Tuesday, August 19, 2008
INTER-VUE: JOHN BLAINE FROM "THE CHO SHOW"
John Blaine and Margaret Cho image courtesy of John Blaine
Charlie Altuna, Selene Luna and John Blaine image courtesy of
This is a new thread series called "Inter-Vue" which will consist of interviews with "buzz worthy" personalities featured on this blog site.
Our first "Inter-Vue" posting is with John Blaine, celebrity hair artist and "Glam Squad" member of Margaret Cho's "The Cho Show" reality series on VH1. You can find out more about "The Cho Show" via this link.
So John Blaine, please give us a brief history of how you got started as a hair artist? Around how may years ago did you start out in beauty school?
I started my career close to 20 years ago. I, like a lot of teens, was kind of a party boy. I liked to hang out with my friends and stay up all night. I lived with my mother in South Pasadena at the time; it was a upper white community and I had all sorts of friends I would get into trouble with.
So when I turned 19 years old my mother had it with my antics and told me to find something to do or else "your ass is out!"
I was spoiled financially by her, so the thought of getting my Neiman Marcus credit card taken away meant no more shopping for Jean Paul Gaultier!!! Hell no! What do I do...?
I thought hmm, what is mindless and easy to do to get her off my designer clad back..? Oh I know I'll go to Cosmetology school and play with doll heads...We'll little did I know that I'd wind up loving it!!!
TM: What inspired you to become a hair artist? Did you have any specific people that were inspirational to you in becoming a hair artist?
JB: I soon started to assist a guy Named David Cordova who was I big name in the LA scene for hair. I worked for him and at the same time I would go to school. I ended up assiting him for about 3 years learning to cut and color the Vidal Sassoon way.
At that time it was the Golden Age of the super Models. Linda, Christy (Turlington, not the other yucky one - Christie Brinkley), Naomi, Cindy, and Claudia. They where the hottest things around. Just the thought of their beauty inspired me to no extent. Also Liz Tilberis took over American Harpers Bazaar. And let me tell you that did it for me.
I started at a vocational college in The City of Industy. You see, to get your license you need only the standard requirements. To really know your craft you must assist someone or some place really good after wards. I took the really long way to learn. Most people in my field today do it the sloppy way. They learn from someone who only has a limited knowledge of doing maybe just styling and not cutting, color, or anything else properly etc. I was 19 when I started I'm 38 this year and still looking like I'm years old...funny, ha!
TM:Fondest and funniest/worst memories of beauty school? When did you make the transition from school to the salon or salons?
JB: School was so fun, I hung with of course all the cha-cha girls at school. Basically it was a scene from "Grease". We laughed and messed around all day. We had to doing this dumb "Gloria heads" all day was so boring.
But I was fascinated by the styles of Old Hollywood even at that time. So I'd always asked my teachers about how to set hair like Rita Hayworth, Marilyn, Eva Gardner, etc. And those teachers loved me because I was such a brat but they also saw my huge interest it all.
They use to call me "bullet head" because of my haircut. They would always make fun of me in class. But at the same time I had them always laughing so they let me get away with murder.
We had to do so many cuts, perm, mani, pedi's, on old women a day as part of our lessons. Honey I can say I never touched anyone hoofs!!!
The teachers would just sign my daily papers and let me get away with whatever. God bless them. I think they would be very proud of me today.
TM: Which Salon/salons did you work at? Fondest and funniest/worst memories of salon work?
JB: Well as I said I was already working in a salon situation even when I was going to school.
My friend Tnah Laughlin was dating David Cordova, a hairstylist in LA. She called me and told me he was looking for an assistant.
Let me tell you, he worked my ass to the bone! 60 hours a week for $200. Yes! But I knew I was learning everything I needed to, so it didn't bother me at all.
Well at least until near the end when I felt I was ready to move on. Of course he didn't like that! But how long do I have to sweep hair until I was let to be on the salon floor as a stylist...?!
TM: When did you make the transition from the salon to establishing a portfolio and becoming an established editorial/celebrity/print/tv/film session hair artist? What was your start like as a hair artist, with which agencies, etc.?
After I left David Cordova salon I went to a high end salon in West Hollywood named Yutaka Salon. As I was working there I started to talk to agents that represented people in my field. This was about when I was 24 years old.
I met with an agent named Charmaine who at time was head of "The Oribe Agency". Oribe was the guy that did all the girls at that time so it seemed like a fit for me. I came to her with a small book and she thought I showed huge promise. So she took me immediately. (Smart girl, ha!)
Anyways, she was very connected so she was able to get me bookings for editorials, ad jobs, etc, without having to send my limited portfolio out.
