There may be folks around Jersey City who don’t know the Big Hair Girls, the musical act. But many people certainly know those two girls with the big hair. Sisters Lizzie and Vanessa (a.k.a. Venus) can often been seen around downtown walking their dogs, Remington, an Italian Mastiff, and Duchess, a Staffordshire Terrier, or one of the pups they care for as part of their pet care business.
But when the sun goes down and they leave their 9-to-5 behind, the duo turns into the Big Hair Girls, a pop-oriented musical act that’s a mixture of everything from Prince, Madonna, and the Spice Girls to Sandra Bernhard and Sarah Silverman.
Known mainly in Brooklyn and Manhattan, where they say there are more venues available for them to perform, the sisters have made Jersey City their home for the past seven years.
“Like Superman, we go off and spin around and transform ourselves into the Big Hair Girls,” said Lizzie.
“But at the end of the day, we really like to be a**-kicking girls,” Vanessa interjected.
‘I think you can see by how we present ourselves that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.’ – Vanessa (a.k.a. Venus) of the Big Hair Girls
The Girls, who write all their own songs, have yet to release a full album, but have shot several videos that display both their artistic range and their musical wit.
One song/video, “Cabana Boy,” for instance, seems to be a funny sendup to all those songs by male recording acts where women are catering to the needs of men.
The song’s catchy chorus? “What you wanna be is my cabana boy/rub me down/fetch a drink/be my little toy.” At one point in the song, the Big Hair Girls give a very clear directive: “Take your pants off.” Set to the music of a poppy keyboard, the effect is more funny and ironic than bossy.
“I know [local entertainment and event producer Joe D’Allegro] was saying, ‘I hope people aren’t taking that literally,’ ” Lizzie said. “I’m sure they’re not. But, you know, if people want to start ripping their pants off, we’re okay with that.”
“I think you can see by how we present ourselves that we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” said Vanessa, who sports dyed blond hair with bits of green mixed in. Her sister Lizzie has the same dyed blond locks, but her highlights are in pink. And both women show a fondness for blue and purple nail polish, topped with colorful beads.
They say their style evolved partly from thriftiness and necessity, and partly as a reaction against their hometown of Rockland County, NY.
‘We did not blend in’
“Where we were raised, there was no one who looked like us. Like, we did not blend in at all,” said Lizzie, adding that the Girls come from a racially and ethnically mixed heritage that includes many cultures.
“Plus, our mother wasn’t into buying everything we wanted,” Vanessa said. “So, most of the time, if we wanted something, like new clothes, we had to figure out a way to either get it on our own or make it. And we ended up making a lot of our own clothes.”
Even today, the sisters make a lot of their own clothes, which can include green sparkly tops and bright pink velour jumpsuits.
While Vanessa and Lizzie are the only musicians in their immediate family, they had a great aunt who was a concert pianist and they grew up in a home where life was lived to a “soundtrack.”
“Growing up, there was music playing constantly in our house. And music from all different eras,” she added. “So, I guess that’s where the love came from.”
“Yeah, I never remember a time in the house where there was silence,” Vanessa added. “There was always something playing in the background, where it be gospel or Elvis or Janis Joplin.”
Whimsical on the outside, the Big Hair Girls are all business when it comes to the act, admitting they had to shed a good friend from the group when it became clear she wasn’t prepared to make the group a priority.
“Basically, we had to cut it down to the essence,” said Vanessa.
Two most commonly asked questions
Among the questions the ladies get asked most often is whether they are twins – they aren’t – and whether their hair is real – it is.
“We’re just regular sisters,” said Vanessa. “Half the community thinks we’re twins. Even people who have known us for years are like, ‘You guys aren’t twins?’ ”
“We’re play twins,” Lizzie chimed in. “It’s a letdown for some people, and some people just don’t believe us.”
And while they don’t mind the questions about their hair, they implore people not to touch it.
“We’ve actually had people try to run their fingers through our hair, and that’s a bit much,” Lizzie said, referring to their curly ‘fro-like manes.
This month, the act will travel to Los Angeles to record the first Big Hair Girls project “with an eye towards putting it together as a package as an EP,” Vanessa said. “Our target release date is October or November.”
With the help of that EP, the Big Hair Girls next plan to shop themselves around the industry for a recording contract.
Their ultimate goal?
“World domination,” said Lizzie. “That’s pretty much it.”
To keep up with future Big Hair projects and upcoming shows, visit BigHairGirls.com.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.