Southern Brooklyn

WTFigaro?! Another Brooklyn Institution Gone


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.

Comment policy


  1. A real travesty. And, speaking of which, WTF is that huge, gray, towering monstrosity a few blocks down Z? Good God, talk about non-uniformity. It looks about as out of place there as it would in Yosemite National Park.

  2. Check this place out in the evening, they got a cool spinning “Mr. Figaro” light flashing into the sidewalk in front of the shot… i’ll try to take a picture next time

  3. not to knock the guy but he was getting old. im guessing he sold his business and made a few bucks and retired and is planning on leaving peacefully. i dont blame him.

  4. Well to let all of you know MR.FIGARO is here and is back!!!!!!!!! In case you were wondering MR. FIGARO will be around to greet his customers it is not a new owner same owner so come down and see for your self that MR.FIGARO will be still belting out tunes and songs for all to see. Thank You for all the reporting its been wonderful!

  5. Well I was actually going to say “Good Riddance” but based on the most recent comment, it appears he’s not gone. My one time there in my youth – the mid 1990’s – the one time I deviated from Jerry’s Barber Shop a block away on Z – he interrogated me, who I was, was I a customer of Jerry’s, why am I here now. And then stopping every few moments to go on and on about the state of the world today culminating in a racist rant that has, to this day, the greatest racist line I’ve ever heard: “These blacks with what they sing, me? I sing Jazz, blues…” And it wasn’t even that great a haircut.

    So he was interviewed by Chauncy Howell. Big deal. My grandfather was profiled by Chauncy Howell. Just because of a noise he made with his mouth.

  6. That blog shows that if you are a public person, you really got to be careful who you speak to these days because of the internet. It really wasn’t very smart of him speaking to that person the way he did. If he continues, his days with Channel 12 will be numbered because his beliefs will get out sooner or later.

    Incidentally, I spoke to him a few years ago, of all places on the Ocean Avenue Bridge. He was stopping people asking them if they knew what Sheepshead Bay was named after. I was the first person he stopped, and of course I gave him the correct answer, which blew him away. He expected to interview 25 people before someone came along with the correct answer. Then he told me who he was and that he was doing a story for Channel 12. I hadn’t recognized him, having not seen him on TV for about 20 years since I don’t have cable. But I remembered his name. The first thought that came to mind was “I thought you were dead by now.” but of course I didn’t say that.

    Then he became quite chatty after the brief interview. I think he was just lonely. I tried to interest him in another story for him to cover which he could have filmed just a few feet away. He responded that he doesn’t do real news any more, just dumb stories like the one he was doing right now. He wanted to continue talking, but I had other things I needed to do. He obviously doesn’t need the money and just has the job to keep him busy and around people.

  7. News people aren’t always the brightest crayons in the pack. Denis Hamilll often is too honest with people he meets casually, he can be chatty at times. And I heard a story that Bill Beutel used to hitch rides home on the NYCHHC drunk wagon. He was usually drunk and talked way too much. Some of the stuff he said was startling.

    I’m surprised that Chancey is still alive too. I mean, he’s way older than we are, and you and I aren’t kids anymore. I do shudder to think that they’ll be saying that about us someday. I can still laugh about it though.

    I bet if we looked into his genealogy we’d find that his Chauncey ancestor was a farmer. So much for his titled lineage. And it wouldn’t surprise me if the ancestor the street was named after was a abolitionist. Said ancestor would have cringed to hear such thinly-veiled racist expression.

    Still, it appears that even 8 years ago he was desperate for attention. It’s conceivable that he rubs people the wrong way generally. It’s really kind of sad.

  8. I met Bill Beutel once the first or second year he was in New York. I was about 16. It was during the AFTRA strike and he, Jim Hartz, Mitch Miller, and a few others who I don’t remember anymore were picketing outside Radio City Music Hall. I asked all of them to sign my Program from the Music Hall. I think the show and movie cost $1 back then. Beutel acted like a real gentleman, and Mitch Miller signed my program while he was flirting with the pretty young women. I still have the program somewhere.

  9. It’s amazing to read the comments on this blog.

    First of all, why would anyone care that some old man who was hardly anything special closed his entirely mediocre barber shop?

    And then the constant comments by people like ES, below. Do you want this shitty neighborhood to forever be riddled with lower middle class old people? Be grateful that that “monstrosity” is raising the value of your old house next door.

    Christ it’s like a bunch of gossipy, old and bitter women here.

  10. I heard that Bill Beutel was nice, but enjoyed yelling bizarre stories. And Mitch Miller was extremely principled, he had been an executive at Columbia Records, owned by CBS at the time of the AFTRA strike. A jazz musician earlier, he was a strong believer in unions. I also remember that he went to several Washington Moratoriums in’ 69.


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