TRENDS Mutated form of mullet heads into mainstream
Scalps are no longer safe as mullets ride high again.
KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS
It came from the '80s, clawing its way onto skulls everywhere.
Business in the front, party in the back.
For a decade we felt the shockwaves. From Michael Bolton to Mel Gibson to Joe the local auto mechanic, the mullet's power stretched far and wide. And now, just when we thought our scalps were safe, the mullet is once again riding high.
"It never quite goes and it comes back again," said Mark Larson, co-author of "The Mullet: Hairstyle of the Gods." "It's kind of like what they say about the evolution of roaches. They've been here since the dinosaurs, and they just keep adapting. The mullet adapts."
So the style has mutated from the traditional mullet of short hair in front, cropped above the ears, and long hair in back, cascading over the shoulders. This time around we're dealing with a different breed: the shag mullet. Most popular with young men, the bangs hang just below the eyebrows, while the back creeps down to the shoulders.
As with most trends, we have celebrities to thank. This summer former 'N Sync member JC Chasez and Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine wore mullets at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. Actor John Hensley of TV's "Nip/Tuck" and Everclear frontman Art Alexakis are now doing the same.
It could almost be passed off as shaggy hair. Almost.
"Some people are leaving it covering their ears, but it's still long in the back," said Dana Yates, who has been styling hair for 12 years and now works in Westport, Mo. "It's more flowy."
Jake Nelson of Kansas City, Mo., loves his shag mullet, which he has had for about six months now.
He's one half of a tag-team family mullet -- his 11-year-old son, Brenden, also rocks the shag.
"I'm really proud of my son's mullet," Nelson said. "I want him to grow it into a rat-tail mullet down his back."
While Nelson wears his hair with pride, plenty of young men are in denial, Yates said. They see the shag on television and ask for hair like Ashton Kutcher of "That '70s Show" or Brad Pitt's from the movie "Spy Game." They think it's just shaggy hair, but what they're really getting is the shag mullet.
And then there are the accidental mullets. Your hair naturally grows longer in the back and shorter in the front, because of the natural hairline, Yates said. She has had many people with accidental mullets come into her salon -- especially women.
"The funny thing is, all I have to do is cut the back off and they're like, 'Oh my , it looks so much better,'" she said.
But the mullet may soon be trendy for women as well. Already models in Paris and people in New York and Los Angeles are sporting cropped bangs with a waterfall in the back, said Joyce Sander, a hairstylist in Leawood, Kan.
The Midwest mullet for women -- if it hits -- might not surface until next year, Sander said, given the speed of other hair trends, but once here, hairstyles usually stay for three to four years.
Jennifer Aniston's "Rachel" hairstyle stuck for about four years, followed by the Cameron Diaz short hair spikes, which people still request, she said.
Credit is shared
The modern mullet probably came from David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust phase in the early '70s. Kutcher may be responsible for bringing on the shag mullet, but there is no one man fully credited with sparking the resurgence.
The movie business may have its finger on the pulse.
"Hollywood knows about the mullet in an intuitive way," author Larson said. "It's the haircut that they give to the guy who's the outsider, the outcast with the heart of gold. They always do that. That's the essence of the mullet. It's always on the fringe, but with a heart of gold, and that's why it never goes away. It believes in itself."
Most dictionaries say a mullet is just a fish, but the second edition of Webster's New International Dictionary (1932) defined it as a verb meaning "to curl or dress the hair," according to The Mullet: Hairstyle of the Gods . It's not just a hairstyle. It's also a way of defining yourself, and a very funny-sounding word. Say it out loud. Mullet. Did it make you laugh, or at least chuckle? Behold the power of hair.