Frank Arcabascio, Hair Artist Extraordinaire and 30th Avenue President
By Ilija Sekulovski
How long have you lived in Astoria?
I’ve lived and worked in Astoria my whole life. I was born in Jackson Heights, and went to Bryant High School. I’m a local boy!
What do you love about working at a hair salon?
I love that it’s an art – I consider myself an artist. I have a wonderful staff, but they’re not just my staff, they’re fellow artists. We’ve been so fortunate to do freelance work hair dressing for the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, the Grammy Awards, and the Met Gala.
You’re big on social media – what’s your favorite aspect of that?
I love that we have apps like Instagram, where we can put our portfolio, but also where we can learn from other artists. You just search #hair and you find a million pictures of inspiration. It’s also great in Astoria, because there’s meet-up apps like Instameet, where you can find other people in Astoria and explore the neighborhood.
That’s awesome. How do you feel about the idea that “the new generation is glued to their phones”?
This brings me back to a saying I heard a while ago: High tech, high touch. Technology doesn’t distort reality, we’re all logical people – but it’s an escape from reality. It’s also, as I see it, a way to bring more people together.
Are you involved in any local groups?
I’m the President of the 30th Avenue Business Association, which means I organize the street festivals, make sure the Christmas lights go up, and just head everything.
How did you start as a hair stylist?
My father and I would get our hair cut at my cousin’s barber shop, and he wouldn’t charge me, so my father would tell me to sweep the floor. I was a “gopher,” – go for cigarettes and food for everyone. Being in that atmosphere showed me how people would walk in a mess, mostly men, and in 45 minutes you’d see an insane transformation. It was like sculpting people. From there, my artist side came out. I realized in college that I kept coming back to the model of a salon, and realized it’s what I wanted to do.
Do you enjoy having people experience that same transformation?
I love it. I think it’s about total improvement – I’m always improving myself. When your hair looks good, you want the rest of you to match, so it leads into fashion and dressing better, and then into making your body better. It’s amazing.
What’s your favorite thing about Astoria?
The people. Astoria is the most multi-cultural, diverse part of New York. It’s a microcosm of the word. You meet people from Dublin and Morocco in the same day, but everyone comes together in Astoria perfectly.
You can find Frank and his whole Redken Saloon Salon team on Instagarm @redkensaloon, or visit them at 36-17 30th Avenue.