The Derek J



Yes, we wear our standard-issue, appropriate-for-work haircuts, but when you first plop down in your neighborhood hairstylist's chair every eight weeks or so, don't you want to be blown away with something big, bold, and non-occurring in nature? That's what fantasy hairstylists do. Squared. And Derek J. does it in heels.

Award-winning fantasy hair creator Derek J., who you may remember from Chris Rock's documentary Good Hair and The Real Housewives of Atlanta, is calling the shots as a sweet yet headstrong judge on the new show Hair Battle Spectacular (Oxygen, Tuesdays at 10 p.m. Eastern and Pacific time). The show is a condensed, weekly version of what would typically happen at the annual Bronner Bros. International Hair Show, where stylists go head to head in coming up with (onstage, by the way) the most whimsical, fantastical, and imaginative hair creations.

Derek J. tells The Advocate about the odds of creating a masterpiece of sculpted hair in just a few hours and his previous brush with a contestant.

The Advocate: How did you get into hairstyling?
Derek J: I just picked it up, and I didn’t even think it would turn into anything. I moved to Atlanta to go to fashion school and I ran into this lady that was doing hair for music videos, so I started working with her as an assistant. At first I didn’t like the industry because it’s too catty. People are constantly trying to get jobs from you — it’s just too much. I stepped away for about two years and reemerged as a competing hairstylist. And then from there everything started snowballing into a big situation. Next thing I know, I’m on television shows, I’m doing this, I’m doing that. I don’t know how it actually happened; it just happened really quickly.