Catching Up with Kim Vo | Out Magazine

Catching Up with Kim Vo

Catching Up with Kim Vo

The competition on season 3 of Bravos Shear Genius is hotter than a flat iron. Premiering back in February, the show went international this season in its quest to find the top stylist, who will take home $100,000 in prize money furnished by Nexxus Salon Hair Care, an apprenticeship with the company, and the chance to style hair for an Allure magazine photo shoot.

Another change this season is that host Jaclyn Smith was replaced by designer Camila Alves and Jonathan Antin, star of the Bravo series Blow Out, also joined the cast. There is one familiar face back to give the contestants a sheer dose of reality: Kim Vo.

But who is Kim Vo? Hes considered a top colorist in the industry and he's worked with Britney Spears, Kate Hudson, Alicia Silverstone, and many others. Today he owns salons in Beverly Hills, Laguna Beach, San Francisco, and Las Vegas and sees up to 30 clients a day. Still, what happens when he leaves the salons and goes home?

Out spoke with Vo while he was putting the finishing touches on a clients hair. We chatted about hair and Shear Genius, of course, but we also talked about growing up in Vietnam during the war, his love life, and exactly how much plastic surgery he's willing to admit he's had.

Out: How does this season of Shear Genius compare to the previous ones?
Kim Vo: Of course I loved season 2, but in season 3 what I think theyve done is have challenges that are more realistic. Its how Hollywood stylists would actually work.

Was season 2 not truthful to the stylist lifestyle?
They were trying to fine-tune their challenges. They were trying to get related things, but they didnt know the direction. Now its a very strong direction.

What is the toughest thing about the show?
To really be put under pressure and deal with your competition. Its all your worst nightmare. Its all the people who dont want you to succeed, in the sense that it is a competition. You have to utilize your skills while having a timeline.

Is that how it is when you get out into the real world?
Sweetheart, we eat our young. There are certain cities, like New York and L.A., that if youre not accustomed to that personality, than unfortunately, its not going to work.

This year Brazilian model (and Matthew McConaugheys girlfriend) Camila Alves replaced Jaclyn Smith as the host of the show. Do you miss Jaclyn?
Of course I miss her, but I love Camila. I miss my Charlies Angels gossip that no one gets to hear.

How is the show different with Camila?
Its different in the sense that I think Camila brings in the model/fashion side of it. Even Jonathan (Antin). I love him. Hes adorable. Were just bringing a different vibe. It definitely shows. The ratings are up.

With spring here, what is the look for men when it comes to hair?
Everyone is cutting their way away from the shaggy look. Its a little more tapered. The Italian mullet is big too.

What is that?
Its tall on top, slicked on the sides, and a little longer in the back. Im seeing a lot of hip guys wearing that.

How do you get that look?
Its a little more tapered on the sides, but its not cut short. Its left long, but you slick it back. The top is not a pompadour. Its just a little volume -- not Snooki volume! Then it goes a little lower down the neck.

When thinking of guys' hair, how do you feel about the looks of the following:

Zac Efron?
He has a whole new look, which I love. Its choppy. Its piecey. Its put-up. Its great.

Justin Bieber?
I love it. Its one of those things thats age-appropriate. If it was too mature, it wouldnt fit his personality.

How about Ryan Seacrest? Close to 10 years ago his hair style was as big as Jennifer Anistons Rachel. Is he in need of a change?

Its hard when you get stuck on a look. Its like shoulder pads. Youre going to have to tell me when I have to cut my hair or change it to a different color. I think after every decade you have to change.

What do you think is the biggest mistake guys make with their hair?
They are not realistic to their head or face shape. Its the opposite of what people think. They feel attractive so they want to cut off all their hair and shave it, but they need to realize it isnt a good look. I mean, their scalp isnt tanned, but they have a tanned face. Its not good.

Is there a hair trend you wish would just go away?
Really streaky highlights. We call them West Hollywood highlights. You know, some of the queens who wear five or six chunks in the front.

