PLAYBOY BARBER SHOP Celebrates Its 50th Year and 3 Generations of Family Hair Cutting—Barber Jeff Colby cuts the hair of one of his customers as Playboy Barber Shop celebrates 50 years of being a service in the community. (Photo by Ted Brown)
Three generations of family barbers have owned and operated Playboy Barbershop in the city of Gary for the last 50 years. Jeff Colby says if it were not for his grandmother Audrey Jenkins and mother Patricia Colby he would not have followed in the footsteps and continued the family tradition.
Colby said his grandmother in 1962 started cutting hair in Gary at a shop she opened called “Hollywood” located at 21st and Tennessee St.
A family-owned business, Playboy Barbershop is operated by Jeff Colby, the grandson of Audrey and son of Patricia. The four-chair shop has another barber on duty by the name of Kemp Bryant. Jeff has been a barber since 1994 and Bryant has been cutting hair since 1989. Jeff said his mother continued to work at the shop until last year when her health began to fail her. She passed away this year.
Jeff said he didn’t start out want-
ing to become a barber like his mother and grandmother since he received a football scholarship for college, which enabled him to obtain a degree in communications. “I returned home and worked in retail, restaurant management and different fields until my grandmother, suggested I go to barber college so when she retired, I would be able to help my mother out and run the business. I fell in love with cutting hair and have been doing it ever since.”
Jeff said they basically cut men, women and children’s hair at Playboy, but there are women who come in to get their eyebrows arched.
Jeff said over the years there have been a few celebrities and dignitaries to come in and get their hair cut. He said his grandmother used to cut Nate King Cole’s hair. “I’ve cut the vice president of Indiana University in Bloomington’s hair and one time four members of the Harlem Globetrotters came to the shop. My mother used to cut two of the city’s former police chief’s hair, Colby and Watson, and we’ve had a few councilmen in here like Councilman Michael Pro-tho, as well as his brother Rev. Jerry Protho.”
The most special thing to me about Playboy Barbershop is that it was started by two women. My grandmother started in a shop in Gary called “Spic-n-Span.” When she wanted to go on vacation, the owner wouldn’t hold her chair for her until she got back. She went to L.A. on vacation and when she got back she and her husband open their own shop. They called it “Hollywood” after one of the places they visited while on vacation. She eventually sold that shop and opened Playboy Barbershop in 1965.