Saturday, 4 December 2010

Hairy Mary. Part One.

Looking at the wodge of passport photographs I have had taken since I was 15; at the atrocities I have committed on my scalp, I'm surprised my hair follicles haven't just given up. Luckily I still boast a head of hair so thick that i'm sure after the nuclear holocaust the roaches will be using my wig to shelter under. Briefly, my hair journey since the age of 15 goes something like: Died purple and rust with short back and sides, glace cherry red with long gelled fringe and spikey on top, Cruella DeVille black and white in full Flock of Seagulls 'do, 10 inch superglued spikes, black and pink floppy fringe emo style (GHD's were purchased - a contraption as vital and revolutionary to my generation (the era of the myspace superstars) as the pill was in the 60's), back to red shoulder length, black backcombed New York Dolls afro, purple, red again, skinhead girl cut, a short period of natural colour worn in a neat quiff, a return to backcombing, orange, green, blue, blonde, and then my first venture into perming; which has occupied the best part of two years. I've got a fresh toxic yellow teddy boy thing going on at the moment.

I'm obsessed with hair and what people choose to say with it. For me, I have always used it as a conspicuous warning of subcultural and rebellious intent. Strange hair really creeps people out. People in public places will go nuts if your hair is an odd proportion. I've decided to present some of my hair heroes. I've had to be pretty cut throat here or I would go on for days... Golly this is just Part One. Part One of who knows how many...

Crybaby and Divine.
Basically I could just list 20 John Waters characters, but i'm going to try not to. Condensing the whole John Waters aesthetic of trash, cartoon nostalgia and grotesque glamour, I think Crybaby and Divine in Pink Flamingos distill the pure essence of Dreamland Studios. Crybaby's perfectly polished quiff with the stray squiggle curling down the forehead is timeless but dangerous. I think everybody: 17 year old delinquent, 50 year old rockabilly dude or stone cold butch dyke looks so brilliantly put together with this 'do. I plan on greeting old age with a giant tub of pomade and a comb up my sleeve that doubles as a switchblade. Moving on to Divine... I think this could very well be my favourite hair of all time, right at the top of the list. The hairline is shaved back a few inches (to allow more room for eye shadow, naturally) and what's left is swept up into a badly peroxided, orange coloured candy floss cloud, styled up, up and to the side. There are heavy roots showing that trick the eye into thinking the forehead (and the bouffant) are even higher than they really are. I'm sure in some places you would still be arrested if you left the house with this haircut. I know I said I was going to grow old gracefully looking like a chic old lesbian, but it's much more likely I will be working something akin to this napalmed, clownlike beehive.

The Shangri Las and TLC.
There have always been girl groups with great hair and I think the two pillars of fierce grrrl power are 60's bad girls The Shangri Las and 90's hip-hop-popettes TLC. The Sha-Las are early pioneers of the synchronised lego-hair that TLC sort of reappropriated in a more urban interpretation. I love a beehive and I love an unruly girl and the Sha-La-La offer both in abundance. They have been copied relentlessly but nobody seems to be able to achieve the same level of volume. Flash forward 30 years or so... TLC were the first time I remember seeing mad hair on TV. They were also the first black girls I remember seeing who didn't just have plain Caucasian hair. For such a mainstreamly successful act TLC were pushing some crazy looks. I was so excited by the colours and shapes. They really brightened up the 90's.

Blonde Ambition.
There's a hint of the Bet Lynch about this brassy high ponytail. It's my favourite Madonna look ever. Blonde Ambition. Everything about Madge back then was amazing. So confrontational. This facelifting updo was the first intention for the tour, but it was ripping her hair right out and in the end they had to give her a dramatic chop- resulting in the curly Monroe-esque cut we seen in the Vogue video. can you imagine how satisfying swinging this bad girl around would be? This hair symbolises all the things that were great about Madonna: her sexiness, her bold fashion confrontations, there's a lot of humour and irony mixed in there and cheekiness. It's a shame that she seems to have lost a lot of this sense of humour now...anyway never mind now we have GAGA. Speaking of blonde ambition... the original bottle blonde Miss Jane Mansfield has to be in this list. Hair as shiny and white as her stilettos after labour day, everyone from Blondie to Madonna to Gaga has to pat their weave in honour of this plastic fantastic icon of kitsch.

