Anthropologist Edmund Leach said in his 1958 essay "Magical Hair" that long hair = unrestrained sexuality; short hair or partially shaved hair = restricted sexuality; and, close cropped hair = celibacy. Then in 1969, C.D. Hallpike wrote an essay called "Social Hair", which said that long hair = being outside of society, while short hair = re-entering society.
Today, you'll see the mighty Mullet in the suburbs, in the heartlands, all over Latin America and in eastern Europe. You won't see many Mullets in Beverly Hills. And, they don't often show up on MTV!
Could it be that flipping a baseball cap to the back (causing the brim to fall down your neck) is a way of being a "Wanna-be Mullet" guy!?
can have an inner- mullet-craving, anytime, anywhere.
The Mullet is the
hairstyle of America's blue-collar or redneck underbelly.
Beastie Boys acolyte The Captain says, "The Mullet is as American as pick-ups with rifle racks, tractor pulls, Wal-Mart, wet T-shirt contests, slapping your girl upside the head with a frying pan and living in the woods." If there is one man that edifies the Beastie Boys' statement, I think that would be Duane Chapman aka "Dog, The Bounty Hunter." (In no way am I implying that he slaps women! I just mean that he is a symbol of the rough class.)
What is a Mullet? It's a haircut that is short in the front and long in the back. No one is really sure where it comes from. Some say the French word mulet meaning "mule" is it's source. Lexicographer, Jonathan Green says "Mullethead" is a slang for "fool." (I'm assuming that our English slang of "jackass" being his meaning for "fool?") But, the 1932 Webster's New International Dictionary defines "mullet" as a verb meaning "to curl or dress the hair."
But the genius of the Mullet is the fact that it lets its wearer become two people: a person who from the front looks like a regular person, but from the back is an untamed party animal or Viking warrior.
Italian Mullethead Scotty Bugatti once told his barber, "Spike the top but don't touch the back." The result is a glorious example of the outer-borough Italian-American Mullet known as the Guido.
This brings me to the other names for The Mullet: the trans-am, the neck warmer, a short-long, neck blanket and ape-drape.
So how did this mighty Mullet hairstyle all begin?
Some say that it goes back to the caveman. That is, if you look at some of the drawings people have done of our Neanderthal ancestors. He's shown as dressed in Tarzan-style suede loin cloth and sports a scraggly, scruffy style of Mullet.
But the first real Mullet is said to come from Egypt, even though it was a wig. The wig was made of black wool or flax, woven or braided into plaits. This was the wig of the elite. Poorer Egyptians wore felt wigs.
Later on, the Assyrians grew their hair thick, bristly long. They also wore wigs. But, the Assyrian (wig) Mullet was very ornamental. It was layered, with straight hair that had knots of curls at the end.
With the Persian Mullet, the top had tousled curls and the bottom fanned out across the shoulders in long braided ringlets.
The Celtic Mullet was pretty messy and to me looked a lot like the Neantherdal. They didn't tend to their hair much. The Celtics thinned out the sides of their hair, letting them droop down to the neck area. The Celtic Mullet today is seen on bikers, wrestlers and heavy metal drummers. The Celtics also died their hair green and blue. (Think of Mel Gibson in "Braveheart.")
Now the Greeks sort of had Mullets by braiding their hair into long ringlets after they tucked it behind their ears. But, when the Persian War ended in the 5th Century, young Athenian men cut off their Mullets and consecrated them to the gods. Thus, the short classical haircuts we see on those famous statutes came into being! The Greeks also felt that long hair meant disorder in your emotions. So the Greek women kept the Mullet alive by wearing artificial curls on top and long braided hair drawn into a knot at the the back (commonly dyed blonde).
The Romans were different. Not only did they cut their own hair, but also the hair of the males they captured. But once the Roman Empire fell, the Mullet made a comeback with the Visgoths and the Vikings.
|Then there came
a time when short hair was more popular and the Mullet was tossed aside.
The Merovingian period in France (481-752) had short hair for the men basically. They wore plaited hair on top, but cut the back. The Saxons of the 9th and 10th centuries also wore their hair on the short side. The Normans were very anti-Mullet and literally shaved the back of their heads in a pudding-bowl style.
But, the length started again around the 12th century when men wore shoulder-length hair, parted on each side and covering the ears. Then 200 years later, in the 14th century short hair was in again, being brushed forward and rolled under. Pudding-bowl shaped haircuts stayed popular until 1460, due to the fashion of carcaille collars fitting up to the necks.
But, in 1465 the collars got shorter and the hair got longer! The Mullet Page Boy became all the rage. The curled shape was kept in place with resins and egg whites.
During the early 16th century hair was mid-length often with fringe. Then in the 1560's the fashion was for men to cut their hair close to the scalp, brushing it into bristles (held by gum). The English Civil War in the next century also brought about hairstyles that represented either the monarchy or republicanism. The Royalists wore long, curly hair. The Roundheads wore puritanical cropped hair.
The Chinese had a semi-Mullet. They wore their hair long and bound-up. But, in 1644 they were required to shave their foreheads and plait their hair in long braids that dangled down to the neck. This style is called the queue. The Qing Dynasty persecuted hair growers. Later in 1911, the uprising against the Manchu, queue cutting was a political issue. So some say that the queue is a mullet in a way.
