Imagine you’re a Hollywood hairstylist working on a movie with Colin Farrell, whose hair you’ve been shampooing, blow-drying, and keeping reasonably coiffed for weeks. When the time comes that Farrell needs a cut, would you go near the boozy bigmouth with a pair of scissors? No, you’d probably call in reinforcements. And that’s how Los Angeles stylist Chase Kusero got his first celebrity client. “Stylists on movie sets aren’t really used to cutting hair,” says Kusero. “I guess this one called me because he didn’t want to piss Colin off.” Luckily, Farrell was happy with his trim, and word of Kusero’s skills spread through Hollywood. Today, as a stylist at Chris McMillan Salon, in Beverly Hills, he counts stars like Kate Beckinsale and Adriana Lima as clients.
Although Kusero is just 27, he’s been cutting hair for more than a dozen years. “I dropped out of high school when I was 15 to go to cosmetology school,” he says. “I got what I needed-you know, English, math-but it just seemed stupid to sit in social studies class when I knew I wanted to cut hair.” After learning his trade-and marking that period of his life with a tattoo of scissors, which he’s since covered-Kusero worked at salons in Chicago and New York. “It was great, but I knew I wanted to work with celebrities, so I moved to California.” A few years later, he opened his own salon, Chase, in Santa Monica. The salon took off, and Kusero eventually sold it, earning himself a nice wad of cash-some of which went toward a large, scripted chest piece commemorating the day of the November sale (“Eleven Twenty-Nine”).
Next, he and stylist Eli Thomas opened Santa Monica’s Thomas Chase Hairdressing, where Kristen Bell and other celebrities go for cuts with a rock ‘n’ roll edge. And this past February, Kusero made another big move, this time to mega-stylist Chris McMillan’s salon. “I like working with young stars, and would love to work with someone who is about to get their big break and would continue working with me.” Perhaps that star will be current customer Megan Fox. “If it were up to her, she would have sleeves like me,” says Kusero of his client’s love of tattoos. “I hooked her up with my artist, but she’s about to start a new movie and I think they were like, ‘Can you lay off [the tattoos] for a while?’”
The artist Kusero is referring to is Swag, who works at Tattoo Lounge, in Mar Vista, CA, with one of Kusero’s other favorite artists, Jason Stores. They’re responsible for the majority of Kusero’s work, which includes a colorful sleeve on his left arm featuring a phoenix and a dragon, and a black-and-gray half-sleeve on his right arm with traditional American motifs, like sparrows. “The tattoos have meaning, but they’re also about changing up my look,” says Kusero. “I guess some people go to the store and buy a new outfit or something, but I go for a new tattoo.”