Travel + Leisure Magazine ranks Charleston fourth-most attractive city

“Hair, nails, makeup — I do it all,” Jennifer Maddox said as she sat under hot lamps Wednesday to set her hair color at Salon Couture on King Street. Buy this photo

If looks could kill, Charleston might be a dangerous place.

1. Miami

2. San Diego

3. San Juan, Puerto Rico

4. Charleston

5. Los Angeles

Travel + Leisure

James Quinton works among the assassins, spending all day running his hands through the hair of beautiful women, and according to a recent national survey, there are plenty of them in Charleston.

No. 4 Charleston

“Proof that voters are a little fickle: this South Carolina city was No. 1 for attractive locals in 2010, but fell to No. 7 last year. While readers still find the locals to be charming — and think that the city makes a great romantic getaway — they were easily distracted by all the good shopping, ranking the city in the top five when it comes to antiques, design stores, and indie boutiques.”

“Being a straight guy and doing what I do, many male clients say, 'I should have done this job,' ” he said.

The hairstylist was mixing color Wednesday afternoon in the back room of Salon Couture on King Street preparing for a client. Several women sat in chairs around the salon waiting for hair color to set in. Beauty can be hard work.

According to the readers of Travel + Leisure Magazine, Charleston works hard but not hard enough to be No. 1 anymore.

In 2011, the city slipped in the rankings of America's Most Attractive people, from first place to seventh, and this year the city is ranked fourth. For some who spend their day people-watching, fourth is a slap in the pretty faces of this city.

Along King Street the windows sparkle from sequins, and many young women gaze through the glass at this season's newest looks. The shopping district is the place beautiful people go to look beautiful.

It's where Anthony Rivers, a 36-year-old Charleston man who works for the city, was sweeping the street Wednesday afternoon. Seeing pretty girls all day is a perk of the job, he said. “I thought we should have been No. 1.”

Kelly Gukanovich, a host on 95SX's morning show “Two Girls and a Guy,” said our city attracts appealing-looking people. “This is starting to be one of the places more celebrities are looking to move,” she said. “They're seeing the beauty and bringing their beauty here.”

At Couture Salon, Nancy Roettger of Mount Pleasant was waiting for Quinton to give her an edgier look as she chuckled while she talked about Charleston's latest ranking. She wondered how Miami stole the No. 1 spot.

“That's not right. We're No. 1 in everything,” Quinton said.

Maybe Charlestonians have gotten a little spoiled. For years, Charleston has held titles for its livability and food by national magazines.

Despite the less-than-best rank on its people's good looks, Charleston has plenty to boast about this year, especially with its recent crowning. If you haven't heard about it yet from the commercials or bus signs, the city was named the No. 1 tourist destination in the world by Conde Nast Traveler.

Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or

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