“Taste The Rainbow”
So again it has been a while since my last blog. I want to do these a lot more regularly however getting round to it has proven difficult.
I want to share my experience with you all about The Behind The Chair Show, Austin, Texas.
It all started when I got nominated for “The Big Shot Mens Image of the Year” back in July. I decided to take them up on their invite and fly to Texas. What happened next is something I could never have anticipated or even dreamt off.
The actual show was from 20th - 22nd August, so just 3 days. I decided to fly out there on the 18th and, to be completely honest; I intended to just chill, catch some rays and switch off. After my eventful 30+ hour journey I finally arrived at the JW Marriott where I was greeted by the pretty face of Kevin Luchmun…. Ironically I hadn't seen Kev for a while so to be catching up in the Texas sun was a bonus, until someone got burnt!
On Thursday evening, after chucking my bags in my room and checking out my amazing view I headed downstairs with Kev where he introduced me to what was going to be the gang for the next few days. As I approached the bar the first thing I saw was Matty Conrad’s finely groomed beard, to his left there was Ian “Free The Nipple” Locke and finally, sitting nicely on the end was Mark Bustos complete with his big grin that just looked trouble. Once the introductions were made I knew then this was going to be one helluva adventure.
After taking a stroll around the city late that night I headed back to the hotel to try and get some sleep… I deliberately left my blinds open as I wanted the Friday Morning sun rise to be my alarm, and what an alarm it was. Sitting there for an hour or so watching the sun come up with a view that I can’t even begin to describe was the moment when I said to myself - ‘I'm going to enjoy every second of this adventure’…
After this I was up and about, I was looking forward to exploring the city only for my phone to ring. It’s Kev inviting to come and cut The Homeless hair at The Salvation Army with the gang I got introduced to last night. Kev has always had my back from being friends since we were young, well before the hairdressing adventures.
Mark Bustos and Behind the Chair were the fantastic organisers behind this and when Kev asked me, well I jumped straight at the chance. I believe there was 15 of us cutting hair that day and when we arrived at the Salvation Army we started to set up. I was cutting hair next to Kev, Mark and Matty whilst Free the Nipple was behind the camera working his magic. The day flew by and between everyone we cut over 80 homeless people’s hair. The experience really did blow my mind. To hear such stories was incredible and to see how 1 haircut really can make a difference just made me fall in love with hairdressing even more. Making those people smile is by far the best moment in my career because this was also the moment I realised that I was put on this planet to help make people feel good.
Friday Night comes… We’re having a few drinks at the bar as more and more guys and girls rocked up, all here for the show too. The vibe was already buzzing and it was only Friday. Later that night myself and Ian found ourselves to be the last remaining members of the gang and he decided to take me out and show me how the City comes to life at night. Safe to say he showed me well and we both had an amazing time.
Saturday Morning arrives and Kev and the gang are prepping for the show tomorrow. Today was also the day of the roof top pool party which started at 2pm. I decide to go for a little wonder before heading back to find the gang. I didn't want to get in the way as the boys had a lot on. Once I got back they were still working so I joined them behind the scenes. To watch these 3 guys prep, shoot and do a step-by-step was so inspirational. The whole time, no matter what we were doing, everyone was just up for having a laugh albeit making sure that level of professionalism was still maintained. Whilst watching these guys, I knew straight away what I had to work and improve on. I was learning every second of this trip and I was loving every minute because of it. This made me so focused.
Saturday Afternoon, this was the pool parrrtttyyyyy time, which was the same time I decided to feel absolutely exhausted, not only due to too much sun but the jet lag after that 30 hour journey was intense. I have never experienced jet lag like it and at times I certainly felt like I had just stepped off a ship at sea. Even when I got home I was waking up at 3am and craving burgers ha. Jet lag took a while to get over to say the least. Anyway, back to the pool party… After a nap I arrived a little late around 4pm and it was still pumping. The view was incredible, everyone was having an awesome time and all The Behind The Chair girls were fantastic. I mean there work ethic was exceptional and they really did work above and beyond any expectations in my eyes, it was none stop for them and yet they made it such a special few days- not just for me- but the whole 4,000 people that attended.
