How hairstylist Tony Cox mixed with the stars in LA and appeared on stage with David Bowie before settling down in Blackpool to run his own organic colour salon
Baring his backside to an audience of 15,000 stood next to David Bowie has certainly got to be up there in the list of achievements.
But for Blackpool hair stylist Tony Cox, it doesn’t end there as the 56-year-old admits the pinnacle of his career was being part of the hair team at the Oscars in 1996, as well as appearing on hit comedy show Seinfeld.
Tony jokes: “It was quite a journey from me being born in a mining town to being part of the Oscars.”
And Tony certainly doesn’t believe in sitting still.
Born in Yorkshire, Tony moved to California more than 30 years ago whilst working as a rep for Tri, promoting their hair products.
He then spent eight years in LA, followed by another eight years in San Francisco.
Wishing to leave on a high, he travelled across America for nine months, before moving back to the UK two years ago.
With a desire to see the coast, he visited Blackpool, and has remained there ever since, setting up Organic Colour Bar in Cocker Square.
Tony reveals: “I moved to California more than 30 years ago with a company I used to rep for and I ended up staying permanently.
“Whilst there, I had lots of different opportunities, as I ran my own day spa and salon and I went on the road educating people.
“I worked at Estilo Salon where Chris McMillan, who is Jennifer Aniston’s hair stylist, was the lead in the team.
“It was where all the celebs go. I offered colouring services and I had some incredibly fun times over there. I met a lot of different people on set, such as Jim Carey, Geena Davies and Liza Minnelli.
“Liza was quite fun and was such an enigma. It was amazing to be in her dressing room.
“I also worked with Bette Midler on the set of Get Shorty.
“I ended up appearing as a walk-on in one episode of Seinfeld as Bette Midler’s hairdresser. It was called The Understudy. They didn’t have anyone on set to be part of her entourage so I stepped in.
“I had a lot of fun on there. It is such a popular show and it is great to be immortalised on TV.
“I also worked with Jane Leeves, who played Daphne in Frasier as I blew dry her hair on set. She was very sweet.
Tony’s time at Estilo enabled him to become friendly with David Bowie, which in turn led to him becoming known as ‘the nun.’
Tony recalls: “I met David Bowie several times and I went to see him in concert in LA with the Nine Inch Nails. I was dressed as a naughty nun, with no back and I went backstage to speak to the band.
“David saw me and said I had to go on stage as that was something his good friend Freddie Mercury would do.
“David was in the middle of his set and he dropped his mic on the stage which was my cue as normally a stage hand runs on and pick up the mic. I did a slow walk on stage and faced the audience. I turned my back and the spotlight was on my bum. I was then know as The Nun.”
Tony’s most proudest achievement, however, was working back stage at the Oscars in 1996 as part of Chris McMillan’s team.
He reveals: “I worked back stage at The Oscars as part of the hair team that created the one and only fashion show to present the Best Costumes Award.
“It was the one and only time in Oscar history that the Best Costume category was presented using a live catwalk show because that year there were some amazing costumes in the movies.
“The supermodels of the day, including Tyra Banks, Brandi and Tyson Beckford, wore the costumes from the movies Howards End, Sense and Sensibility and Restoration to name a few, and we had to recreate the hair from the movies.
“There was lots of hard work and curling irons backstage, It was really intense.
“I think that has to be the pinnacle of my career because everyone want to be at the Oscars.”
With these fantastic experiences under his belt, Tony felt it was time to leave the US and move back to Blighty.
He says: “I am one of those people who likes to leave a party before the lights come up and things look ugly. I decided I wanted to come home so I bought an RV in San Francisco and drove across America. I spent nine months on the road and drove 15,000 miles through 30 states. I wanted to leave in style.”
When visiting Blackpool, Tony saw a vacant shop in Cocker Square and seized his next opportunity.
He says: “I love Blackpool. I came for a day and never left. It reminds me of LA, San Francisco and Las Vegas. The sand dunes are like Californian sand dunes.”
Tony’s passion is selling organic products which are free from harsh chemicals.
He says: “I have reduced the majority of harmful chemicals and I use my own products that don’t have ammonia or thermaldahyde.
“I developed allergies to chemicals, as I was exposed to so many, so I had to make the choice about whether I had to leave the industry I love or find new products.
“There are a lot of chemicals in beauty products which are quite harmful to us as they disrupt the endocrine system and can cause illness, especially women who do a lot of cleaning with bleach and sprays. Women are putting chemicals on their body, with hairspray, shampoos and hair colours and so that is a lot of chemicals absorbing into the body.
“I create the oil blend myself and use Fair Trade products. Palm oil is decimating our forests, so I ensure I use ethical oils.
“It would be nice if a lot of other salons changed their products and became more conscious of their environment.”