Last weekend we went to the World Beard & Moustache Championships on Brighton beach. This annual competition draws men from all over the world and aims to encourage standards of excellence in the growth, design and presentation of facial hair. To get the scoop on the pogonophilic circuit we spoke to Jack Passion, a 23-year-old American who was just crowned natural beard champion of the world.
Vice: How does it feel to have the best beard in the world?
Jack Passion: I feel about the same, but it's a huge relief to be validated and official about it now. However, people seem a lot less interested when you tell them you're first in the world. When I was third, they seemed to believe it more. Aside from that, though, I'm very happy and proud of myself.
Do you go through any particular preparation?
For months leading up to the competition I took extra care with the beard, brushing it gently, conditioning it, clipping split ends and keeping it wrapped up when I was in wind.
Why did you grow the beard in the first place? Is it extreme laziness, a style thing or do the ladies love it?
I grew the beard not thinking I was going to grow a beard. I had always had big sideburns, and the thing with facial hair is that you always grow out the beard first and then shave it down to whatever style you want. I was going to shave it back into sideburns, but the beard came in so huge and fast and ginger, that I had no choice but to rock it. Beards are the shit, and I had a good one. After a while, it just became such a conversation piece, so I kept it. It's definitely not laziness. I spend way too much time on it or fussing with it to be lazy. And the ladies... after they get over the ticklish first minute or two, then I'd say they love it. I don't know, I mean what do you think of it?
It's impressive. It must get you a lot of attention.
Yeah. I get it a lot. Mostly I get asked how long I've been growing it, which I'm fine answering. Sometimes my friends and I forget that there aren't many beards this long, and if there are, they sure aren't on some guy as young as me. The only public attention thing I don't like is the brainless who just shout out "ZZ Top!"
Do you get beard groupies?
There are definitely beard groupies. They're either whores who want to cross "Bearded Man" off their list, or genuine pogonophiles who love beards and want to get lost in that face bush. I love them both. But neither are into the "man behind the beard," so just like music groupies, you have to use discretion.
One last thing: any tips for guys out there wanting to cultivate an award winning beard?
Don't listen to a God damn thing anybody says: just grow it. You can't decide if you like it unless it's at least three months old. If it's not you, then hey, shave it. It's a unique part of man-ness that one should experience at least once in their life.