The sisters, who were back-up singers for Blondie at the time, would travel to England and bring back suitcases filled with vintage accessories, clothing and colourful hair dye to sell. With only $250 to their names, they opened their punk boutique, Manic Panic NYC, in 1977 in St. Mark’s Place. The store quickly gained cult status, becoming a hotspot for New York’s creatives. Bands like The Cramps and Ramones would drop in to stock up on stage attire before performing at nearby clubs like CBGB and Max’s Kansas City. Tish and Snooky describe it as a riotous time, when the East Village was just a “barren, desolate wasteland”, but also the perfect breeding ground for creativity. The brand’s popularity continued to grow and eventually the hair dye took centre stage, with Manic Panic going on to become one of the world’s leading creative colour brands.
Partners in crime in every sense, Tish and Snooky truly embody the punk attitude which has set the Manic Panic brand apart since its birth in the heyday of punk. They still wear their hair in an ever-changing rainbow of Manic Panic colours, “we’re the guinea pigs for all the new colours” Tish jokes. When they are not working on maintaining their hair empire, they perform with their punk rock band the Sic F*cks. INFRINGE met the duo at Manic Panic HQ in Long Island to talk about the origins of this cult brand.
Where did the name ‘Manic Panic’ originate from? Tish: Our mother was working as an art therapist at a psychiatric hospital. Some of the patients used to go into a state called a ‘manic panic’. She said “well, isn’t that a great name for your store?!”