident Stan Vukovich. "It looks much better than before. Sometimes lady barbers don't know how to cut men's hair. I'm happy."

Amorin is always happy to cut women and children's hair and reports an increase in women coming into the shop for bang trims and layering between salon visits. Amorin has also done her share of first haircuts and giving out first haircut certificates.

"The screaming and crying, I love it. You try and go as fast as possible and talk to them," said Amorin, who has snipped generations of the same family's locks from father to son to grandchildren. She hopes to establish the same tradition here in Montclair.

"I love this area. Everyone is so nice. I love the trees and the fog rolling in. I feel very welcome," she said. "After only a few days, I felt like I'd been here forever."