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Latinx Files: Meet the 6th Street Bridge barber

A barber giving a man a haircut in the middle of a bridge
Manny Chiuz, a 27-year-old videographer from North Hills, went viral after being filmed giving haircuts in the middle of the 6th Street Bridge.
(Martina Ibáñez-Baldor / Los Angeles Times; Photos provided by Manuel Chiuz)

Manny Chiuz says he got the idea to give free haircuts in the middle of the 6th Street Viaduct shortly after picking up a barstool chair in Woodland Hills on July 20.

Chiuz, a 27-year-old videographer from North Hills, had decided to pursue barbering as a serious hobby weeks before. He’d already acquired wireless clippers and a barber’s gown. All he needed was a chair, which he found on OfferUp for $35.

After picking up the black barstool, Chiuz drove to his best friend’s house. The two had originally arranged to go eat at Trejo’s Tacos in Mid-Wilshire, but headed to L.A.’s latest attraction instead.

a barber stool on the side of the road
Manny Chiuz’s barstool chair.
(Manuel Chiuz)

The new plan was for Chiuz to give free haircuts on the sidewalk of the bridge around sunset, and for his friend to record it with an iPhone.

“I just wanted to do something different and positive,” Chiuz said. In his mind, this was his way of giving back.

Ten minutes passed before a bystander walked by and took the amateur barber up on his offer of a free trim. Chiuz claims there wasn’t much vehicular traffic, so he decided to take his chances and move his chair to the middle of the bridge.

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It was a cooler shot, after all.

“It was a nice view, and of course I love sunsets,” he said.

“I just felt it was perfect. It was just a vibe. I was getting a lot of love from the cars driving through. Several of them kept yelling, ‘I’m next. I’m next!’ It just felt so organic.”

In the end, Chiuz gave out two haircuts, but filmed only the first. He stood out there for roughly an hour before it got too dark. By the time he got home, he’d already gone viral.

That night, Instagram user “llilly.xo.” posted a video of Chiuz from the angle of a car driving by. That clip was then reposted by “BoyleHts,” a meme and user-generated content-aggregator account.

Local TV news outlets picked up the story the following day, airing the aforementioned clip in segments that framed it as yet another example of bad behavior at the 6th Street Bridge that has led to closures, another instance of people not knowing how to act right. The news of his antics even reached a cousin in Texas, who called Chiuz to tell him that his co-workers were all talking about it.

When I asked if he did it for social media clout, Chiuz adamantly denied it, pointing out that it wasn’t even his video that became popular. He did acknowledge the attention he’d received on social media.

“I’ve been getting so much love on Instagram. I’ve been getting a lot of hate, but love too,” adding that he had also received multiple interview requests but turned most of them down because he didn’t want to talk on camera.

So why do it?

“It’s L.A., it’s our city, man,” he said. “It’s our home. It’s with love. It’s just, we all love L.A. and I just feel like … man, I don’t know how to explain it.”

The more I pressed him, the more it dawned on me that maybe it wasn’t that deep. Chiuz didn’t step foot on the bridge to make some bigger statement. He wasn’t trying to re-create Asco’s 1974 performance art piece “First Supper (After a Major Riot).” He had no business to promote or product to plug.

He did it for the sake of doing it, because he thought it would look cool. It’s the same reason why a teenager would choose the bridge as the setting for her quinceañera photoshoot.

It’s the same reason why City Councilmember Kevin de León led a fleet of lowriders across the bridge before it opened.

Before it was demolished, the original 6th Street Viaduct made appearances in movies such as “Terminator 2: Judgement Day,” “Repo Man,” “Grease” and “Drive.” Rest assured the new structure’s list of credits will be just as long.

“This will be in many ways what everybody sees in 2028 when they come to the Olympics,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said of the bridge on July 9. “I am sure it will be part of the torch relay when the Olympics come. We should put everything on here.”

The city’s film permit office is already working on that. According to Curbed’s Alissa Walker, “productions can start shooting on the bridge on September 1.”

Clearly, local officials have no qualms with car commercials or movies filming on the new bridge. Why, then, should they begrudge their constituents for wanting to do the same thing?

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Things we read this week that we think you should read

— The Times’ editorial board argues that the city should ban cars from the 6th Street Bridge altogether. “The viaduct was built for cars, but it should be reclaimed for people,” it writes.

— Mexico City correspondent Kate Linthicum wrote about the tension between residents of CDMX and the growing number of foreigners who have moved there. This quote in particular stood out to me:

“Americans can come here, and they can afford everything and live like kings and queens,” said Dan Defossey, an American who moved to Mexico a dozen years ago and owns a popular barbecue joint. But they need to understand, he said, that “Mexico is not cheap for Mexicans.”

— Speaking of foreigners in Mexico, food editor Daniel Hernandez wrote this tribute to Diana Kennedy, a British woman many credit for elevating Mexican cuisine in the United States thanks to her cookbooks.

— As a counterpoint, Gustavo Arellano argues that the recently discontinued Choco Taco is more Mexican than Kennedy ever was.

— Got unhealthy plants? Take them to this “plant ER” in Fullerton owned by three siblings with roots in Sinaloa.

— The latest from senior ESPN writer and former Latinx Files guest writer Roberto José Andrade Franco is arguably one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking stories to come out of Uvalde, Texas. It’s about baseball, Texas history, gun culture and unspeakable loss. Make sure you have some tissues handy because you will cry.

The best thing on the Latinternet: Mad about “spa water” or “cowboy caviar”? Then you’ll absolutely enjoy this video by TikTok user Daniela Rabalais, who has hilariously decided to appropriate American food for the culture. Sausage tacos with moo-stard, anyone? Also, Trader José's. 💀💀💀


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