First came those notorious ''outing'' posters 11''-by-7'' photos of celebs labeled ''absolutely queer'' and anonymously tacked up around Manhattan. Now the more devastating truth has come out ''balding'' posters, inspired parodies of investigative journalism, entertainment division. The posters are a collaborative effort by trade-magazine writer Ed Leibowitz, 27, and graphic designer Lorraine Heffernan, 27, who put their heads together to create a series of six ''outing''-like signs. The two then posted them on walls and lampposts around lower Manhattan. (There are no plans yet for a national rug-rollback campaign.)
According to the ''Baldweek Manifesto,'' the creators seek to ''wrest the toupees from the chrome domes of America's leading celebrities.'' Their placards present doctored black-and-white photos of six famous suspiciously coiffed gents (Charles Bronson, Ted Danson, Larry Hagman, Joe Namath, William Shatner, and John Wayne), along with the shocking implication that they may be yes! sporting rugs. ''The ideal in our culture, especially in Hollywood, is an 18-year-old with good skin and a full head of hair,'' Leibowitz says. ''There are a lot of people in the world besides that, and I think they should have representation in the media.''
Did he know for sure that his subjects were shineheads? Not exactly, admits Leibowitz, who also says, ''I'm not bald yet, but I probably will be.'' However, he did do some educated guessing. Meanwhile, things have gotten hairy for the hoaxer: Danson's spokesman insists that the Cheers star is not a mane-less man. And Leibowitz received an angry call from Bronson's publicist, who also issued a statement from Bronson testifying to his non-baldness and threatening legal action (a hirsuit?) unless a retraction is made. ''It was supposed to be a good-natured poke,'' Leibowitz says. ''I guess they didn't take it that way.''