For the second season opener of "Tabatha's Salon Takeover," the celebrity hairstylist cut and ran for Chicago. A concerned -- and anonymous -- citizen had nominated the Orbit Salon, 3481 N. Clark, for rehabilitation, so Tabatha Coffey packed her all-black wardrobe and tough love for the trip.
She found a filthy, disorganized establishment, some sloppy habits, and a staff with no direction. "It was a really emotional episode for me, and it was a really emotional episode for everyone else," says Tabatha.
Seven months later, we checked in with the Orbit stylists to find out how the salon is doing now -- and what really happened during filming.
The episode shows: Dusty products, hairballs all over the floor, and stations that hadn't been cleaned in recent memory.
The stylists say: "They told us not to clean the salon for a month before we filmed the show," says Bobby Paul, Orbit's artistic director. "Our salon was dirty, I'm not going to say it wasn't, but it wasn't that bad. And they moved s--- around the basement to make it look messier."
The episode shows: Hairdresser Lindsay Giffen getting fired for having a bad attitude and swearing at Tabatha.
The stylists say: Lindsay was hired back almost immediately. "I think she's kind of a joke, actually," says Lindsay of Tabatha. She says that in her interviews with the producers, they nudged her in a negative direction. "It was 10 days of filming and you're hungry," says Lindsay, who was embarrassed when Tabatha criticized her in front of a client.
"I am shocked," says Tabatha, who hadn't heard that Lindsay was rehired. "It's disappointing, but maybe Lindsay has changed and realized that she has to step up her game."
The stylists say that Tabatha actively provoked them to find a villain for the episode. Tabatha says she's just guilty of radical honesty, and besides, she only has a week to get it all done. "Every time that I've walked into a salon, at some point, someone has called me a b----," says Tabatha. "If not to my face, behind my back for sure."
The episode shows: The "Takeover" team giving the salon a makeover that includes a new sitting area, a new break room, and decorative touches.
The stylists say: "They threw a bunch of yellow paint everywhere that made us look tackier than usual," gripes Lindsay. "All they did was turn our wax room into the break room. They didn't do anything. We had blinds that needed to be replaced, a ceiling that was leaking, and a sink that needed to be fixed."
Still, there have been results, says Bobby. "Because we've got so much yellow in here now, people notice us more from the street," he says. "We've gotten some new customers that way."
The episode shows: Endless tears as the staff mends their relationship with Orbit's owner, learn to be accountable, and finally come together as a real team.
The stylists say: "She did bring us together as a team," says Bobby. "But it's a hair salon, girl. There's gonna be drama."
There was just one problem with all the newfound unity, says Andrea Butler, the salon's manager. "There were 17 people working here, but only nine of us got on the show," she says. "Those of us on the show had all this new energy. We were really motivated to make this a new place. But then you had half the staff who felt left out because they weren't chosen by Bravo. They obviously thought they weren't interesting enough."
The experience has been a mixed blessing, says Andrea. "It kind of tore us apart, too."
The Orbit episode airs at 9 p.m. Tuesday, and the staff -- who haven't yet seen the show -- will be watching at their next-door bar, the Stretch, 3485 N. Clark. They'll be there to celebrate and support each other, and they invite all interested parties. Especially those with hair.