Bearded & Tschorn: Jack Passion tapped to be the man behind the microphone for Bend's battle of the bearded
The face of this summer's first-ever Beard Team USA National Beard & Moustache Championships in Bend, Ore., on June 5, is starting to take shape, with registration now open for competitors (591 slots were available as of this writing) and spectator tickets (currently some 4,998) available to members of the general public interested in seeing the world of competitive facial hair up close and in all its hirsute glory.
It looks like a couple of the Golden State's "'stache-thletes" are already on board. Toot Joslin, the Lake Tahoe swimming pool contractor who took top honors in the sideburns/muttonchop category at the 2009 World Beard and Moustache Championships in Anchorage in May, is on the schedule to host a beard and mustache styling clinic the morning of the competition.
Perhaps the biggest surprise (well, to those of us who follow such things) has to do with the whiskered wunderkind of Walnut Creek, two-time WBMC full beard natural champion Jack Passion (whom we profiled in advance of last year's battle of the bearded).
"I am going to Bend," Passion told us in a phone conversation last week. "But I am not competing."
Instead, Passion said he'll be serving as master of ceremonies for the event.
He explained that taking himself out of the competition was a political consideration. "This event's being organized by Beard Team USA," he said. "And since I've been a visible and high-profile member of the team for awhile, I thought it would look bad if I went to Bend and ended up winning." (Indeed, "The Facial Hair Handbook: Every Man's Guide to Growing and Grooming Great Facial Hair," which Passion self-published last year, includes a foreword by BTUSA's captain Phil Olsen, who notes that "passion is to the sport of bearding, what Tiger Woods is to the sport of golf.")Passion makes it clear he's not hanging up his competitive beard comb for good, though. The whiskered wonder of Walnut Creek has his sights set on the 2011 WBMC in Trondheim, Norway. In the meantime he says he's been enjoying the "off-season" "sitting in a lot of hot tubs and putting on a little weight" and working on a second edition of his handbook, which he says has sold a couple thousand copies to date.
While much of the basic information can almost certainly be gleaned elsewhere -- either from other books or by trolling the Internet -- what "The Facial Hair Handbook" has that no other tonsorial tome can ever match (yet, anyway) is a proven track record -- that beard ("Big Red" as Passion calls it) has won two international competitions (and placed third in another).
So, when he suggests giving the beard a warm jojoba oil treatment, or serves up maxims like Passion's 1st Law of Facial Hair ("Healthy Man, Healthy Beard"), it seems to carry some weight.
Besides, the guy's got swagger in spades -- in person he comes across like some kind of red-bearded satyr -- and that attitude comes through on the pages.
That makes the book a fun read -- even if your aspirations for facial adornment never move beyond the milk-mustache phase.
-- Adam Tschorn
Photos: Toot Joslin, left, and Jack Passion, right, on stage at the 2009 World Beard & Moustache Championships in Anchorage on May 23, 2009. Both men are slated to be part of the first-ever nationwide facial hair competition organized by Beard Team USA, scheduled to take place in Bend, Ore., on June 5. Credit: Michael Dinneen / For The Times.