Now that weve got the hair questions out of the way, lets get to know you. Whats the biggest misconception about you?
Im six-foot-two. I think people think Im shorter than I am. Im also definitely a nice guy. I dont think people realize that Im still a working stylist who works seven days a week in four salons.

Are you planning on bringing one of your salons to New York?
Of course!

You have your own line of hair products and you say are unlike anything thats out there. What makes them different?
Its from a colorist's point of view. I own the company and actually formulate. So, these arent products that someone just came to me with. These are things in the industry that I didnt feel we had.

Lets go back now. You were born in Vietnam in 19--
Vietnam, yes. That Ill admit to.

Yes. And it was 19--
Dont do that me. From one lover to another!

OK. OK, but just because youre so sweet. You moved to the United States when you were 9, but before coming here, the Vietnam War was raging in your country. Did you experience the war?
Yes, people were sacrificing their ideas and lives. Buddhist monks were burning themselves in protest. Seeing all of these things as a child can really scare you, but by the grace of God and the universe, Ive gotten through it.

When did you fall in love with hair?
Always. I think its a gay gene you have.

What were you like as a young boy?
I was precocious because my mother did not speak English. I had to learn English. Children of people who dont speak English navigate translation and diplomacy. She can go some place and say, I hate this soup. Then I will say, You know, we were just expecting something different. You had to be diplomatic and a quick thinker.

Does your mother speak English today?
Are you kidding me? She still doesnt.

Did you really learn English from watching The Dukes of Hazzard and Wonder Woman?
Youre going to laugh, but in the past, refugees or immigrants -- their version of learning English is different than going through college or classes. They would absorb the culture.

Was Wonder Woman an inspiration to you?
Absolutely. You know how many times I twirled around?

What were your parents like?
Well, my real father is deceased. My mother, who raised me, is amazing. She was a maid and a manicurist. She did what many immigrants do: They invest in their children. She gave up her life for mine.

I want to address plastic surgery. The media has talked about the extensive work you have had done, including your eyelids, lips, nose, and cheeks.
I love it!

Well, some say you have had all of the work to alter your French-Vietnamese heritage. Have you had plastic surgery?
Lips, Ill admit to.

Your eyes?
No eyes. That would be funny. My mothers eyes.

So youre not trying to alter your appearance to escape your heritage?
No. I love it, though. I want to keep perpetuating the rumor.

What are your thoughts on aging?
Seriously, aging is a beautiful thing if you do it gracefully and understand that there is never a time when you give up or rest. Its very healthy to always be aware of yourself. I really do appreciate my age. I dont want to sound like Im embarrassed of it.

But earlier we had fun about you not wanting me to say it.
You know what it is ... young people think Im ancient, and I dont want them to get detached. I think if they felt detached, than I cant help them. I cant inspire them because they wont relate. People will say, Oh, I could never be like you. Youve done all this, and Ill never get there. Then Ill be like, Fuck you, Ive done all this, but I started where you started.

Have you found love?
Of course I have, many times.

True love?
Yes.

Are you currently in love?
My guy is 30.

And is this true love? The one?
This is the one. Were engaged, and once this damn California gets it straight and makes it legal, were definitely going to get married. Hes from Connecticut, so well probably end up going there.

How long have you two been together?
Two years.

Where did you meet?
Like every good gay relationship -- at a dive bar. A dive bar on a Monday night.

What's up next for you?
I think its going to be more personal in the sense of more regarding my relationship. Ive always wanted to adopt. I think its one of the gay callings. Parenthood would be next.

Do you have the paternal instinct?
If not, Ill buy it. I want a little Asian girl. I want to dress her up like a China doll.

What are you the most proud of?
That I get to inspire people. I feel that I do it in a real kind way. Its bitchy, but its from the heart.

Shear Genius airs Wednesdays on Bravo, with the season 3 finale taking place on April 7. Check your local listings for times and channels.

To learn more about Kim Vo, visit his official website here. Visit the Shear Genius website here.

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