TM:Did you have a specific goal or focus, such as more towards editorial as opposed to celebrity, or print as opposed to film/video/tv?
JB: It was amazing cause I was booking so many great jobs with huge people right out of the gate! At the time I was young and really didn't fully understand the position I was put into. I think if I did I would of peed in my pants. I just went from one big job to another.
My goal at the time was to do only the creative side which meant editorials in the great fashion magazines.
I wanted to work with photographers like Lindberg, Penn, Meisel, Lachapelle, etc. And of course "The Girls"!!! Which I have accomplished.
I wasn't really into doing T.V, too much. It felt so boring to me so I stayed out of that area.
TM: Fondest and funniest/worst memories from any of these beginning shoots?
JB: I've had so many fond memories through the years. Like meeting Mariah Carey and having her sing to me in the chair. Meeting Claudia Schiffer, who is so beautiful!
Pamela Anderson & John Blaine
image courtesy of John Blaine
Pamela Anderson and John Blaine image courtesy of John Blaine
Becoming such great friends with Pamela Anderson who I scared the shit out of the first day we met. We were shooting with David Lachappelle and here comes Pammy looking red hot.
I asked her after just two minutes of meeting her if she would leave an out going message on my phone. Well, she looked at me like I was a stalker! But since that faithful day we have become like family.
Walking off the set for Christina Aguilara. She showed up 5 hours late and was just so rude that I told David Lachapelle that I couldn't stay and take this any longer.
Doing playboy with Dita Von Teese for the first time. I'd never seen a woman's privates much or at all other than maybe in photos. But honey I became real good friends with the "vajayjay" real quick! Ha!
Also having Courtney Love and Pamela sitting on my porch having lunch, as my neighbors where all freaking out.
Being told by my agents that I have to do a small fashion show at Goldie Hawn's house. Well little did I know I was keying the Gucci Show with Tom Ford! I got there and there were about 20 assistants waiting for me. I was wtf..?! Then limo after limo pulled up with all the biggest models of the time!! I nearly fainted!!! I called my agent in a panic! And she said "well if I told you what you are doing then you would of freaked". I'm glad she didn't...
TM: What are your thoughts on how the business has changed from when you first started to now? What are your goals now because of this? Especially in terms of how celebrity has become so pervasive in our culture, and also how the internet has fueled this media obsession.
My goals differ today then they did when I started. To tell you the truth, after seeing and experiencing so many wonders , I look forward to whatever comes. I just want to stay happy doing what I do. New doors have opened for me this year. After being behind the camera for so long, now I'm going to be in front of one.
I am currently a cast member on a sitcom/reality show with Margaret Cho on Vh1 and the Logo network. It's been really fun and great with all the crazy stuff they have caught on camera.
I feel this is the next stage in my life and career. These days you have to be known by all of Middle America to really take you to your next evolution. At least it is for me.
TM: When did your career start becoming associated with the celebrities that you're working so strongly with today? What do you think of how the internet and today's hyper information age has allowed not only conveniences such as instant communication and access to information, say you being able to communicate with your clients or ideas immediately but the downsides such as having to keep current and having to always come up with ideas and updating your vision?
Well the industry has changed so much. I mean with the web, phone camera's, etc. I mean having clients like Paris, Pamela, Mariah, I'm used to being chased down the street and in cars by tons of photographers. Everywhere we go day or night. It's nuts!
When Paris Hilton got her phone hacked into, I woke up with 60 calls a minute!! I couldn't even make a call out. People called me singing, leaving pranks, asking me to cut there hair.
Another time is when Paris got caught stealing her sex tape at a magazine stand they caught us on camera. My assistant called me in the middle of the night and said turn on your tv! I was everywhere on camera with her on all the news stations. They called me accomplice. It Was crazy!
The way the media has fueled celebs today is nuts! You can't get away from it. So at somepoint you go with it or move to Montana and live on a horse ranch. Everything is driven by a celebrity's face or endorsement. I'm slowly moving into that genre so at some point I have to be good with that.
Although I'm sure I won't be recognized like Pam or Paris. I do feel people will know me more after my show airs in mid August.
I already had a small incident at the LAX when I returned back from our filming of "The Cho Show", which I'm on with Margaret Cho. I was chased by a paparazzi getting into my cab. Weird cause the show has not aired and we haven't even started our press promo and tour yet... Oh well like it or not its starting, so BREATHE!!!
Pamela Anderson for Mac Viva Glam poster courtesy
of John Blaine
TM: Are you going to use your new found celebrity towards furthering any special causes/charities?
