Manic Panic’s High Voltage Hair Color Still Has Plenty Of Shock Value
With the Met Costume Institute’s new exhibition, Punk: Chaos to Couture, getting so much buzz following this month’s red-carpet gala, effectively reviving a subculture that had its heyday in the late seventies and early eighties, the question of whether or not punk is in fact dead still looms large. If you ask Tish and Snooky Bellomo, it’s very much still kicking. “Punk lives!” the sister duo behind the subversive fashion and beauty brand Manic Panic affirm. CBGB mainstays who sang backup for Blondie, the women opened Manic Panic on St. Mark’s Street in 1977 and never looked back. Dubbed “the first punk store in America,” the shop sold everything from vintage and bondage leather pants to off-kilter makeup and, of course, hair dye. Since its incarnation—and long before big beauty brands capitalized on a latter-day hair color movement that started on the runways—Manic Panic has been the hair color of choice for anyone daring to be different with bright green or yellow tips and streaks. Now there are eight new shades of the cult-classic High Voltage cream color to love.
“It’s just like you can never have too many pairs of shoes and ice cream flavors; you can never have too many colors,” the Bellomos collectively assert of their line extension, which includes tweaks to best sellers as well as a few innovations. “Sunshine is a warm, golden yellow, [whereas the existent] Electric Banana is more neon and glows under black light; Violet Night is a darker, romantic purple that contains more blue tones than Electric Amethyst; Blue Moon is a bright, vibrant, electric blue, whereas Bad Boy Blue has cooler tones and is more pastel,” they point out, highlighting a few of the updates, which also include the dark pink Cleo Rose; the flame-hued Psychedelic Sunset; the deep-aqua-tinged green, Venus Envy; and the claret Vampire’s Kiss. Keeping things even more interesting is the inventive Manic Mixer/Pastelizer, which turns more full-on shades into lighter, airier alternatives.
As for their thoughts on the Met exhibit, from which their contributions are curiously absent, the sisters are understandably conflicted. “We have mixed emotions about it. We’re so tired of people rewriting history! We offered our input, expertise, and even our original designs from the seventies, since we helped write the book on punk fashion, but were refused. In the past, we’ve enjoyed many exhibits at the Met, and although imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, we feel those responsible for inspiring today’s punk fashions—designers like Anya Phillips, Animal X, Natasha, and Gina Franklyn—should have been recognized.” As for the glass-encased shrine dedicated to Manic Panic hair color that also somehow didn’t make it into the show, we know plenty of beauty junkies who would be up to the task of building one.
Photo: Courtesy of Manic Panic