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Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times Watch out as 'Tabatha Takes Over' salons, gay clubs
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times

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Tabatha Coffey. Photo courtesy of Bravo

Our favorite lesbian hairdresser from Queensland, Australia, is back with a new season on the Bravo Channel. Tabatha Coffey returns to reality television. This time, she just doesn't take over salons but small businesses from a yogurt shop to a bed-and-breakfast.

Being executive producer to the newly renamed show (Tabatha Takes Over) and running her own salon in New Jersey keeps Coffey one to watch. We discussed the fourth season of the program that is still a cut above the rest.

Windy City Times: Hey, Tabatha. How have you been?

Tabatha Coffey: I have been very well, thank you.

WCT: Busy, huh?

Tabatha Coffey: It has been a very busy year but I am not complaining. I love it.

WCT: We have talked in the past about how your show could apply anywhere, and now you are going all over the place.

Tabatha Coffey: I know! See? Be careful what you wish for…

WCT: The first episode has the owner living inside her salon, called Jungle Red, in Minneapolis.

Tabatha Coffey: It does.

WCT: That is crazy.

Tabatha Coffey: Yes, it was disturbing. She really just put everything that she owned into the business. She did it thinking she would be able to save it. She just couldn't get it together to get the money that she needed to not only keep her business afloat but also get herself a life, a home, and all of those kinds of things. It was crazy but understandable. She's a woman who wanted to get it together but went on a downward spiral and couldn't get out.

WCT: Many business owners sometimes don't know where to draw the line between personal life and work life.

Tabatha Coffey: It happens a lot, especially with small businesses. People stop taking paychecks for themselves and start putting everything they have personally into their business. They sometimes don't realize that although it is noble and great to make those sacrifices if they put everything into it personally if it goes belly up then you really have nothing left. That is the case with Suzanne. If she could not get things back on track she literally would have nothing left.

WCT: I love it when the group is all excited to see you. Then you come on like gangbusters and their faces just drop.

Tabatha Coffey: [Laughs] It is always, "The bitch is here!" You can see the wheels going in the eyes. Like "Oh, what have a I done?"

WCT: You went to a gay dance club to help there, also.

Tabatha Coffey: I did and it was fabulous!

WCT: Well, it got fabulous after you took over, right?

Tabatha Coffey: You know what? It was great going. Club Ripples has been an institution in Long Beach for 40 years. They were actually the first gay dance club in Long Beach. They were really the place to go. It was the case of "times have changed, consumers have changed, gays have changed, and everything has changed."

The owners were still very stuck in their ways and wanted to play disco. They didn't want to let people in that had baggy pants because they didn't like that or have a drink on the dance floor. They were so stuck in their ways and enforcing those rules not only on their staff, but on the clients that were coming in, that it wasn't fun anymore. They hadn't changed with the times so it was really getting the owners to realize everything was different, including the gay community. Now you really want people talking about a great Sunday tea dance or a great night out at Club Ripples.

WCT: I know gay club owners in Chicago that complain about people meeting online and not in the clubs like they used to. It is a different world now.

Tabatha Coffey: I think it is a very different world now but the fact is we still like to go out and socialize. We still like to go meet our friends, have a drink, listen to music and have a great time. You only want to do that when you can have a great time, not when you are not allowed to put a bag on the bar or a drink on the dance floor or you just paid $3.50 for a bottle of water and they won't give you a glass of tap water. That doesn't work anymore.

WCT: You also went to the doghouse this time.

Tabatha Coffey: Yes, I did. I took over a doggy day care.

WCT: Do you have pets?

Tabatha Coffey: I do. I have a dog. I am actually a big dog lover, although walking into a doggy day care with 40 dogs jumping on you was very different than my little puppy at home.

It was really fun for me and will be fun for everyone to see the diversity of businesses out there. They are all really relatable. Anyone out there that has a dog has had their dog's haircut or dropped them off at a day care facility for some reason. You have a certain expectation of how you want your animal to be treated or be taken care of.

All of us, gay or straight, have gone to a bar at some point and had a drink. So we all know what we expect from a good night out, what we will pay or not pay for and how we want to be treated. It has been great going into all of the different businesses, although they are all very diverse—that has been part of the fun. It is something that is very relatable because every single business I have taken over I have been a patron at a business like that.

WCT: Did you think about taking over a restaurant?

Tabatha Coffey: We did go to a frozen yogurt store. I think anything is a possibility in the future of moving forward, going into businesses and taking them over. It wasn't like we had a list and we said we will go there and not go to that. It is more about finding the right businesses with problems that we can hopefully help. As you will see sometimes we do and sometimes we don't. It is, hopefully, interesting for everyone to watch at home as well.

WCT: I just went to Provincetown and visited Dougie from season three. He is still following your advice but was standing out in front of his store.

Tabatha Coffey: Of course he was. I do stay in contact with a lot of the people from episodes of all three seasons. I actually ran into someone the other night who is a friend of Dougie's and spends summers in P-town. Dougie has changed. He may not have gone a hundred percent but he has changed and that is a lot for Dougie because he has been there for a long time and has been stuck in his ways. Any kind of change will help him and help his business.

WCT: I hope you come back to Chicago next season.

Tabatha Coffey: Not in winter! I hope to come back to Chicago, too, but lately every time I come there for business or personal stuff I am stuck in a snowstorm.

WCT: We hung out last time you were in town after the hair show. Do you still carry a Blackberry and an iPhone that you work at the same time?

Tabatha Coffey: Of course I do. They are right here with me now. While I am talking to you I am right here on my Blackberry. Now I have added the iPad into the mix.

Watch what happens weekly as a new episode of Tabatha Takes Over businesses every Tuesday premiering Jan. 10. Visit for listings and details.

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