When you think of the term Greaser, most people would think of the popular musical “Grease” featuring Tom Travolta who plays the header greaser who turns jock at the end of the movie. This movie represented an era in the 1950s and early 1960s where American youths were known as greasers if they looked a certain way and rolled in these types of groups, it was a new sub culture that would last over a decade which paved the way for other types of gangs around the world like the Bosozoku in Japan.
Origins of these Gangs
Greasers were typically working class males or lower class males, and they came from ethnic backgrounds. Not the ethnic backgrounds that may come to mind first, but Italians, Greek, more Mediterranean people.
The term Greaser was almost used as a slur or derogatory phrase to label this working class males, as a lot of them worked as mechanics and were always covered in grease. This term would represent this type of gang perfectly, as these gangs were always into hots rods and motorcycles.
What did Greasers Wear
One of the most recognizable and iconic looks of the greasers was the greased back hairstyles that they would sport using a greasy pomade or gel. They would carry a comb with them everywhere as this hairstyle would frequently require shaping and maintaining.
Greaser hairstyles would typically be based off early rock n roll and rockabilly performers like Elvis, they would sport the Folsom, pomp, elephants truck, and ducks ass, girl greasers would rock the backcombed coiffed or teased hair.
Male greasers had an iconic look, they would typically wear dark slacks or dark blue Levis for bottoms. On their feet they would either wear a type of work boot or combat boots, you can also catch them wearing chuck Taylor all stars or dress shoes.
Like most street gangs, greasers would sometimes represent their gangs by showing the logo on the back of a leather jacket or denim jacket, similar to how motorcycle clubs have patches on the backs of their vests.
What kind of Cars did Greasers Drive?
Most greasers were in the 1950s and 1960s were labelled as grease monkeys as they were usually mechanics.
Greasers tended to be big car guys and were always building hot rods.
Some typical cars greasers would drive were in the popular movie Grease. These included:
- 1948 Studebaker Commander Regal
- 1949 Dodge Wayfarer
- 1949 Mercury Custom
- 1948 Ford De Luxe Convertible
Greasers would modify these types of vehicles and turn them into Hot Rods.
Greaser impact on Pop Culture
The greaser subculture has made a lasting impact on popular culture, just like other types fo street gangs.
Greasers have been shown in television and movies, like Grease, Rebel Without a Cause, The Wild One and The Outsiders.
Popular characters like “Fonzie” from Happy Cars was a portrayal of a stereotypical Italian American Greaser, who wore a leather jacket, pressed denim jeans and slicked back hair. He was a mechanic which also fed into the Greaser persona.
Greaser culture has made a resurgence back into pop culture with shows like Riverdale.
Greaser Gang Names
Greasers were found in a lot of large cities like Chicago and New York.
For a comprehensive list of greaser clubs click here.