MEET JIMMY: INTERVIEW WITH HOLLYWOOD’S TAN GURU
He’s the “spray-tanner to the stars”. Jimmy Coco’s clients include Heidi Klum and the Kardashian sisters. We get an inside look at the man behind the tan!
Today, you frequently appear on the Kim Kardashian’s, Khloe’s and Kylie’s apps as THE Tanning and Skin finishing expert. You have been working with Hollywood A-Listers for over a decade now – how have you become Hollywood’s biggest skin finishing and tanning expert?
Oh Gosh, I feel like anyone can learn how to do this! What you do is a part of who you are and there’s a little bit of love involved. You show up, never be late, never complain.
One of the biggest lessons I learned was when I was 14 and coaching gymnastics, and Joanne Byers, my teacher, told me “The kids in front of you now are the most important kids”. Till this day, whether I’m with an A-lister, skin cancer patient, working at a charitable event or with someone who’s going on a first date after a divorce, they are the most important person in my life for that 30 minutes.
Can you share what’s the most important event that you’ve ever worked on?
I’m going to say that the most important tan that I’m ever doing is the tan that I’m doing right now.
How is Tanning the Angels for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show any different from working on red carpet look?
The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and tanning the Angels is different from the red carpet because, for the most part everyone is in their underwear (smiles). We are in the age of high def TV and screens, every tan has to be your best tan, because every imperfection will show up.
You have to stay mindful of that, because what a model is wearing can change last minute. From tan line corrections to evening out uneven skin-tone, the end result must reveal an all-over, even, skin-tone.
It has been a great privilege for me to work with the amazing Victoria’s Secret models and Angels for 10 years. It is a cult event for fashion and pop culture and the recognition for being a part of that moment has been important in my career from press and media perspective. But more importantly as a personal milestone.
Most Memorable Moment… The naked supermodel spray tan party in Heidi Klum’s room for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Los Angeles.
Spray tanning can be a very intimate process, how do you make sure your clients feel always comfortable?
Oh my goodness! I like to joke around and always ask what they’re wearing with their tan.
Here’s a typical moment in a life of someone receiving a spray tan, it doesn’t matter who they are – if there is the slightest imperfection they think they have, like their nails not being perfect – they will mention it!
I always remind my clients how beautiful they are and that when I’m done they will be contoured, radiant and look their best.
Sometimes I like to ask my clients: “What’s so good about a spray tan” … and the answer is “EVERYTHING is good about a spray tan”! And before you know it, there’s a big smile on their face, we are smiling, hugging and booking the next appointment.
If you were to send out a new trainee for an A-lister Hollywood tan right now, what would be the biggest Don’ts and Do’s?
OK, 3 most important Don’ts and Do’s:
- Don’t have negative energy! You are walking into someone’s home, it’s their private space and their sanctuary, so be respectful and bring only positive energy with you
- Never make comments about the contours that you’re doing – that is a negative connotation suggesting there’s a problem with the body. The mind set is that everyone has a beautiful body and you follow the lines that are already there to make the client look their best!
- Do not touch anything in the house
- Make sure that your tanning solution is fresh
- Your gun is cleaned out
- You look your best, you’re well groomed and you look professional
There’s many women and men who look to build a successful tanning business – mobile or in spa/salon. What advice would you give them?
Find a cheap lawyer (laughs). Truthfully, it’s etiquette. You always want to be well mannered, you have to appreciate that the person that’s paying you money for your service, is receiving the service and the energy that you’re giving them. They take it through to the music video, film they may be shooting or to the first date after a nasty divorce. You must be mindful that receiving a beautiful tan is about giving your clients the confidence to go through whatever they’re going through in their life.
Where’s the craziest place you’ve ever done a spray tan?
Miranda Kerr in the foyer of the Armory Theatre in New York City – for the Victoria’s Secret Fashion show in 2008.
You’ve pioneered products and services in the self tanning world over a decade ago that are widespread today. What do you foresee as the trends in the next ten years?
The fear factor is going to go down. People that are afraid of self tanning today, won’t be afraid of doing it tomorrow. It’s like driving a car; you’re scared at first but then it’s ok and it becomes a part of what you do. Sunless tanning products have come a long way, they are now easy to use and wear more beautifully than ever, so it’s going to become like applying moisturizing lotion – a part of a regular beauty regimen.
Sunless tanning is no longer seasonal, you can get it in stores and salons all year around. We have a total control of the look we want to wear, you are free to change your mind and become a bronze goddess in moments. I believe tanning, as one of many ways of expressing your personal look will become more widespread.
What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment to date and what accomplishments are you yet to achieve?
It’s the fact that somehow I have been able to create a wonderful career for myself. I am a very simple man and I am tickled by the smallest things. For example, this morning I received an email from Susie from Arkansas that’s just starting her own tanning business asking me for advice.
Knowledge, and craft – like many things in life are nothing, unless you can share them. And the best thing is, it doesn’t cost a penny to do that.
What’s the favorite look you’ve ever worked on? Is there anyone you’ve tanned that never expected to look so amazing with a tan?
YES – Lara Flynn Boyle form Men in Black II. Lara is such an amazing actress and so beautiful. She is very much on the pale side with her skin tone and it was such a pleasure to work with her to give her a bronze goddess look for the premier. It was the first time that I received a red carpet picture from an agent, I was confused, I didn’t know why I received it!
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your life and career?
I am such a huge fan of helping; and I am a huge supporter of saving lives. I have two cats at home, Tanner and Star, that I saved from the local animal shelter and in doing that, I rescued four, because the shelter could take two more cats to look after.
So wherever you are, whatever you do, know that you can make a big difference in animals and people’s lives.