One barefoot Joplin-lover makes bellbottoms, ‘Hair’ and music a way of life

Theresa Bruskin

Don’t be fooled by Austin Chilton’s bare feet, dreadlocked hair and peace sign necklace, which make him look like the quintessential hippie. There’s more to this sophomore theatre student’s fashion choices than meets the eye.

“People look a lot at the way you dress and the way you look,” he said. “Dreds are from Rastafarianism. It’s not something that was created in the ’60s and for the hippies.”

He said he tries to stay away from labels, not just with hippies, but he knows when he wears tie-dye sometimes, people judge him on his appearance.

“It’s hard not to look at someone and come up with this judgment, he said. “I think everyone, to some extent, does that, looking past their words in general and looking more at the people.”

He said he has tie-dyed some of his own shirts, while others were purchased at thrift stores or given to him by friends.

“It’s just a piece of clothing, it’s not glorified in any way,” he said. “It’s just a shirt.”

Chilton said he often goes barefoot because he had flat feet when he was young and shoes hurt his feet. It’s more comfortable for him to not wear shoes.

He got his bellbottoms from the costume shop after he performed in the musical “Hair” in February.

“They were going to throw them away, so I thought I’d keep them,” he said. “I’m a college student, so I’m poor and don’t get to buy clothes very often.”

Chilton said he listens to music from the ’60s like Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix,

Melanie Safka, The Doors and The Beatles.

“What really gets you into music? You hear a song and you go, ‘wow, that speaks to me.'”

He said he chooses music to listen to because it’s what he likes, not because it fits with a certain image he’s trying to present.

“It’s more people thinking that they are figuring out something about me by my music than me defining myself,” he said. “Innately, I am this person who likes Janis Joplin.”

Theresa Bruskin