Aberdeen, MississippiFriday, April 23, 2010
Aberdeen is having its Southern Heritage Pilgrimage this weekend. We were there back in January when there was just a little snow on the ground. They have a historic cemetery there with several interesting monuments.
The makeup artist, Billy Brasfield (who goes by "Billy B") was raised in Aberdeen and in 2006 the NY Times did an article about him coming back home to restore historic properties in town. It reads in part:
Billy Brasfield escaped his hometown of Aberdeen, Miss., population 6,400, only to return on a one-man mission to save it.
But now that he has built a career as a top makeup artist — his rate is as high as $5,000 a day and his clients include Katie Couric, Beyoncé and the Dixie Chicks — he can’t seem to keep himself away. For at least five days each month, when he is not in New York at a magazine cover shoot, or in London on the set of a music video, or in Los Angeles preparing a star for the red carpet, Mr. Brasfield trades makeup brushes for a paintbrush and gets to work on one of the Victorian houses of the town, Aberdeen, Miss.
Since 1990, he has been buying run-down historic houses in the decidedly sleepy town of 6,400, and fixing them up to rent or sell. So far he’s bought 16, making him something of a force in the real estate market of an area where there is little new home building. But Mr. Brasfield, 43, has yet to turn a profit; Billbo Cribs, the company he set up for this endeavor in February, after years of “doing it all by the seat of my pants,” is $45,000 in the red, he said.
“A business manager is looking at me going, ‘What are you doing?’ ” he said. “But it’s not about that to me, and I do believe that as sure as I am sitting here that I will come out winning.”
He is trying to save Aberdeen “one house at a time,” he said.
Although he goes by Billy B in the fashion industry, he is still known as Billy Brasfield here. He grew up in what he calls the “mom-and-pop shop” era, when doors were left unlocked, kids played outside without trouble and Main Street was booming. “It was a fantasy place, like Mayberry R.F.D.,” he said.
After two years of junior college, he made his way back to New York in 1983 and got a job at the cosmetics counter at Macy’s. “It was learn how to do it or get fired,” he said. He promptly taught himself how to apply makeup, discovering a natural talent that was eventually spotted by a Vogue editor, who introduced him to an agent. Within two or three years, his work was appearing in magazines like Glamour and Vanity Fair.
After his father died in 1986, and he realized that his mother was never going to leave Aberdeen, he decided that in spite of his disaffection he wanted to do something to make it a better place to live, “for the town and ultimately for her, too,” he said.
Billy has a salon in Aberdeen - Billy B Beauty / Syd Curry Salon where you can make an appointment (when either are in town doing restorations or visiting family) for makeup, hair, and other services.