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Slapheads of '97: a vintage crop?

Ben Osborne spots the difference
Shaved heads are not new. Right Said Fred made a point of being sexy and bald, and gay fashion has long promoted the benefits of a smooth dome. But not since the days of Kojak have shiny pates been held so high. Once you knew you were in the right club by the exotic hairstyles. These days you know you're there by the lack of hair. There is even a web site for nouveau slapheads, and a club named for them - BBPT (Bald Blokes Playing Techno).

The list of happy slappies already includes an awesome cast of stars: Irvine Welsh, Alexander McQueen, stand-up comedian Lee Hurst and footballers Ian Wright and Chris Armstrong... Steve Sutherland, editor of NME, has followed their lead - despite having a full head of hair. But the most impressive list of egg-heads is the in the music world. Luminaries such as Orbital, Fat Boy Slim (Norman Cook), Alan McGee of Creation Records, Goldie, Howie B, Steve White from Monkey Mafia and Nicky Lockett from the fast-rising Dust Junkies have defined shaved skulls as the essential rock'n'roll accessory. "People in music always have mad hair," says Augustus Caesar, a 32-year-old music producer. "If people meet me they know I'm in music and I think people should look like who they are. Butchers should be fat, with red cheeks and piggy eyes."

While the style is inevitably attractive to those - especially ageing musos - with receding hairlines, or even major bald patches, it is also popular with the fully endowed. Electronica artist Rupe says shaving has changed his life.

"I've got a high hairline, but I'm not going bald. It's just that the general quality of my hair is crap, it's mousy brown rubbish. My hair hasn't changed - cropping it just disguises it. But it helps that shaving's become fashionable. It is the haircut of the moment. Real techno-boffin hair. The only down side is when people think I'm gay - not because I'm homophobic, but because I'm straight and it's annoying when people think I'm not - especially girls."