Vail hunk a big hit |

Vail hunk a big hit

Geraldine Haldner

“We’ve got a tape up front,” says Cami Jo Messenger with a nod over her shoulder, not missing a stroke polishing Krissie Barnes’ nails a pale hue of pink.

Messenger, a nail technician and hair stylist at the Eagle-Vail beauty salon, taped the six-week show’s first episode for several of her colleagues – who somehow missed the spectacle Wednesday night.

“I told them they need to watch it, because clients will want to talk about it,” says Messenger.

Spotlight is a harsh place to be

Indeed, just asking a few questions about Ryan Sutter’s performance on the show’s first episode triggers a lively debate among the women – as they progress through various stages of beauty treatments.

“He is the cutest on the show,” says Kellie Stefani, who is lying down for an eyebrow wax. “And he seems nice and sincere,” she adds.

Messenger says she thinks Sutter will make it far on the show, which is built around the premise that there is room for romance on reality TV.

“But Ryan definitely needs a haircut. Lots of these guys need a haircut.”

“He should come by,” she says with a big smile. “We’d give him a haircut.”

Appear on television and suddenly your every move – or lack thereof – is subject to public scrutiny.

While Messenger says she thinks the hair needs work and Sutter’s opening move of handing the show’s subject d’amour, Trista Rehn, a self-composed poem “was cheesy,” Stefani rises to his defense.

“These guys have to work it to stay on the show,” she says. “And she did pick him fourth, didn’t she?” she asks of the first episode’s highlight when Rehn narrowed her field of suitors from 25 to 15.

“Maybe he did it because he is shy,” Barnes chimes in while reviewing her hands, all splayed out as the polish dries.

She didn’t see the show – she can’t remember why – but she saw Sutter on one of the morning shows.

He may need a haircut and may not be much of a conversationalist, but he is cute, they agree – though maybe not the cutest man in Vail, according to Barnes.

That honor may go to someone else – but at least it would stay in the family.

“You should see his brother, Chris; he is a doll,” Barnes tells Messenger and Stefani. “If (Ryan) is a “10,’ then his brother is a “13,'” she announces triumphantly, especially since Sutter’s 25-year-old brother happens to be her part-time baby-sitter.

“He’s got these really blue eyes,” she says, describing an attribute 28-year-old Sutter must share with his baby brother.

“Does he have a girlfriend?” Messenger wants to know, wasting not even a split-second to ponder the wonders of shared genes.

Barnes isn’t sure. She hasn’t seen Chris Sutter in a while.

Ordinary life – or not?

Chris has been doing OK, Ryan Sutter says.

“The funniest thing that has happened so far happened to my brother,” says Vail’s most famous firefighter to date. “He works as (a waiter) and some people came in and asked him if he was me. He explained he wasn’t, that he was my brother, but they still gave him $40 to pose for a picture with them.”

Ryan Sutter is amused. So far, he says, real life after reality TV has been a smooth ride. His friends and family are supportive, he says, and his co-workers protective. And the attention has been good – mostly.

“Everyone is taping it and watching the show with extreme precision for every little thing,” he says. “I’m glad I haven’t been on that much yet.”

He hasn’t turned enough heads to cause a mob scene, he says.

“I went to the Cascade to work out and a couple of people asked me if I was the guy on TV,” Sutter says, adding that when asked, he acknowledges he indeed “is that guy.”

People nod say “that’s cool” and go back to their dumbbells, he says.

A few long lost friends have called – and he did have to set up a new voicemail at work. He admits he has gotten a “few random calls.”

Fellow Vail Firefighter and fearless pumper truck chauffeur Mark Mobley says “few” is a relative term and “random” can translate to “suspicious.”

“I had this lady on the phone saying she was a reporter for one of the television news stations,” he says. “She wanted to know what kind of truck Ryan drives and where he lives – questions that reporters don’t normally ask.”

She kept insisting she was with the press, Mobley says, so he put her through to Sutter’s new voicemail.

“I don’t think she was a reporter,” he says.

Over the first couple of days following the show’s debut, Mobley says, the fire department has received an average of 12 calls a day.

“It’s not too bad,” he says of the extra attention, which Vail’s fire crew seem to be happy to handle. False alarms and real fires haven’t increased – yet, Mobley says.

“Tough we do have people bang on the engine’s doors when we go by,” he says.

To have a little bit of fun with their fellow hunk of a coworker, firefighters have affixed signs on all the trucks.

“It’s like an open/closed sign,” explains Sutter. “It either says “Ryan is on duty’ or “Ryan is off duty.'”

“We just want to keep it fun,” explains Mobley.

And there is even a bit more fun to be found inside the Main Vail Fire Station.

It’s a board that will document the “cheesiest” five things Ryan says in each episode or in the press,” Mobley explains.

So far “You look ravishing” – Sutter’s opening line when he first met Rehn – is at the top.

“It’s OK; it’ll only get worse,” laughs Sutter.

Geraldine Haldner covers Vail, Minturn and Red Cliff. She can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 602, or at

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