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Encore: Meet the mullet queen of Lansing, Michigan


Hold on to your hats or take them off. The '80s hairstyle known as the mullet is making a comeback. You know, business in the front; party in the back. Well, one Michigan stylist is making this cut a specialty. And if she can bring back that look, we can bring back this story from Michelle Jokisch Polo from member station WKAR about the mullet queen of Michigan.

MICHELLE JOKISCH POLO, BYLINE: After a bad hair day years ago, Ashley Medina decided she needed a hairstyle that would look cool no matter what. The only thing that came to mind was a mullet. So she shaved the sides of her head, cut the hair on the top of her head finger length and left 10 inches of long, curly black hair flowing in the back. Medina now spends her days making other people's mullet dreams come true.

ASHLEY MEDINA: So this one is what I call a soft mullet.

POLO: She's using a pair of scissors to give Aaron Vest his very first mullet.

MEDINA: I feel like that's what makes it a true, bona fide, certified regulation mullet. You got to have the ears exposed, otherwise it's considered more of, like, a shag haircut.

POLO: Vest made the two-hour drive from Toledo, Ohio, to Medina's hair salon after seeing her on TikTok.

AARON VEST: I've kind of always liked the appeal of a mullet. And just - I figured, why not? It's kind of in this - it's a little bit longer right now. It's - why not? I mean, kind of already had a leg up on it.

POLO: Medina says mulletification (ph), as she calls it, always begins with a client consultation on TikTok.

AL DURHAM: Last time, we did a mixture of, like, '80s and trashy. And I think I want to lean a little bit more towards trashy this time.

POLO: That's Al Durham getting a consultation on TikTok. He told me his first mullet helped propel his landscaping business, a business he later named Guy With A Mullet Landscaping.

DURHAM: I'm out working in a yard all day, so I like to have the back of my neck covered from the sun. I've said it before - melanoma is a silent killer. So the convenience of the front where it's not in my face but protecting the back of my neck is really nice. Not to mention, they're just sweet. They look cool.

POLO: Durham and Vest are two of over a half a million people tuning in day after day to Medina's mullet cuts on TikTok. The infamous haircut may have risen to mainstream fame in the '80s, but the hairstyle has been around for centuries. The roots of the modern-day mullet can be traced back to Native American people from the far northeastern corner of Oregon. Today, the mullet is more than just a distinctive '80s haircut. Medina says mullets are popular on men, women and non-binary people.

MEDINA: But that is something that I really love about the mullet is that there is no gender to it, really. I think that there can be a more masculine look or a more feminine look. But overall, the hairstyle in general can definitely suit all genders.

POLO: Mullets are so popular, Ashley Medina says she may have to give up doing any other kind of haircuts.

For NPR News, I'm Michelle Jokisch Polo in Lansing.

(SOUNDBITE OF THRUPENCE'S "DIAMOND DRIPS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As WKAR's Bilingual Latinx Stories Reporter, Michelle reports in both English and Spanish on stories affecting Michigan's Latinx community. Michelle is also the voice of WKAR's weekend news programs.