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Mullets: Past their prime or ‘hair’ to stay?

Matthew Mueller
Kae Brandenburg, an Electrical Engineering major, poses for a portrait on March, 22, 2024, in Lexington Kentucky at the William T. Young Library. Photo by Matthew Mueller | Staff

The Kentucky waterfall. The ape drape. Hockey hair. 

No matter what you call the iconic “business in the front, party in the back” up-do, there’s no brushing over the fact that mullets have made a “comb” back. 

According to the Beastie Boys, who officially coined the term “mullet,” mullets are more than just a hairstyle: they’re a “way of life.”

Although the word “mullet” wasn’t officially used to describe the iconic hairstyle until 1994, this versatile up-do has been around for ages. An ancient description of the hair-monious style combination can be found in Homer’s “The Iliad.” 

Homer describes a group of spearmen as having “their forelocks cropped, hair grown long at the backs.”

In “Mullet Madness,” author Alan Henderson suggests that the mullet’s versatility is its source of practicality. The practicality of mullets made the hairstyle popular among ancient warriors. The long hair in the back kept the neck dry and warm while the short hair on top made helmets fit better, making it the perfect hairstyle for those entering combat. 

Allison Cruse, a master barber at The Rooster’s Nest Barber Shop & Shave Parlour in Lexington, thinks that mullets are “the most practical haircut,” putting them more than just a hair above the others.

“It’s out of your ears, it’s out of your face and it’s on the back of your neck so it’s warm. It’s like the truck bed of haircuts,” Cruse said.

Cruse, who has “definitely” seen an increase in mullets in recent years, enjoys cutting them because of their freestyle nature, allowing for more creativity and variation in tools she can use.

“What I like about it the most is that you have the ability to use your clippers and your shears,” Cruse said. “You use all kinds of different techniques to make a mullet … and mullets can vary so much from the ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ one and fashion mullets. They’re two different things but they’re still mullets. You know?”

The wide range of mullet clientele spans from college fraternity brothers to members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Kae Brandenburg, a senior electrical engineering major, has had a mullet since their sophomore year of college. 

“In high school, I just saw a lot of people that had that haircut and I really liked it,” Brandenburg said. “I just thought it was cool. There are so many different ways you can style it … you can, you know, shave the sides, you can make kind of a mohawk thing, you can make it permed, you can have it long. There’s just so many ways you can do it and it looks good most ways in my opinion at least.”

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Brandenburg feels that part of the appeal of the mullet stems from its gender-neutral look.

“I think it’s picking up resurgence, especially among the nonbinary group, because it is pretty androgynous in the way that you can wear it because …  you’ve still usually got long hair, but it’s also more masculine, so I think it’s a good blend,” Brandenburg said. 

Brandenburg cuts their own hair and feels that a mullet looks best when “you do it yourself,” they said. 

@kykernel Are mullets past their prime or “hair” to stay? We asked students on the University of Kentucky’s campus about the “business in the front, party in the back” up-do, and here’s what they had to say. Keep an eye out for reporter Natalia Garcia’s mullet feature on our website! #kykernel #kentuckykernel #universityofkentucky #university #college #brycetowle #hair #hairstyle #mullet #hairtok #hairhumor #lexingtonhairstylist #lexingtonhair #lexingtonky #kentucky #lexingtonkentucky #student #publicinterview ♬ Sad violin meme sound – Mooni_Nightly

“It’s cool that I see such a variety of people,” Cruse said. “At first it did seem like it was mostly the gay community, a lot of women. But Jason, my boss, just made a funny point. It’s like, guys don’t get mullets for their girlfriends, they get ‘em for their bros. You know what I mean?”

Dustin Childress, a sophomore mechanical engineering major at the University of Kentucky and member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, is a testament  that mullets have increased in popularity amongst the “bros” in recent years.

“Well it all started when I grew my hair out over (the COVID-19 pandemic) and then got it cut in a mullet as a joke,” Childress said. “I just loved the mullet after that.”

Childress, who’s had the instantly-recognizable haircut for about three years, has had an array of differently-styled mullets, highlighting its adaptability as one of its best “mane” features. 

“I like how versatile they are, you can have them curly, you can have them straight. I mean I’ve had mine in 15 different orientations now,” Childress said. 

So whether you’re debating going for a classic mullet or channeling your inner “Ziggy Stardust” for a bit more pizazz, one thing is clear: Childress thinks getting a mullet is the way to go. 

“Just try it out. What do you have to lose?” Childress said. 

Those who have been graced by the presence of mullets seem to be in agreement. Cruse also supports anyone considering sporting the iconic hairstyle.

“Just do it. Get a mullet dude,” Cruse said.

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