interviews, reality TV, Shear Genius

Part 2: Interview with Shear Genius Eliminated Contestant Brian

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For those of your who have been dying for Part Two of my interview with Brian Buterbaugh, the eliminated contestant from Wednesday night’s Shear Genius, sorry for the delay! It’s been a crazy week full of the Three F’s: flying, family and funerals. I’m settling back into LA and finally got a second to transcribe this. It’s worth the wait though–full of juicy tidbits. Brian is nothing if not totally candid. I wonder why the editors didn’t show more of that on the show? It’s also interesting to see what he has to say about Brig. Seems like Brian, April and Amy all liked Brig and thought she was talented. That leaves Faatemah, Janine and Mathew as the Brig haters. Are there others that I’m forgetting? It’s interesting to see what Brian has to say about it, though. He really gave a great interview!

When we left off, Brian kinda called me out for criticizing his hair in the flower challenge. (I said it looked like a spa ad, that the hair looked like mud, and that Janine should have won the challenge.) When he brought it up, I initially felt badly because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings–which is why I would suck as a judge or a contestant on a reality show. But if I can write my opinions, I should be prepared to back them up in person (or over the phone). I can’t hide behind my words. In the previous interview, Brian said he didn’t like Mathew or April’s hair on the flower challenge and that he won because the judges liked his hairstyle the best.

Hair On The Brain: It’s subjective. Everyone has their own opinion.

Brian: MmHmm. And I think that’s apparent. Whether the judges were critical or they were favorable of me in judgment, you can see that on my face. Whether I won or not, I was like, thank you. And when they didn’t like it, I was like, OK. I am self aware of what I do, of what my abilities are, and who I am. So, someone else’s opinion is merely their opinion. It means nothing to me.

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HOTB: That kind of relates to the conversation you were having on the last episode with Mathew and Janine about Brig. You said that Brig was playing the game better than everyone else…

Brian: Absolutely! Brig really just played it full-tilt boggie. She played the game, from the minute she woke up to the moment she went to sleep. And I give her props for that. She is an amazing person. To put up with the adversity that she had to put up with in that household… I give her props. I think she’s amazing and that’s why we continue to keep in touch to this day.

HOTB: What do you mean by adversity?

Brian: Janine and Mathew were terrible to her! Faatemah hated Brig. Faatemah wouldn’t even shake Brig’s hand on the way out. None of them really got Brig. I think on some level, Brig and I were cut from the same cloth. I think we’re both artists. And I think that we use hair as our medium. But Brig can take scraps of paper or old wrappers from candy bars and some tape and make art. She makes functional things. She repurposes things.

HOTB: Why do you think Mathew and Janine had such a problem with Brig?

Brian: Because I think Mathew and Janine believe one thing about their skills and they believe another about Brig’s skills. But Brig is the whole package. Let’s not kid anyone. Brig looks like a star. And I don’t think Mathew and Janine knew that this was a television show. I think they just thought it was a hair competition.

HOTB: Do you think they felt threatened by her?

Brian: The fact that Brig is still there, her hair skills, and some of the challenges that put her through to the next round… You know, it’s obvious that it’s a television show.

HOTB: Right. And an argument could be made that on the last episode she should have been the one to go home. Your hair had a concept behind it.

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Brian: Absolutely! My hair had a concept. I knew who Edie Sedgwick was. I don’t think Estelle knew who Edie Sedgwick was. And for somebody whose native tongue is English, I couldn’t understand a damn word Estelle said. I was just nodding my head, like uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh. I couldn’t understand a fucking thing she said! You know, people criticize Camila [Alves] for not enunciating the English language–Estelle’s native tongue is English! I couldn’t understand a word she said, nor do I think she knew who the hell Edie Sedgwick was, let alone any of the judges on that panel. They had to go and look it up.

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HOTB: Well, I know who Edie Sedgwick was… But I think it’s hard to know exactly what the judges are looking for.

Brian: Absolutely. You never know what they’re looking for. And let me tell you something, if you take a look at that girl’s hair before I put my hands on it–I chopped it off and bleached it within an hour and a half. And made it look very similar [to Edie Sedgwick’s]. I had to compromise a little bit on the length because this was an actual person in my chair. In order to execute my absolute vision, I had to make a compromise because I didn’t want to totally thrash her hair. But at the end of the day, I went home because I chose to compromise. Did you look at Jon’s hair? I mean, give me a break! I could have done that one day out of beauty school. It was a little teased at the crown and flipped at the bottom. Big deal.

HOTB: I was surprised that the judges loved that.

Brian: Hey, if I had big fake lips and a loud mouth I would still be there too.

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HOTB: It did seem like the people who were more quiet sort of faded into the background, like you and Amy.

Brian: Yeah, but I’m hot. Let’s not forget, I’m hot.

HOTB: Yeah, and good looking too…

Brian: So I got on television just for the way I look.

HOTB: I mean, you were a good hairstylist so that’s probably why you got on the show, but you did not come across as an obnoxious personality.

Brian: What they chose to put in the show.

HOTB: Right…

Brian: I’m not responsible for what they chose to put in the show. I was like, where are all my good lines? And they chose to make me out to be somewhat stupid, with Faatemah calling me stupid. But I was like, honey, who is there and who isn’t? At the end of the day, I may not have done well in high school, but one thing I am is clever as hell.

HOTB: Faatemah called you stupid?

Brian: Yeah, she said, We call him Einstein. You know why they started calling me Einstein? Because we were playing Trivial Pursuit and I knew all the answers. But then they chose to make it sarcastic, and that’s how it was perceived on television.

HOTB: Besides Brig, did you make friends with any of the other contestants?

Brian: Everybody. Everyone. Except for Giacomo. I thought Giacomo was full of shit from the word go.

HOTB: Who do you think will be the next to be eliminated?

Brian: I was there. I know. I’m not going to speculate on that because I know the answer.

HOTB: OK. Who do you think the front runner is at this point?

Brian: Who do you think is the front runner is?

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HOTB: After the last episode, I would say Janine.

Brian: Keep watching! (Laughs.) I think Janine is an amazing hairstylist. She is nearly ten years younger than I am, and I am inspired by her and just her whole essence. She mentors people, she helps homeless people, she owns her own hair salon–she is an amazing hair stylist. What she can create with her hands is amazing. I am truly inspired by her. And Mathew is an amazing hair stylist. Brig is an amazing artist.

Jon? Eh. Whatever. He’s a mediocre hair stylist with a big mouth. He’s quick witted as fuck. I don’t think I have ever met anyone with a sharper tongue than Jon. But you know where that comes from? It’s from overcoming adversity. You think he just has those lines backed up in his head? No. That kid was picked on and pushed around his entire life. Where do you think all that comes from? I come from the same shit. Growing up gay, in a small town? You get fucked with. So where do you think he sharpened his skills? From getting picked on every single day.

At this point, we were told by the Bravo peeps that our time was up! Thanks, Brian, for one of the most interesting interviews I’ve ever done. I personally learned a lot about interviewing from doing this piece, so if you’re reading this, I appreciate your candor.

If you need more Shear Genius before Wednesday’s show, check out Part One of my interview with Brian or my interviews with Janine Jarman, Faatemah Ampey, Amy Michleb, and April Barton!


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