Getting Into It

Jonathan Antin doesn't hold back when sharing his opinion on male extensions and doing what you have to do on a shoot. Let's talk a little about the Shortcut Challenge. Ken Paves was the guest judge and it was all about male extensions. What is your take on male extensions?
I don't know if there's anything worse in the world or more painful to look at then a man with extensions in his hair. It's like a big, grizzly, hairy back and neck. That, to me, is the ultimate don't. It's just bad from the word go. Unless it's for a film or something like that, any dude that's going to put hair on his head that's going to sit on a table before going on his head is a problem. I'm talking about toupees, hairpieces, and extensions. All of the above are really, really bad and horrifying. On the flip side, hair restoration, as it is today, is done pretty well and is a pretty good thing. I have a lot of clients who have done that. Extensions are very bad. By the way, I think that Ken Paves was the perfect guest judge. He's probably the only one I could ever see in the world of hair, at my level of hair, that would actually wear something like that. He's just goofy enough to actually put something like that in his hair. He's a good stylist though. I thought he had some good stuff to say too. Matthew did do a good job with the extensions though.
Listen, I've put extensions on guys before. I did them Jared Leto for one part, I put them on Tobey Maguire for another role, I put them on Ryan Gosling for another role, and I did Leonardo Dicaprio way back in the day for a David LaChapelle photo shoot for his book. Of course, they all looked incredible. I did them on Ricky Martin who looked like Tarzan, but the hair looked good! You know, I was always horrified in doing them but you have to make them look real. It doesn't matter what head they're on. That Fabio thing always comes to mind. The challenge is kind of around that. Bad news. Onto the Elimination Challenge where the contestants had to create romance novel looks. What were you looking for? Did you want them to modernize it?
Well, they were supposed to modernize it. Again, they used the extensions so that was really dragging me down. The way that everyone blending the extensions was OK. This is the first time they're working in teams. Do you think that was an advantage or a disadvantage for them?
I thought it was an advantage because two heads are always better than one. For no other reason, I definitely thought it would make for great TV. If you put two control freaks together that are perfectionists (or they like to think they are), then you're going to get some fireworks. I wasn’t aware of that part of the challenge until I got there. When I got there and heard about that I thought it would be great. I was also interested in seeing who took charge and it was interesting to see how one person took charge and the other person took a backseat. That gave me some good information to work with as far as who had that level of confidence going into this challenge as opposed to who didn't. Matthew and Janine actually won. Matthew really took charge and has been doing well. What did you think of their look?
At this point, I’m sure everybody was going, "Matthew and Janine again?" But in the same respect, I was like, of course! You could see from the very beginning that their skill set and/or level of skill was very high. They both came in with a pretty good deal of experience in these areas of hairstyling. I didn't really feel like Matthew necessarily took charge. Matthew may have been the voice, but off-camera they were really weighing in 50/50. Janine was definitely that mysterious, silent type. I thought it was a perfect team. I knew right away that they, at the very least, would be in the top two. If they weren't going to win they would be second. I thought they did a great job. They handled it perfectly. The guy looked great. Janine did a great job with the pieces. I think Janine took over more with the guy and Matthew took over with the girl. That's kind of Janine's thing -- that pirate thing, that kind of hardcore rocker. To me, she took what she knew best and made that work for the challenge. Matthew's thing, as per usual, is beauty, beauty, beauty. He implemented that and went with it. I don't think they tried to do something they weren't familiar with. They made it current, which I really liked. They updated that tacky Fabio thing. There was also Amy and Brian and they had that red feather, which you couldn't see.
Brian said at one point about the feather being on the other side of the head. I think Ken Paves said he didn’t see it and Matthew said it was on the other side. Ken Paves had that deer-caught-in-the-headlights look. Again, that was irritating to me. I've done a thousand photo shoots and you can't put a pair of shackles and handcuffs on a photographer. That's the hardest part of the job when you're doing hair. If you want to be able to see the feather at all times you have to have a feather on both sides of the head or you have to put it in the middle or the back. You either see it or you don't from either side. I just think it was kind of unprofessional and kind of showed inexperience on Ken's part to say something about that. Again, a photographer is a very mobile job and position a photo shoot. They're running all over the place and as a hairstylist you're really anticipating where he's going to be, and it's like in sports, you have to anticipate what direction that ball's coming from because it's coming so fast. It's the same thing in photo shoots -- you have to anticipate what he's going to shoot. Those of us, over the years, that have anticipated correctly have shined. Those of that haven't, haven't. There's an element of luck involved. At the end of the day, those of thus who have shined have always done great hair. That's a given. Ken not loving the hair, I agree with him on that level. He's 10 percent correct. The hair looked atrocious, it did. They both looked like they were pushing a shopping cart down the street. It looked terrible, especially the guy. Tacky and terrible. Not only would they never have been the cover of a romance novel, it wouldn't have been a cover for a bank robbery. Onto Jon and April. April was criticized for adding the male extensions. With Jon, they thought he might have been too rough with the model.
