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Star of hit show "Nail Files" gets down to the nitty-gritty

Published: Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Updated: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 15:07

Nail Files

Ryan A. Ruiz

As TV Guide Network's highest rated show in its history with 1.2 million viewers on the first night, "Nail Files" is more than just a reality television show about a nail salon.

The show follows Katie Cazorla, the owner of Hollywood's The Painted Nail salon, as she deals with celebrities and regular clients alike on a day-to-day basis. Add in Grammy-award winning song-writing boyfriend Walter Afanasieff and drama abound, and you have the makings of some good TV.

Which shouldn't surprise you, given that the show if from the creators of "Jersey Shore."

Cazorla says she got the idea to open The Painted Nail, which is two-and-a-half years old, when she finally got sick of going to "sub-par" places to get her own nails done. She wanted to open a place where women could go and not have to worry about turning off their cell phones or being forced to be quiet.

"We do real treatments, but I think some people didn't understand the concept at first," she says. "It's a free bar; you can go sit up there and drink cocktails for free while your nails are drying. People missed the old gross spa chair.

"Now it's more of an experience – it's being able to sit and talk with your friends and have drinks. We have Top 40 radio – it's not a spa. That's the problem – a lot of the time people come in and want quiet, and I'm like there's no Buddha or wind chimes, this is not a spa, you're not going to get a massage. You'll get a really bomb-ass massage on your hands and feet, but it's not like ‘Shh cell phones off.' It's like, ‘fuck that, people have to work, they're twittering and facebooking,' and I'm like ‘Who wants margaritas?!'"

So with that idea in mind, Cazorla, who was a comedian for 10 years, took a break from that scene and went to nail school. Then she piled on the literature and got to reading about how to open up a business.

"I went to nail school, and then just got every business book I could find, and of course they don't prep you for the real world," she says. "They don't tell you there's going to be psycho clients, they don't tell you people are going to have mental breakdowns and write shit on Yelp, they don't prep you for the actual stuff, but for the most part, I knew how to open up a business, so I just went for it and that's how it came about."

When Cazorla moved to LA from Upstate New York, she was in her early 20s and didn't know anyone.

"I knew not a single person," she says. "I lived in my car for almost two months in a Bally Total Fitness parking garage, and I would cry myself to sleep because I thought I was going to be murdered. I just really worked my ass off and I still do to this day. I don't stop because I've always worked, and I don't have a trust fund or a sex tape or anything else.

"People think you can just get a reality show and be famous, that's so not how it is, a lot of people have shows and a lot of those people don't do anything, they're famous for being famous, and this show is my real life. People ask me what I'm going to do after the show, and I say go back to work, because that's my real life."

Cazorla says real life started to get more fun when she opened the salon, largely because they started getting celebrities instantly.

"I don't know how that happened, I really don't," she says. "We opened the doors and all of a sudden celebrities started walking in, and some people don't believe that, and I don't know what to tell them. I'm not a celebrity, and my boyfriend wasn't sending droves of musicians into the store, they were interested, they thought it was cool.

"At the end of the day, I just want to do my job correctly, and I want my [nail techs] to do their job correctly, so when a celebrity does come in, sometimes [the techs] don't know who it is, because a lot of my girls are like 20, 21, 24, and I'm 33, so I'm of the ‘80s kids," she says. "When Debbie Gibson, or Tiffany or someone comes in, I'm like ‘Oh my God!' and they're like ‘Who is that?' and I'm like ‘Perfect, you're going to do her,' and [the celebrities] love that because they get some fun and privacy."

Ultimately, Cazorla says her small-town roots have followed her from Elmira Heights in northern New York state all the way to Hollywood – and she doesn't mind, because they serve her well.

"I miss Elmira as far as the people," she says. "People in small towns or smaller cities have that love for local businesses, and it's been so bad with trying to show people that chain things don't necessarily mean it's better. When it's a small business, the person takes pride in their store, and their love for customers is a lot better, I do miss the appreciation factor.

"You're going to get harsher critics in a bigger city because they can get everything else everywhere else faster and cheaper, and the people that do care I love them, and celebrities love it, and for those that do appreciate it, I feel like I'm doing my job correctly. I really am that small-town girl that gets to do fun stuff so it really is exciting for me. I can't be someone I'm not just because cameras are rolling, it's my real store, and this is the real me."

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