In 1633, Louis XIII lost his hair. So, wigs replaced flowing locks. By the 18th century, wigs got very, very, big and came in all sorts of bizarre shapes. It was just a matter of time when people would protest all this powdering and perfuming. So by the end of the century, wigs got shorter, tied back with ribbons and showing most of the ears. (This look is seen today in British courtrooms.)
But, the Mullet did not make a comeback until the 18th century when wigs were totally tossed away.
Enter, Napoleon Bonaparte! The "Romantic" Mullet was now being seen on the heads of American Generals such as Horatio Gates, or cascading down the neck of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Finally, after centuries of being overly neat and formal, now men were "real men" with real unkempt hair and purposely disregarding neatness with their clothing. And, paintings such as Gainsborough's "Blue Boy" imply that the Mullet was also the hairstyle for the privileged English youth.
Anne Hollander in "Sex and Suits" writes, "Loose hair for mature men was usually a public virile ornament. [it was] akin to the display of muscle and stature, a sign of sexual force in action."
The Mullet has always been in fashion with Native Americans and also western cowboys such as Buffalo Bill Cody, etc.
During the Victorian Era, the Mullet faded away. The emphasis was on the big moustaches, sideburns called "Mutton Chops", "Dundrearys", and "Piccadilly Weepers."
|During the next
hundred years, nothing changed much. In fact, the early 20th century
had male hair very short due to military influence (due to World Wars)
melting into civilian life. For a brief time, the Pompadour was
in fashion. But not for long.
It really wasn't until the explosion of rock music, did the Mullet claim it's fame. An androgynous, carrot-haired ushered the Mullet into popularity. His name: David Bowie!
David's Mullet was
short and spiky on top, severe at the sides and had long wisps trailing
down the neck. It was the birth of the Rock Mullet as we know it today.
It came about due to David's wife, Angie Bowie. Her and David
were talking about cutting his hair short (to do something shocking
since long Hippish Shags were in) but David did not want it "too
short or ordinary." Angie leafed through some of her old
copies of Vogue magazine. About 30 minutes later she had
had it! The top would be pointy based on a photo from a French
Vogue publication. And, the back and sides would be from
two other photos from a German Vogue magazine.
But popularity didn't come instantly. It took a while to catch on and seep into the mainstream. Most male rockers were still wearing their hair in the basic androgynous shag style. Rod Stewart had his "rooster" cut, but it wasn't until glam rock peaked that the Rock Mullet flourished.
Suddenly it wasn't just the rockers who took to the new look. Post-Beatle, Paul McCarthy quickly adopted the Mullet. Meanwhile, his wife, Linda and Wings bandmate, pioneered what we call the "Fe-Mullet" or the Female Mullet. This is a style (somewhat muted) seen on sitcom stars also like Florence Henderson (The Brandy Bunch) and Suzanne Pleshette (The Bob Newhart Show).
Suddenly the Mullet wasn't just for men!
But, the Mullet simply exploded in popularity in the 1980's. The short in the front, party in the back took over the rock, sports, fashion and porn worlds.
The Mullet was worn
by a wide variety of rock bands, but no one held a candle to Klaus Mein,
the German metal rocker of the band Scorpions.
Not only did the 80's have rock stars with Mullets, but everyone seemed to have one. Tennis players such as Pat Cash, Andre Agassi, Martina Navratilova all wore them. Movie stars like Mel Gibson, Kurt Russell, Patrick Swayze had them. Soccer players Roberto Baggio, Glenn Hoddle, Chris Waddle had them. Football players wore Mullets under their helmets, such as Dough Flutie, Brian Bosworth, and Golden Richards. World Champion Figure Skater, Evgeni Plushenko.
And, even African Americans wore Mullets! Barry White, Nicholas Ashford and even the Rev. Al Sharpton. Thus was born the African Mullet into our culture.
By the end of the 1980's, the Mullet hairstyle could be seen through every mall, sports stadium and speedway in the United States. Usually worn with tight stone-washed jeans, sleeveless muscle shirts and mirrored sunglasses. The Mullet now was a badge of pride. It was the hallmark of the rock n' rock beer dude in his Camaro or Trans Am.
But... if you told the average Mullethead that he owned this popularity to a flame-haired rock'n'roll bisexual called Ziggy Stardust, he'd probably smash you over the head with a six-pack!
In the 1990's the Mullet was being cropped off by the rockers. But it remained alive in Country Western music. Singers like Billy Ray Cyrus, Travis Tritt and Tracy Lawrence still half-concealed their Mullets under their cowboy hats.
The most famous Mullethead that got the girl during this time was, Larry Fortensky, who married Elizabeth Taylor. And, Zachary Ty Bryan who starred on Home Improvement was known as Kid Mullet. Also, magician, Franz Harary wears a long mullet.
And now we go into the new millennium. All rules of personal appearance seem to be broken.
Youth felt that short hair was the problem and long hair the solution. The Mullethead knows there are no sides anymore. The Mullet represents both for and against, inside and outside, part of and apart from.
From a psychological approach, one could say that the Mullet is both the Ego (the short neat top) and the Id (the long, flowing back). This analogy reaches into the areas of sex and sociology.
Oh, and a lot of those that had mullets in the past, got rid of them in this new millennium. There's a lot of shaved heads now. But,there are still few die-hard mullet men that keep the Mullet-look for life!