Fi Nightingale remembers the frizz-making, hair-frying, corrugating hotplates of yore.

In 1986, after running away to join the punks, I got myself a blue mohican. It was BADASS.  Now, anyone who was of the alternative persuasion back then will know that the only sure-fire way of getting your mohawk to stick up and stay up was to crimp it to within an inch of its life – this was back in the unimaginable days where ceramic straighteners were not yet A Thing. I absolutely loved the ritual of crimping my hair. First, the heating of the crimping irons – in Ye Olden Dayes, you had to switch them on at least 15 minutes before you actually needed them. Then I’d set about choosing the album to play while I got ready in my grotty bedsit – Siouxsie & The Banshees’ Tinderbox, for instance.  Then painstakingly applying the warpaint – heavy black liner, lurid purple shadow. Then, LET THE CRIMPING COMMENCE.


Starting from the front, each section of hair would be hosed with Insette Spikey, or Wella Shockwaves, an excellent hairspray so potent that you held your breath while you sprayed it, for fear of asphyxiation. Then, while the hair was still wet, you applied the crimpers (enormous, heavy, around £6.99 from the catalogue), clamping them onto the hair for a good 10 seconds. I will never forget the the eye watering stench of frying hair and the crackle of sizzling hairspray that accompanied the clamping down on each section. The aim was to turn my crowning glory into something closely resembling a McCoys crisp, literally standing on end, all by itself, and capable of withstanding gale force winds and any amount of rain the heavens poured on it.  After six months of this daily punishment, the inevitable happened and my hair started snapping. I had no choice but to chop it all off and get a flat-top (let us never speak of that abomination again) until it grew back, timid and scarred from years of ritual abuse. But I shall never forget you, darling crimpers. You brought all the boys to the yard.


Fi Nightingale is Forum Admin on

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