(L-R) Katrina Atkinson, Elgin Charles, Lolita Goods and Sean Cameron.
Photo by Mac Alexander
By Darlene Donloe
“Beverly Hills Fabulous” is not only the name of his new reality show on VH1, it’s also an appropriate description of Elgin Charles and the stylists who work in his posh, high-end hair salon located in the world-famous 90210 zip code.
The half-hour show, which debuts March 14 at 10 p.m. (PST), gives viewers an intimate and up-close peek inside the inner workings of Elgin Charles Beverly Hills, an urban salon that caters to African-American women, including a number of celebrities like Natalie Cole, Star Jones, Holly Robinson Peete, Victoria Rowell, Beverly Johnson, Kiki Shepard and more.
Charles said some of his clients actually fly in to get their hair done._In the premiere episode, he juggles his plans to find a second salon location, handle his A-list clients, and deal with his crew of stylists._
The always-fashion-forward Charles embodies the “Beverly Hills Fabulous” lifestyle. His two diamond necklaces, beige leather pants, silk crème shirt and diamond watch prove he brought his “A” game and that he came to play.
The show is part of Charles’ master plan to branch out, increase his product line (EC Collection and Platinum Collection), his wig line (ECU – Extension Cap Unit), and become a household name.
“I needed something that was going to give me brand awareness,” says Charles. “I thought a reality television show would be a nice vehicle.”
Doing reality television is nothing new for Charles, who was once married to actress Jackée Harry (“227″), who makes several appearances in the show.
He’s appeared on “Extreme Makeover,” “How Do I Look?” and “Split Ends.”
But, “Beverly Hills Fabulous” is the first show centering on him and his crew. He says he’s comfortable with reality television and with one of five cameras following his every move._
“The show isn’t scripted; it’s outlined,” says Charles, who began his professional career as a hair stylist after graduating from Marinello’s Beauty School in 1983. “It’s fast-paced and has a lot of drama. The cameras don’t bother me. We’re all going to be real whether the cameras are there or not. They get a little into our personal lives – but not too much.”
What keeps the show interesting and entertaining are the big personalities that inhabit the salon. Joining Charles on the show are three of his hair stylists that he describes as “the best in the business.”_
“To help keep my clients happy, I’ve hired the most talented, most fabulous stylists who have the biggest personalities you can imagine,” explains Charles, who walked away from a highly successful career in finance at Smith Barney to follow his passion for hair._
Featured on the show is St. Louis native Sean Cameron, an aspiring singer and the salon’s manager and artistic director.
“This is therapy for me,” says Cameron, who also attended Marinello’s but graduated from San Fernando Beauty Academy. “Therapy happens between a hair stylist and a client. You can work out a lot of issues doing hair and getting your hair done.”_
Cameron, 34, is passionate about hair. He believes it speaks volumes about a person.
“Hair is an accessory,” says Cameron, who has been a hair stylist since he was 26. “You can have on thousands of dollars worth of clothes, but if your hair is not together – you are not cute. No one will see your clothes, but they’ll remember that hair.”
Next up is Compton native Lolita “Lo” Goods, a curvy beauty who is “holding it down for the big sistas.”
Goods, who will only admit to being in her late 40s, has been a hair stylist for 27 years and has worked with Charles for five.
Before becoming a hair stylist, Goods worked at both Hollywood Records and Arista Records. But hair has always been her obsession.
“I’ve always done hair from an early age,” says Goods. “I always did my friends’ hair. I’m glad we got the chance to do this show. People can see the realness. When they tune in, I will give them the real Lolita. That’s just me. I don’t know any other way to be.”_
Goods, who worked at several salons before joining Charles, says working at the Beverly Hills location has upped her game.
“Working with Elgin has been a great learning experience,” says Goods, who also graduated from Marinello’s. “He is a master of hair and a master of extensions, which is what I’ve become as well. I now consider myself as a ‘weaver diva.’ “_
In the show, it’s clear that Goods, who was voted ‘class clown’ in high school, is the jokester of the group.
“I’m always laughing and having a good time,” says Goods. “This is my life. I’m going to live it and I’m going to have fun doing it. Come on in. I’m ready. I’m a mess anyway. I live life to the fullest.”
And then there is Katrina Atkinson, an even-handed, jovial soul in her early 30s that Cameron describes as “a lady all day long.”
“I moved here in 2009 because I wanted to work with the best and I’m doing it,” says Atkinson. “I clicked my heels two times. I was a Black Dorothy. I had a vision for myself. I wanted to be at my highest peak. Working with Elgin I know I’m going to be able to grow my business. I am now a seasoned stylist. I understand this business. It’s about making it work for me.”
There are other stylists in the shop, including Ingrid Bembry and Tifphanie Griffith. However, the aforementioned three stylists are the focus this season._For 30 minutes, the lively quartet of Charles, Cameron, Goods and Atkinson will take viewers on a roller coaster ride, while also educating them on the care and maintenance of their hair.
That’s a mandate from Charles, who is a self-described “hair master.”_
“The show is about more than gossip,” says Charles. “While all of that is going on, I’m still teaching how to do hair and giving hair tips.”
There is an immediate likability upon meeting Charles, who has been in his current affluent location 15 years. He has a warm, inviting personality, an infectious wit coupled with a smile large enough to light up the room.
Charles, 51, who says he was born with a “brush in my hand,” is watching his dreams come true. It began when he was growing up in San Antonio.
It was his mother who recognized his hair talents and told him to go for it.
“She saw my potential,” says Charles. “My mom said, ‘move West.’ She knew I loved hair and she wanted me to be happy. I took some detours working at what was then Crocker Bank and then Smith Barney, but that was temporary. I haven’t looked back.”
Cameron, Goods, Atkinson and Charles, who have already shot 10 episodes of “Beverly Hills Fabulous” and proclaim that nothing was off limits, are larger-than-life characters promising big fun and a lot of entertainment in the show, created and executive produced by Eric Bischoff, Jason Hervey and Alex Avant.
“This is fun,” says Charles, who worked at several salons before opening his own. “I’m having a great time. It’s about all of us winning. While the show is entertaining, we call this show edutainment because it’s educational, fast-paced and high-energy with lots of comedy and drama. But in the end it’s about love because we are a family.”