Seven Questions for Jean-Marc Levy, Stylist and Former French Baseball Pro

It comes as no surprise to Jean Marc Levy’s clients when the master stylist starts singing Edith Piaf songs—it’s so very French of him. But if he mentions his previous career—as catcher on the French national baseball team—eyebrows arch. France? Baseball? High-end salons? “These things, they do not go together,” he says as he swirls in a chair at The Salon at Red Rock. “But this is me.”

For 16 years, Levy did hair during the week—like his older sister—and played baseball on the weekends, both for the national team and an amateur club squad. In 2007, he moved to the United States to work under celebrity stylist José Eber, then at Cristophe Salon at the MGM Grand. For the last two years he’s been the “creative master stylist” at Red Rock Resort & Casino’s salon (where the average haircut for a local is $110). And while Levy, 43, has hung up his baseball spikes, the game remains a big part of his life thanks to his 16-year-old son, Ylan, a first baseman who has been enrolled in an elite sports academy in France and who was recently accepted to Bishop Gorman High School.

By playing ball at Gorman, the younger Levy will be exposed to Major League Baseball scouts, which is important as he pursues his goal of playing professionally—not that his father isn’t thinking about a fallback plan. “I just ask him, ‘Ylan, if it is not working in school, if it is not working in baseball, will you do the hair?’ He says, ‘If absolutely nothing else works, nothing at all, then I will do the hair.’” Jean-Marc then gestures to the salon. “This,” he says, “is not him.”

How did you end up playing America’s pastime?

I was 9 years old and a friend said, “Hey, come look at this crazy game over on that field.” And I just loved it. I think I was born American. This is for sure. I remember perfectly when I was 7 years old. I took a bag and put some shoes and two shirts and a cap in it and started to walk out. My mom says, “Where are you going?” I said, “I go to America.” She said, “For what?” And I said, “To be an American.” It was just like that.

All growing up, I told people I was going to America. They’d say, “It’s crazy there. The people are always wanting to do better, better, better. They don’t enjoy life.” This is how they think in France. But not me. I love the ambition. I love that you have more opportunity, more chance to be successful.

Baseball players are known for being superstitious. Were you as a player? And are you now as a stylist?

Oh, yes, as a player, for sure. I was 13 years old when I got those [sweatbands] you wear around your wrist. Jose Canseco—he wore them, and so I wanted them, too. I played my whole career with them. My mom would wash them and keep them perfect. Now my son carries those in his bag. They’re 30 years old and still perfect.

In the salon, not really. My dad passed away when I was 12. If I have a difficult client or a very bad day, I just think about him when I need something to believe in. But this is more emotional than superstition.

What from baseball do you bring into the salon?

The catcher sees all the field. In the salon I work like a catcher. I’m in charge of the whole field. I watch everything. I see what [everyone] is doing and who needs help. I bring discipline. I give that compliment like a coach. Like, “Good game!” Only I say, “Beautiful hair!”

If you could have faced any major-league pitcher, who would it be, and how would you have done?

In my generation, Nolan Ryan. He was fast. Back then? I would have hit something very far. I was successful in baseball because I was a very good hitter. I always hit hard—doubles, triples and home runs. But my legs—I was a really [slow] runner. To get to first base, I had to hit [what should be a] triple.

Are your American clients much different from your clients in France?

Hair is hair. The cuts are the same. But a French woman, people think she is always chic and skinny and stylish. But a French woman has shorter hair; she just washes her hair and goes. An American woman, she comes in to have the blow-dry. She puts on makeup to go anywhere.

If you could get any baseball player in your chair, who would it be?

Pete Rose. He had great hair. In Los Angeles, I did his [ex-]wife’s hair. One day he came into the salon and gave me a ball. He signed it, “To my first French fan.” But he didn’t come in for a cut.

But actually, you know those TV shows where there’s a big surprise guest and everybody but one person knows about it? When [that character] opens the door and their hero is standing there? That’s what I want to happen. I want to come in and see Jose Canseco in my chair.

Who’s your pick to win this year’s World Series?

I know the Angels have an amazing lineup, but I always dream for the Dodgers. In France, the only big team we know is the New York Yankees, but [they’re] not my favorite. When I was a teenager, I said my dream was to come do hair in Hollywood and see the Dodgers.