Facial hair has been around since the dawn of puberty and believe it not, growing a robust mouth mitten is something that we men do naturally--like peeing upright and the ability to sleep on one fourth of the bed. Personally, I’ve had a mustache for nearly three years and yet I still feel like a noob in the facial hairarchy.--- This is because I like to think of my 'stache as an homage to some of history’s greatest achievers: Mark Spitz, Nietzsche, Gene Shalit, Ron Jeremy, Mike Ditka -- every last one of them sported facial hair like a champ.
Now, the best things about joining history’s elite isn’t the joy of strangers referring to you as “his excellence,” or the ability to grow your own balaclava; it’s deeper than that. There’s an unspoken bond between all of us. We exchange courtesy nods in passing. We give each other deals on new tires, grain and fishing equipment. But best of all, we naturally gravitate to one another like a herd of 12-point bucks. It’s true. So, it makes perfect sense that here in Salt Lake City there’s a local chapter of beard and mustache enthusiasts. They’re called the Utah Beardsman Alliance and I’ve always wanted to meet up with this crew. However, I never thought that when this day actually came they’d all be wearing dresses.
OK, I’ll admit the title of this story is a bit misleading but there are some women in this group.When I met up with the Alliance last Thursday in Liberty Park, they were dressed as female hobbits for a good cause: breast cancer. Draped in their wife’s finest, these men of men were participating in a photo shoot for the annual Beards For Breasts Calendar competition. “We enjoy doing charity work,” said Todd Butler, lead beard of the Beardsman Alliance. “I mean typically, yeah, we like to sit around, grow beards, talk about beards, drink beer and do guy stuff, but we also like to get out and give back to the community as much as possible.”
The Alliance started as small Facebook group a couple of years ago and is now an army of beards with 135 members. There are no dues to join and you don't even need facial hair; rather, the focus of the “Alliance” is to bring like-minded people together … and also to win beard competitions. “Yeah, we took home a second and a third at the Bourbon House Mustache and Beard competition,” pointed out Butler. “We’d like to do as many of these as possible and then donate that money back to charity.”
There is probably a market for calendars like this.
The Utah Beardsman Alliance is part of Beard Team USA, which is the official league, so to speak, for the competitive U.S. beard teams. For the unaware, these beard competitions are insane. The “sport” is called Bearding and many of the contestants involved will travel the world just to compare beards, with other men, for money. The following trailer for the IFC show Whisker Wars sums it up nicely:
While I was hanging out with the bearded drag queens, I figured I would hop on the opportunity to learn a little more about growing and maintaining a good beard-battered face. Here’s what I found out:
1. You can literally train a beard. Like a stubborn puppy, your beard won’t grow up to be a champion without a little discipline. After your mustache has grown to sufficient length, you should use a light wax to get your mustache to sit in a nice, even direction. Do it enough and you’ll look like this guy.
2. Know that growing a beard is fiscally and environmentally responsible. Some people tack it up to laziness; maybe this is true. But cultivating a healthy buffalo lip or a nice full-natural will ultimately save you money and water. I'll let Nick Offerman explain.
3. Despite common belief, beards can keep a man cool. Bic recently posted this on their Facebook page and as you see, men know better than to believe this beard-hating propaganda. “The beard keeps you cool, like a little AC unit,” said Butler. “There’s nothing like getting a nice little breeze flowing through your beard.” Nuff said.
4. Getting food stuck in your beard is a blessing, not a curse. Remember when you had those delicious hot wings a couple of weeks ago? What about those fantastic pulled-pork nachos from Brewvies? Wouldn’t it be great if you could sample that again? The best thing about a beard or 'stache is they can archive all those great flavors. “I get stuff stuck in my beard all the time,” pointed out Butler, “Just the other day I found some potatoes in there.”
5. Even though "scientists" say women aren't attracted to men with facial hair, I call bullshit. Statistically speaking, whenever I shave, my girlfriend looks at me in disgust moreso than when I haven’t shaved. That’s some science you can take to the bank. Plus, there’s a group of chicks in the Beardsman Alliance and they’re not there because they can do this.