Bearded & Tschorn: Meet the Bristly Chaps, L.A's mustachioed elite
With the World Beard and Moustache Championships less than a month away, the handicapping has begun in earnest. I spent a wild Tuesday evening with the members of the Bristly Chaps-- the Los Angeles chapter of Beard Team USA -- which was formed in the grizzled afterglow of the 2007 WBMC championships in Brighton, England.
About half a dozen of the Chaps, who convene on an irregular basis at a Culver City haunt called Saints & Sinners Lounge, met earlier this week to finalize their travel plans -- early on someone had floated the idea of driving an RV from Los Angeles to Anchorage (where the battle of the beards is taking place on May 23) and documenting the voyage along the way. (And while some plans werediscussed, the Chaps spent more time cheering on the fire-breathing bartenders and booing playlists in the bar's "iPod Tuesday" music extravaganza.)
I tagged along to see if I could get an early read on Southern California's chances of sharing in the bearded and mustachioed glory this time out. What struck me was the large number of handsome and hardy handlebar mustaches (five by my reckoning, and only one full-on beard -- Jess Cron's short beard and styled mustache that gave him a slight Devendra Banhart/Mike Myers-in-"The Love Guru" look.
Adam Scott Paul -- who founded the group with Cron -- told me he thought there were a couple of mustaches that might go the distance. "I think his could do it," Paul said, pointing to professional skateboarder Patrick Melcher, whose thin, thin, red handlebar mustache extends gracefully past each cheekbone and curlicues gracefully near the auditory canal.
Paul also points to a bespectacled, baby-faced 30-year-old named Nick Davis who has a mustache, while perhaps lacking the wingspan of Melcher's, that seems as solid as an architectural truss, a study in perfect symmetry. "And that one has a lot going for it, too," Paul whispered in an almost-reverent tone.
(In speaking with Nick later, it turns out the 'stache is almost as immovable as it looks. He told me he competes in triathlons with it waxed firmly into place.)
A few days later, I mentioned the multiplicity of mustaches to Jack Passion, whose spectacular ginger-colored beard won him the 2007 world title in the "full beard, natural" category. As we ate at a taco truck in an industrial warehouse section of Walnut Creek, Passion's home stamping ground, he nodded his agreement.
"The guys in Los Angeles totally have the mustache locked down," he said. "Coming out of L.A. you've got to rock the 'stache in style." (True, L.A.-based musician Alex Antebi won in the Imperial category in 2007, but he says he may not make it this time as he's been recording a new album in London with his band Conquistador.)
So as long as the Bristly Chaps steer clear of the fire-breathing bartender between now and the time they leave for Anchorage (Paul told me about a mustache-bearing, fire-breathing barkeep from Saints & Sinners who lost his and suffered third-degree burns) there's a good chance their stiff upper lips could bring mustache glory and bragging rights to Los Angeles.
And if not, we'll still be able to claim the '70s-era porn 'stache as our very own.
-- Adam Tschorn
Photo: Bristly Chaps, from left,Josh Spencer, Adam Scott Paul and Patrick Melcher at Saints & Sinners on Tuesday. They will be among the contestants competing in the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Anchorage on May 23. Credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times