Originally posted in the Herald Sun.

Forget dealing with diff- icult clients and styling hair with a pair of blunt children’s scissors. Gold Coast hairdresser Tabatha Coffey says living with 12 complete strangers — many of whom she didn’t even like — proved the biggest challenge that reality television threw at her.

Coffey auditioned for Shear Genius —the new US reality series from the makers of Top Chef and Project Runway — on a whim and had no real ambition for small- screen stardom.

But Coffey’s blunt, cutting re- marks and flair for hair have made her a star in the US and she now fronts her own spin-off show, Tabatha’s Salon Takeover.

“It (fame) is very surreal — it’s great,” she says. I’m having a brilliant time.”

“I’ve been a hairdresser for 26 years and it’s great because I’m still using those skills but in a different way. But God no, I never saw myself doing this (a TV show). I never dreamt of being famous. I’ve never really been interested in that sort of thing.”

Coffey, who moved to the US 14 years ago when her mother married an American, says she only auditioned for the show to kill time before a lunch date one afternoon.

She says she wouldn’t consider herself a reality-show fan, and only watches the ones that have a “skills focus”, such as Top Chef  and ProjectRunway.
Shear Genius is hosted by former Charlie’ s Angels star Jaclyn Smith. Coffey and the other contestants must complete a series of styling challenges until one is named the winner.

Coffey says the hairdressing tasks she faced were far less of a trial than her living arrangements during the show.

“I had never lived with 12 people before let alone such a motley bunch,” she says with a wry laugh. “I’ve had roommates, but you choose them. It’s tough to share a house with a bunch of people you don’t know — or especially like — particularly when you’re spending 24 hours a day with them.

“It’s not like you can just p— off at the end of the day, because they’re still there at home with you.” Coffey says she wasn’t there to make friends with her competition, she was there to win. And as such she certainly didn’t shy away from telling her fellow contestants what she really thought of them. “I don’t like to talk about people behind their backs,” she says. “If I have a problem with someone I’ll tell them to their face.”

Coffey says her honesty struck a chord with viewers and is the reason she has been given her new series.

Tabatha’s Salon Takeover is similar to Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares but instead of dealing with lazy chefs, Coffey is charged with fixing disorganised salons and re- educating difficult hairdressers.