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FOR WELL-GROOMED MEN PAMPERED, BUT MACHO.

Byline: BRENT HOPKINS Staff Writer

STUDIO CITY -- Vic Sosikian sees masculine utopia in wood panels, leather chairs, sharp scissors and Sinatra.

For years, he was just a dude laboring away in the mortgage and marketing industries. A fashionable but regular guy, he liked to take care of himself, get his nails manicured, a nice haircut -- nothing too fancy. He never found a place he liked. He stewed over this, embarrassingly resorting to ladies' nail salons for a nice treatment.

And then, like many an entrepreneur before, the solution came to him in a dream. He'd build himself a club where men could indulge themselves and still feel manly. A place where a gent could swagger in, kick back with a cool drink or a cup of coffee and shoot the breeze with his pals. A place of manicures and music.

A place called Mark Matthew.

``In here, a man's feeling like a king,'' said Sosikian, who opened the Mark Matthew Fine Gentlemen's Grooming Club last month on Ventura Boulevard. ``There's been a void. Men have sacrificed taking care of their hands, their face, their feet. We're here to allow men to groom themselves again.''

He invested seven months and ``a lot of money'' to transform a former Color Me Mine above a rotisserie chicken joint into the fully appointed suite. Part private club, part barbershop, part spa, it projects an aura of machismo from the moment a would-be client steps out of the elevator.

The scent of roasted poultry disappears, replaced by the smells of an old fashioned barber. ``That's Amore'' spills from speakers, and Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong and the Chairman of the Board himself look down on clients from the posters on the wall.

Sosikian, a young guy with an older man's presence, came up with the name as a deliberately ambiguous moniker for all things manly.

``If for you a groomed gentleman is an old-style guy in a suit and a nice scarf, that's Mark Matthew,'' he said. ``For someone else, Mark Matthew is a trendy-dressed guy with a 5-o'clock shadow.''

Like super-premium ice cream or those coffee drinks with pretentious Italian names, Mark Matthew aims to cater to the sort of man who feels good about paying more for a quality product.

A straight-razor shave, the sort old-school barbers used to dole out along with a haircut for two bits, lasts nearly an hour, involves multiple hot towels and lather and costs $55. An eyebrow wax goes for $20, as does a manicure. For $295, a man can get any service on the list, offered to him on an antique Theo Koch Columbia barber chair Sosikian picked up from a collector in the Inland Empire for 800 bucks.

For $985, he can become a member of the club for a year and get groomed every three weeks.

``Sitting in that chair, what can I say? I feel like a CEO,'' said Moses Keshishian, 22, who lives in Altadena and works in sales. ``I feel as if I have a $2 million salary, that's what I feel like. I hate leaving because I have to go get out into the real world again. You're sitting there inside and you're like Bill Gates, someone with all the power and the respect in the world.''

That's exactly the image Sosikian wants, more social spot than retail store. He encourages customers to come by, read The Robb Report, enjoy a beverage and rap with each other. He roams the interior, glad-handing and greeting visitors more like a master of ceremonies than a businessman.

``I've been struggling for the last year and a half to find someone who I was comfortable with cutting my hair,'' said Josh Sternberg, 26, a Sherman Oaks magazine editor. ``Most of my guy friends go to female salons because the other options are a (crummy) $15 one from Supercuts or some barber who doesn't know his way around the scissors.''

Mark Matthew employs two stylists, two barbers and a manicurist/aesthetician. Their services are not cheap, nor are they quick, but Sosikian thinks that indulgent, luxe style will be his key to success.

``I want to make the haircut not something to avoid,'' the owner said. ``I want it to be something you look forward to. This is more than a barbershop. This is a grooming club.''

brent.hopkins@dailynews.com

(818) 713-3738

Mark Matthew menu of services

Full service haircut: $55

Straight-razor shave: $55

Hand detail: $20

Foot treatment: $40

Presidential service

(private haircut, shave or any other service in an antique barber chair): $295

CAPTION(S):

3 photos, box

Photo:

(1 -- 2 -- color) Owner Vic Sosikian shows off the vintage barber chair at Mark Matthew Fine Gentlemen's Grooming Club, an upscale salon in Studio City. Inset, clients can relax in leather lounge chairs and enjoy haircuts and manicures.

(3 -- color) Vic Sosikian welcome men to Mark Matthew Fine Gentlemen's Grooming Club, which features deep leather chairs and hot towels.

Evan Yee/Staff Photographer

Box:

Mark Matthew menu of services (see text)
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 1, 2006
Words:837
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