The Mohawk or
Mohican is a hairstyle which consists of shaving either side
of the head, leaving a strip of noticeably longer hair. Mohawks
were a short-lived fad in the mid 1960s. Mohawks became common
in youth subcultures in the late 1970s. Throughout the 1980s,
they were modified by subcultures within and derived from punk
and adopted by various other groups, becoming more diverse in
style in the process. Today, mohawks are still associated with
the punk subculture, but have become a part of mainstream fashion
and are also shared by many other subcultures.
In modern times, both sides of the head are
shaved or buzzed and the remaining hair is long and often spiked
in the middle. The hairstyle is generally known as a Mohawk
in the United States and a Mohican or Mowie in the United Kingdom.
In punk fashion, the Mohawk is often dyed brilliant colors and
the center strip of hair worn so that it points straight up
(often referred to as a "charged" mohawk), often to
impressive height. The Mohawk also appears in the goth subculture,
a descendant of punk, with the remaining hair spiked or long.
Guinness World Records lists Aaron Studham as the person with
the tallest Mohawk.
Besides punk fashion, the Mohawk became known
with the popularity of Mr. T, the actor who first became famous
playing the boxer Clubber Lang in the movie Rocky III and later
as Sgt. B.A. Baracus in the television series The A-Team. In
the 1980s this type of African Mohawk was called Mandinkan or
Mandinkan Mohawk after the Mandinkan Warrior haircut. Another
well-known popular culture depiction of the Mohawk came from
Martin Scorsese's film Taxi Driver.
Inspired by Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver, Richie
Stotts of the New York punk band The Plasmatics got a blue Mohawk
in January 1979, followed by bassist Jean Beauvoir in September
1979 and singer Wendy O. Williams on November 30, 1980, who
got a black Mohawk with cropped blond hair at the sides. The
Plasmatics appeared on the American comedy TV show Fridays on
January 16, 1981, which introduced the Mohawk to USA pop culture,
while the band's albums and tours popularized the hairstyle
in the UK and Europe.
In the famous "Punk On Bus" sequence
in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, associate producer Kirk R.
Thatcher was shown dressed as a punk with a bright orange Mohawk.
The Mohawk, by its nature, and depending on
the type of hair the wearer has, is typically a high-maintenance
style, although after practice can become quite routine for
the wearer and done in a much shorter amount of time. Depending
on the specific look desired by the wearer, regular, careful
shaving may be required to maintain a clean line between the
shaved and long parts of the hair; this can be especially complicated
in bi- and tri-hawks.
If the hair is to be worn up, twenty minutes
or more of laborious styling, including brushing, backcombing
(teasing), twisting and so on, may be required. Some styles
are particularly difficult to put up, requiring the use of very
strong-hold hair gels and sprays, and in some cases other holding
agents like shoe polish, tooth paste, white glue, egg whites,
cornstarch or gelatin. The amount of time required for styling
may increase considerably with longer hair or styles that require
even spikes and lines.
Depending on the method used to spike a Mohawk
it can take much less than 20 minutes. The use of glue and a
blow dryer cuts down considerably on the time needed.
However once the mohawk is up it can be easily
maintained for an extended period. By sleeping on the side of
the head and mohawk extending in air, daily maintenance takes
only a few minutes of reinforcement touching up. Depending on
what is used to put the mohawk up and the conditions it endures,
a mohawk can stay erect for several weeks.
Some wearers enhance the look of their Mohawks
using hair dyes. This, too can require a great deal of initial
effort and maintenance, especially in styles where the color(s)
form an integral part of the style. In some cases, for example,
Mohawk-wearers who normally wear their hair up in a fan style
dye the hair in even lines or stripes of color, either horizontal
In 2005, the Mohawk seemed to receive a brief
and small revival among the mainstream, as claimed in Eric Wilson's
Sep 1, 2005 article in The New York Times, "The Mohawk
Becomes, Well, Cute." In it, Wilson argued that part of
the revival was caused by Angelina Jolie's adopted son, Maddox