Vapor trails of Aqua Net wafted through the air at Cafe Hon on 36th Street yesterday, and the place was a riot of canary-yellow Lycra and lizard-green Spandex, shimmering two-foot beehive hairdos and leopard-print shirts with fox-fur collars.
The occasion was the filming of two live shots for the new UPN talk show, On-Air with Ryan Seacrest, and it gave all of America an up-close-and-personal look at the "Hampden Hon" lifestyle.
FOR THE RECORD - Because of an editing error, an article in yesterday's Today section about a local taping of segments for the On-Air with Ryan Seacrest show incorrectly identified the channel number for television station WUTB. It is Channel 24.
The Sun regrets the error.
You wonder if all of America will ever recover.
Actually, since Baltimore often makes the national airwaves for such pleasant topics as its murder and drug addiction rates, a fun glimpse at the retro "hon" look of big hair and loud clothes was definitely a step in the right direction, image-wise.
Comedienne and actress Kym E. Whitley - you can see her in the Ben Stiller-Jennifer Anniston film Along Came Polly - handled On-Air's emcee duties, even going so far as to find her "inner hon" by donning a flaming-red column of fake hair and a hot pink jacket.
"The higher the hair, the closer to heaven," is the hon mantra, in which case Whitley was definitely walking with the angels and being serenaded by cherubs.
Including the wait staff at Cafe Hon, about a dozen hons were in attendance for the live shots, including Susannah Siger, owner of the Oh! Said Rose and Ma Petite Shoe shops in Hampden, who sported a pink flamingo hat atop her three-story-high 'do.
With her mod-orange mini-wrap skirt, green tights, purple boots and green sweater, Siger lit up the restaurant, and probably could have lit up the runway at BWI at night.
"I have my hopes of getting air-time with Ryan Seacrest," she laughed. If anyone in the background crowd caught the attention of the American Idol hotshot, Siger figured it would be her.
Jackie Garcia of Hampden was the unofficial winner of the Most Teased Hair category, sporting a flip hair-style that jutted out sideways at a 45-degree angle that seemed to defy the laws of gravity.
"I just call it `The Wave,'" she said. "A woman in the area does it. She came to my house today and teased it with a rat-tail comb. Then she sprays and sprays and sprays it ... honestly, there's so much lacquer on it."
Driving to Cafe Hon after the coiffing session, however, Garcia encountered a problem: Her rock-hard 'do was hitting the roof of her Mustang convertible, making it difficult to drive.
But what's a little fender-bender when you have a chance to appear on national TV in full hon regalia?
Not that Garcia seemed terribly interested in seeing herself on the small screen. Although On-Air With Ryan Seacrest would air in just two hours - it's on WUTB UPN Channel 54 at 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays in Baltimore - Garcia said she wouldn't be watching.
"No, we're going drinking," she said with a smile. "With this hair, I'm not going home from here."
The second live shot for On-Air ended with a wonderful surprise for one member of the Cafe Hon audience, Carolyn Holden, a doctor who does drug-prevention research.
A stunned Holden was awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles for her and her husband, Gabriel Holden, to see her entertainment idol, Sheryl Crow, complete with backstage passes.
Then the filming was over and Cafe Hon began to empty, with the hons satisfied that the essential nature of Hondom had been conveyed to a grateful nation.