Does A Mullet Automatically Make You A Bogan?
What does your hairstyle say about you?
I’ve got long, un-brushed, greying hair. I usually have a basic ponytail, or sometimes, if I’m feeling flirty and adventurous, a half-pony. This hairstyle says: Middle-aged mother with greenie tendencies and hardly any disposable income. Which is completely accurate. My husband, on the other hand, has a mullet.
Classic Aussie bogan;
Loves VB and meat pies;
Drives a Commodore;
Knows the words to Khe Sanh;
Has a police record;
Is a bit racist and sexist, and probably homophobic;
Hasn’t read a book since Grade 5;
Greets friends (and enemies) with “C**t!”;
Bit of a moron.
My husband definitely enjoys a hot pie and a cold beer. He’s a Cold Chisel fan. He takes his lunch to work in an esky. He wears thongs with socks. But he also drinks lattes. And listens to Radio National. And spends his spare time reading books about environmental conservation. He even -- get this -- treats me as his equal.
So here’s what I want to know: are all mullet-wearers classic Aussie bogans? Or is the stereotype inaccurate and unfair?
To find out, my husband and I head to Kurri Kurri, a small town 150km north of Sydney. Because: Mulletfest -- an annual celebration of all things mullet.
When we arrive at the Chelmsford Hotel -- “The Chelly” to locals -- entrants are queuing to register for the competition. I have never seen so many mullets all in one place. People have come from all over the country to vie for the title of Best Mullet. This year there are nine categories: Junior 0–7, Junior 8–13, Junior 14–17, Grubby, Everyday, Ranga, Extreme, Vintage and International. My husband puts himself down for Grubby.
The judging takes place in a stuffy room out the back of the pub. Each contestant has to parade across the stage then answer a few easy questions. It’s like Miss Universe, only less sparkly. The judges look at hair length, condition, style and overall presentation. The quality of the mullet flick is crucial.
A bloke called Prousty does most of the MCing. His loud voice and quick wit get the crowd going. “How long have you been growing your mullet?” he asks every competitor. He also says things like, “Bet the ladies love it!” and “How much do you love beer!” and “Does it get in the toilet when you do a poo?”
By mid-afternoon I’m thinking Well, this is about as bogan as you can get. No, I’m thinking Well, this is about as f*cken bogan as you can f*cken get.
Then I look at the competitors. I mean really look. And realise that there’s actually only one thing they have in common: their 1980s hairdos.
These mullet devotees are a surprisingly varied bunch. All ages are represented. Some have had their mullets for six months, others since 1986. Some are wearing cut-off jeans and sleeveless flannies, others are in full suits. There are quiet competitors, gregarious competitors, competitors who stand still and competitors who leap about the stage like Peter Garrett impersonators.
And -- and this is the most exciting part -- not only are there female entrants, three of them win category prizes. Yes -- 50 percent of this year’s adult winners are women.
So here’s my verdict: although the mullet might be synonymous with bogan culture, not all bogans are pie-eating, beer-drinking delinquents. Case in point: my husband. On the way home from Kurri Kurri, we stop in Benalla for lattes and a look in the art gallery.
After spending some time admiring an Albert Namatjira watercolour, he says, “Get some art up ya!” and walks off.
Just like my husband -- and all the other bogans out there -- the mullet is the perfect contradiction: neat and tidy up the front, wild down the back.
Not moron; oxymoron.