Don’t call it iron-ic.
A Greenpoint dad will set up his Ikea ironing board at Williamsburg bar Pete’s Candy Store next month and do people’s ironing for free — a performance he insists is no joke, just a totally sincere way to practice a cherished pastime.
“I love ironing, I really do,” said James Hook, who works at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden when he isn’t ironing for his three kids. “I feel in order to perfect it, I need to bring it into a public forum — I feel you need to have people judging your work beyond your friends and family.”
Hook will wield his Black and Decker steam iron at the bar from 9 pm to midnight every Tuesday night in July, straightening out as much as the bar’s patrons can throw at him during the allotted time.
He does not claim to be a expert, but he says he knows his way around rumpled linen — and hopes to get even better by the end of the “residency.”
“I consider myself a journeyman-level ironer,” he said. “I’m quite good, but not a professional yet.”
The self-proclaimed “Iron Man” says his love of all things laundry goes back to his childhood in Kenya, where there were no clothes dryers so everyone spent a lot of time hanging out the washing and then ironing the wrinkly results.
“Because everything was hung out to dry, ironing was a big part of my domestic and social young life,” he said.
These days, Hook says he loves nothing more than getting hot and steamy with an Oxford shirt and would never dream of sleeping on un-ironed sheets like a barbarian.
He finds no joy in pleated skirts, however, which he says manage to be both challenging and dull “in the same way ‘Moby-Dick’ is.”
Beyond honing his hobby, Hook hopes the act will elevate an otherwise mundane household task into a revered ritual — like a Japanese tea ceremony — and allow him to connect with those who offer up their wrinkled slacks on a more spiritual level.
“I hope some part of this will be a ceremonial aspect,” he said. “Hopefully this will help momentarily guide our spirits to something higher.”
But don’t expect a meaningful dialogue or existential musings on stainless steel versus ceramic soleplates during the sessions — Hook says he likes to iron to “a strong propulsive beat” and plans to zone out listening to wordless prog rock and transcendental Pakistani Sufi music on his iPod so he is not distracted by the bar soundtrack.
“I don’t want to listen to U2 — I don’t want to listen to anything with a message while I iron,” he said.
This isn’t Hook’s first wacky bar-based endeavour — he organized a dish-washing competition at the Diamond in May, a dinner party at Le Gamin Cafe inspired by Russian mystic Rasputin in 2014, and for years ran a popular lecture series at Pete’s, which is also where he got married.
James Hook presents “Iron Man” at Pete’s Candy Store [709 Lorimer St. between Richardson and Front streets in Williamsburg, (718) 302–3770, www.petes
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