Its now Saturday night and I'm smiling as I write this because of all the memories, but Saturday night was the Nominee Cocktail Party! Kev and I rocked up after arranging to meet the rest of the gang. The drinks started flowing and the networking began. Again I just couldn't quite believe the position I found myself in after I had honestly dreamt about being part of Behind The Chair awards ceremony. This simply was all due to the fact I saw Kev win the award last year, I said to myself I WILL be there, I just didn't expect it to be so soon.
Sunday Morning, the day of the show and everyone is up at the crack of dawn, I went to join the boys behind the scenes just before their show and we all raised a ‘good luck’ shot, although I knew they didn't need it after watching them for the last few days. I’m not sure if the boys were nervous or not but they sure as hell didn't seem it.
I left to go take my seat with the rest of the gang and waited for the show to commence. This was it, even though I wasn't on stage with Kev, Mark and Matty I still had the same feeling like as if it were my own show, I was so excited! I knew how hard they worked on this and couldn't wait to see the reaction of the audience not only with the entrance video but with their presentation as well.
Safe to say the reaction from the audience was phenomenal and rightly so as these 3 guys literally produced a show that was just superb. I've aways loved the theatre and these boys combined everything, it was like being educated in hairdressing by comedians. I sat there and watched with nothing but admiration as the level of creativity, professionalism and humour were out of this world.
Austin really did produce a show for 3 days that was filled with nothing but love, inspiration and motivation. I watched Mary on stage telling her story. I’m not sure if all these guys, Mary and Kevin included, realise just how big an impact they have on the rest of the world. I mean they are all powerful yet remain very humble and very kind. This word “humble” gets thrown around a lot but when you get the opportunity to mix with and meet the best in the business, then it really does highlight just how grounded they all still are. None of these guys neither thought nor think that they are at the top and thats what’s so special. Always pushing for more with the appreciation of what they already have while taking nothing for granted. Every single 1 of the 4,000 people there, were there for the same reason and that was to help each other rise, to show that dreams can be achieved and that we can achieve them together, with love and support rather then jealousy and envy.
“We are all different yet all the same.”
Behind The Chair have managed to create 1 huge family from all over the world - INCREDIBLE.
This show for me was the best show I've ever experienced and I certainly came back from Texas a stronger guy.
Sunday late afternoon I heard a little rumour, this rumour came from the Man with the finely groomed beard - Mr Conrad. Matty approached me and asked myself what I thought about the idea of presenting an award for Behind The Chair… I was taken aback and stunned, I stuttered and I think I might of even felt my Balls sink a little into my stomach haha! Of course the only word that came straight out of my mouth was “YES”. He then went onto to say that they would be in touch. You are a true gent having another fellows back so for that I Thank You Matty.
I walked away a little in shock and a little sceptical if I'm honest, “could this be too good to be true?” And “why me?” were the first two questions that popped into my head but soon enough those two questions became quickly irrelevant as the message came through from Behind The Chair and my eyes lit up light like a child about to jump into a huge ball pit.
Its was now time for the brown suit to make an appearance… Sunday Night had arrived and I was so excited. The whole journey so far up to this point was exceptional but this was the big one that everyone had been waiting for. Myself and Kev had to head down early for rehearsals which was where we got our strict instructions and run-through for presenting of the awards. Now it starting to kick in, atmosphere was buzzing. As I walked backstage I recognised this lady, at that moment when I clocked her, she turned her head and said “Sam?”. As I looked again to check, I realised that it was one of my favourite ladies in the world and that’s a strange thing to say considering I had never met her in person…
Stood in front of me was Whitney Vermeer, someone who’s work I not only adore but her attitude as well. That was the moment I realised the power of social media as Whitney and I had been talking for ages prior this and had a lot in common regarding both working within a studio and our crazy personalities. Straight away we started to have a laugh and this put me at ease. Once the rehearsals were over I was ready and rather quite relaxed considering I was about to present an award in front of 4,000 people.
