Reality television as we know it is nothing without its bad boys and heartbreakers. They’re misunderstood, cause emotional turmoil, and if they’re Justin Bobby Brescia, they’ll wear combat boots on the beach if they damn well please. With his flowing locks, piercing blue eyes, and penchant for statement hats, Brescia mesmerized a generation during his tenure as the on-again-off-again boyfriend of Audrina Patridge during MTV’s first run of The Hills. If you think about it, Brescia paved the way for the Jax Taylors of the world to wreck their havoc and entertain the masses, and for that we must thank him.
Brescia is the quintessential Southern California soul. He’s a breezy, salt of the earth type of guy, one who finds fulfillment in the morning surf, playing guitar and singing with his band, BobbyrocK, or the rev of his beloved Harley Davidson motorcycle. His return to television on The Hills: New Beginnings hasn’t even convinced him to get online and engage in the day-to-day drudgery of reality stardom, he tells NYLON over the phone from his home in Huntington Beach. Refusing to get sucked into your phone is core tenet of Brescia’s rock-and-roll lifestyle.
It’s no surprise that Brescia’s beauty routine is a lesson on the virtues of a low-maintenance lifestyle. Why stress about hair products when all you really need is the right cut and the salt of the Pacific Ocean to do its thing? Ahead, Brescia opens up about his surfer customs, his life-long aversion to bullsh*t, and yes, the truth behind the infamous combat boots on the beach scene.
What's your morning routine?
I live at the beach, so I surf all the time. I've surfed for over 20 years, and I've always been by some beach. I like to get up, get in the water, get some salt on my face. Saltwater's super good for the skin and the hair. That's what happens in the morning with me.
When you first showed up on The Hills, it was very much Justin Bobby and his hair. Let's talk about that — what do you do to style it?
I really don't do anything. I've been a hairdresser since I was 14, 15 years old. I'm the only one who's cut it since then. After doing hair for so long, I just know what works for my head and my shape, and the direction of my growth. To be honest, if you have a great haircut, you don't have to really do much to your hair at all. I feel people have to hide it with products, hats, ponytails, or whatnot because they're really not enjoying the cut. So for me, it all just came down to giving myself a good haircut or something that I like, and let the rest go.
What has the 20-plus years of regular saltwater done for your skin?
Saltwater's a natural astringent. It just tightens everything up. And the winter when it's cold salt water, it just feels like a brisk tightness on my skin, then you get a morning glow from the UV rays in the morning. Whether it's sunny or not, it'll just bounce off the water and just freshen you up.
As for your hair, it backs as natural astringent again. It'll dry up some oils, but leave some oils in there and piece it out. That's why I like when salt spray started to come out, how well they did for people. Sometimes they'd overuse it, but if you did the right amount, you can have this oily, wet, crunchy, surfy, dry look. And it goes pretty far.
So you think the store bought salt water spray works, and it's not just a gimmick?
You know what I used to do? I had a line of beauty products and hair care products. In the beginning testing it out, I used to run down to the beach where I lived and I would literally bottle it. I would add a little bit of other amenities, put it in spray, and I would just spray it on myself. I would tell clients, it's actually beach water. I'm just going to use it on your hair and whatnot. The results were amazing, so I just kept doing that.
Do you brush your hair at all, or you're just fully letting the saltwater do its thing?
Sometimes, I'll go to events and stuff when I can, it's all crazy. I'll comb it through sometimes, or I'll just pull it back, I'll put it back in a pony. It depends. My hair's down past my shoulders now, I'm just getting a feeling maybe in a few months I'll shave it. Nothing stays the same with my hair. It's whatever feeling or vibe it is. I'm extreme like that. So if it goes mob, then I just need it all gone, and I just go basically to a skinhead.
Drastic change can be nice. Your hair will always come back.
You hope. I see some friends now... you get to your late 30s, and you can tell when people who have stressful jobs or are moms who are running around with their kids. It really takes a toll on their hair and the way it grows. At this point if I was really into the hair game still, I'd probably think of supplements and vitamins and whatnot to keep that hair follicle strong. Just not products anymore. Because hair is important. Hair shapes who you are.
You have a long documented love affair with what I call statement hats.
I would say so. I feel in a lot of iconic moments or photos, I'm always seeing you wear a strong hat, whether it's a beanie or something. Do you agree?
I think it's always been in the arsenal, and I still have every single one of them to this day. I'll circle back years later and be like, “Oh yeah, it fits good.” I think when you get a good one, just hold onto it and it's timeless, right? If a good hat or beanie or sunglasses... they just work for you. When they work for you, you know it. Hold on to them, they'll always be relative.
Do you have a favorite that comes to mind?
Well, I wrench on the Harleys and stuff a lot, I have a couple of backwards trucker hats, but I'll wear them flipped up, the bills flipped up like punk rocky. Some of them just fit like a glove and it keeps my hair out of my face, when I'm wrenching, and then when I'm at the beach. I don't really wear them too much in public, but they're my go-to. I've got pins and bands and stuff. They've just got a vibe.
Speaking of keeping hair out of your face, are you into the hair accessory game at all? Will we see Justin Bobby wearing any clips anytime soon?
Yeah, I do a butterfly clip a lot. I have black and white butterfly clips I'll use — one's black and one's white. It just depends on the mood. There’s a couple of scenes where we're doing some sound therapy in the season coming up of The Hills and instead of it being a man bun, I've put it straight on top in the front, a full topknot.
Tell me more about this sound therapy session...
