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THE LEPRECHAUN CHRONICLES
THE HISTORY OF REDHEAD PERSECUTION by Bradley Mason Hamlin

Over the years and under the rainbow people have often asked me two questions: 1) Why do you always wear sunglasses? and 2) Why is your best buddy in the workplace [at a variety of different jobs] always a black person?

 

Well, not so surprisingly, the answer to both questions lies in a recessive gene on chromosome 16. The change in the MC1R protein causes sensitivity to ultraviolet light.  Very true in my case—and you thought I wore those Ray Bans cuz they look so damn cool.

 

Yeah, and since the recessive gene on chromosome 16 also creates red hair, well, it’s a no-brainer why I hangout with the soul brothers at work. They too know what it’s like to be an outcast from the mainstream society of white (non-red-haired) devils.

 

Red-haired prejudice is very real indeed. I grew up in Los Angeles and for a good portion of that time I lived on the northeast end of L.A. in a place called Highland Park. Highland Park is where you will traditionally find the colorful and spirited groups of young lads known as: The Avenues, HLP, White Fence, Cypress Park, Los Diablos and many others.  No, these are not punk rock groups …

 

The cholos/vatos in Highland Park well outnumber the white boys and girls (and the blacks are an even greater minority) but a white boy with red hair … well, that just seemed to trip their triggers more than anything else.

 

Sometimes just walking home from Burbank Junior High School was like surviving an obstacle course. They would see me on the street and yell: “Rojo!” They would throw rocks, sticks, sometimes snow-cones … or cut off my path and make me fight one of their smaller members before I could pass.

 

“Right now, ese! Right now! Let’s fight, fuckin rojo!”

 

While these spirited actions of my Mexican peers did help develop greater survival skills and a fair usage of street Spanish—I often wondered what it would be like to not be singled out …

 

When I was seventeen I joined the United States Navy.  Now there’s a gang you can join with lots of weapons and uniforms and everything you need.  However, when I got to boot camp …

 

“Red, motherfucker, give me 50!”

 

To my surprise, it was a huge black man, dogging me.  I had not had much experience with the black man yet, but I was surprised that he didn’t see me as a kindred soul, a red-haired outcast from white society.

 

 “Red, motherfucker, give me 50!”

 

Wasn’t long though before my best pal in boot camp was a sorry black sonofabitch named Oliver. Oliver was an outcast from his own people because he didn’t speak Black-English. They call that Ebonics now, whatever the fuck that means.

 

Gee, before I start crying in my coffee I better get to the positive side of this article.

 

PART II

“THE TRIBE OF CHROMOSOME 16”

(16 COOL PEOPLE with RED HAIR!)

 

 

16.  Johnny Whitaker:   Well, let’s face it, Johnny. You’re only making the list because of your association with Sigmund the Sea Monster.

 

 

15.  William Shakespeare:  Possibly as fictional as “Jesus Christ,” Willy is believed by many to have written some pretty good “plays.”

 

 

14.  Lucky: Lucky is the well-known mascot for Lucky Charms cereal. He is arguably the most beloved of all leprechauns.

 

13.  Alcoholman: He gets super powers when he drinks booze and Lucy Hell is his girlfriend. What’s not to love? You can visit the Intoxicated Detective at: www.myspace.com/alcoholman

 

 

12.  David Caruso: He rocked two TV shows, NYPD Blue and the muchbetter, CSI MIAMI. A solid soldier in the red-headed militia. Even Lucy Hell thinks he’s good looking.

 

 

11.  Darren McGavin:    A great TV & film actor—and the star of Kolchak, the Night Stalker. You can read our separate tribute to Gavin elsewhere on retrocrush.

 

 

10.  James Gagney: True, we never really got to see his red hair, being the king of black & white gangster films, but he sure showed the attitude. A great actor and a great redhead!

 

 

09.  Jesus Christ aka Jesus of Nazareth aka Ben Jeshua: A Roman solider gave a written report of Jesus being a redhead. Some of the most famous paintings of Jesus depict him as a red-haired man. Therefore, verily, I say unto you, red hair is divine.

 

 

08.  Lucille Ball: Unlike Norma Jean aka Marilyn Monroe—who converted from red to blonde—Lucy converted from brown to red. She also was responsible for getting Star Trek on television. A+ Lucy, A+!

 

 

07.  George Jetson: I always admired George’s haircut, sharp man, sharp! He was a cool daddio, too. If you’ve ever seen the Jet Screamer episode of The Jetsons you know I mean. George wails on those drums.

 

 

06.  Richie Cunningham: Richie, (no I’m not listing the bald-headed director Ron Howard but Richie himself) was in a way a modern version of Archie Andrews, the red-headed young man portrayed as the “A” typical American boy. Sure, he wasn’t the coolest guy on the show. That of course would be Matsumoto "Arnold" Takahashi, played by Pat Morita. But Richie was a cool kid in his own right. He made out with many cute chicks at Inspiration Point. Not too shabby.

 

 

05.  Archie Andrews: Archie came on the scene in 1941. This was a time when America actually saw the red-headed freckled face kid as an archetype of American boyhood. All American boy, Archie Andrews, is so hep and full of pep—he’s been jockin two hot ladies—Betty & Veronica for over 60 years.

 

 

04.  Gillian Anderson: Dana Scully from The X-Files. You did us proud, baby. You did us proud. I can’t wait to see your new movie. Call me.

 

 

03.  Mary Jane Watson:  Mary Jane, created by Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr.—came into Peter Parker’s aka Spider-Man’s life with the classic line: “Face it, tiger, you just hit the jackpot!” This is the moment in the Amazing Spider-Man when you go ahead and stop wishing Steve Ditko would come back, because you know Spidey and friends could not possibly be in the hands of a better artist. Romita’s portrayal of Mary Jane is as good as it gets in terms of comic-book art—and what an awesome redhead!

 

 

02.  Tina Louise aka Ginger Grant:  Possibly my very first retrocrush … Tina as Ginger Grant singing, “I just wanna make love to you, poop-poop, a-doo …” Ay, carumba! Tina proved Marilyn was wrong to betray our race.

 

 

01.  Ann Margaret: It just doesn’t get any hotter than Ann Margret singing and dancing in Viva, Las Vegas! She is truly the greatest redhead of all time. She represents everything the world has always feared from the redhead, the intense fiery red heat and passion of a woman born of the same tribal line as Jesus and Johnny Whitaker.

 

Other notable people with red are (but not limited to):

 

Bozo the Clown, Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain, Howdy Doody, Vincent Van Gogh, Seth Green, Maureen O’ Hara, King Louie from Jungle Book, Thomas O’Malley from The Aristocats, Don Most aka Ralph Malph, Jessica Rabbit, Robert Redford, George Washington, and Woody Woodpecker …

 

-Bradley Mason Hamlin
brad@retrocrush.com

 

You can read more of Bradley Mason Hamlin's work at MYSTERY ISLAND