‘We could plead first time around we didn’t know any better and David Bowie kicked it off with the stylish Ziggy Stardust’
The haircut which was the punchline of a joke in the eighties has now crept into ordinary men’s hair, possibly as an antidote to the inescapable Peaky Blinders meets Love Island tight sides, long top do.
We could plead that first time around we didn’t know any better, and David Bowie kicked it off coolly with Ziggy Stardust. But by the time it got to Billy Ray Cyrus, we’d realised its wrongness.
Like popped collars, we promised never to do it again — unless you’re music icon Billie Eilish, or Miley Cyrus who can rock it ironically. In Miley’s case, it’s clearly genetic.
But it appears that perfectly sane people are approaching barbers and parting with cash for a cut that has a name like Tennessee Top Hat.
My favourite is the Kentucky Waterfall, which should really be the name of a cocktail. It’s short on top, shaved temples, sideburns and cascading down the back. It’s the kind of cut reserved for people described as polite and quiet by their neighbours when police discover the bodies buried in the garden.
The blame can be laid on lockdown, when barbers were closed and men decided they wanted hair like a serial killer, while Tiger King’s mulleted Joe Exotic had us obsessed for five minutes.
Stranger Things character Billy reacquainted us with the mullet and paedophile moustache combo, which screamed sex kitten before taste was invented. But he was supposed to be an eighties character, so it was historically accurate. If this series, Winona Ryder had fought the newest supervillain in a whalebone corset, we wouldn’t have demanded Zara stock them immediately. But for some reason, the most uncool haircut on the planet stuck.
And when Australian golfer Cameron Smith celebrated his Open win recently by revealing that little shock of hair creeping down the back of his neck, it seemed to cement the second coming of the mullet.
I’d spotted a suspiciously mullet-like chop a few months ago on a fellow diner in a restaurant, and felt it would be a kindness to warn him there was something dreadful on his head — like you would with a woman who has tucked her skirt in her knickers. Obviously, I resisted the urge because it’s his hair and none of my boring bobbed business, but I couldn’t help hearing strains of Dueling Banjos.
The encounter opened my eyes to the stealthy spread of the fish-themed cut, which bears no resemblance at all to the perfectly ordinary mullet. A generous mop here, a King Charles Spaniel mane there, a ratty tail which has your fingers itching for some good scissors.
Under the guise of guys who look like they just haven’t had a cut for a while, it’s crept back to life as if Frankenstein’s monster has let himself go.
The new version is slightly less naff than the eighties original sported by everyone from Cher to Mel Gibson. Though to be fair, Mel’s done a lot worse than gift the world a dodgy do.
It can only be a matter of time before the creeping side-crop is entirely mainstream again in an explosion of hirsute horror, a shaggy throwback to an era when shoulder pads were the uniform and Madonna had wrinkles.
And who wants to be reminded of a cut you remember from the first time round, which is now considered vintage?