Everyone started to take there seats, the awards began and the vibe was epic. The time had come to present my award so I headed backstage with Richard Mannah- a guy who again Kev had introduced me to at the beginning of this trip and a guy who was a true gent. Richard put me at ease and the 3 of us (when I say 3 I mean his little pup Micho as well) headed backstage. Hearing my name called out and walking out on stage was an absolute amazing experience and I would just like to take this opportunity to thank Behind the Chair for allowing me to present at such a prestigious ceremony. To have this moment as well as the experience at The Salavation Army within 2 days is a little hard to put into words.
Next up was the time where they announced the winner of my category “Big Shot Mens Image of the Year” and by this point I was totally relaxed as win or lose I was in such a great place and if I'm honest this part was a little bit of a blur, I was already overwhelmed by what had just happened. People always say you enter competitions to win but thats not the case, not for me. Don't get me wrong if I win then yes thats a huge bonus and an amazing outcome but any competition I have ever entered has been to push myself and you really don't have to win to make the most out of it. All I really remember is presenters reading out another English name “Terri” and everyone erupted. This is why this event was so special, there were no losers. Everyone in that room was happy for every single winner and I didn't see one bit of resentment. An incredible night which I will never forget. Lets just hope there is more of these special moments to come.
After the celebrations I wake up Monday morning a little groggy. As I'm sure you can imagine, it got eventful after the awards had finished. With this said I was suppose to leave Monday morning and Sam being Sam decided to stay on longer. The main reason for this was for the fact the man with the finely groomed beard, Matty Conrad, was having his launch party for Victory Barber and Brand (also I wanted to continue to push boundaries with Ian “Free the Nipple Locke”).
Matty had just this weekend released his own product range which was literally unreal with the most amazing smell….. so after what not only Matty had done for me this weekend but Kev and Mark as well I thought it only fair to stay and be apart of his special night which I was lucky enough to be invited to.
8am Monday morning with a little ropey head I rang my company and got them to change the flights….. Typical Sammy trick which now I think I will just always book an open return! HA!
Monday night comes and myself and Kev head to the bar safe to say a little late, as we arrive we get direction to the roof top terrace, walking through that door to see the view, again straight away proved that I made the right call at 8am this morning. With being late the venue was already pumping and the drinks flowing. Time to let our hair down with the gang and just enjoy every second of this night.
Half way through the evening I got chatting to a Lady and her partner. They were called Pati and Artezia, now I want to mention these 2 as this highlights just how every single person out of the 4,000 people at this event were family. We got talking and before you know it, it got a little deep considering these were 2 strangers. The stories we shared were very very similar and both a little dark. Now we wasn't sharing in pity or sorrow we was in fact sharing in celebration and happiness. Everyone there had a story, everyone had and has a background and yet that background was the reason we were there, striving for better things, chasing those dreams and using our past as a strength. Using our weaknesses as our driving force, turning those negatives into a positive. I could go on and on but seriously what an incredible feeling to be able to talk to someone in this way. The only thing that screamed out to me not just from just this conversation but from the whole experience as well, was that it is ok to be different, to stand out and it is ok to be proud of who we have become today, be true to ourselves yet never forget where we have come from or lose sight on whats important in life. Peace, Love and Happiness.
I want to sum up this article with a HUGE Thank You to Behind The Chair for such a life changing experience! Mary, Kevin and all the girls, you did an unbelievable job in creating this family. I want to say a special thank you to Kev for not only making this trip one to remember but also for always having my back from a young age. A big thanks goes to the other 2 boys, Matty Conrad and Mark Bustos for allowing me to become part of the gang and learn from them every step of the way, and I would also like to thank Richard Mannah’s, my presenting buddy for sharing his knowledge and expertise with me.
I owe Ian “Free The Nipple” Locke a little mention whilst I'm thanking people for the serious amounts of shits and giggles we had. Ps you got some serious skills with that camera buddy!
Last but not least one more big thank you goes to EVERYONE I had interaction with at this event as you all made my journey one that I will never forget and congratulations to all the winners and everyone who took part.
If you haven't experienced this show then MAKE SURE YOUR THERE in 2018!!!
THANK YOU and see you all next year!!
Mr Sam Wall