Like many of the other white houses perched along the shoreline in south Bellmore, Tommy Pecora’s contemporary dwelling has no house number to distinguish it. Inside is another matter, where the sparkling space reminiscent of a sleek Soho gallery is stamped with the individuality that only a 50-year-old hairdresser/bodybuilder can bring to it.
Most days of the week, Pecora is cutting hair just a few miles away at Maximus, where he’s worked for the past 26 years. Today, the perfectly tooled machine that is Pecora pads softly around the house, dressed in work-out gear.
This place is clearly a bachelor’s digs—an antique pool table sprawls across what would be called the living room in a more conventional home. Two rounded velvet chaises and a chair in deep tones of olive, eggplant and pumpkin are perched at the edge of a custom-designed carpet that appears to be a modern interpretation of a deco floral motif. Set into a frame is a back-lit vintage stained glass window; its floral design echoes the colors and shapes of the carpet. The lights, which are set on a timer, come on as you enjoy the early hours of evening.
Along the path of the white Yugoslavian marble tiles, into another area of the open-plan first floor, sits a massive fireplace faced with gray steel, somehow simultaneously evocative of burnished suits of armor and Cher’s recent foray into gothic home furnishings.
“I saw a steel desk I liked at a shoe store in Soho,” explains Pecora, who serves as his own interior designer. “I found out that a woman named Melanie Brown had made it. I called her and she took the train out one day. We talked about what I pictured: big bolts, two hooks…I wanted to hang a heavy chain from it. Two or three weeks later she and another woman delivered it in a rental truck. It was all pre-fabricated, ready to slip right in. The floors had settled a bit, so it had to be taken apart a bit to move it in.”
Upstairs, top-of-the-line workout equipment fills three rooms. “I wake up at 6 o’clock every morning, and I do a half-hour on the epiglider.” The beautiful machine, naturally, faces a window so that one can look out over the ocean. After the epiglider, he says, he does 15 minutes of jump rope on a trampoline and another 15 of weight training. “Before I start the weight training,” he says, “I turn on the sauna. After my workout I always spend 15 or 20 minutes in the sauna. By the time I get to the salon, I already feel I’ve accomplished something. I’m ready for the day.”
If the cult of the body is one of the more prevalent philosophies of the late 20th century, Tommy Pecora is a Zen master.
“In the morning,” he says, “I eat a mango and then grind up nuts and seeds—some almonds, soy nuts—in an electric coffee grinder. I grind everything up, so that it will be more easily digested. I finish with a protein drink made with soy milk.”
Lunch? “Tuna, soup, chicken, fish. Sometimes red meat. No desserts.”
Facing the fireplace are two single beds swathed and pillowed in merlot-colored quilted panne velvet, elevated on a carpeted platform. One can watch both the setting sun and flickering embers with but a minor turn of the head. Dinner is frequently eaten on these divans, in front of the minimalist television set whose face echoes the maw that is the fireplace opening.
Angela Martone, 21, Pecora’s cheerful girlfriend, is serenely preparing two Japanese black-lacquered dinner trays in the stark white kitchen. A simple tossed salad, steamed vegetables and grilled swordfish are attractively laid out.
Pecora’s austere dining regimen is just one facet of a living program he says he has been maintaining for more than 20 years. Rigorous exercise and natural healing modalities like white-light therapy and chelation therapy are two other components.
“I went for chelation therapy every week for a year and a half,” he recalls. “It takes all the heavy metals out of the body. I used to work in a body shop, so I had a lot of metal in my body. Then I went for 10 weeks of white-light therapy. The blood is taken out of the body, bacteria and toxins are removed and then the blood is replaced.
“I figured that if I had this done during the first 50 years, I’ll get another 50 years.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 30, 1999