TV Guide: Chicago’s best-kept secret

2012-07-28 21:03

We all know that Oprah Winfrey is from Chicago and so is US President Barack Obama – now meet AJ Johnson, the owner of AJ’s of Chicago.

His name may not ring a bell right now, but watch how he will become noticed in time.

The loud hair salon owner tells me during a trans-Atlantic telephonic interview that he is the bees knees in the Chicago social scene.

“An event without me is incomplete. One of the things to do when in Chicago is to visit AJ’s of Chicago for great hair care,” he announces.

This star of the hair business is now getting his own reality show called Chicagolicious, starting next week on the Style Network.

But AJ insists that it has nothing to do with that other reality show set in a salon in New Jersey called Jerseylicious. In fact, he shoots from the hip when it comes to his assumed competition.

“I’ve seen bits and pieces (of Jerseylicious), I’ve tried to watch it, I am saying trii-ed”. If anything, AJ says the little he saw gave him ideas of how he would not like to be represented in his show.

“We’re all about hair care, healthy shiny hair with no styling aids, just a good regimen and system. You can spot an AJ girl from a mile away,” he boasts.

He pours cold water over any suggestion that his show is the black version of Jerseylicious.

“That’s not even a factor, we have a more diverse group of eight people. I think we are a better version, sophistacted and classy.

The team is made up of people with big personalities that have been asked to calm down in some instances, but I tell the network that this is who we are.

“We’ve embraced the cameras and what you see is what you get. I don’t need to be told to do anything. I’ve been over-the-top
all my life. We may have close to similar names, but we’re two different area codes.”

Johnson says his clients were only too happy to see the cameras rolling in the salon and would wait in line to feature. The celebrity clientele (not that you will see them in the show) include actress Angela Bassett, Jill Scott, Jennifer Hudson, Tyra Banks and Iman, whom he calls “my favourite”.

“You might see some celebrities but they won’t feature prominently in the episodes, that’s not the kind of relationship we have. I don’t want to take advantage and raise ratings with them,” he says.

Some of Hollywood’s finest stars, according to him, even travel to Chicago to treat their hair. So next time you hit the Windy City, make sure to make a turn at AJ’s – you might just walk into a recording of another rowdy episode.

» Chicago-licious starts on August 14 at 10.05pm on the Style Network, DStv channel 183 

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