7.12.2005

I...Am...Hair

My name is Dave and I am a Blow Out-aholic.

It’s true. Shameful, embarrassing, and seriously not cool. But true. I’m talking, of course, about Bravo’s reality series, Blow Out, which follows the trials and tribulations of Beverly Hills hair salon owner, hairstylist, entrepreneur, and all around slow-witted, combative, odd, frequently bawling semi-psychopath Jonathan Altin.

Sounds like a terrible idea, although no more terrible than, say, the new Gilligan’s Island, or Celebrity Fit Camp. The difference between these shows, and other, lousy, destination-oriented shows like the Restaurant or Hell’s Kitchen, is Jonathan. Owner of the cleverly named Jonathan Salon and upcoming Jonathan Product (that’s “hair product,” for those of us whose last hair-related purchase was a two-gallon jug of Pert), Altin is a fantastic reality television creature.

He seems to be a talented stylist and an adequate businessman, presiding over a pack of predictably flighty, flirty, bitchy, pretty, and stupid hairstylists. But, like Trishelle or Omarosa or Richard Hatch before him, what really sets Jonathan apart is his uniquely made-for-reality-TV persona. He fights with everybody, breaks down in tears at least twice an episode, and is marvelously self-absorbed to the extent that he simply doesn’t notice much of what is going on around him, or even recognize that things are happening that don’t have anything to do with Jonathan or Jonathan Salon or Jonathan Product.

When Jonathan says “I…am…hair…” he really, really means it. And he means it as some kind of profound personal mission statement. And, even better, he really thinks that we all know exactly what that means. And that we care.

Like any good reality TV hero/villain, Jonathan is nothing if not mercurial. Well, maybe mercurial is too highalutin a word for it. He’s bitchy. He changes not just his mind but his entire outlook, his persona, his whole thing, and he does it maybe five times an episode. One minute he is battling with the executive supposedly charged with developing the labeling campaign for Jonathan Product (“Scott from Zorbit,” another incredibly self-obsessed and combative asshole who seems straight out of central reality casting, and who, had he been a few years younger, would have fit in frighteningly well on Paradise Island or the Love Cruise); the next he is tearfully assuring Scott From Zorbit that the Jonathan Product bottle -- a clear thing of goop with, surprise, the word “JONATHAN” in giant-ass sans serif type along the side – is truly the most beautiful thing he has ever seen.

Jonathan does other things too. He breezily navigates the tipsy-turvy social waters of his own salon with a Fonzerelli-esque air of one just a notch above the Malphs and Cunninghams who are cutting hair and fetching drinks for the likes of Lisa Rinna and that blond haired chick who lost one of the American Idol things. He creates a show, “Feeling It,” which is pretty much an in-person power point presentation about Jonathan’s specialty, the “long layer cut.” He breaks down at the shrink’s office like a fey, self-absorbed Tony Soprano.

And he says "Jonathan Salon" or "Jonathan Product" or, uh, "Jonathan," in literally every sentence. He insists on reminding everybody – Scott from Zorbit, the hair bunnies, designers and models and Lisa Rinna and yes, you and me, that we are merely people, recipients for Jonathan Product, customers who might pay $500 for a long layered cut.

But Jonathan…is…hair.

2 comments:

Mike said...

Dammit, Dave. Now there's going to be one more time-sucking reality show I'll become addicted to. And just when I've managed to kill off my Real World habit, too.

joe said...

The dude on this show is so creepy. He looks plastic, and not in the sense that he's so good looking that he must have had work done, but in the sense that he doesn't look like a human being. His skin has to be made of wax or some odd polymer I’m not familiar with. Does it ever appear to melt under the lights? I'd tune in for that. Hell, I'd tune into anything if you could guarantee me someone's face will melt.