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[whitespace] Shannon Stillman
Dreadful Locks: Long-haired Metro Art Director Shannon Stillman got his hair cut into a mullet for two days before lopping it off, just to get in the mindset for this story.

Mane Defense

Love them or hate them, mullets have transcended the trendy to mold American culture

By Mary Spicuzza

DOTCOMMERS can mock the mullet all they like, but we're betting that our bilevel heroes will get the last laugh. Plenty of close-cropped web-savvy types are now pouring out of defunct startups, pink slips in hand. Meanwhile, mulletheads continue to endure, as they have for decades.

As well they should. After all, most have worshipped a mullet at some point in their lives. At theaters across the country, fans cheered the heroics of mulleted Mel Gibson in Braveheart, swooned over bilevel sweet boy Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer or fantasized they could mangle bad guys as efficiently as Chuck Norris. Mullet heroics go far beyond Hollywood, into the roots of the soul of both rock and pop music. Superstar heroes who at one time sported a mullet include David Bowie, Bono, Lou Reed, Prince, Barry White, not to mention most members of Van Halen, Heart and Duran Duran. Whether on the big screen or straddling electric guitars onstage, mullets have lived out the wildest fantasies of the conventionally coifed.

While the mullet celebrates the extraordinary, from Mel Gibson to Dirty Dancing's Patrick Swayze, it also uses its power to unite the common man. Few haircuts can boast a fan base that spans professional wrestling fans, drag queens, Wal-Mart shoppers, stock car drivers and soccer fans from Germany to Latin America.

"It's also very common among gay women," Mark Larson, author of The Mullet, says excitedly. "Everyone owns the mullet; that's the beauty and power of it. It cuts across economic, racial, cultural lines. You can go to any mall in America and see a mullet."

Most don't see this as reason to celebrate, but for Larson it's a symbol of unity. One that's slogan could be, "One love, one mullet."

"I went to a Billy Ray Cyrus concert and everyone there, young and old, was wearing a mullet," Larson says. "Everyone was united under the same hairstyle."

Karen and Shannon
Mulletized: Alchemy Salon's Karen Craig sculpts Shannon Stillman's new hairstyle.

Our mullethead model had a very different experience. He initially enjoyed the ability to play with his new 'do, but troubles arose quickly.

"You would not know how weirdly I've been treated in the past 24 hours," our artsy mullet mourned the day after the cut. He told tales of terrified cafe baristas who pushed his coffee at him and fled quickly, and a bartender so distracted he forgot to add the second half of his mixed drink. Not to mention the numerous hair product questions that arose.

"I can't understand why anyone would want this," he said in confusion.

Mulletheads across the nation disagree, and find their style a perfectly simple compromise, offering the best of both long and short hair worlds. And with the ups and downs of the new economy, those unemployed dotcommers may soon be relying on good, old-fashioned mulletheads to sign their paychecks.

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From the January 18-24, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.




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