Tabatha Coffey wrangles gay bars and more this season in “Tabatha Takes Over”


Only Tabatha Coffey could go into a gay bar and take over,
as she does on tonight’s
Tabatha Takes Over.

Around the fourth season of any television show, it’s usually time to shake things up in either the cast or format – or sometimes both. In the case of Bravo’s popular Tabatha Coffey and her hair salon takeover reality show, the no-brainer move was to unleash Coffey on all sorts of businesses so she can bring her business know-how to the rescue. With a slight title change, Tabatha Takes Over is currently airing new episodes, and tonight Tabatha takes on the long-standing Long Beach, California establishment, Ripples.

During the recent Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, Coffey, dressed in her trademark all-black, sat down on the terrace at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena with AfterElton to chat about what fans say to her (some literally right before this interview started), drag queen crushes and how the new incarnation of the show is different and the same. When I say I’m going to go see Tabatha, everybody knows who I am talking about. There just aren’t that many Tabathas.
Tabatha Coffey: I love that.

AE: People who watch the show have an impression of you, they think you’re a hard ass bitch and all that —
TC: Can I tell you what just happened?

AE: What?
TC: See this man down here? [Points to lawn under the terrace where we’re speaking] The red headed gentleman? The one in the blue shirt? He walks out with his glass of wine and cigar. He looks at me, “You have a TV show don’t you?” I said, “Yes I do, I takeover hairdressing salons.” He went, “Yes. And I have no interest in hairdressing, but you’re a bitch and I watch you because you get things done.” “Oh thank you very much. Go and enjoy that cigar.” We just all cracked up over it.

AE: You probably get stuff like that all the time, I’m guessing.
TC: I do. People say bitch in a nice way, which is good. You’ve read the book so you know my acronym for bitch and things like that, but even if you don’t necessarily remember the name, off the top of head, they remember the show and that I’m effective I guess at getting things done and I love that that demo is so huge. I love that. I just find that so fascinating.

AE: Did the change in your show come up because it was a natural evolution? How did the change come about?
TC: It was organic. So many people would come up or write to me, “I wish you would come to my business, but I’m not a hairdresser.” They would write to us and say your advice is really applicable and I own an auto body shop, I run an office, I do this, I do that, but your show gives me tips for my business. So, it was an expansion from there.

Hey, Tabatha, isn’t this what they call drinking on the job?

AE: How was that change for you?
It was so great. Honestly, it was so exciting because it was different. I was up for the challenge. It was really great to go in and realize I always knew this, as a small business owner and as a business owner; we all struggle with the same issues. We all do. So, it was natural to go in and look and be able to say “This is where it’s falling down.”

AE: Is it safe to assume that you didn’t really have to change your thought process whether you’re in an auto body shop, a gay bar, or a salon?
TC: The only way that I did look at it differently, and I realized this after, because I am a hairdresser, and because I own a hairdressing business, when I walked into the other businesses, I walked in not just as a business owner looking at what was going on, I walked in as a consumer. I would think “OK, would I want to eat frozen yogurt from here? Would I want to bring my dog here? Would I want to stay at this bed and breakfast?”

AE: Yeah. Now [this week’s episode] is in Long Beach, Ripples, the gay bar.
TC: Club it’s called. It’s an institution because it’s been in Long Beach for so long and it was one of the first gay dance clubs in Long Beach. Forty years they’ve been there. So, for me, because it’s been there for such a long time and because it’s been in the family for such a long time, it was important to save it to me, because it’s part of the area. I think it’s important to save that and the legacy of it.

The owners were really so stuck in their ways it was crazy. You know what? We’re a different community now. We’re different than we were 40-years ago. Our community has evolved. Forty years ago it was a very different community than it is now. We didn’t have as many choices as we have now. They were still looking at it in this old school way.

AE: Are they original owners?
TC: Yes. Original owners. Older gentleman who have owned it for forty years [and] still doing business in the way that it used to be done as opposed to how you need to do it now.

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