You Say "Mullet", We Say "Dimabilan"
When we hit the streets to find out why the mullet was so damn popular with the kids, we learned that, as happens with so many Western ideas imported into Russia, the mullet is no longer a mullet.
The first mulletnik we approached on the street told us, "The most fashionable haircut right now is the 'dimabilan.' That's what everyone calls it."
Dima Bilan is a 26-year-old Russian pop singer, a cheesier, fruiter version of Justin Timberlake. His mullet-sporting likeness has been plastered on every afisha in town for the past few years, but he really exploded onto Russia's music scene after taking second place at the 2006 Eurovision contest. What is most interesting is that Bilan is Caucasian - not as in "white" Caucasian, but as in "from the Caucasus" Caucasian. A Karachai to be exact, a Turkic mountain. Yup, a hachek, a black-ass. But that hasn't stopped his success. Or stopped every Russian guy, no matter how xenophobic this country claims to be, from trying to look just like their favorite hachek.
Why Dima Bilan? What's his secret? We tried contacting Bilan to ask him how he felt about being synonymous with the mullet, but his press secretary never responded.
The Bilan/mullet connection adds another unexpected layer of irony to this Mullet Expose. Just a few years ago, Dima Bilan was 20-year-old a nobody with a long metal hairdo, until he was discovered by producer Yuri Aizenshpis. The same Yuri Aizenshpis man took Viktor Tsoi to stardom in the 80s. After hooking up with Aizenshpis, Bilan cut his hair into a classic mullet.
In case you don't see it coming, we'll spell out the mullet-irony: The producer behind the Bilan sensation is the same producer who promoted Russia's original mullet star! That means Aizenshpis is responsible for not one, but two mullet crazes. Aizenshpis died a year before Bilan made it to the Eurovision, but his legacy to Russia's scalps lives on.
Bilan's mullet evolved a long way from the classic style, growing in proportion to his success. The bigger he got, the more elaborate his mullet. By the time he got to Eurovision 2006, his "bilan" was more mullet than even Billy Ray Cyrus' mullet: a big jelled peacock fin on top, techno-short on the sides, and an all-night hoedown in back. After the Eurovision contest, Bilan's "bilan" was plastered on every afisha and billboard across Russia, and beamed to millions of TVs. The dyevs loved it. And the dudes lined up to get cut just like their new favorite pop star.
Thus began the Russian dimabilan craze. Remember that the next time you see a dude in a dimabilan, which probably means the guy sitting next to you and across from you and behind you.
For all of the talk of Russia's xenophobia, every guy here is sporting a hairdo made famous by a limp-wristed Caucasian, who updated a hairdo made popular by a half-Korean. And every dyev finds this hachek/zheltokozh-inspired look utterly irresistible.
According to Lana, a stylist at the hair salon chain Persona, about one-third of all male clients ask for a dimabilan.
Persona Hair Salons: incubators of the mullet epidemic
"Everyone knows the dimabilan is very fashionable and sexy," said Lana. "Men who get them are stylish and they want their hairstyle to reflect and match their fashion tastes, the clothes they wear. Most girls think it's very stylish, progressive and cool. It says a man isn't just following trends."
Turns out she's right. A scientific eXile dyev opinion poll proved beyond a shadow of a doubt: the mullet is favored by the opposite sex. Out of dozens of young girls we spoke to, only one was against the mullet. Here's a sample of the rest: "I think they look cute;" "I think it looks funny, but in a attractive way;" "I think guys with mullets are more progressive;" "Super adorable!"