Rock ‘n’ Rollin’, Hair-Cuttin’ Gang at Balance Salon Hoping to Bring Real JC to Reality TV

A screenshot of an interview with Carla Anderson being edited for the sizzle reel of ‘Unbalanced’

If you’ve ever been to Balance JC in Downtown Jersey City, you know it’s not an ordinary hair salon. Over the years, it’s hosted paintings by an alleged alien abductee, has shared space with a vintage retailer and has had the bold declaration on their front windows: “OUR HAIRCUTS WILL GET YOU LAID!”

With groovy art on the edgy Erie Street salon’s walls (curated by house artist Vincent Minervini) and rock ‘n’ roll spewing from its speakers, owner Carla Anderson says neighborhood transplants and others unfamiliar with the antics of her and her fun-loving, free-spirited crew have often thought them strange or even mentally unstable. Anderson says she’s been a lot of things–punk rock club bartender, painter, exotic dancer–but she isn’t crazy. Unbalanced, on the other hand….

Over the summer, Anderson and her employees have been working with producer Chris Suchorsky to shoot a 10-minute sizzle reel for “Unbalanced,” their proposed reality show featuring the stylists’ lives both in and out of the salon. They’re hoping a big network bites and will give them a chance to show real Chilltown, a stark contrast to the worlds of “Jerseylicious” and “Jersey Shore.”

For nearly six years, Anderson’s has had technicolor aspirations, shooting her own public access TV show which also gets thrown up on the Balance Vimeo account.

“We have a great cast of characters. I’ve been hiring that way, too. You have to be talented (as a hair stylist), obviously, but I also see if you’re cool enough for the show. I say, ‘I hope you’re not camera shy!'”

If the show gets picked up, the JC art scene could be in the national spotlight, too. Since its inception, Balance has hosted a number of events including poetry readings and open mics (Anderson, a longtime JC resident, was active in the Waterbug Hotel and 111 First Street scenes). Today, they host art exhibits for JC Fridays, a quarterly citywide festival of free arts events, and other occasional shindigs.

Staffwise, it seems everyone wielding scissors also knows how to handle a paintbrush, though some have other creative pursuits like music, photography and modeling. Even their receptionists have creative cred–manning the phones is Dave Feldman, the frontman of local band Wyldlife.

“Everyone who works at Balance is beautiful, talented, wild, free-spirited–we’re free! Work freely. Dress the way you wanna dress, listen to what you want to, keep it real and do good work. I don’t know what more you could ask for,” says Anderson, who couldn’t dream of working anywhere else.

“You’d never catch me in an office or a cubicle. That’s like a death sentence. I’d rather go to jail before I work in an office. It would probably be more my scene–I’m sure I’d make some friends.”

Joking aside, Anderson says she focuses on making Balance a fun and fair place to work. “We’re all really close and I have an asshole-free environment. We’re just being ourselves… this show is going to be about a bunch of unique people. It’s very funny. It’s about me keeping my business together, us keeping our lives together, talking about relationships and stuff.”

“You know, during the course of the neighborhood changing, I sometimes thought maybe we should tone it down, but really Balance is unique and it’s real. We’re hoping to reach more like-minded people. I don’t want to change for them. The people who are into what I’m doing, I want to reach more of them.”

(Nov. 21, 2014 Editors Note: Balance Hair Salon is now located at 353 2nd St, balancesalonjc.com)

Photo courtesy of Carla Anderson

Summer Dawn Hortillosa

is a freelance arts and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in the Jersey City Independent, The Jersey Journal, the International and other publications. She is also a creative writer and theatrical director.