A Star With Roots


Gonna wash that man right out of your hair? What for? He's a keeper.

And not only does the hair-styling industry know it; so does TV.

Jonathan Antin's antics are familiar to those who coveted his breezy "Blowout," Bravo's tonsorial treat in which the stylist to the stars ran wild with audiences in pursuit of his daily dish and snips, providing a backstage brief encounter with a man on a first-name basis with Madonna.

A wash-and-dry wit — it is Antin's enviable package that has made him a Beverly Hills highlight, and now, in a brilliant move, the Simon Scissorhands of "Shear Genius," the Bravo show of blowout wannabes beginning its third season on Feb. 3, at 11 p.m., resuming its regular time slot the following week at 10 p.m.

Judge and be judged — the acclaimed Antin's had it both ways. As a judge on this series, in which stylists of proven accomplishment try to lock in fame and fortune that the show's winner receives, Antin's raised ante is already a highlight. He can be sweet and sassy, or hissy and hilarious — but always straight, to the point.

Straight … that's one of the points.

He always goes home at scissors end to his happy family of wife and kids.

"Twenty-five years ago, when I started out, I was the only straight kid in Hollywood and West Hollywood doing hair," explains Antin. "And I used that, marketed that, and got such a huge female clientele."

He groomed the image, and culled and coiffed it as well, becoming known as "the young cool kid with a good eye, and a good pair of hands."

Handsome didn't hurt, either. But then, he set his sights on one truly hip hairstylist as an entry point to the wash-and-rinse set, indirectly introduced to him by his … bubbie?

"I was picking up my Nana from her hair appointment" at the beauty school, he recalls of that fateful day as a teenager tooling around town, sketching in the details of how he was "drawing a haircut" on a piece of paper while waiting for her, when the school's owner noticed his obvious talent and took a chance, handing the kid with the cool cut and hot looks his business card.

But what did the juvenile Jonathan know about the business? Wet behind the ears about wet heads, he asked his sister for her advice about beauty as a bet: Go see "Shampoo," she said.

It was the ultimate matinee idyll, as if watching suds stud Warren Beatty and his onscreen antics was a personal invitation to Antin to comb on over to his house.

Sex and the scissors: "Did you think I got in it for the hair?" Antin says with a laugh.

Hair today … still hair tomorrow: Antin's made it his business since, opening salons in Hollywood — since sold with a nice cut taken — and watching as reruns of "Blowout" run all over the world.

Adding to his brush-fire career: An upscale beauty supplies company has its hands in his hair as well; Sephora adores his sophisticated take and offers his styling products throughout their empire.

And it all started because of his bubbie: "If I hadn't picked her up that day, I would most likely not have become a hair stylist," he says now.

And had he not seen "Shampoo" and been blown away by the hedonistic hairstylist portrayed by Beatty, then his career might have taken on a different curl. "I probably would have pursued acting."

It didn't stop him. Besides his "Blowout" gig, Antin is nearly breathless coming back from an episode of TV's "CSI."

Make up! "I play myself, a celebrity hairstylist," he says of the role. Forget the acting, it was the looping — re-recording dialogue — that threw him for a loop.

"That is the hardest thing ever," he claims.

Imagine how tough it is on a hairdresser to be told that your client for the next scene is one of the world's leading stylists.

"People freak out when they do my hair," notes Antin.

But no need, he says, dispelling any notion of a Rasputin of the roller set. "You couldn't pick an easier person than me to work with," he says.

But do the contestants on "Shear Genius" have their hair stand on end before they end their judgment day with Antin?

"I am very direct and to the point, and serious," he says.

"I definitely am raising the bar, and they know there will be no screwing around."

Is he the Simon Cowell of cowlicks? He laughs. "If I'm talked about as being the Simon of this show, it would be okay with me."

Trim and taut, he might have acted on a different drive — one that would have had him doing figure eights rather than follicles.

"I was a pretty serious athlete as a kid," he recalls of his ice-hockey days "playing in a pick-up league. And I had a couple of looks," attests the good-looking stylist of attracting attention.

The icing on the cake was to come turning heads in fashion. But "I still skate and play."

But the puck stopped … hair. And the stress of addressing tresses provides a natural outlet.

"I've always loved beautiful girls, and making them beautiful" comes naturally, he allows.

A diamond in the rough? A diamond in the chair: It "was having done my 75th haircut when I realized — and it hit me like a ton of bricks — that I felt I had the ability to make magic," to make hair his then and now.

"It was an emotional … like a spiritual awakening."

Salon as stand-in synagogue? No, this proudly Jewish artist doesn't substitute one for the other.

But art — and his sculpted sense of styling is just that — and the arts is a family thing: bro Robin founded the Pussycat Dolls rock group; sib Steve is a director; and other brother Neil is an actor.

"It's in the genes, in the blood, the Antins have that 'it' thing."

It must extend to his own kids: "Asher, 4, is unbelievable musically; he'll probably be an actor. Josie, 21/2, is incredible, painting and drawing."

Once described by producer/later to become head of NBC Ben Silverman as "a nice Jewish boy," Antin ups the ante.

"I am a very good Jewish boy," he quips, "and I'd say the same thing about Ben."

But what he says about his kids says it all.

The star whose vida loca had him playing a part in the "La Vida Loca" video, and a talent who can part the ways — and the hair — of the best (like the way George Clooney looked at the Golden Globes? Antin had him in the palm of his hands, styling that famous sexy head of salt-and-pepper hair into a seasoned stunning look), Antin likes best playing the part of parent.

A star with roots: "It's a different kind of love." Everything else pales in comparison to the love you have for a child."

A little dab of daddydom will do it. "That," he says of raising heirs with his wife at home, not the hair-raising accomplishments — of which there are many — at work. "That is my success."



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