Bruce Hagen of Paradise has been honored in a way few Americans have ever been—he took second place in the natural-beard and styled-mustache category of the World Beard and Moustache Championships (www.worldbeardchampionships.com), held a few weeks ago in Carson City, Nev. The international competition, known to some as “The Olympics of Facial Hair,” has been dominated by Europeans since its inception in the 1980s. This was the first year the contest was held in the United States, where interest in the event is apparently growing. Hagen, who hopes to attend the 2005 contest in Berlin, urges anyone interested in joining a local beard and mustache club to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When did you start growing your beard?
35 years ago. I’ve always kept it much shorter than this, probably an inch or two shorter. When I found out about the contest I thought, ‘Well, I’m just going to let my beard go, and then a week or two before, decide what I want to do with it.’
What did you wear?
It was sort of a pirate’s outfit—the red vest and the black satin pants. I had a black cape I used, too.
So some of this is just an excuse to be silly.
[Laughs.] The Germans wouldn’t want to describe it that way. We hear from the British that the Germans take it very seriously, but then we also hear that it’s very tongue in cheek. But everyone was having so much fun, and we were cheering on everybody. There’s a lot of humor that goes into it.
Were you intimidated by the competition?
No, I wasn’t intimidated. I was just like, ‘Man, how do you do that?’ You know, we were asking each other, ‘What do you use?’ and this sort of thing. One of the guys who’d taken a first place, I went into his hotel room and into his bathroom and it was like a laboratory. I said, ‘What are you doing in here?’ He had the reds and the greens and the blues … and then he had these sheets of beeswax over here, and the little hot plate here because you’d melt the beeswax and then add a little of this mustache wax, and some of this … It’s like, the science and the stuff these guys get into is really funny.
Was there any talk of mustache rides?
[Laughs.] No. Nobody mentioned anything about that. I think some of these would be probably pretty difficult to ride, some with the spikes and everything coming out. There was another guy there who had his mustache just coming out straight in spikes. Yeah, that didn’t come up—maybe at the next championship.