Castro barber Mary Jane Lloyd dies

  • by Sari Staver
  • Tuesday August 30, 2022
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Jane Lloyd used to own Viking Barber Shop in the Castro. Photo: James Nantais
Jane Lloyd used to own Viking Barber Shop in the Castro. Photo: James Nantais

Longtime Castro barber Mary Jane Lloyd, who often gave customers an earful of political gossip while she cut their hair, died suddenly at home on August 22, following several years of declining health. She was 69.

Ms. Lloyd, who went by Jane and was a lesbian, worked at and then owned the former Viking Barber Shop at 380 Sanchez Street, which had been one of the oldest continually operating LGBTQ businesses in the Castro. In addition to her barbering skills, Ms. Lloyd was known for her wry, sarcastic sense of humor, with barbs directed at two of her favorite targets, politicians and the swarm of techies whom she felt pushed working-class people out of the neighborhood.

Ms. Lloyd supported numerous causes, including left-wing politics, LGBTQ issues, dog rescue, reproductive rights, and the environment. She seemed to be unable to walk by a needy person on the street without digging into her pocket for a few bills, friends recalled. Ms. Lloyd was an avid reader and could often be seen between customers, relaxing in one of Viking's green vinyl barber chairs, tackling the Los Angeles Times.

She was beloved by customers, co-workers, and friends for her warmth, sense of humor, and generosity. Ms. Lloyd connected her customers to Humboldt County farmers, anxious to share her love of herbs. Ms. Lloyd was a lot of fun and could never pass up an invite to a party, friends said.

Robert Drahos, a gay man who worked for Ms. Lloyd at Viking for 15 years, wrote in an email, "I'll always remember Jane's generosity and kind heart. Her customers adored her. There were always humorous and intellectual conversations at the shop. We shared many great years together."

Bevan Dufty, a gay man and former District 8 supervisor who's now an elected member of the BART board, fondly recalled Ms. Lloyd.

"There are so many great memories of the Viking in its heyday, especially with Robbie, Jane, and Wes," Dufty wrote in a text message. "It was a perfect Norman Lear comedy, especially when Jane would lay down the law about whatever political issue or Republican was bubbling over."

Dufty added that the Q Foundation helped Ms. Lloyd maintain her housing in the neighborhood.

Vye Powers opened Viking in the early 1960s, when the shop was located on Market Street. The Sanchez location is now another barbershop, Barberology.

Longtime friend James Nantais, a gay man now living in Palm Springs, wrote in an email, "It was such an honor to know Jane. I'll miss her laugh, her love of dogs, [and] her love of martinis and oysters. She was a character. Anyone who knew her loved her and she would love tenfold back. Rest in peace dear Janie. You are probably surrounded by your sweet pup, your dear mom and dad, a tasty martini, and fresh oysters."

Ms. Lloyd was known for her boisterous political rants, often focused on local Democrats who were never far enough to the left for her taste. But she was also quick to support many Democratic candidates, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), former U.S. senator Barbara Boxer (D-California), and former presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), volunteering with their campaigns and donating to their campaigns.

Ms. Lloyd was born on May 30, 1953 in Kimberley, British Columbia, Canada and moved to Ontario, California when she was 4 years old. She graduated from Chaffey High School and went to barber college in Long Beach. She worked in Newport Beach and San Luis Obispo before moving to San Francisco in 1987, beginning a 30-year career cutting hair.

Ms. Lloyd was predeceased by her parents, Lillian and Stanley, as well as her two Chihuahuas, Evita and Isabella, who often accompanied her to work. She is survived by her sister, Linda Lloyd Cadd and brother-in-law Eric; brother Terry; numerous nieces and nephews; and many San Franciscans who were customers and friends.

There are no plans for a public memorial, according to her family. Contributions in Ms. Lloyd's memory can be sent to one of her favorite causes, Muttville, a senior dog rescue.

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