With a salon attracting such high profile clients as Pamela Anderson, Isaac Mizrahi and Rachael Ray, hair stylist and beauty expert Ryan Nickulas definitely has a place on New York City’s “A List”. We sit down and get to know more about Ryan, including his surprising first “client”, his canine kids and his experience being a part of the fabulous ensemble cast of the new reality series.
Socialite Life: How did you end up involved with this show?
Ryan Nickulas: A friend of mine who writes for a beauty magazine saw the casting call for the original casting and basically said, “Ryan, this is you, this is your show.” And you know, I called all of my family – my mother, my dad, my brother and I asked them, “Before I even submit myself to this, are you okay with my doing reality TV?” And everybody gave me the thumbs up – because I just had this gut feeling. So, I submitted my picture and my little bio and it was funny, they called me first thing the next morning and we were off to the races for auditions.
SL: It wasn’t a standard audition process – you didn’t have to prepare a monologue or anything, right?
Ryan: No, I just went in and talked about my life. I talked about my friends and my enemies, my likes and dislikes and just my day-to-day life. It was pretty easy to be honest with you.
SL: Tell me a little about your professional background in hairstyling.
Ryan: Well, I got started at a very young age with my first Cabbage Patch doll, named Carol. Remember that Cabbage Patch dolls came with pigtails? I took her pigtails apart, which revealed her half-bald head – which made me very upset. And I micro-braided every three little yarns. And my mother told me “We didn’t hear from you for hours, and you were braiding Carol’s hair. From that moment on, I was obsessed!
Check out more after the jump!
SL: Where are you from, originally?Ryan: I’m from Massachusetts, Cape Cod, a small town called Barnstable and I grew up around the hair salon. One of my grandmothers owned a salon and I would beg for her to babysit so I could hang out there and I’ve been coloring my hair since I was ten-years-old. I’d been bribing the owner of the local salon, I said “I’ll sweep your floors and go get your lunch if you’ll just put highlights on my head”. So I swear, I’ve been involved in hair my entire life. SL: When did you open your salon (Ryan Darius Salon) in New York? Ryan: I opened the salon in New York City three years ago, in October of 2008 and I did all of the renovations. My salon was originally a pizza parlor, it was West Village Pizza, so I transitioned this pizza joint into a little glam jewel box. If I’m going to be here, I’ve got to like it (laughs). I just kind of picked up a few of my favorite things and made it happen.SL: I love the rapport that you and (salon manager) TJ Kelly have. Would you ever want to have a spin-off revolving around you and what goes on at the salon?Ryan: It’s funny, we have talked and for sure we would do a spin-off – hands down! We are very much a duo in our lives and I’ve known TJ since high school. The relationship is so true and organic and I love, love, love that I got to have this experience (on The A List) with him and that’s really the crux behind me doing this show is that I got to share with the world my relationship with my best friend – which we haven’t really seen since Jack and Will.SL: How do you feel about having your personal life played out on national TV and the feedback – both good and bad – that you’re bound to receive? Ryan: You know, you can put this in bold print – I’m probably not going to read 99% of it unless it’s presented positively in front of me. So, feel free to blast me all over the Internet and hate me all you want, it’s never going to get to me (Laughs)! I’ve been sat down by some very powerful people in my life that said “Ry, be yourself and don’t let this change you – and don’t read the press.” Because, unfortunately, online can turn into a bathroom wall. Anybody with a keyboard can sign on and leave their opinion; just like in high school, anyone with a Sharpie could write “For a good time call…”. I’m not going to let it have any relevance in my life. SL: What was it like having a camera crew following you around?Ryan: As you can see with TJ and myself, we’ve acted like cameras were in our lives forever and for always and we kind of feel like they’ve finally caught up. It took us probably ten minutes. The first scene where you see us together in the salon, where TJ talks about “It’s business”, that was our first day filming and the producer told us “You guys are kind of stiff” and I looked at him and asked “Do you just want us to be ourselves and just give it to them the way that it really is?” Just like Thelma and Louise, let’s just go over the cliff, sweetie! Who cares? We made the decision, don’t look back. And it’s hilarious, we just got to be ourselves and that’s what really shows true on the show.SL: What is the best thing about living in New York?Ryan: The best thing about living in New York is that everything’s accessible to you – but it’s also the worse thing. That phenomenal restaurant that you’ve read so much about? You can get a table next week. Those fierce shoes in that layout? You can go down to Saks and grab them – you can hop in a cab and get them in ten minutes. So, I guess my favorite thing about New York is that everything is at your fingertips here. It truly is a goldmine, you just have to grab your shovel and dig! SL: What is your favorite indulgence?Ryan: Well, I would have to say my favorite indulgence is throwing dinner parties and having six of my closest friends – or six random friends who don’t know each other – and having a chef come and prepare a phenomenal meal and having a server serve. It’s great really getting to entertain in my own home and not lift a finger at the same time. That’s my favorite indulgence in life. I recommend it highly! SL: I’m kind of surprised to hear that, you struck me as an on-the-go, party all night, jet-setter, not really a homebody. Ryan: You know I’m a mix of the two, it just depends on the day. Like last night, I went home, took a nap, and went back out at midnight and danced with TJ and went to a phenomenal party. And, the night before, I was masks on – hair mask and face mask – in bed with my dogs, catching up on my Rachel Zoe and my Housewives and happy as a clam. So, I’m really a mix of the two. SL: What kind of dogs do you have?Ryan: I have two pugs which, for now, are my children. The black pug is named Neo and the fawn is Xander and they are my world. I sleep with them – I’m one of those crazy dog people who sleeps with their dogs – and at 6am, you can catch me walking my dogs around the Flatiron Building every morning with a latte and a smile.SL: I read that you and (partner) Desmond are looking to start a family of your own, is that true? Ryan: Yeah! It’s the next thing that – I don’t want to say we’re missing, but it’s something we really want. We’re ready you know and it’s the next step for us.SL: How long have you and Desmond been together?Ryan: We’ll have been married for three years in October. We spent our first year together all over the place, traveling and having a great time and the second year doing the same and enjoying ourselves and I think now it’s time to move down the road of parenting.SL: Will Desmond be making an appearance on the show or does he prefer to stay in the background?Ryan: You know, my husband’s in corporate America, so his schedule is crazy – he’s busier than I am! But yeah, you definitely see him on the show, but not a lot. The show really kind of showcases my life in the salon and with the guys and with my friends and you don’t get to see a ton of Desmond this season, but he is on the show. SL: One thing I’ve got to know – is “delicious” going to be the catchphrase of the season? Ryan: I do feel that delicious will be the phrase of the season (laughs). We’ve said it a lot, in fact, we’ve said it all week! It’s funny when we stopped filming that day, it’s just rolled off our tongues ever since.Check out Ryan and the rest of the guys on the series premiere of The A List, Monday, October 4th at 10pm on Logo!