JB: I definitely want to give back to the world what it has given me, and share with those less fortunate than me. I guess If I have to pick a specific charity or cause, it would be the various Aids related ones, with a focus on finding a cure for HIV/AIDS and helping those people living and/or affected by HIV/AIDS. An inspiring example would be Pamela's relationship with MAC and their combined efforts towards the HIV/AIDS cause.
TM: Has being an Asian American affected you in the business in anyway? Negatively in the past? Positively in any way?
JB: I view myself as first and foremost as a human being. I support the theory that as beings on this planet that we all share, we must celebrate our individual talents and gifts. To differentiate people into stereotypes would be putting others and yourself into boxes. The only boxes I like are the ones that you get from Tiffany's. So to answer your question, no, being an Asian American has not affected me in the business neither in a positive or negative way. My abilities and vision as a hair artist has propelled me to where I am today.
John Blaine and "the kids" image courtesy of John Blaine
TM: Where do you see yourself in 5 yearS? Do you have any future goals that you would personally like to attain, or see the industry going further?
JB: Where do I see myself in 5 years is a tough one. Because with just the speed that this industry goes at, it's like dog years. So 5 years is a huge leap in time for me.
Especially now with what's happening to me with tv. But ideally I like to slow down with the traveling with celeb clients. I want be able to truly pick and choose who I want to work with.
TM: How soon do you figure to open your dream salon, and how would you service the everyday client?
I believe I will open a salon in the next 5 years or so. I haven't any pressure or time limit to get it done right away. So its hard to say exactly. I guess when I feel the time is right. For now I travel with my clients and also have a salon area out of my home for people to come and get services done. It works perfectly for the time being.
But when I do open up a salon that truly caters to everyone not just the rich and famous. That whole concept to me is so old and tired. I'm not bashing anyone else so please make that clear! I would just like to be able to open my doors for everyone.
I need to stay in the idea of why I started this journey many moons ago, which isto be able to open my doors to everyone. Because I feel it's so important to me to stay true to who I am and not get lost in this hyper excessive industry. Everyone deserves to look and feel as best as they can, that may sound corny but think about the hard working mom who's on a limited budget who can't afford to pay $300 plus a haircut.
The power to make someone feel and look great is in our hands (beauty experts) and why not share that? I know the violins are breaking out, but let the whole damn orchestra play...Because that's my story and I'm sticking to it!
John Blaine and models photographed by Michele Laurita courtesy
of John Blaine
TM: So what are the hair trends you are seeing for the F/W 2008-2009 season, both for your celebrity clients, high fashion and how both kinds of looks can be applied to everyday people?
I don't believe in trends. I believe that each person should always try new things with their look. They have fun with it. But always consult with a stylist you trust before trying any kind of new look or change. You can even go to a wig store and try on different wigs to see what the new cut or color will look like beforehand.
Another great way is when you look at a magazine and see a style that you really like, just cover up the person's face and imagine yours there. Then you will get a better idea of the true shape of the style and if it's suitable for you.
If not, then you're just looking at that person in the magazine and how the style is specifically shot on that person.
I believe being a modern woman or man is about selecting styles that look and feel fantastic on you, not just listening solely to some "expert" who's dictating what's good for you.
TM: Any words of advice for aspiring hair artists, hair stylists, beauticians? Any parting words for our readers?
JB: My advice to young wood-be stylist is to find something else honey! No seriously, it is a real hard and can be brutal industry to be a part of.
You need to have conviction, endurance and a true love for it. Also put in your time!! I can't stress that enough, don't expect to do it the fast way because there isn't one. Unless you just want to be any plain random hair person.
Assist at a great salon and/or individual for as long as you can. Learn from them how to properly cut all the styles that Vidal Sassoon created and learn to color well. It's all apart of it whether you understand it at the time or not. Just do it. Minimum 2 and half years of assisting dues. You will thank yourself later for sure. Now go and burn some hair!!
You should also look for a trustworthy agent who believes in you and your talent. I'm currently being handles by an amazing agent name jamie at rougearstist.com. She's been such a great friend and a powerful force in molding my career.
I've had many agents over the years I believe I found the fit now. She really cares about you as a being and really fights for those great jobs. So I feel very blessed to have everything covered.
Its really important for aspiring talent to do their homework and meet with as many agents as they can. I believe you should really listen to each person when you meet with them. Cause honey there's a lot of agents selling magic snake oil. So do your homework.Good luck!
For the readers, stay true to your heart, focused on your goals and remember to work you butt off!!
To learn more about what's going on in John Blaine's world, check out www.johnblainehair.com
***REMEMBER TO LOOK UP MY PREVIOUS POSTINGS REGARDING THE CHO SHOW***