"Pool table, beer, nice-looking girls," says Jimmy Sano, a 33-year-old Manhattan money broker. A mounted lion's head stares glassily over a gold felt billiard table as Jimmy lines up a shot. "And they even make a bald guy look good." Though Sano's head is not quite cue-ball material, it's clear that the haircuts are not the main reason he keeps his John Allan's membership up-to-date. "The girls really go out of their way to take personal care of you," he says. "It's just relaxing after a long day."
Stop thinking what you're thinking. No hush-hush Wall Street bordello, John Allan's, across from the American Stock Exchange, is merely "a glorified barber shop," insists manager Michael Giordano -- with a staff of fifteen alluring, black-clad young women. Since 1988, only about 900 Wall Streeters at a time have held annual memberships at the private men's club, their $490 in yearly dues entitling them to as many haircuts, manicures, and shoe shines as they can stand -- not to mention the free keg-tapped beer (cigars are extra). But with the rip-snorting bull market attracting even outer-borough Boiler Room operators, John Allan's is leveraging its position among Wall Street's Young Turks to expand its membership rolls. This spring should also see the opening of a midtown branch, which will save members like investment banker Avery Byrd the inconvenience of a Town Car trip from his office at 52nd and Fifth twice a month. "I brought a managing director of my firm here and he couldn't believe it," says Byrd, 36. "He said, 'No wonder you come back to work looking so tranquil. It looks like you're getting a little more than a haircut.' "
The staff, of course, is discouraged from fraternizing with the clientele. "That's one thing about this joint; it's strictly professional," says broker Eddie Keslo, 34. "There's no fooling around." Still, it's easy to see how unsuspecting execs could get the wrong impression. You're sitting in a green leather tuck-and-roll club chair as Marisa runs her fingers through your hair and Flavia takes your hand in both of hers. A cigar awaits you in the smoking room, and the taste of the cold beer Patricia's just brought you is fresh on your lips. There is the snick of Marisa's scissors, the slight pressure of Flavia's nail clippers. Okay, so it's only a beauty treatment, but you're a hungry young broker surrounded by sexy young women, and for 30 minutes, all's right with the world. (Of course, there's that Qualcomm stock eating a hole in your portfolio, but . . .)
Oddly, John Allan's fairest feature is also a sticking point for many members. "I was very skeptical about having women cut my hair," says Byrd, who had only been to barbers before stepping into 95 Trinity Place. "But now the beautiful technicians doing the work is my favorite part." "It was all just a matter of education," says proprietor John Allan Meing.
Though appointments don't begin until 11 a.m., members often drop by on their way to work for a shoe shine from Francisco, the club's unofficial father figure. Evenings find tired traders stopping in for refreshment. "I like to have a drink after the day," says Shawn Smith, 26, "but sometimes beer just don't cut it." Fortunately, members can bring their own bottles of harder stuff for the club to keep on hand.
Besides Wall Streeters, club members include lower-Manhattan types like former assistant district attorney Kevin Hynes, son of Brooklyn D.A. Charles Hynes, and Chris and Dan D'Amato, sons of senator turned lady-killer Al. Senator Joe Biden's sons drop in occasionally for a $49 nonmember treatment. Recently, Giordano has been signing up about two new members a day, though the window will close once membership reaches about 1,000. "Any more," he says, "and we wouldn't be able to service the guys the way they need to be serviced."