Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
By Mark DeMayo

“The King of Throwback Thursdays (TBT).” That’s what my Facebook followers have dubbed me because of the weekly photos I post of myself dressed back in the 80’s.

Based on their comments, I can tell that people my age are laughing with me. They get a kick out of looking back at how we dressed and wore our hair back in the day. My younger followers…well that’s a different story. I can tell they’re just laughing AT me; that’s ok, too. Yes, I was the living embodiment of the 80’s and am damn proud of it.

Image courtesy of Mark DeMayo

Image courtesy of Mark DeMayo

The photo I am sharing with you is probably my best example of how hideous I looked back in the day. It was taken in 1988, in front of my house in Whitestone, Queens. I was 19 years old and probably heading out for a night on the town. Judging by my cocky smirk, I bet I felt like a million bucks…most likely because my hair (1) came out great. Nowadays, that same hairstyle might be referred to as the highly mock-able ‘mullet,’ but back in the day, we didn’t have a name for the coolest hairstyle a man could have. I think a barber or stylist might have called it a ‘bi-level.’ I just used to sit in the chair and say, “don’t touch the back” whenever I went for a haircut.

If you look really close, you’ll notice I have my left ear pierced — not once, but twice (2). Back in the day, a boy having his ear pierced was today’s equivalent of having a bone going through your nose. My friend’s fathers had no problem asking me if I was “a gay” because I wore earrings. Clearly, I was ahead of my time.

My pencil-thin mustache (3) is another laughing matter for the younger generation. What they can’t comprehend is that, back in the day, men who could grow a mustache, did. I remember shaving mine once and the girl I was dating refused to go to a family wedding with me because she didn’t like the way I looked without it. Sometimes I feel like growing one today, just to torture that girl, who happens to be my wife of 25 years.

The gold chain (4) and bracelet I’m rocking in the shot was called ‘nugget jewelry,’ because it looked like little nuggets of gold cut in half.  It was all the rage in the mid to late 80’s,with hip-hop artists like Eric B & Rakim.

As for my clothes, for some reason, my friends and I thought that gym wear was an acceptable form of evening attire, especially if you had the muscles to fill them out. I picked up the genie pants (5) and the matching sweatshirt (in my left hand) at a bodybuilding seminar. I remember I liked those genie pants so much that I wouldn’t even think of ruining them in the gym.  The Nike Air Jordan’s (6) I’m sporting are the one thing that kids today don’t laugh at, because they wish they had a pair! They have become collector’s items amongst sneaker geeks.

That contraption hanging off my waistband is a beeper (7). Back in the day, beepers were considered cutting edge technology, but they came with a stigma attached. Old people thought teenagers who carried beepers were drug dealers, because why else would anyone need to get in touch with you immediately. And it was obvious we weren’t doctors.

Last, but certainly not least, in my right hand I’m carrying a Benzi Box (8). What, you might ask, is Benzi Box? Well, back in the day, there was a crack cocaine epidemic, and crack heads used to break into cars and steal your stereo. Then they would sell your thousand dollar car stereo for a hundred bucks to go buy crack. It got so bad that people with nice cars were scared to leave them parked in the street. So someone invented the Benzi Box, which allowed you to pull your stereo out of the dashboard and take it with you whenever you left the car.

I grew up in the 80’s and, back in the day, I guess I was a little wild with my multi-level hair, earrings, gold jewelry, beeper, and genie pants. So yeah, people around my age get a good, nostalgic laugh when they see my Throwback Thursday pics. My younger friends, well they just “LOL” and leave comments like, “WTF were you thinking?”

Well, guess what kids; one day you’re going to have to explain to a younger generation why your pants are hanging down around your knees, why you pierced your eyebrows, tongue, and nose, and why you covered every inch of your body with tattoos. I hope I’m around long enough to hear your excuse.

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