Local fashion notable Purple Mark's obsession with wearing rainbow tones sprang from a dozing session in a patch of sun, as the rays illuminated the red of his eyelids: "Your vision attempts to correct this color to white, and some hair had fallen across my eyes, so when I opened them, my hair appeared bright green. I thought to myself: 'I'm gonna do that.'" Mark culled garments from secondhand shops like Value Village, Buffalo Exchange, Goodwill, and Pretty Parlor to gradually build a specialty wardrobe made of synthesizer music and flowers' souls, and never looked back: He's been neon for 20 years.
His outfits communicate a fairly direct message, and on an ordinary Tuesday afternoon, he's wearing a sponge-yellow beret, slim-fit margarine-yellow jeans, a short-sleeve button-up cartoon-yellow shirt, foam-insulation-yellow wingtips, egg-yolk-yellow earrings, and gasoline-yellow painted fingernails. Everywhere in his Capitol Hill apartment are colorful stacks of colorful clothes, colorful shoes, and colorful jewelry. "If I'm gonna do the color, I'm gonna go all the way with the color," he says. And this sometimes involves wearing a floor-length coat of thick velvet in the middle of summer, which gets hot as shit: "I just withstand it. I force my brain to focus on other things." He also dyes his hair, beard, mustache, sideburns, and eyebrows to correspond with the month's chosen palette, as well as his arm and leg hair. For this last set, Mark applies the dye with a toothbrush, bakes it in using a hair dryer and a twirling motion, and after, he'll scrape away any stained skin with a pumice stone. The total-body dye ritual takes about four hours, and biweekly sprinklings of two-hour upkeep sessions ensure "the fullest vibrancy possible."
What else. Mark is a milliner, a writer of wizard's spells, and a chocolatier. He also collects exotic insects mounted in frames, including a pair of giant moths and a giant brown spider that appears perfectly alive, ready to tiptoe from its glass box before darting erratically across the room, up my body, and about my face and head, perhaps, before settling into my mouth. "This is the kind that eats birds," Mark says, pulling it from the wall. "Its hair is really pretty, actually, but you have to look close. It's kind of a purplish-blue color," he says, and we examine the downy outer layer with a flashlight. It turns out he's right.
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