Sun, 13 Feb 2000

Mullet hairstyle takes root in fashion again

NEW YORK (Reuters): Stupid name for a stupid hairstyle or natty nomenclature for a cute coiffure?

Love it or loathe it, few can ignore "the mullet". Even if you don't know its name -- and it goes by many -- you know the look: short or even cropped on top and the sides but long, as nature intended, in the back.

It may be an in joke or an object of scorn and abuse by a tonsorially deprived younger generation who missed out on the hippie 1960s and the big-hair 1980s, but the mullet has arrived.

Now there is a book: The Mullet -- Hairstyle of the Gods, by Mark Larson and Barney Hoskyns (St. Martins Press/Bloomsbury).

"We just don't know where it came from," Hoskyns told Reuters.

Neanderthal Man, ancient Egyptians and Assyrians, Visigoths and Vikings all went long at the back, Gainsborough's Blue Boy sports a mullet, and even Buffalo Bill hid one under his Stetson, the book says.

To real devotees there is really only one mullet king: rocker David Bowie. Ziggy Stardust's spiky hair on top, with ears exposed and a long wispy mane behind, is the classic modern-day mullet.

"Perhaps he would not like to be associated with something so passe but he had mullets in three separate eras," Hoskyns said.

The look is not just for white males. Eddie Murphy was mulletized in The Vampire From Brooklyn. Heavy-breathing soul singer Barry White and even black activist the Rev. Al Sharpton have also gone long and short at the same time.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova and the Indigo Girls sport fe-mullets, just to prove it is not just a guy thing.

"We don't hate it; it's just that it is treated with derision instead of quiet reverence," said Hoskyns, 40, who has never had one.

"I am not worthy of the mullet. It is something you must earn and cannot just grow willy-nilly. It takes a lot to sport a hairstyle that attracts scorn and abuse. In this world of narrow taste and fashion, the mullet is a splendid statement." (Steve James)