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Work: Part 2 

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Linda Serraris > Bartender > Red Lion Tavern

Photographed by Ted Soqui

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I’ve been working at the Red Lion for one year, and working as a bartender for about five years. Before that I was working in a law office as a legal assistant. I quit to go back to school and have some freedom. Working here is a lot like working at Disneyland — you have to get into character. The bar has something special about it. We call it jokingly “the diner at the end of the galaxy.” The dirndl skirt is a requirement, except on the patio during the wintertime, then we’re allowed to wear pants. I don’t have any complaints about the dirndl. It keeps your clothes from getting soiled — with kegs and stuff, the beer can get all over your clothes.

One friend of mine went to a party after work in her dirndl, and there was a girl there in suede pants and leather boots who said, “I love your outfit!” So she said, “Really? Let’s trade!” So they swapped outfits, and my friend got to wear the leather, and this tough girl walked around in her dirndl skirt all night.

We do everything — we bar-back ourselves, we stock, we keep track. I take turns with the other girls bartending and waitressing. I can carry three plates. One on my forearm, one in the other hand and one in the hand by itself. Some girls can carry four — they stack ’em like Shiva. They make me jealous.

There’s something really great about working in the service industry. If you’re someplace in your head and don’t really feel grounded, to actually do manual labor brings you back into yourself. And you get to not just meet people, but really get people. People come in here to just sit and be and ponder life. We’re serving anesthesia and saying it’s going to be okay. If you don’t feel like talking, you don’t have to, but it’ll affect the bar that night. It’s better to be on, and pour a magical elixir over the crowd.

Enrique Banuelos > Barber > Banuelos Barber Shop

Photo by Larry Hirshowitz

I give a no-frills haircut. Mostly men come in here who want a haircut and that’s it, nothing else. That’s what they get in a barbershop. I charge $9.50 and up. Most are repeat customers I’ve had for 30 years. I’ve watched them grow up, some of them, or grow old. Some of the guys came in here with a lot of hair and now they don’t have so much. Some of them now have hair growing in places it shouldn’t — nose, ears, eyebrows. Everywhere but upstairs.

Years ago, I worked in catering at the Miramar Hotel. I was the assistant manager there, and I used to close up. I made good money. But I wasn’t home until 3 a.m. on weekends, and my wife said, “Hey, what about me? The money’s all right, but I’d rather have you here.” My wife is a cosmetologist herself. She works on hair, too. So I went to school to become a barber.

You don’t see too many barbershops anymore. The hair-salon business has done damage to the barber industry. I do just about okay. Anybody who works with their hands won’t become a millionaire, but I do a little better than some because my wife and I do everything — cleaning, bookkeeping, everything. That way I don’t have to pay taxes and employee costs and all that. It’s a lot simpler.

I enjoy the talking to people, the laughter around here, the B.S. about sports and all that. But mostly I just enjoy my independence. After all these years, it would be hard for me to go to work for someone else. I don’t think I could do it again.

Jody Hutchins > Best-Boy/Grip > IATSE Local 80

Photographed by Jack Gould

In the old days, the ’30s, the guys from the studios would go down to the docks and hire guys there. They’d go down and say, “Come on over to MGM tomorrow and bring your best boy.” So that’s where “best boy” comes from. The early grips would carry these bags, called “grip and gos,” with all their tools in them. At least that’s what I’ve heard.

My job is mostly manual labor, but it also entails ordering and taking care of the equipment, hiring and firing the crew, and delegating tasks. The best boy is the lieutenant of the grips, and the key grip is the general. I fell into this job six years ago and decided that I liked it. I wasn’t seeking to be a grip, I didn’t go to film school, or any school. I had a friend who was working on a movie, and it was low-budget, straight-to-video, and they needed a guy. I went in and worked cheap and hard.

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