RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.
*Written in 2014.
Being that I am a pretty outspoken guy on manly issues and manly facial hair, I am often times asked about my thoughts on competitive bearding. Well, I can’t really sum up my opinion and thoughts about it in a quick and easy answer, so I figured that I would write about it.
To start, I’m all for men showing off their awesome facial locks. Look at Germany’s Willi Chevalier, who is a multiple competitive bearding champion. He grows some awesome foliage, maintains it nicely and transforms it into a manly work of art on a consistent basis. There is no question that a lot of time and effort and most importantly, artistic talent goes into his creations.
But then you get lazy fucks like America’s Jack Passion, who has also won a ton of bearding competitions for his long flowing face mane. Why do I call him a “lazy fuck”? Well because he just grew a really long beard. Yes, it is well-kempt and the amount of time it took to grow was probably years but at the end of the day, it is just a long beard and it isn’t that intimidating or manly or even remotely badass.
What I see is a guy who hibernated in a basement for a few years, woke up with some long locks attached to his face, figured he might as well run some Pantene Pro-V Sheer Volume through it and then decided that it was good enough to go and try to make money off of it because he obviously didn’t have a real job. There is nothing artistic or inspiring about Jack Passion’s long beard and even considering him to be in the same ballpark as Chevalier is a slap in the face of true beard and mustache artisans.
The reason why I am pointing to Jack Passion, is because he was the primary focal point of the IFC show Whisker Wars. He was also the guy that many competitive bearders in America wanted to usurp. From what I gathered from other people on the show, Jack Passion is a big douchebag. In fact, he always came off as one when he was on screen. But I don’t care so much for his mastery of the art of douchebaggery, I care more about the fact that his prized beard doesn’t impress me.
I must point out that there are different categories in bearding and mustache competitions and the category where Jack Passion thrives, is not in the same category that an artist like Willi Chevalier thrives. And frankly, it is the categories that feature the artistry of bearding that really set my tits on fire. I find someone like Chevalier to be more inspiring and way more badass and manly. There is a powerful old world charm and an authentic sense of craftsmanship in the categories where Chevalier flourishes.
In categories like Full Natural Beard, I just see guys who don’t like to shave. I don’t like to shave. In fact, if I wanted, I could probably enter these competitions and kill it at a local level. If I wanted to get my beard as long as Jack Passion’s, I could probably kick his ass in a global competition. Hell, half of the NHL and the MLB could kick his ass if they wanted to. Male model Ricki Hall would destroy Passion too. In fact, Hall should. But you see, I don’t have as much respect for something that I feel I could do myself quite easily. I respect hard work because it is work and it is hard.
Would I attempt to do what Chevalier does? Hell no! Why? Because I am lazy as fuck too and that would take some serious time, commitment and more passion for the art of bearding than I have time and energy for. And that is why I appreciate Chevalier and his fancy face over Passion and his wool chin sweater. Chevalier does with his facial hair, what most men can only dream of.
Now, where many consider this a sport, I do not. Yes, it is competitive but so is almost everything else in life. Poker is also not a sport. I feel like sports require a person to sweat. Walking around on a stage letting your beard flow in the wind is not a sweaty activity. Unless of course you are at the beach or under hot lights but even then, runway modelling isn’t a sport either.
What competitive bearding is, is art. Or that is what it should be viewed as. Unless of course, you just grew a long beard and the most effort you put into your appearance is renting a top hat.
So essentially, there are things I love and respect about competitive bearding but there are also parts of it that I think are a big waste of time and distract from the artistic side of it.
Yes, I appreciate a good long beard. But no matter how long, full and nice it looks, it will never grab my attention like an original Chevalier masterpiece.