Pittsfield barber to groom athletes at Winter X Games
PITTSFIELD -- An international barber's guide, a rock star, her husband's friend at ESPN, Eminem's tour manager -- all of these implausible connections have earned Pittsfield barber Steve Vilot Jr. a trip to this week's Winter X Games in Colorado to cut the competitors' hair.
"It's a crazy, surreal world," the 46-year-old Pittsfield native said.
A 1985 graduate of Taconic High School, Vilot originally went to college to be a structural engineer.
But after working at a number of different jobs -- including a stint as a bouncer at the Cask n' Flagon bar across the street from Fenway Park -- he gravitated toward barbering. He bought Sim's Barber Shop in 1992 and currently operates shops in both Pittsfield and Great Barrington.
It was a state connection that started Vilot on the way to the X Games. Through that link, Vilot said a profile of both him and Sim's Barber Shop was included in the fifth and latest edition of Milady's Standard Professional Barbering, an international barber's guide that is published in several languages.
In the fall of 2011, that profile caught the eye of the assistant director of the upcoming movie, "Thanks For Sharing," in which musician/actress Pink plays a barber.
"In one scene, she's doing a regular straight razor shave on [actor] Josh Gad," Vilot said. "They needed a barber to make sure the scene was authentic. They hired me to be the trainer."
Vilot said he worked with Pink, whose real name is Alecia Moore, in New York City on and off for five weeks. While there, he met her husband, retired motocross racer Carey Hart. One of Hart's friends is former motocross racer Marc Murphy, now the director of content and sponsor development for ESPN's Global X Events. Moore lives in Winsted, Conn., which is about an hour south of Pittsfield, and some 30 minutes from Great Barrington.
"Whenever Carey and Marc get together their thing is to go out and get shaves," Vilot said. "Carey told Mark that he was friends with a barber in Great Barrington, and they came up here to get a shave."
Murphy soon became a regular customer. Through Murphy, Vilot met Eminem's tour manager, Marc Labelle, who owns a home in Monterey.
According to Vilot, Labelle arranged for him to groom the members of Eminem's band at last year's Lollapalooza Festival. Murphy was also in attendance.
"Murphy saw me backstage and said, ‘I want you to do this for the X Games,' " Vilot said.
Vilot and two of his own barbers, Matt Ketchum and Brian Desautels, both of Pittsfield, will be among five barbers who will be going to the Winter X Games, which take place Thursday through Sunday in Aspen, Colo. According to Vilot, ESPN has constructed a 400-square-foot temporary building to serve as one of the grooming areas for the competitors.
The idea is to groom the athletes for videos that will be shown on television screens adjacent to the competition area and will be broadcast to spectators during breaks in the action. According to Vilot, the temporary shop in Aspen will be called "Sim's Barber Shop" and the name will be placed on banners around the course along with the names of various equipment manufacturers.
"I was blown away," Vilot said. "I was so happy and proud. I thought that they were just going to come up with some name. I had no idea they would call it Sim's. They want to make it be real."
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