He might be gay, but he certainly has all the ladies calling his name.
Hairstylist Ted Gibson rose to fame as a celebrity hairstylist and has worked with the tresses of leading ladies such as Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway, Gabrielle Union, Jessica Alba, and others. After working three seasons on TLC’s “What Not to Wear,” where family and friends nominate a hopelessly unstylish person for a makeover, Gibson became a rockstar in the beauty biz.
“Being a celebrity hair dresser, it’s not necessarily expected that you would see someone that looks like me that would be the top of the game,” Gibson said. “I contribute that a lot to my Mrs. Obama.”
That would be his husband of 18 years, Jason Backe, an ambassador for L’Oreal and a hair colorist. Together, they’re the “Dream Team” of hair.
“I always say my first day in beauty school was like when Dorothy's house landed in Oz and everything went from black and white to Technicolor,” Backe said.
Not only did he finally get to learn the ins and outs of the business (he laughs about previously turning his friend’s hair green and giving his mother the “worst haircut of her life), but it was in beauty school that he was hot for a teacher and met Gibson — an instructor.
“I fell in love with how powerful it is to be able to see a transformation in someone after you cut their hair,” Gibson said about getting in the beauty business — hence his social media tag #hairchangeseverything.
Together, the couple has opened not one but two Ted Gibson salons in W Hotels, one in New York City and another here in Fort Lauderdale. While Miami gets all the glitz and glamour, it was Fort Lauderdale that they fell in love with.
For years, the couple had been visiting the city for long weekends a few times a year. When they got in touch with Starwood, which owns W Hotels, it made sense to open a shop in Fort Lauderdale. Although they’re based in the Big Apple, they’re constantly down this way.
“I love how it feels like we’re 10 million miles away from New York City, but it’s only two-and-a-half hours away,” Backe said.
While in town, the two love to hit up Casablanca for lunch, Steak 954 for parties and business dinners, Rocco’s Tacos, Sushi Rock, and of course Wilton Manors — their dog, Spencer, especially loves his trips to Wilton’s Manor.
At first glance, the two couldn’t be any more different. Besides being an interracial couple, Gibson grew up as the son of an Army soldier — living in Japan, Germany and Hawaii — and played sports in at Ellison High School in Texas. Backe, on the other hand, grew up in Minnesota.
“Both Ted and I came out very young,” Backe said of their similarities. “It was in the mid 80s, we were in high school, and it was unusual, especially in north Minnesota and in a military town in Texas.”
When the two met in beauty school, both were comfortable with their sexuality and decided two years later to get married. In their commitment ceremony, they had 150 guests at a historic home with all the fixings of a traditional wedding. Thankfully for them, their relationship has been a non-issue for both families.
“He completes me,” Gibson said of his partner. “I love the fact that we’ve been together for such a long period of time and it still feels like yesterday that I met him.
For Backe, his husband is one that motivates him to do better.
“I always said that if I had never met Ted, I would probably still be working in the same salon in Minneapolis that I was 20 years ago,” he said. “We complement each other really well. He’s the visionary and I make sure the checks don’t bounce.”