Dennis Rodman crosses the line Fashion: When it comes to drag, the Chicago Bulls' star is not only as bad as he wants to be, he's without a clue. It's outrageous, but perhaps it's not too late.

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The Chicago book signing did it.

That May event made it very clear that Dennis Rodman is in dire need of a makeover.

The reason wasn't that Rodman, bad boy of the basketball court, held court in drag as he signed copies of his autobiography, "Bad as I Wanna Be." It was that he was in "bad" drag. Nothing's worse than a bad drag queen.

Think about it!

His cat-woman, caked-on makeup was thick enough to make bricks.

The neon-pink boa was ultra tired, like campy, classic "Rocky Horror Picture Show" stuff.

The silver hair?

Foul.

The sequined halter top?

Cute, but hardly the stuff a glam cross-dresser would die for.

In fact, Rodman is giving cross-dressers a bad name. And he still managed to look better than he does most days.

So, yes, Rodman is as bad (as in bad-looking) as he can possibly be.

It need not be that way. Like his former lovemate Madonna, Rodman is bent on pushing boundaries.

In his new book he writes, "I like to shock people, to have them wonder where I'm coming from. To hang out in a gay bar or put on a sequined halter top makes me feel like a total person and not just a one-dimensional man."

But unlike the Material Girl, this much-tattooed, much-pierced, overdyed basketball star is style clueless, off the court or on, in drag or out.

Any Dr. Fashion will tell you that his outrageous fashions, hair and makeup are more than just a bid for attention. They're a cry for aid.

"He needs help," agreed Don Wilson, fashion expert for International Male, the San Francisco-based men's clothing, mail-order company.

No one expects Rodman to emulate his classy NBA colleagues by shaving his head and donning Armani suits.

That would be like expecting Charles Barkley to stop talking trash.

But there are ways for Rodman to rebound fashion-wise. He can be himself without changing his hair color every five minutes or swathing his long, lean body in sequins and lace.

Let's start with what Rodman refers to as his feminine side, since, as he writes, he loves to "paint [his] fingernails. I color my hair. I sometimes wear women's clothes. I want to challenge people's image of what an athlete is supposed to be."

Perhaps he should think about the image of what a woman is supposed to be, at least when it comes to full drag.

The makeup is supposed to give the illusion of being a woman, not a Halloween character. (Didn't he check out the film "To Wong Foo. Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar?")

He could lighten up on the eye shadow and, if he must be in the paint, stick with metallic shades. Soften the eyebrows.

Ditch the lip liner.

Break the eyebrow pencil.

And use less rouge -- much less.

Then Rodman should take a cue from drag supermodel RuPaul, who says a corset is a drag queen's best friend.

A tightly laced corset will give womanly curves. Then rather than looking for clothes from the costume shop, Mr. Why-Don't-They-Pay-Me-More should use his big-enough bucks from the Chicago Bulls to go on a designer shopping spree.

May we recommend leather catsuits from Thierry Mugler, sheer bodysuits and pants from Jean-Paul Gaultier, bandage halters and skirts from Herve Leger.

Accessorize with a Chanel bag and a pair of $800 Manolo Blahnik stilettos.

(Yes, Dennis, it's time to put on the heels and be on your way to the drag-queen playoffs.)

Now that we've taken care of expressing the woman in him, let's move on to Rodman's everyday appearance, if you can call it that.

Colorist Bruce DuBois naturally thinks it's wonderful that Rodman promotes hair color by going from green to red hair to blond hair and various other shades.

Dubois suggests that Rodman could have the same effect without bounding toward the dye pot every few days.

"He could cut his hair in rows with grooves cut down to the skin and then dye the hair that isn't to the scalp in different colors," DuBois offers.

This rainbow style would serve two purposes. It would be colorful, as Rodman demands, and it would symbolize his philosophy that all people should be accepted and live together.

As for men's clothes, hasn't anyone told Rodman that grunge is dead? OK, so he loves Pearl Jam and all that. Only Ricki Lake fans still wear tattered jeans, ragged T-shirts, funky sweats, and clunky boots.

Wilson of International Male recommends hipper clothes such as stretchy or sheer shirts, narrow pants, tapered jackets. That way Rodman could still show his body without slithering into dainty lace as he did for his appearance on "Saturday Night Live."

Rodman should also consider that there are designers that specialize in wild threads. Gianni Versace comes to mind. The Italian maverick creates action-stopper clothes with which Rodman could still turn heads without turning people off.

Versace's zebra-striped shirts, art deco jeans, tapestry-print jackets, gold-studded leather pants, neon colored V-neck sweaters with short sleeves are just the ticket to avant-garde but not outrageous Rodman garb.

Pub Date: 5/30/96

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