If ever you’ve found yourself getting off the train at Myrtle-Broadway and walking in the direction of Palisades (RIP?), or maybe the Silent Barn, or wherever– anywhere but the nearest K2 dealer– you’ve definitely caught a glimpse of Enrique’s unisex salon. There’s no other place like it, probably on the planet, but certainly in Bushwick.
Enrique (he’s the owner) works behind big picture windows, ensuring that oglers get a full-frame view of the eccentric decor. During daylight hours, you can catch a glimpse of Enrique and his fabulous clients getting snipped under the array of sparkling chandeliers, their faces framed by ornate golden mirrors, completely unfazed by the over-the-top rococo surroundings. But it’s at nighttime when the place really lights up.
That’s exactly where the opening scene of John Bigmun & Mark Frost’s music video,“Ciudad Nights” begins. Enrique’s shop is immediately recognizable from the first few seconds, when the camera lingers on the bold statement sign wrapped around the building: a shooting star that looks a whole lot like the one from those ’90s “The More You Know” PSAs, trailed on either side by twin rainbows that act like stardust-sprinkled happy trails pulling your eyes downward.
Most of the stylists are packing up to leave for the night, and Bigmun’s the last guy to get his haircut. As the hairdresser’s brushing the spare hairs off his shoulders, the lights start to flicker on and off and, suddenly, Bigmun’s transformed from a regular dude getting his haircut to a smooth-crooning R&B star: he’s got the mic, and an all-white getup topped with a shimmery gold bracelet and matching necklace.
The salon seems to undergo a Cinderella-like transformation of its own as the overhead lights go dark and the flashing, mood-ring hot tub ones flicker on. If you’re a fan of Enrique’s, then you know that, to a certain degree anyway, this is the natural day-to-night cycle of the salon, which acts as a sort of psychedelic glowing orb for the neighborhood, keeping baby-children safe at night and luring in drunkards to gaze at its mysterious beauty.
“I’ve always just admired it and I wanted to bone up on my Español so I started getting my haircut there and just hanging out,” Bigmun told us. “Enrique is a truly amazing guy.”
As such, “Ciudad Nights”– a single from Pasta and Veal, Bigmun and Frost’s new EP– has some Spanish refrains, and Bigmun seems to be comfortable with basic Spanish, even if the pronunciation is charmingly, shall we say– Peggy Hill. (Throughout the interview, Bigmun complained that his Bluetooth device was acting up, so we’re willing to believe that his ears just pick up on things differently.) He switches back to English for the chorus, which is nevertheless gorgeous in its own right: “I felt like a boy, like a child, like a fool/ like a fool, like a child/ I felt like a child, like a fool/ Like a boy, like a boy-child-fool.”
Enrique turned out to be totally receptive to letting Bigmun and Frost film their video inside his salon. In fact, the duo even convinced the owner to appear on camera. “He was there during the shoot just to make sure everything ran smoothly, and then I saw him dancing kind of in the corner,” Bigmun recalled. “I asked him if he wanted to dance on camera and he was so excited to dance. He has serious moves. So that was special.”
As an ’80s-inspired smooth-rock-tinged R&B song, “Ciudad Nights” has as much dance-appeal as it does late-night, cocaine-numbed, fried-synapse vibes. It’s a perfect track for that point during the party when you’re not quite ready to come down, but you sure as shit can’t feel your feet. Any photographic evidence from these hours is sure to be plagued with heavy lids and googly eyes, which probably explains why Mark Frost (the guy in the undone suit playing guitar) is donning a pair of sunglasses on the video. In what seems like an ode to Prince, Frost is surrounded by a purplish haze.
Before Bigmun teamed up with Frost, he put in some time as the lead singer for a punk band called Rock Bottom Boys. “The punk stuff was great, but I kind of wanted to do something more, like, closer to my influences like Boy George and Prince and stuff like that,” he explained. “So the new project is more in that vein.”
Enrique’s, then, was the perfect spot to shoot the “Ciudad Nights” video– the salon could easily be the backdrop for a Prince stage set-up, and the beauty parlor just has to have a double somewhere inside Paisley Park. There’s actually no other place I could imagine Prince sat for a haircut.
With its ornate details, the salon looks like a glowing Roman bath house amidst Myrtle-Broadway’s urban decay. It’s perfectly fit for royalty or even the cover of some romance novel heavy on neoclassical themes and Greek shipping heirs. Whatever the inspiration, Enrique’s done a fantastic job of pimping out the place with flashing lights and gold-and-crystal chandeliers, and going for broke with the baroque theme– Alexander the Great’s flawless face graces one bust, and Nefertiti’s likeness is replicated across several more. Awash in bitty little sky blue tiles, the mosaic-like walls complete the color palette that crosses a freshly-cleaned, fancy bidet room with Michelangelo’s vision of the heavens.
But for all its purity and godliness, “Ciudad Nights,” much like Enrique’s salon, embraces its Dionysian side. The billowing smoke machine and sizzling hot dancers are in full effect, and they bring a heavy dose of sex appeal.
So who is this John Bigmun, anyway? I was first introduced to his work by Sheri Barclay, the founder of KPISS radio. Turns out, Bigmun’s not only a talented frontman, he’s also a DJ on Bushwick’s “irreverent community radio station,” with his own show, The Artist Lounge (every other Sunday, 9 pm to 10 pm). Each episode, Bigmun highlights work by a new artist and interviews them directly about their output.
You may have seen Bigmun perform at any number of his recent shows, including one at Roebling Liquors, another at Best Pizza and, most recently, an appearance at the Giglio Feast at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Williamsburg. “I also performed a show after completing an elliptical marathon, or 26.2 miles on an elliptical, in which I took pledges to raise money for the Alliance for Lupus Research Foundation,” Bigmun explained. (If you don’t believe him, see below.)
THE ELLIPTICAL MARATHON FUNDRAISER FOR @allianceforlupusresearch WAS TRULY MAGICAL. THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART FOR THE PHYSICAL EMOTIONAL AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT. I COMPLETED THE 26.2 MILES BECAUSE OF YOU. IF YOU HAVENT YET PLEASE CONSIDER DONATING TO THE CAUSE BY CLICKING THE LINK IN MY BIO. FROM ME TO YOU FOREVER.
The singer agreed that he’s partial to playing unusual venues as opposed to just the regular club circuit. “I’m an open book,” he said. “I’m playing a bar mitzvah in September, but I’m open to playing anything, even dogs’ birthday parties.”
Don’t miss your chance to see Bigmun in the flesh at the KPISS one-year anniversary bash, happening Sunday August 21 at Bizarre bar in Bushwick. The two backup dancers in “Ciudad Nights” will also make an appearance alongside Bigmun, so mark your calendar guys, it’s gonna be a night to remember.