Thirty-three-year-old Pompano Beach resident Gasmy Joseph wears a supertall Mohawk. About a year ago, an epiphany struck when he wanted to spread the word about a buddy's birthday party: Why not advertise it on the hairdo?
In terms of innovation, Thomas Edison's light bulb now looks like a piece of infomercial junk. "Mohawk Gaz," as our hero is nicknamed, had an airbrush artist spray the date and theme — "Rozay," for the pink wine — on his 'hawk.
That was just the beginning. Joseph soon began offering his hair whenever buddies needed promotion. He airbrushed "Hit Em in the Mouth Thursdays" for a Florida Atlantic University comedy night. He painted "For Rent $500." A health-food catering company called Deliver Lean has sent him to Florida Panthers and Miami Heat games with its brand plastered on his head.
"It's been tremendous marketing," says Scott Harris, founder of the company. "It's great exposure, and it's never been done before."
A freelance videographer by day, Joseph seems to still be working out his economic model. So far, all of his ads have been pro bono for friends, but he's looking for paying clients. That's why he set up a website: mohawkads.com.
And his follicle art is often purely for creative purposes. He's done the Mona Lisa and the Miami Heat logo. During the NBA lockout, he painted his coif like a basketball backboard and attached a plastic hoop. In an especially meta experiment, he donned a portrait of himself that featured a miniature portrait on the Mohawk, and inside that yet another — on and on ad infinitum.
In April, he showed up at Bayfront Park Amphitheater for the Trayvon Martin memorial. On one side of his Mohawk was a portrait of the kid in a hoodie; on the other, the hashtag #Trayvon. Reuters and Getty photographers snapped him, and Joseph's image was featured in newspapers and websites around the world the next day.
So what's the next thing he'll paint on his hair? Says Joseph: "I might do the New Times."