Originally created 05/22/01

Mulletheads show off their 'do' with pride



When The Augusta Chronicle asked readers to send in photos showing their mullet haircuts, Warren Whisnant of Hephzibah ran a comb through his locks and struck a pose.

The mullet - short on the top and sides and long in the back - has been around since the 1970s, when glam-rock legends such as David Bowie started wearing it. Locally, the style peaked in the '80s.

The mullet is back in the limelight thanks to the movie Joe Dirt and assorted Web sites that offer mullet trivia, celebrity photos and snapshots of regular mullet-wearing folks.

After reading The Chronicle's April 29 article about the phenomenon, Mr. Whisnant volunteered to show us his mullet.

"When I was little, my daddy used to buzz-cut me," Mr. Whisnant said. When he became old enough to make his own hair decisions, he let it grow.

Long hair kept him warm on early-morning hunting trips, but in summer it was too hot.

So about 15 years ago, Mr. Whisnant walked into the barber shop where Nipper Hankinson worked. He told the stylist he wanted to keep his long hair but needed something easier to manage.

"I had no idea what he was going to do," Mr. Whisnant said. "He said, 'Just trust me on this."'

Mr. Hankinson left the back long and cut the top short enough to spike.

"I have been wearing it that way ever since," Mr. Whisnant said.

Mr. Hankinson, who now works at Trimmer's on North Belair Road, said he has about 30 clients who have kept the short-and-long-do since its heyday.

"It's what the business calls a bi-level," he said. "Mullet isn't a very becoming name, when you think of what a mullet is. It doesn't even taste very good."

Mr. Hankinson said what makes the style popular is its versatility.

"It's easy to take care of. You can pull the back into a ponytail and it's out of the way, and you can style the front and have a cleaner kept appearance," he said.

"It's basically not gone out of style since 1980, for those who like to wear it."

Mary Beth Hutchins also responded to our call for mullets.

She's a senior in high school and doesn't remember when the bi-level was the cut to get.

To Miss Hutchins and her friends, the style is a novelty, and spotting one is something of a treat. They even take pictures - a phenomenon known on Web sites as "mullet-hunting."

The group, all teammates on the Westminster soccer team, have a special camera for snapping mullet photos.

"The mulletcam started at the beginning of this year," she said. "We take it on all our trips."

They document each sighting and share the pictures with friends.

"We try to capture each mullet we see," she said. "We just think they are funny. But we try not to be too obvious when we take pictures. We don't want to embarrass anybody."

According to hair fashion experts at Vidal Sassoon, the "mulletcam" may get busier as a modified mullet becomes the next hot hairdo.

Named the Fanni, after the Swedish model who sports it, the cut is short in front, longer in back. But instead of being spiked on top, the new bi-level lies low or flips sleekly up at the ends. It has been described as a blend of the Billy Ray Cyrus bi-level and the Hugh Grant floppy look.

John Guest, senior creative director of the Vidal Sassoon Academy in Los Angeles, said the style is hitting the scene in Europe in a big way. Fanni's hair is shown in the May issue of Harper's Bazaar magazine.

Andrea Jean, marketing manager for Vidal Sassoon Salons, said the cut is a reinterpretation of the classics.

"It can be very classic, very edgy and is extremely versatile," Ms. Jean said. "It reminds you of Twiggy."

Reach Lisa M. Lohr at (706) 823-3332 or lisalohr@augustachronicle.com.