Here's the thing: Camila was saying about him being too hard on the hair. When you do hair, you have to really get into it. You have to use every muscle in both of your arms. Hair has the uncanny ability to overtake you and manage you in the wrong direction sometimes. You really need to supersede that and rise above that, and the way to do that is a very physical process. When you're supposed to be a professional and you're getting paid to look good you have to be able to handle it. Every time I've been on a shoot and a model starts bitching and complaining about me pulling too hard, I've handed them a comb and said, "Here, bite down on this. It won't hurt as much." I mean, what do you want me to do? I'll pinch you on your waist, and then it will hurt there and your scalp wont hurt. That physical aspect of what Jon was doing was coming from him because he had to get it down, he had to do it quick, and the only way to do that was by way of speed. With speed comes force. You have to get in there and work it out. And, if you notice, what he was doing worked. At the end of the day it did work, it did make the hair look better. You didn't hear the photographer say anything about it. By the way, on a shoot, he is the ultimate. He is the final say. Unless the photographer says to go easy on the model's hair, go with it. What about April's extensions?
She made it look a bit like a monster. It was a little Jon Bon Jovi, bad Conan the Barbarian attempt at making hair look long. It didn't work and it didn't blend. It just didn't work. It just didn't work so much that I took one look at it and said, "Nope. Sorry." Next we have Adee and Faatemah.
Adee with his whole <i>Last of the Mohicans,</i> the f---ing haircut this, the f---ing that thing... Listen, hairstyling and hairstyling for the cover of a book have nothing to do with each other. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other. When you're on a set and hired to be the hairstylist, if that model has a job the next day for another job that they've already been approved for, you can't cut that model's hair. If they have the worst haircut in the world you have to be able to deal with that hair and make it look great. First of all, he was using all the wrong terminology when he was cutting the model's hair. He said something about a concave or an inverted this... Listen, we're not talking about skateboarding in a pool. This isn't Tony Hawk. This is hairstyling. Stop with the terminology, none of that is applicable. It was sloppy. He gave the guy a big side-swept bang and it was ridiculous.

With the team, I thought there was tension between them. They were kind of stepping on each other's toes and they just didn't want to hear from each other. If I remember correctly, Faatemah said something to the effect that she was working off of him. When I heard that I thought it was a bad idea. He's going off on this haircutting tangent again, basically just avoiding the challenge at hand and what was in front of him, which was giving these two people into characters for the cover of a romance novel. He's talking about modern-day haircutting and I thought it was so not happening. Brig was by herself. Did you know people didn't like her at the time of the show?
She's so irritating that the whole time, at the back of my mind, I thought the viewers would be so irritated by her. However, in this challenge, she got very professional and somewhat quiet. Especially at one point, she very quickly changed the look. She got it together in a moment's notice. There couldn't have been anymore of a real situation then what Brig went through. When you're on any photo shoot, that's just part of it. You're on the set, you have the hair, they're shooting it, and all of the sudden the photographer says, "Can you do me a favor and just change this and take the hair down after you've spent hours putting it up? Can you just take it down on one side and leave it up on the other? Let me just see how that looks." Your first thought when you're new is, "No way, I'm going to have a heart attack. I have no idea how to do that with everyone watching me and with this much money on the line. They're going to hate me." When you have experience it's like no big deal, but you're still thinking in the back of your mind that you're going to have a heart attack. You just do it because it's part of the job. Whether she was freaking out or not, she just did it. She set no roadblocks up in front of herself and went right in to the hair and changed it. By the way, it even looked better. I was totally impressed. She silenced me for a good couple of minutes. I had nothing bad to say about her, other than she's painful to watch at times. Other than that I really liked it.


Brig IS Shear Genius!

The controversial contestant reveals which stylists she still speaks to and what she learned from the experience. In this challenge, you got to pick your assistants? Why did you pick who you did?  
Throughout the entire competition I saw a personal strength in April that I truly admired. I knew 100% that she would give her all to help me execute my vision, regardless of how crazy it sounded to her. I chose Faatemah because I needed her strong styling abilities for what I had in mind. I had an advantage and didn't want to face either of them on another team. I was excited to put together an all female cast. How do you think your two assistants worked out in the end? 