The Bad Seed.

In his early years Nick Cave looked like an absolute pervert. Look at this greasy ratted mass! It's like a backcombed nest fashioned into a nightmarish reworking of a 50's quiff. With his big nose and ears and bulging eyes, Cave's hair has to be larger than life to match up- and gosh how it was! Now Cave looks like a pervert of a different sort (still in a good way though) with a thinning scraped back slick. He's still playing with his cartoony proportions though- now making up for the lack of it on his head with a bushy, filthy handlebar moustache. I think everybody at some point in their life should have a greasy and frizzy fro, that isn't washed for months. Once I was roped into Vidal Sassoon to do some modelling and I had this sort of self-dreadlocking mess (that I honestly hadn't washed for over 2 months...the layers of hairspray eventually embalm the hair in a plastic coating rendering shampoo obsolete.) They had to wash my hair 12 TIMES. The water was still black and glitter flecked on the 7th rinse... Hormonal hair growing vertically in a gravity and convention defying stance against parents and teachers and beauticians.

I love a bad dye job. I have stamped my feet, pleading with hairdressers to get slap happy with the bleach and forget the toner. Yes! I want it orangey... No! I don't want my roots touching up. Kurt and Courtney...such a beautiful mess. Although i've praised Madonna and her Blonde Ambition, when the 90's swung round there's one peroxide princess who could beat the shit out of that ponytail. There's a special kind of fashion alchemy that happens when you mix red lipstick with this brew of dirty blonde. Courtney's shag pile is gloriously nicotine stained; the smell of a heady night out. I imagine Kurt's smelled worse. He wasn't blessed with Courtney's volume but dazzle-disguised the fact by doing a home-job on his mousy locks, turning them a half-way to blonde orange. Then we had the gorgeous washed out raspberry. The most beautiful thing about Kurt was the fact he was a total riot grrrl, who understood the magical power and talent of the women around him. I'm sure there was an interview where he said he wished he was gay. Anyway... Kurt and Courtney - bottle brothers, shaggy sisters.

This is not intended as irony. It may be nostalgia... These two girls were hair by name hair by nature. Epitomising the 90's girl power look. It's a little more difficult to put into words than some of the other styles in my top of the crops. There's a lot of product use: scraping sections back and gelling strands to frame the face. Jacqui Blake and Carrie Askew learnt a sense of glam from the Manic Street Preachers, writing a fanzine called Last Exit. With a bouffant headbutt the entered the charts, performing on TOTP with wet look ringlets and pig tails. Occasional pink streaks were topped with tiaras and Shampoo paved the way for many copyist mini-poppers. Although the Spice Girls totally ripped off Shampoo / Helen Love's 'Girl Power' mantra, I do think Ginge deserves a notable mention here. That orange bouff with peroxide bangs. BANG BANG! I predict we will see lots more of this hair colouring very soon.

Gold Dust Woman.
Stevie is the source. Spinning, spinning, with a lions mane of golden hair, shaking a tambourine. A Pre Raphelite muse turned upside down and sprayed with the firmest hold Elnett the 80's had to offer. Stevie Nicks' hair started off pretty large in the 70's and just continued to grow. You could perhaps plot some graph charting the correlation between her rising cocaine consumption and hair-mass. She is an amalgamation of mystical inspirations and rock goddess power. I think she has the biggest hair of all the women in this list (perhaps in all of time.) She casts a spell on you as she swishes and sways her many shawls... See her pictured with a cockatiel, whose pompadour plumage pales in comparison to Stevie's crowning glory. Rock on gold dust woman.

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