Washington is all abuzz about Ollie North, Republican candidate from Virginia for the U.S. Senate, and his one man effort to get men with hoops out of the loop. Last month the ex-Marine and former National Security Council staffer blasted the White House for being run by "twentysomething kids with an earring."
In fact, only one male staffer at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—Clinton communications aide David Dreyer, 38—occasionally sports a stud (and a tiny one at that). Snapped one young Administration staffer of North's comment: "The hippie, long-hair, Greenpeace, no-military activist crowd don't work here. They worked for Jerry Brown."
Get a grip, gang. These days, studs and hoops plus bolder, dangling earrings adorn the lobes of the rugged as well as the radical. Witness twinkle-eared basketball great Michael Jordan, baseball's David Justice, tennis's Andre Agassi and Argentinian World Cup star Diego Maradona.
Actors Wesley Snipes, Bruce Willis, Rob Morrow, Liam Neeson and Brian Austin Green have taken the piercing plunge, as have singers Bruce Springsteen, George Michael and Michael Bolton. Even senior dudes Ed Bradley, 53, and Quincy Jones, 61, display discreet studs. Actor Ricky Paull Goldin. now on Broadway in Grease, is proud of the three holes in his ears. "Big standoutish earrings are a little more cocky and brazen," he says. "Two hoops in the ear is more rebellious." Explains professor Valerie Steele of Manhattan's Fashion Institute of Technology: "It's no longer feminine, it's no longer gay; it's just a hip thing to do. It's been moving up for the past five years."
Though the look has gone in and out since the days of King Tut, Steele says there hasn't been such an outbreak since the 19th century, when it was believed that pierced ears improved one's eyesight. "That's probably why sailors and pirates wore them," Steele says.
At Gauntlet, a New York City piercing shop, manager Mark Seitchik counts among his clients "everyone from a retired Stale Supreme Court judge to 18-year-old street punks." That's good news for single women, at least according to comedian Rita Rudner. Men with earrings "make great husbands," Rudner says "because they're used to pain and they're used to buying jewelry." Take that, Ollie.