Tabatha Coffey, the Australian hairdresser, has blossomed as a reality TV star thanks to Bravo’s “Tabatha’s Salon Takeover,” which just concluded its third season. She also has a book “It’s Not Really About the Hair,” a memoir/self-help combo.
She came to Atlanta earlier this month for a charity event where she helped shave heads at Ri Ra Irish Pub to support childhood cancer research for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. (More than 200 people volunteered to get their heads shaved, raising more than $100,000.) She also held two book signings, including a packed house at Outwrite Books in Midtown.
Coffey hoped Atlanta would provide her some “heat and humidity.” She came on a chilly day instead. “I wanted it hot and steamy,” she said. “I got ahead of myself!”
She’d love to do a “Takeover” episode or two in Atlanta for a future season. (A fourth season has not been announced but she is hopeful she gets it.)
In many ways, she’s a female counterpart to Gordon Ramsay, who has a similar show on Fox called “Kitchen Nightmares.” She recently taped an episode of his summer series “Master Chef” and is a guest judge. The two of them together hating a dish! That should be a fun scene! (She recalls choking so badly on a bad dish, she had to spit it out.)
During “Tabatha’s Salon Takeover,” she’ll meet owners who are disorganized, uncaring, dirty, immature and contemptuous toward their staff and customers. They drink on premises or give away coupons while trying to convey classiness. She provides business advice, as well as words of widsom about how to fix hair and deal with customers. She sometimes has to do some psychological repair work. In the end, many change for the better. Some don’t.
Bravo loved her when she was on “Shear Genius,” so they came up with the “Takeover” concept. “I am recognized all the time and I’ve helped a lot of salons,” she said. “Our success rate is really high and I keep in contact with a lot of the salon owners… I want to be still be available to them.”
Her book, she said, emanated from fans. “I have a lot of people who tweet and Facebook me and ask questions. They never asked me about the hair, thus the title of the book,” she said. People ask for her advice on how to stand up for themselves or how to come out. (She is a lesbian in a long-term relationship but keeps it private. “Home to me is my sanctuary,” she said.)
What has Coffey learned about herself since she came into the public eye? “I think people misconstrue honesty and a strong work ethic for being a bitch,” she said. “I’m proud of my work ethic and I can stand up for myself.”
She’s well aware of the double standard with women who are strong. “If guys say the things I say, he’s a go getter, he’s strong. A woman does that and she gets labeled a b-word. That’s okay as well. That’s a learning process.”
Coffey has had her hair short for quite awhile and she’s thrilled to see some actresses cut off their hair, too. “It was interesting to be at the Academy Awards and see how many doing that,” she said. “I can’t take credit for it but it’s more real.”
And should anybody under 16 do a Justin Bieber haircut? “If you want it longer, that’s just fine. But the Justin Bieber? Not so much,” Coffey said. She likes Bieber’s new haircut on the cover of Rolling Stone, comparing it to Sid Vicious.
At the book signing, she said her favorite musical acts are Shirley Bassett, Beyonce and Jennifer Hudson. She said she’d love to go on Oprah or Ellen but is not a big enough star to do so. She also said she would love to be a drag queen because of the clothes and attitude. (She grew up with parents who owned strip clubs.)