From left to right, Billy Ray Cyrus in the classic mullet (business in the front, party in the back); S.R. Sidarth in the hybrid
From left to right, Billy Ray Cyrus in the classic mullet (business in the front, party in the back); S.R. Sidarth in the hybrid "moo-lette" or faux-hawk; a bad boy's purebred mohawk.

Here's the Big Hairy Deal

Thursday, August 17, 2006

THIS WEEK, AFTER SEN. GEORGE ALLEN called his opponent's staffer "Macaca," a controversy brewed. What does the word mean? Is it demeaning? Or worse yet -- French? But amid the apology and recriminations, a mystery has emerged regarding coiffure. The Virginia Republican has said "macaca" is a variation on "mohawk," a nickname his camp awarded Democrat Jim Webb's volunteer S.R. Sidarth because of the look of Sidarth's haircut. Sidarth has replied that he wears a mullet, a much-maligned style not typically seen these days outside monster truck shows.

A careful review of the evidence suggests that neither camp is wholly wrong. The hair at Sidarth's neck is thickly quilted, but it does not spill over the nape to create the mullet's "business in the front, party in the back" effect. According to Richard Martin, editor in chief of Complex magazine, Sidarth's neck needs "two to three more inches of hair growth before he approaches any kind of mullet-like status."

Nor is it a proper mohawk, despite the shaved sides. According to GQ magazine style editor Adam Rapoport, Sidarth's hair may come closest to a hybrid of the mullet and the "faux-hawk," a hipster look that peaks at the top of the head, reminiscent of the cartoon character Tintin.

For his part, Sidarth says he discovered his inspiration during a semester in Spain, where people pronounced the look "moo-LETTE."

"It's very popular in Spain," he says.

-- Libby Copeland


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