We did a lot of trips this season and we were able to do something, this little health stuff. Obviously with the times and COVID, it's important to be sound with our beings and what's going on in the world, so we were able to shoot a little stuff that brought us more inclined with our beings.
How was that? Did the singing bowls bring renewal?
I give it what it's worth. I let it do its thing and see if it works its magic on me, but I don't dive into it daily.
Do you have any things that you do regularly to keep it all in equilibrium for yourself?
Yeah. I start my Harleys.
You just rev up your motorcycles?
I start up my motorcycles. That's my sound therapy.
Hey, if it works, it works. Do you have a skincare routine?
I don't know. I guess I'll go through regimens. When I had a product line I used pure soaps with no sulfates. There was nothing that was added, it was natural soap. What really inspired me is when I would start to see soaps later on that were just bare bones, blocks of soap, super natural. I don't like musty smells or rugged woody smells. I like something like a coconut, vanilla thing. I like a little bit of sweeter scent. I'll use that on skin. Then, to be honest, I really do go back to just surfing. I can get out of the water, rinse myself off with the hose and that just seems to work out best for me.
I wish I had some big grand tell-all of what it is. But I really do think staying as natural as possible works. Dieting and good amounts of vitamin D, and water. Water intake is really huge. No smoking, no vaping kits.
You're not a part of the vaping life?
If I don't have a cigarette laying around, maybe I'll puff on it. And then I feel weird for the next day and I'm like, “Wow, these kids must be zombies.” But I'll have a cigarette. Obviously, I'm like a rock and roller. So I have cigarettes here and there. And I'll just drink a shit ton of water when I come home.
Gwyneth Paltrow has a really good quote about this where she says what makes life interesting is “finding the balance between cigarettes and tofu."
I agree. Nobody's perfect, right? We try to do the best that we can, but we all have these urges and some for addictions, and we want to fulfill needs. You've got to give yourself a break here and there. Even today after all these interviews, you do three, four hours of interviews, for me I'm like, “F*ck, I want a cigarette…” It's just natural.
As a surfer, I am very curious about your SPF sunscreen regimen, or if you even have one.
I do and then I don't. I forget a lot. I'll look out the window and I'll see the surf and I just jump on it. That's usually the worst. The thing is, it's tricky because you get such a good glow going when you're just staying all natural. And then when you do put on SPF, whether it's 70 or some kind of zinc, you put it on, you wash it off, then you're almost two toned. If you don't do your whole body, then all of a sudden you start looking like a calico cat. The unevenness is distinct.
If I put some on the eyes, I'll leave it there. You can tell when you wash it off that it didn't get much sun, which is probably saving your skin. What I will use, though, are those surf sticks. I've got surf sticks now that are almost skin color, they're dark, tan, and whatnot. They have SPF 50 or higher. That's my go-to.
You mentioned earlier that you're a rock and roll guy. What's the most rock and roll thing about you?
I've always been pretty true to self and telling it like it is, even if it affects people. I think they get caught off guard. If I hear or smell bullsh*t, I easily just say it. It categorized me as being a punk. My name is Justin, it stands for justice. I just see that through. If I smell something, I'm on guard about stuff. I'm truthful there. This is what I find to be true. I think it kicks up as much stuff as it goes.
What do you think is the most real thing that we have as people right now?
I think COVID really made people tune into themselves. Because they had to, they couldn't go out, they couldn't socialize, they couldn't deflect. They had to be alone with their faults. And I think that's the greatest wisdom somebody can ever have, is being absolutely OK confined with yourself. Because a lot of people reach out for their happiness, they don't look in. So I think being forced to do this caused a lot of people to look inward for the first time, which they've never done.
I love that our talk is taking a deep turn, but I must ask: I found this photo of you wearing a denim jacket with a white leopard collar and a Minor Threat patch. Is that something you made yourself or did you buy it like that?
All my jackets I put together. The one I'm thinking of with the leopard collar, I think it has Minor Threat, Suicidal Tendencies, and a doctored NA flag or Agent Orange on it. I keep those and I have them. I've had that thing since I was a youngster. And the patches I put on with dental floss. It's an old punk rocker trick, you put it on with dental floss so it never runs and it's waterproof. And you just add, you just keep adding through life and putting spikes and whatnot.
Frankie [Delgago] from the show and I were in Vegas and I had a couple of punk spikes on my shoulder. We went out to the club and he was all drunk and we were messing around. He went to grab me on the shoulder and one of my punk spikes fully pierced his hand.
He just went to grab me so hard and it went straight through. And I was, “Yeah, motherf*cker!” The angsty teen came out of me. Like, “I got you!” It's just my own little rebellion tactic of you can't touch me.
I would be remiss to speak with you and not ask this, and apologies if it's very corny, but what is your current stance on combat boots on the beach?
I feel it became popular. People were sending me photos, “Hey, I wear combat boots to the beach myself.” I don't know if you ever know the backstory that actually happened. I was out riding Harleys with a bunch of my guys and they called me to add me in one of the scenes. They said, “We need you for a scene.” I said, “I'm out on the bike.” And they're, “Well, if you can really do this scene, it would help the scene and whatever. But we're on the beach in Malibu.”
So I happened to show up and I was in my Harley gear, and stripped down as best as I could. It turned out that I wore combat boots to the beach. I still get off my Harley out front here and I'll walk down to the sand, by the ocean a little bit or watch a boat go by in combat boots.
That's showbiz, baby!
That's showbiz, baby.