Skinhead rebel: rebel or submit

Is your skin original?

squaddie skin John

John, 5'9"/148lbs/40's (1m75/68kg); #2 cropped brown hair, slim, muscular, pa; weight trains (barbells and dumbbells), runs and hikes regularly; wrestles and spars when possible.
Lives London, England,
skinhead biker . Personal Page

First #1 crop in 1982. Picture is c.1984

Skinhead boots include 20 hole DMs and 20 hole Rangers

Jeans, combats and Fred Perry shirts worn muscle-tight

No politics but likes the music


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Here's my take on the skinhead style and history. You probably see things differently... Write and tell me

Original skinheads were rebelling against... society marriage and families, managers time clocks and work, rockers with big noisy motorbikes and leather jackets, mods scooters and their music and fashion statements, authority and the police, glam rock music, the football team at the other end of the ground and many other things.

The original Skin look was shocking and a threat: bovver boots or Doctor Martens meant thugs and Trouble. Cropped hair or shaved head and tattoos meant convict or borstal runaway. West Ham football club terraces used to smell of beer and piss, Chelsea and Arsenal did too. Footie skins boots were practical even before the after-match fight. Why chuck a plastic of beer when you can chuck a plastic of piss and not miss the match going to the bogs? Some nutter might even drink it before you have time to throw it. Oi skin! was a challenge not a greeting.

Footie went all-seat stadium respectable and piss fights were renamed golden shower around the time when Skin became a gay style. Maybe the smell and taint of the rebel has diminished as the moonstomp beat and racist tribal chants have faded into the urban mix.

Rebel means looser in some people's eyes: the skinhead hooligan being led away by a British bobbie and giving the press photographer a one finger salute for the Sunday papers. That skinhead lifestyle leads to corporal punishment from the birch, the tawse and rape in borstal (see the play and movie Scum). A life of submission to prison power and the same metal gods that skinhead slaves now honour in the SM playroom.

Rebel also means glory: the local hero: the skinhead boxer fighting for the glory of the East End of London. Glorious even if defeated, the Confederate South will rise again. The songs and chants of the plantation, the roots of jazz, the original black music and now the urban rap beat. Red skins and Communards. White power music too: Union jack for Great Britain, St Andrews cross for England and the music beat wars. Music as race riot without the CS gas like international sport is war without the shooting. A long way from the fifties movie like "Rebel without a cause" that seems oh so tame viewed in the following century.

But brown boots and green jacket are still powerful symbols; derived from military style but not military. Black jacket and black boots isn't Original Skin and means different and doesn't incite a riot. Black boots and black jackets are security, the guys sent in with the sticks to stop the riot or the American hero who saves the planet (again) in another movie.

Skin became a gay style about the second or third time the skinhead style came round into fashion. MA1 jackets show your bum and 501 jeans with braces feature your packet even if you're not wearing a cockring. The Skin style's usefully ambiguous between the rebel and hooligan or the gay and the bi, the sort of man your Mum wouldn't want you to take to her home but she'd like to have a secret shag from. Or a soldier, on leave but still marked by his regulation crew-cut. Those went out years ago when the crew-cuts obviously identified soldiers travelling on British Rail who were trying to avoid being picked off by terrorists.

But even as Skin became socially acceptable the public didn't realise just how much gay skins just want to have fun. Much of the straight world doesn't even want to start to imagine how and maybe for most of England it's just as well like that. But luckily it sometimes all hangs out at public events like London's SM Pride march and in gay pubs and clubs where it's at in the big cities.

Oh and I've known some skinheads who can cook a mean chocolate cake that's fantastic before a night of hard submission in the playroom... just how did that develop from the borstal skill of rolling up with one hand?

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