Cutting ties

Staff writer Joseph Myers talks shop with Victor Picariello.

Photo by Tina Garceau

In The Beatles’ 1967 hit “Penny Lane,” Paul McCartney sang of a barber “showing photographs of every head he’s had the pleasure to know.” If Victor Picariello were to have emulated the Liverpool-based stylist, he would have easily filled volumes of books with images of commendable coifs. On Christmas Eve, the 73-year-old will close his eponymous shop, 2701 S. 16th St., retiring from the profession that has brought him global renown and local adoration.

“I’m fortunate to have made a good name for myself, and now it’s time to start a new life,” he said from his 48-year-old establishment. “Of course, I don’t fully know how I’m going to feel, but I’m definitely aware of how much I’ll miss my customers because I have had so many beautiful, beautiful customers.”

Back woes that originated about six years ago initiated thoughts of laying his scissors down, and Picariello, with two fellow tonsorial artists also in their seventies, decided to make Saturday their final occasion to make clips and share quips together. The South Jersey resident will also be lowering ears today and tomorrow as he prepares to end a career that dates back to his boyhood in Italy’s Avellino province and that has sustained his 57-year tenure in the United States.

“As a kid, I never liked it and didn’t really want to be a barber,” Picariello said, noting that having a wife (Lorraine) and three children (Maria, Victor Jr., and Anthony) by age 21 necessitated rooting himself in a vocation. “When I dedicated myself, though, I saw so many possibilities, and I can say all my dreams came true.”

The maestro with the scissors, who previously called Lower Moyamensing, Packer Park and West Passyunk home, amassed many accolades in his esteemed time as a friend to follicles, including the coveted Oscar De Paris. International travel also sharpened his acumen, and thousands of thrilled patrons, including celebrities and entertainers (Rat Packer Joey Bishop being one of them), have come to consider him a legendary mainstay.Time, as the saying goes, though, is an undefeated foe, and Picariello, who disclosed that settlement on the property will occur Dec. 30 for the space’s likely transformation into a law office, eagerly awaits spending his remaining allotment of years tending to other pursuits, including garden maintenance, travel, and golf, which, like his line of work, has kept his hands quite busy.

“I can’t do this beyond this year because I don’t want to work with pain anymore,” he said. “However, I know I have to do something, and I’m eager to make plans as 2017 unfolds.”

Only two days away from cutting ties to the tasks that have displayed his dexterity for more than six decades, counting his time in Italy, Picariello, appreciative of his estimation among clients, will never trim their patronage from his memories.

“They’re who inspired me to be the best I could,” he said. “I say ‘Thank you’ to them and wish them well.” SPR

Contact Staff Writer Joseph Myers at