The relaunched Mr. Figaro Unisex Hairstyling (1919 Avenue Z) opened on Sunday, with a flashy look and a slew of new services.
One thing noticeably absent? Mr. Figaro, a.k.a. Jerry May.
Well, that’s not exactly true. The old dog will still be around the shop, charming clients and talking about the good ol’ days, when he was a media darling known for belting out songs by old school performers. Figaro suffered a minor stroke shortly after the store’s ceiling caved in, and is not yet giving haircuts himself.
But he’s got a handful of help from several new barbers eager to lower the ears of Sheepshead Bay residents.
Following an overhaul that Sheepshead Bites previously mourned for watering down the store’s character, the shop is flashing a lot of new glitz, which Figaro’s son said is an evolution of the store’s place in a neighborhood very different than when it opened in 1977.
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Looks like I need to go back and take Mr. Figaro off of my list of manly barber shops; we’ve lost another one to the metrosexuals.
Damn, I loved this place, too. Mr. Figaro, the Singing Stylist, a.k.a Jerry May, a media darling during the 80s for belting out Sinatra, Jolsen and Crosby – among many others – while fixing hair at 1919 Avenue Z. His walls were decorated with photos of celebrities and media clippings, the floor cluttered with souvenirs (not to mention a piano). He even carved his own Hollywood Star at the entrance floor.
It was a bad year for Figaro. It started out when he tried to bring some new business to the place by hiring some young whippersnappers. They promptly told the old dog to get rid of everything. The shop was cleared out, all the memorabilia gone, and the boys painted over the Hollywood Star.
Is nothing sacred?
Then in June, the ceiling fell in. The Department of Buildings issued an order to vacate. We worried until, in September, renovations started going forward. We thought our old Figaro would be back.
But no. It’s Mr. Figaro’s in name only. It’s just another freakin’ salon now. And only half a block away from the newly opened Voyage Unisex Hair Salon on Ocean Avenue.
I give it one year before one or the other shuts down.
No joke: I really worried. Not just because it’s where I get my hair cut, but because Mr. Figaro Hair Cutting has been a Sheepshead Bay staple for decades. If you remember, back in June, the ceiling of the establishment collapsed, forcing a Department of Buildings Order to Vacate. A sign was put in the window that promised to reopen soon, but nothing has happened since then.
Really, nothing. No work inside. Every time I went by the storefront at 1919 Avenue Z, I’d drop in at the florist next door to check for updates. It was such a shame because it looked like Mr. Figaro (a.k.a. Jerry May) might throw in the towel. Business had slowed, and earlier this year there was an effort to give the shop a face-lift, and Figaro hired two young barbers to assist. Then it all fell in on itself. Literally.
When I saw no work going on, I figured maybe he’d finally take his retirement, and what a shame that we couldn’t put together a report honoring his time as tonsorial artist.
Well, all that fretting for nothing. A new sign is now in the window saying that work has started and they’re shooting for an early October “Regrand Opening,” and that Mr. Figaro would most definitely still be running the show.
View the sign.
By now, readers must know that Mister Figaro, the Singing Stylist of 1919 Avenue Z, is one of my favorite Sheepshead Bay barber shops.
So it pained me to discover yesterday that the shop is closed, if only temporarily. The building’s ceiling and light fixtures collapsed, leaving dust and rubble everywhere. A sign now hangs in the window, informing clients:
To all customers,
We will be closed due to falling ceiling and light fixtures inside of store. Hope to reopen soon. Call 718-332-2122 to check if reopened.
Inside, you can see a lot of the mess and damage, and it looks like cleanup is already underway. However, a Department of Buildings Order to Vacate also hangs in the window, and if that came while they were doing the work, it’s possible the DOB deemed it unsafe. A neighbor didn’t know about the vacate order, but told us the owners still plan to repair the shop and reopen soon.
Photo by David Berke
Let’s face it: you can’t so much as let a gerbil loose on Sheepshead Bay Road without it getting its fur frosted, quiffed, and faux hawk-ified. Sheepshead Bay is home to more salons and stylists than this neighborhood could possibly need. But for some of us – the dyes, the sprays, the haughty attitudes – it’s just not for us.
Some of us just want something a little less gay.
Thank goodness there remain holdovers from the olden days, when men went to barber shops. These no-frill man-caves cut through the crap and offer the trim you want at a fair price. And, most importantly, the loyalty we build with our barber is beyond explanation. Barbershops are the confession booths of the modern man – a place where we spill our guts to a barber we barely know. And ain’t no one judging us on our lack of Eurotrash frippery.
But the barbershops in Sheepshead Bay are few and far between. So when reader Allan B. wrote to us last week, “Men need barber shops, not the other metrosexual crap” we knew exactly what he was talkin’ about. That’s why we put the question to our Facebook readers who spotlighted three reliable old-school barbers (and two newer spots making waves).
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