Friendly neighborhood ‘Iron Man’ presses New Yorkers’ clothes for free at bar

It’s the most pressing story in the city.

A sharply dressed Brooklyn man is spending his weeknights ironing strangers’ clothes at a bar for free — simply to do some good for his neighborhood while kindling a love of linen.

While he’s been steamrolling over the city’s wrinkles for nearly a decade, this everyday hero had to fold through almost all of the pandemic.

But now the beloved “Iron Man” of Greenpoint, once recognized by Eric Adams for his searing social conscience, has risen from the steamy mist to smooth out our fashion demons.

“Iron Man” James Hook enjoys pressing strangers’ clothes for free as a community service. Stefano Giovannini

“At a time when public services are being stripped away from us left, right and center, here’s something that was so undervalued that nobody would ever even consider making it into a public service,” 50-something James Hook told The Post.

Hook has turned ironing into a public service, which he does for free. Stefano Giovannini

“I thought that was a really fascinating civic enterprise to start.”

After working at his full-time job, Hook sets up his board at the local Mallard Drake bar on Monday nights at 8 as neighbors wait on line to get their numerous items steam cleaned.

Each outing, he brings his ironing board from home and carefully presses as many as 20 garments. If it’s a small crowd, he mainly works on his own clothes. March 18 would have been Hook’s Tie Night if not for a laundry list of people waiting.

Hook had several patrons on Monday, March 18. Stefano Giovannini

Even if you don’t bring your laundry, rest assured. Hook has a “courtesy robe” to change into while he presses whatever you’re already wearing.

“It’s quirky, but he’s got spunk and personality,” said first-timer Nick DeWitt, 38, who brought three collared shirts and hit it off with the friendly Hook, who sported a tuxedo and bow tie for the evening.

Accompanying Hook is his trusty yet dated iPod Shuffle and over-the-ear headphones. He plays all sorts of music, from The Beatles to ’90s Japanese pop, Louis Armstrong and French songs as he gets to work pro bono next to the bar’s front window.

Hook will ask patrons about fun or major events they’ve worn their garments to, show them proper ironing technique and allow them to press a few lines themselves. They get a go at the Shuffle and headphones too.

Nick DeWitt presses a few lines on his own shirt while listening to Hook’s iPod Shuffle. Stefano Giovannini

“None of it feels weird or out of place at all,” 23-year-old Margaux Allen, who brought button-downs and a pleated dress collar that needed a professional’s touch, told The Post.

“He’s so approachable and friendly. It all comes off very natural.”

Needless to say, Hook — who has offered his complimentary service on and off for nearly 10 years, and created an ironers’ union over five years ago — has become essential to the fabric of his area.

Margaux Allen gave Hook a challenge with her pleated dress collar. Stefano Giovannini

“People are like, ‘Look, the Iron Man!’ when I walk down the street with my board,” added Hook, a lover of superheroes who wants to normalize helping others in simple ways.

“It’s really nice to be recognized in the neighborhood for that.”

The friendly neighborhood Iron Man’s origin began years ago when Hook acquired a few high-quality shirts from overseas that he learned how to passionately and properly care for.

Hook has a yearslong passion for ironing clothes. Stefano Giovannini

Hook’s good deeds not only caught the attention of some sidekicks who joined the ironing union but also Brooklyn’s then-Borough President Eric Adams in 2018.

In an official city proclamation, Hizzoner decreed that April 23 would be named in honor of the union “promoting ironing as a public service to the people of Brooklyn.” Hook proudly displays it as he presses clothes.

However, the pandemic became a major wrinkle for the Iron Man, who for a long time had no occasion to wear nice clothes or places to fulfill his civic duty. He had no choice but to take a lengthy hiatus from the board.

“It was sort of like, you know, what happened when Batman left Gotham and the city descended into chaos.”

DeWitt admires the proclamation Hook was given from the city for his philanthropic ironing. Stefano Giovannini

But this month, he’s back at it regularly, and he teased even higher aspirations and public good deeds to crease in 2024. Beyond the gesture of goodwill, Hook also provides a warm connection for a city struggling with an epidemic of loneliness.

“Anytime people are surprised or their guard is let down, they loosen up a little bit,” Hook said of how receptive people are to seeing his board for the first time.

“They become softer and more gentle and more human.”

Hook has found his public ironing can bring people together. Stefano Giovannini

Even DeWitt admitted he probably wouldn’t have gone out on a Monday night if not for appreciating the Iron Man’s efforts. He’s already stoked to come back.

“I don’t want to be too greedy, but I’m already planning ahead of what else I can bring next week,” DeWitt said. “Worst case, I’ll tarnish what I brought tonight and I’ll wear them heavy for the next few days.”

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