A Cut Above the Rest

Frank's Chop Shop is not your traditional grooming experience.

Brandon Wiseman
It may look like a modest barber shop from the outside, but as soon as you set foot in Frank’s Chop Shop you enter a private universe where devoted street culture meets a classic, detailed aesthetic.  The name of the shop pays homage to none other than man of leisure ahead of his time Benjamin Franklin.  The art collection, featuring the likes of Jamel Shabazz, Ricky Powell, and Futura, is complimented by beautiful vintage barber chairs and one-of-a-kind accessories. Founded by low-key marketing guru Michael Malbon, the shop is managed on the daily by head barber, painter, and punk enthusiast Brandon (Mr. Bee) Wiseman. With a loyal fan base ranging from fly girls and young industry professionals to gilded hip-hop stars and Hollywood's red carpet elite, the Essex Street shop has become an insider’s destination.  On any given day, you might be seated in a chair next to Rick Ross, Wu-Tang’s GZA, Jake Gyllenhaal, or Drake.  We recently spent time talking with Mr. Bee about his favorite cuts, his favorite clients, and his most preferred high.

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 How and when did you start rocking with Frank’s Chop Shop?

I have been rocking with FRANK'S for a very long time.  My partner Mike and I had mutual friends that put us together when the idea for a barber shop came on the table. We opened in 2006 but I have been participating in FRANK'S events well beyond!

What do you appreciate most about your position there?

I give thanks every day to God for my position here. I have the luxury of creating an atmosphere with music, conversations, and most importantly haircuts. This house is a family establishment that has not only provided me with a career but has also allowed me to form friendships and bonds that will last a lifetime.

How did you first get interested in styling men’s hair?

I started cutting hair from a very young age as a form of self-expression. At the time, myself and my crew were experimenting with style and music so it was only natural that our haircuts reflected that. I was already painting so cutting hair was another way to put my spin on things. Eventually it became my career but looking back that was never the plan! 

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A good hair cut is almost like a lifestyle accessory.  Can you comment on that?

A good haircut doesn't necessarily mean it's polished or neatly groomed. Much like the clothes we wear or the expression on our faces, our haircuts project an image to the world around us. I encourage people to try new things and understand you can have a hairstyle that can be cut and worn in different fashions depending on the circumstances.

How do you build a vibe and connect with your clients?

I build a vibe and connect with my clients by being a good listener, giving them inside info on music, art, parties and overall community comings and goings. I also make sure I give haircuts that are detail oriented no matter how short or how long!

Can you tell us about a favorite client?  A favorite style you’ve created?

Honestly, there are many clients I have had the pleasure of cutting. I've watched some of my fav rappers such as WU TANG CLAN, MOBB DEEP, PRO ERA, and DIE ANTWOORD get in my chair to graffiti legends such as STAY HIGH 149, KEO XMEN, and JAMES TOP, all of whom were huge players in the golden age of subway art. There's something to be said about making a friendship and servicing a haircut to such influential people you've admired.  

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You’re also a painter and member of the band Scraper’s, any other creative outlets?

I love the arts; it's always been my passion. Painting and fronting a hardcore punk band are two things I enjoy pushing. As of late, I've been taking a shot at some cut and sew pieces I will be showcasing in the near future. Look out for my new book “Style is King.”

How does cannabis enhance your creative process?

Aaaahhhh the HOLY TREE! I appreciate the organic nature of it. I use it to heighten my awareness as well as wind down depending on my mood. I try not to abuse it. I believe it's there for a reason and like all things balance is key.

Why do you think the L.E.S. is still such a cool, genuine, legitimate neighborhood?

The L.E.S. has genuine ghosts in the streets that have beaten a path – it's inevitable that spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship is in the air. A lot of neighborhoods have unfortunately felt the push of gentrification, leaving their identity open to interpretation. This neck of the woods luckily has generations of families who are still here. Not to say the hood isn't changing because it is, but I believe people come with respect for the history here. It's a hood full of diversity that we celebrate to this day.

What’s your favorite high?

My fav high is feeling carefree!!