Brilliantly. April and Faatemah helped with the final looks. They both gave their input which I candidly admit helped arrive at the winning end result. Can you describe your inspiration a little more? Have you ever laminated hair before?
I had never laminated hair before or seen it done. It came to mind a few days prior when I was playing with a roll of clear tape, so I tried it on a piece of hair from my own extensions and it was very interesting. It seemed a bit nuts, yet intriging at the same time. I love taking risks at the chance that the outcome could just be genius. When Henry and I consulted, I asked if he liked comic books, and he told me how he just started collecting collecting Chinese comic books. Cool! That I felt was the "money" question to give me the go ahead with my idea. Imagine: Bjork as a villianess superhero. Were you expecting the criticism you got from Jonathan about not using their real hair enough?
I rarely work with extensions in my salon, so I was thrilled to push myself. I expected criticism from the day I tryed out for the show.  I welcomed the different opinions, Jonathan's included.  Because I expected it. What was going through your mind when your hair came down the runway? 
It was insane, unusual, and most importantly elevated Henry's collection. I loved how the color story I chose came through, especially on the final model where I muted the color palette into pastels. I also was thrilled with the make-up. It really punctuated the entire look. When Matthew and Janine?s hair came down the runway I thought they put up very strong looks. Matthew took a huge risk by using the skull caps. I thought it was cool that he threw all his cards down on the table and went for it. Janine always managed to make the most of every second we were given. It is no secret that they both are extremely talented. Once again my work was the odd collection. I knew I was looking at something that I had never seen before. Completely original. That was all I ever wanted to do during Shear Genius. I felt like a winner at that moment and really did not care if the judges liked it or not. At that point did you think you had it or maybe you lost it?
I was thrilled with myself for the concept and thankful for April, Faatemah, and Henry's input that helped produce the final looks. The entire process of the show to that point was such a arduous journey that I was proud that I took a HUGE risk. Did you agree with the judges' comments for your own hair and your competitors?
I was on cloud nine to be standing in the finale and hearing Linda Wells say that she had never seen anything like it ever on the runways around the world.  When Henry (the designer) told me how pleased he was, I couldn't have been happier in a bathtub filled with Fruity Pebbles! As far as Matthew and Janine's looks... I don't recall what the judges said.  I was in my own world at the time. Some of our viewers love you, some love to hate you (sorry!) -- how much of what we saw is the real Brig and how much is strategy? 
What you saw was the REAL me strategizing for $100,000 in my greatest professional challenge. Early on I realized a few stylists were "blinded by my bow" and started saying I was crazy. I felt that being underestimated was not a disadvantage. I was so thrilled to be standing behind a chair in the Shear Genius salon. I was given a very rare opportunity to really discover what I could handle. What went through your mind the moment Camila announced the winner? 
Shock at first.  Then I wanted to jump up and down and there was no way I could with Janine still standing next to me. She was actually very kind to me and congratulated me.  I am not a gloater, so I hope I didn't appear ungrateful. Winning was something I said I would do, however having accomplished that goal among the high level of talent each stylist possessed was surreal. What are your plans now?
Shear Genius introduced me to a large amount of talented and creative people. I plan to continue to be ME and inspire others to TURN UP THEIR VOLUME!  I don't understand the lack of confidence a lot of people experience, however I wish to inspire them to try something new and not worry about what anyone else thinks. I am eager to take advantage of the amazing exposure I received from being on Bravo and use that to help express my ideas. What has changed for you since the show started filming?
Going to Target has become a social adventure. The recognition has been great for my business at play hair lounge. and has created some amazing new friendships and opportunities. Do you still talk to any of the other stylists? 
I do.  April, Brian, Amy, and Jon. I welcome future conversations with all of the stylists. What do you think the biggest thing you learned was? 
That I truly am 100% secure with myself, my style and my ability, and to accept failure and learn from it. I also learned that without everyday responsibilities and distractions, my creativity increased exponentially! Any message to the haters?
No. I prefer to focus my attention to those who are positive and support the freedom of self expression. It takes twice as much energy to be negative then it does to be positive. and as you know I am a very positive person so I have plenty of energy to spare. Anything else you'd like to add? 
I plan to continue to post my stories on my blog "BrigKnowsBest" and cutting hair at my salon, p!ay hair lounge in Simi Valley, CA. I strongly believe that success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. I have been overwhelmed by the amazing amount of support by people who have shared this amazing journey along with me. This is only the beginning.  I am ready for the next big challenge!