ELMHURST — The “guy with the straightener at Queens Center Mall,” as he is affectionately known by his thousands of fans, has hung up his flat iron after more than a decade at his small kiosk empire.
Magal, who prefers for professional reasons to go by only his first name, left the Get It Straight kiosk two weeks ago, announcing his departure in a post on his Facebook fan page.
“Was a big pleasure and honor for me to serve such amazing people and energies,” he wrote, prompting hundreds of comments and an outpouring of love from friends and fans.
They'll miss his dancing and the "click click" of his straight iron as he sold the product and styled hair near the mall's Queens Boulevard entrance, they wrote.
Magal knew his announcement would spread fast around Queens — but he said he was honored by the hundreds of comments. His post reached more than 120,000 people, who thanked him for bringing positivity to their lives.
"All this time I was trying to radiate good, and humility," Magal, 37, told DNAinfo in an interview after announcing his departure.
“I loved going to work and I loved working with these energies and making people happy and taking sadness away from people.
He thinks shoppers felt liberated by seeing him, and he hopes he inspired people to be who they want to be.
“I’ve been this way for a long, long time, and I was truly happy and joyful and in a festive mood, always dancing and singing. My style stood out, especially in Queens. I didn’t tone it down over the years.”
Although he sold hair products, his job was about more than just hair.
“I was a therapist when I was there, believe me, you can ask all my customers,” he said, estimating he’s worked on thousands of people's hair since starting in 2004.
Born and raised in Israel, Magal worked in fashion and retail when he first moved to New York.
His first job at the Queens Center Mall was at a booth selling Dead Sea skincare products, which his cousin owned. When his cousin opened the hair straightening booth, Magal switched over.
On his first day he sold nine tools without even knowing the specific sales pitch.
“I said, I think this is good for me and I’ll stay here for a while,'” he said.
Magal said he stood out with his long black hair, tight pants and cowboy boots, always dancing, smiling, and encouraging positivity. "Everyone has that smile hidden, and everyone deserves to wear that smile, always." (DNAinfo/Katie Honan)
He found peace in the bustle of the mall, learning to speak with all kinds of people and personalities who represent the diversity of the borough.
“It was perfect,” he said. “I’m going to a job that makes people pretty and feel happy. It's priceless."
A few years ago, some kids who hung out at the mall made the Facebook page, originally calling it “The guy in Queens Center who chases people with a straightener.” He was at first fine with the page, but asked Facebook to shut it down after seeing negative comments on it.
The page closed and he opened another one, changing the title.
“I’m not chasing people, you will not see me running after people with a straightener, ever,” he said.
Magal loved the energy of the mall, but he realized recently it was time for him to move on to focus on his art and music.
He’s written two poetry books, sings opera and plays drums in heavy metal bands. He still stands behind the product he sold for more than a decade, saying, as a metal head, it’s kept his long hair head banging for years.
But people should move on from things while they’re still on good terms, knowing when to let go, he said.
“Don’t rot, don’t stay in the same place for too long — which I did, but there was an amazing energy that kept me there,” he said.
He’s planning an upcoming vacation before he makes his next move, saying he has many options, although he can guarantee it won’t be in the mall. And he’ll still keep in contact with his fans on Facebook.
“I felt like God gave me a gift to be able to be there for the people,” he said.
“No matter how sad they were, they always left with a smile. And this is where my real money was.”