I may be a natural redhead, but I can’t give my hair colour complete credit for my fascination in ginger culture. My interest links back to an interview I read when I was in high school. When I was sixteen, the bathroom book of choice in my household was “The Portable Curmudgeon Redux,” a collection of quotes and interviews. Toward the back of the book, there’s a chapter dedicated to Margo Kaufman, a writer and journalist based in the United States who, incidentally, happens to be a natural redhead. It was the days before scanners, so I ripped the interview out of the book (apologies to my father, to whom the book belongs) and pasted it into my scrapbook. Speaking of which, here it is. No, the woman in the fabulous looking dress is not me. I liked the fact that she’s a redhead rocking the colours in the dress so well.
Margo’s interview was not only my introduction to the expression “bottle redhead,” but to the larger conversation that redheads generate. I challenge any other shade of hair colour to provide the colour commentary, off-colour jokes, sexual innuendo, genetic checklist, and overall mystery that redheads have inspired throughout human history.
Margo may not have much time for bottle redheads, but she knows perfectly well what’s involved in a redhead’s rite of passage. That, and she also knows how to use the expression “hot-shit attitude” perfectly in a sentence. Here’s her interview.
Jon Winokur (interviewer): “One last question: how did you feel about bottle redheads?”
Margo Kaufman: “I wish they would round up all these fake redheads. They’re everywhere. I used to be the only redhead in my dance class, but now there are all these women with hair the color of Ethan Allen furniture. Cheery wood. Mahogany. These fake redheads did not pay their dues. They never got called “Freckles” or “Carrot Top.” They never had to swim with a T-shirt to avoid getting sunburned. They weren’t constantly asked by sleazy men on the street, “Where did you get that red hair from?” or “Is it real?” And now they all walk around with this hot-shit attitude, which no real redhead has. Real redheads are incredibly direct and usually very nice. These fake redheads are everywhere. Yesterday my sister called to say she thinking of dyeing her hair red. I warned her that it would seriously affect our relationship. Am I done?”