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"What The Eff?" Wednesday: Conks & Curls

17 September 2008 10 Comments

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if most you were like “Hunh? Thembi, no one gets Jheri Curls anymore!” But, as evidenced by the recent query above, OH. BUT. THEY. DO. Much like we sit around in denial about the voting power of the racist south, the rate of AIDS in the our community, and the extent to which Bobby Brown is finally “clean,” black folks are in denial when it comes to the Curl and the role it still plays in society. First of all, I still see people with straight-up Jheri Curls roaming our streets. Secondly, the Leisure Curl, Carefree Curl, and almighty r&b flavored S-Curl are still quite prolific, having gotten a semantic pass for the past 20 years. Let’s be real: Jheri Curl is to S-Curl as Crack is to Cocaine. A process is a process and Luster is still doing a brisk business in no-drip Activator. There may be a different stigma attached but the risks are the same. I’ve spoken on this before but enough is enough and there are clearly still questions about the Curl floating around out there. Please consider the four issues presented below!

1. Flammability. Everyone knows that any Curl is as flammable as a hot sausage in hell. The classic tale of woe that should steer all of us clear away is that of Michael Jackson’s tragic Jheri Curl brush fire while he filmed that Pepsi commercial. Just watch:

Ok, that wasn’t exactly the original footage, but you get the idea. Do you want your momma running down a hospital hallway after you like that just because you wanted to be Carl Thomas when you grow up?

2. No Support System. Well, well, well. What have here? It’s our old public access friend Flaccid Ego. What could a turbaned lunatic possibly have to do with this post?

I always did wonder what was under that turban! It’s clear that Flaccid Ego has very little support system for any aspect of his life, but anyone, anywhere, who is letting that Soul Glo is pretty much on his or her own. Credible hair stylists just don’t play that anymore!

3. It is NOT 1985. If you remember this commercial and/or still have a cassette player, you’re officially a super oldhead.

Yet, this commercial is for the very same hair texturizing products that Luster is selling right now in 2008. Therefore, if you look at this screenshot of the S-Curl website as it looks today below, and you see products that can be found in your bathroom, you are a damn fool. No one thinks you’re part Indian or Dominican, and if that’s your charade then please check your blackness. It don’t have to be Jheri to be a Curl! Shoutout to Garfield, my favorite male video ho of the ’90’s who has now been reduced to an S-Curl poster boy.

4. Your Hair Will Fall Out. Ok, I’d like to apologize in advance for this video, because during trying times like these, the last thing any of us need to see is an old lady in court about some Jheri Curl gone awry, especially in dance mix form. But if the classic Negrospeak grammar slip at 1:33 doesn’t make you lament the state of Black America you are a soulless, self-hating wretch.

Conk and Curl Disasters: Never Forget.


  • blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said:

    Hey Thembi!!

    Yes, curls are still in vogue in some of these black churches…the old deacons are still sporting curls….


    Yes, it makes me want to weep sometimes but what can I say?? They are also sporting those leisure suits with white shoes…


  • Ehav Ever said:

    That Flaccid Ego piece is funny as all heck. What is up with him not looking for a kitchen cutter? Oh my Lord.

    Everyday scientists are finding signs species of animals that they once thought were extinct. I guess it is also so for the Curl and its many variations. Truly, the sun and moon may fade away, but the curl may outlive us all, in small pocket realities.

  • John B said:

    — soulless wretch

  • Qucifer said:

    “Shoutout to Garfield, my favorite male video ho of the ’90’s who has now been reduced to an S-Curl poster boy.”

    Dies even a little be more

    That remix has no reason whatsoever of being in Life!

  • Hampton06 said:

    dude on the s-curl box worked in the same building as me a couple years back in century city. i think he was in a legal office. i’d see him carting file boxes between buildings. i knew i recognized him, but couldn’t place him until one day he was talking about booking some gig. he must not be getting residuals from the s-curl box anymore. at least he’s working.

  • Thembi said:


    Yeah he’s around! Garfield is currently a basketball coach at Lincoln University and married to some non-black lookin’ woman. I’m still feelin’ him tho…

  • A.S.K. said:

    Thembi. I’m always right there with you in your knowledge of Black pop culture minutiae. Always. But this is it. Your knowledge of the aforementioned “Garfield” takes the cake. I bow down.

  • msladydeborah said:


    I don’t know which video was funnier, Flaccid Ego or the woman in court.

    I’ve worn my hair naturally for decades now. After watching the clips, Oh My God, I’m thankful that I made that decision!

    This is a great post Thembi.

  • NaturallyAlise said:

    That fool Flaccid ego said “and not no kitchen cutter…” I about fell out of my swivel chair, LOL!!!

    Let us not foget the folks who deny/denied the jheri curl by saying, “Naw girl, this is a wave noveau..”

  • Dara said:

    #1. i got a stomach cramp laughing at that clip of the mj made-for-tv-movie. why did they have to hurl his frail feminine body down the set stairs so violently?!?!?!

    #2. now you know good and well the jheri curl JUST died off on at least one branch of our family tree (i wont name names)

    #3. i hate you for this!hahaha

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