You know hairstyles have come full circle when the latest look is no hair at all. As hairlessness emerges as the latest hot hair look, the nude noggin is gaining momentum outside its counterculture boundaries.
The trend was abundantly clear at the recent National Basketball Association playoffs, where many star players sported slick tops. Among the believers that bald is beautiful: the Phoenix Suns' Charles Barkley; the Chicago Bulls' Michael Jordan; Cliff Robinson and Terry Porter of the Portland Trail Blazers; Derrick Coleman of the New Jersey Nets; Xavier McDaniel of the Boston Celtics; and Sean Elliott and Terry Cummings of the San Antonio Spurs.
Even baseball players, such as Darryl Strawberry of the Los Angeles Dodgers, are baring it all.
The look also has caught momentum among musicians, models and actors. Canadian-born Eve Salvail shocked audiences at fashion shows in Paris last year when she sauntered along the runway in designer duds, sporting a shaved and dragon-tattooed scalp. No longer just an oddity, Eve, as she is called, has earned runway work at top design salons and magazines in America and Europe.
Every member of the new "grimy style" hip-hop group Onyx shaves his head. Tommy Lee of the hair-worshiping rock group Motley Crue recently buzzed his locks.
The rich, famous and radical may opt for a hair-free head for its attention-getting powers, but others say they prefer its refreshing simplicity.
"I'm bald anyway on top," says Richard Apt, an art director with O'Connor Advertising in Dallas. "Probably a lot of people don't even notice." Tigger Liddell, who owns Tigger's Body Art and Tattoos, started shaving his head five years ago.
"It's a lot easier to maintain," says the tattoo artist and biker. "I'm a diabetic and I got tired of my head getting sweaty. That, and wearing a helmet, and your hair gets matted."
Mr. Liddell also sports the latest shaved-head accessory -- scalp tattoos.
Leaping-tiger tattoos decorate each side of his head. A "scalp lock," or small ponytail, grows out the back. At his shop, he's also seeing an increase in scalp tattoos and the attendant head-shaving.
After years of fussing with long, dyed-black manes, blue crew cuts and stark white styles, Travis White, a hairstylist at L'Entourage Salon, shaved his head nearly a month ago.
"I've wanted to do it forever," says Mr. White, 23. "I've discovered I really don't have to have hair." However, he does prefer to accent his aerodynamic pate with a little powder and eyeliner on his face.
Mr. White says the current shaved-head trend helped him decide that the time was right to try the look.
"In the business I'm in, I have to be careful not to scare people. People scare easily in Texas," he says.
Walter Hardts, an actor and mental-health worker, shaved his head last month to play a character called Mr. Snake. The reaction was so positive that he decided to keep it.
"I feel like I needed a new look. And it goes with my goatee," says Mr. Hardts. "I also feel that I look younger. But I get stares like people are intimidated."
In many cases, shaved heads are to the '90s what long hair was to the '60s. Men and women who have bared it all have encountered hostile reactions to their distinctive hair statements. Mr. White and Mr. Apt say they wear hats or bandannas if they expect to encounter disapproving crowds. Mr. Apt changes his attire and removes his gold hoop earrings for some business meetings.
Both men say they go out of their way not to be confused with skinheads, the radical racists who also shave their heads.
"I wear a hat to some places because otherwise it might look like I'm there to cause trouble," says Mr. Apt.
"A bald head is rather menacing. People probably think, 'He's one of society's outcasts,' " says Kaatib Asad, 25, who started shaving his head -- twice a day -- three years ago. Mr. Asad, a grocery worker, attracts a lot of attention, good and bad.
"I'm getting my head rubbed as we speak," he says over the telephone.
"Little kids stare at my head. People ask me if I'm going through chemo or something.
"But it has caused a few problems. I've been pulled over [by the police] more times than I can possibly imagine. Easily, easily, it happens four times a month. I'll catch double takes from police officers, so I'll just go ahead and pull over. And when they come up to the car, I ask, 'Is it the bald head, officer? Or is it
me being young and black?'
"But I've been complimented as many times as I've been pulled over," he says. "It's definitely a conversation piece."
He wears a stud in his nose, earrings in each ear, and a button at his job that reads: "Ask me how often I shave it."
Bald women also elicit unusual reactions.
"When I had my head shaved, people couldn't figure out if I was a strange lesbian from New York or in the military," says Marcia Weiner, owner of a vintage clothing store. Twice since 1984, Ms. Weiner has shaved her head, often for somewhat spiritual reasons.
"I felt very clean, very Buddhist. Women are so obsessed with their hair," she says.
But the reaction to the look often depends on who wears it where, says the once-shaved Angus Wynne, president of Wynne Entertainment Inc., a music act booking company. Mr. Wynne, who is approaching 50, for years shaved his head of what little hair he had.
"I wasn't any trendsetter. I looked to [businessman] Henry S. Miller Jr. and Arthur White, a CPA. These guys are both in their 60s, and they both shaved their heads for years. I look to them as mighty influences, as people who really made fashion statements.
"It ain't new, I'll tell you that," says Mr. Wynne. In fact, he's back to having hair and a beard.