January 24, 2006
I admit it. The Latherking has not been filling my life with glee. The more I use this thing, the more I think it’s only appropriate for a professional barbershop, and totally useless for an at-home shavegeek scenario.
The problem is the lather. For all its vaunted ability to deliver instant hot lather anytime you press its button, the Latherking’s lather just isn’t as good as what you get when you use a shaving brush to make lather with a good tub-style shaving cream. And let’s be brutally honest here — that “hot lather” is only hot for a few seconds when you pat it on your skin, and then it plunges to room temp. So what you’re buying, essentially, is two seconds of hot lather. I was kind of hoping for, oh, maybe some heat for the duration of the shave, but I hoped wrong.
The previous owner of this beast reads Shaveblog and suggested I add a tablespoon of Lucky Tiger Shave Lotion, a bottle of which he’d included along with the Latherking when he sent it to me. He said it would add mo’ lube to the lather, so I mixed the Lucky Tiger in with a tank of water and two fingers of Taylor’s Shaving Shop cream, and let it marinate overnight.
I’ll be honest with you. My face took kind of a beating from the shave I caught with the Latherking the other day. I got a close shave, but even as I was shaving I knew I’d be paying for it later — the blade skipped on my skin, which always means less-than-optimal-lube which itself means I’m not going to look or feel so hot for the next 24-48 hrs.
So today I took a break from the Latherking and went and caught a post-workout shave at the gym. I even spent double the usual time in the steam room, because I was listening to the latest Ricky Gervais podcast on my iPod in there and stayed for the whole thing (apologies to anyone who walked in and found a lone, drenched, semi-naked man giggling like an idiot to himself in an otherwise silent steam room).
I shaved immediately after the steam with my usual gym rig — 1940s Gillette Super Speed DE razor, Swedish Gillette blade, Simpson Wee Scot shaving brush, Nancy Boy shaving cream, and Trumper Lime Skin Food — and got the kind of alpha shave that makes all of this prissy nonsense worthwile. I don’t need @%#$ hot lather. I need to just stick to this rig and NEVER DEVIATE FROM IT, EVER.
Like that’ll happen.
By the way, I want to clear something up about the 1940’s Super Speed razor. Ever since I wrote about this amazing vintage Gillette, my favorite by far of all the old Gillette DEs, I’ve seen guys snapping up Super Speeds and then complaining that they don’t shave worth a damn. The problem isn’t the Super Speed — the problem is you guys got the wrong razor.
This is a 1940s Gillette Super Speed, the one I recommend:
And here’s the later version from the ’50s and ’60s which some of you shavegeeks are scoring off eBay:
You can tell the later Super Speeds by their larger, flared TTO (twist to open) knobs. They look like bell-bottom pants, perhaps in a nod to the prevailing fashion of the day. The original ’40s Super Speed’s knob is only slightly wider than the rest of the shaft and doesn’t flare out at all, as God intended pants to be.
These two versions look similar, but they shave very differently, and the later Super Speeds aren’t even in the same league as the originals. I’ve got quite a few of these ’50s and ’60s Super Speeds, in all kinds of color schemes — red, blue, and black knobs (indicating how aggressive the blade exposure is), black shaft with a silver knob, silver shaft with a silver knob, you name it. None of them is manufactured to the same standard as the original ’40s Super Speeds, and none of them shaves nearly as closely and comfortably. Some of these later Super Speeds are decent enough razors, but if you really want the magic, hunt down the first version.