Jude Tekavec, a second-grader in the Cherry Creek School District, is used to sticking out. He likes it that way. And his standout appearance just landed him among the top-top finalists in the National Kids Mullet Championships.
With an ever-shifting rainbow of colors dying his fashion-forward Ziggy Stardust-like mullet, Jude has garnered both admiration and jeers from his peers. He's taken guff from his school's administrators, who gripe that the dye in his ’do distracts the other students and say that he should stick to his natural blonde.
Old ladies have begged to touch his hair, he says, and passersby gawk.
Not that Jude's out much these days. Like many kids, he's quarantined at home, schooling online with help from his parents, former hair stylist-turned-nurse Deidra Tekavec and Ty Tekavec, who deejays under the name Ty Tek. In part, Jude's education has gone virtual because his mother works with oncology patients, and she doesn't want to risk their fragile health by sending her kids to school.
Online classes have worked well for Jude, though. He's a gamer, a techie and a natural helper. He's often recruited by his tech-baffled teachers to be the de facto IT whiz, helping them figure out how to mute, unmute and share screens.
Now, though, he's the one looking for a little help. "I’m saving up for a new computer,” Jude explains.
If he's named winner of the National Kids Mullet Championships, he'll snag a $500 first-place prize. To win, he needs votes, and he's hoping that Denver will turn out for him. The contest ends on October 25, and as of October 22, Jude's mullet was rising high in the competition.
"He’s so excited," Deidra said yesterday. "They just emailed us again this morning. He’s in third place. He has 750 votes. He has some strong competition."
While all the finalists boast deserving mullets, Jude's stands out. He's the only one with brightly dyed hair, and while most of the competitors look like they're rocking mullets to express their inner tough guys and may one day win a tobacco-spittin' contest, Jude's hair is an artful, sci-fi style that challenges expectations of what a boy cut should look like.
"One kid says, 'You have girl hair,'" Jude explains. "And I’m fine with that."
Deidra, a former hairstylist who cuts and dyes Jude's hair, acknowledges that some people think mullets belong in the past — but she says that's wrong. "The mullet is coming back, whether people like it or not," she notes. "With Jude, he’s got a very modern mullet. It’s very modern. There are lots of interpretations of the mullet. You don’t have to be a hillbilly to have a mullet."
Even if Jude doesn't win first place, he plans to continue growing his mullet. And he'd be happy if others wanted to jump on the bandwagon.
"Keep growing it if you want to have a mullet," he advises. "If you want the longest mullet, keep growing it, and it can get longer and longer."
Vote for Jude Tekavec on the USA Mullet Championships website; you can vote once a day between now and October 25.