It doesn’t have to be all-natural to be good. Such is the philosophy of Brannon, hairdresser to the stars at Brannon Salon at the Hard Rock Hotel. A 15-year veteran of scissors, Brannon is expanding his follicle empire to a collection of hair products, a makeup line, and three new salons by 2010. Brannon’s new shampoo and conditioner line, 01, took three years to perfect. The next phases, 02 (a deep conditioning line) and 03 (a styling line), are set to come in later in 2008. The products will be sold exclusively in Brannon salons, Hard Rock Hotel suites, Kitson, Fred Segal and Barneys. Brannon came to Las Vegas at the behest of George Maloof and the Palms Casino to serve as its in-house celebrity stylist. He intended on returning to New York to reopen Brannon Hair, which was closed down after 9/11. And then Hard Rock came knocking. Brannon sat down with us to talk about why he thinks Los Angeles sucks, what it’s like to raise a daughter in Las Vegas’s breast-obsessed culture, and getting branded on the ass by Pink.
BRANNON: I had Brannon Hair here in New York. It was downtown. When 9/11 happened, I decided to go to L.A. and get away for a bit. I hated L.A. I hated, hated, hated, hated L.A.
B: Here in New York, people are like, “Oh, what do you do?” There it’s like, “What can you do for me?” When 9/11 happened in New York, everyone ran downtown. Had it happened in L.A., everyone would have run in the opposite direction. “Ohmigod, where’s my car? Do I have dust on my car?” It’s fucked up. It’s just a bunch of pompous assholes.
BB: So why Las Vegas? Why the Hard Rock?
B: The Hard Rock came to me and said, “Here’s a check. Put the number down.” So I wrote down a number, and they said it was fine, so I took the money and built a new salon. The whole time, I wanted to start my own product line—because there’s so much crap out there for long, straight, thin, environmentally damaged hair. You look at stuff and you’re like, “What the hell?” I shit you not, I think it’s that Pantene has a new conditioner out, and it says “fortified fortifier.”
BB: What does that even mean?
B: Exactly. Companies like Aveda, they go that “all-natural” route. It’s great for the environment, but you should know that your head’s going to break out. Zits on your back.
BB: Ew, that doesn’t sound too good.
B: So it’s like, what’s more important to you, your hair or the environment? [Laughs.] No, I’m joking. I’m not promising the world, I’m not promising that it’s going to straighten your hair, because none of that works. BB: Who are some of the people that you’ve been working on lately?
B: All the girls from “The Hills” use my products. George Clooney’s girl uses it, Sarah Larson.
BB: Do people come specifically to Hard Rock Hotel, your salon, to be styled by you?
B: That’s all I do. My staff does the hotel guests. Most of my clientele are either people who I used to cut in New York or people who have heard of me—I do a lot of stuff for MTV and VH1. A lot of them are business travelers who will do a purposeful layover in Vegas for a few hours. I have people who fly in from as far as Australia and Chile to get their haircut by me. I’m only referral and request.
BB: How much does an appointment with you go for?
B: $100 every half hour. I’m not into raping people. There are people who charge $300-$400 an hour. It’s a haircut.
BB: Who cuts your hair?
B: It’s either me or my newest assistant. I always have them do it as payback for putting up with my shit all day.
BB: Are you a hard guy to work for?
B: I’m an asshole. I say things nicely the first three times and I just explode. There’s no gradual.
BB: How many hours a day do you work?
B: The new salon has a bar in it. I’m basically right next door to the new nightclub. We’ll be open until 4 o’clock in the morning.
BB: With your hours, how do you have a social life?
B: I don’t. I had my social life here when I lived in New York. Basically, I’m on a ten-year plan. I’ll sell the whole company in ten years.
BB: And do what?
B: Whatever the hell I want to do. Sit around in mayonnaise?
BB: Since you work so much, do you live close to the hotel?
B: I live up in the mountains in Vegas, a place called Anthem.
BB: So you’re away from the craziness of the Strip?
B: I have a whole suburban life. [Shows pictures on iPhone of his house and his daughter.] This is my little one, Berlin. [Points to “Berlin” tattoo on his neck, looks at other tattoos.] I’m covered.
BB: Is that from your old days?
B: Yeah, I’m cleaning my act up, I guess. I’ve got some bad ones. We were all drunk one night and Pink—I know her by Alecia—we were drunk one night and her husband owns a tattoo shop so we went there. And I said, “Go ahead, tattoo a little heart on my ass.” So she drew a fucking pink penis on my ass and put “Pink was here.” It’s still there.
BB: But those are the memories of a good life lived.
B: My daughter’s like, “What’s that, Daddy?” And I’m always like, “That’s a mushroom, sweetheart.”
BB: Keep her innocence for now.
B: Seriously! I mean, she’s growing up in Vegas. Every piece of marketing is just a big pair of titties. It could be Starbucks. Everything is tits and… Mop-n-Glow! You drive into Vegas and that’s all you see. The phone book has 200 pages of prostitutes.