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Chop Shop Vancouver

Vancouver hairstylists show their chops on TV
By Sarah Rowland
Publish Date: February 5, 2009

Daniel Hudon is a reality–TV producer’s wet dream come true. He owns a punk-rock hair salon. He’s constantly surrounded by burlesque-type babes. He’s got his finger on the pulse of the rockabilly/hot-rod scene. He’s got more tattoos and attitude than a Fat Wreck Chords recording artist. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s got movie-star good looks. In fact, his only rival when it comes to devastatingly blue eyes passed away last year. (R.I.P. Paul Newman.)

So it’s no wonder producers were chomping at the bit to do a show about the Vancouver hairstylist and all the shenanigans that go on at his Chop Shop (1007 Granville Street). But despite their best efforts, the first few production companies to approach Hudon and his business partner, Michael Procter, were SOL.

“We said no because we’re not really about reality TV—it’s garbage half the time,” says Hudon, who sat down with the Straight at a downtown café to talk about Chop Shop the docusoap. “I’m not going to lie. A lot of it [reality TV] is hokey-pokey stuff, and we really wanted nothing to do with that. It actually goes against everything we’re working so hard for.”

But executive producer Lawrence McDonald made an offer Hudon couldn’t resist.

“He said, ‘If you let us in there for a day, I will produce something that you will probably really like,’ ” Hudon recalls. “This was around the time when [tattoo-shop-set] Miami Ink was getting popular, so there was a definite shift in reality TV. And we were presented with more of a documentary series [format], so we agreed to it. And he produced a fantastic product, and away we went.”

The visual appeal of the show—called Chop Shop, it airs on Slice Wednesdays at 9 p.m.—is a no-brainer. But is there enough day-to-day drama among the “choppers” to sustain a full season of story lines? Not surprisingly, Hudon thinks there is.

“There’s a lot of stuff that goes on, not just with us and with the clients but the people walking around here,” he says, referring to the colourful characters who inhabit Vancouver’s downtown core. “Plus, there’s personalities in there [the Chop Shop] that just don’t get along a lot of times.”

He’s right. In Episode 1, a disgruntled blond and buxom chopper shows up wanting to get her old job back. But before Hudon can rehire the peroxide piranha, he has to see how the rest of the staff feels about it. Her return reduces one person to tears—and apparently they weren’t of the crocodile variety.

“They were absolutely real,” Hudon says. “We had a big issue with that individual [the former employee]. She’s a great girl. I think she’s fantastic. But she’s very controversial in a lot of ways. She worked for us for years, so it was very upsetting when she left.”

When it comes to actually cutting people’s hair, it’s business as usual—despite a full camera crew crammed into the narrow ’50s-themed salon.

“A lot of people think they’re brave,” says Hudon, referring to new customers who get swept away by the overall aesthetic and anything-goes vibe of the salon. “I get a lot of women—and men, too—who come in, see the shop, and go, ‘Wow, this is great. Do whatever you want.’ And I go, ‘Bullshit. At the end of the day, do you really want a blue Mohawk?’ ”

According to Hudon, the answer is usually a sheepish “No.” But whether you want a squeegee-punk-inspired lid or something as basic and beige as Jennifer Aniston’s sun-spun streaks, Hudon and co. are happy to deliver. The only type of hairstyle that doesn’t inspire him is the up-to-the-minute trendy cut. So if you’re in the market for a “Poxie” (Posh Spice’s take on the pixie ’do), the Chop Shop probably isn’t for you.

“I think our motto is very simple,” Hudon says. “ ‘Styles change but style doesn’t.’ ”

Source URL: http://www.straight.com/article-199619/vancouver-hairstylists-show-their-chops-tv



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