Most girls go gaga for a good beard. The longer, and bushier the better. Hey – I even admit that most of my Tinder swipe lefts are of the furry faced persuasion. Guys love having them, because they can hide behind them (or hide stuff in them). Ron Burgundy and Tom Selleck give a great mustached face, but there is something less pervy uncle and more burly lumberjack about a well groomed beard. Men gain instant sex appeal and credibility once the whiskers and 5’o clock shadows become a full blown beard. But, only the scruffiest manliest men have beards, right? Wrong. Most hipsters, who can grow them, have them these days – along with tattoos and the coolest bicycles. It’s practically a right of passage. Another group of even less manlier men are rocking beards these days – WOMEN!

Bearded ladies have been sideshow attractions in freakshows for years, such as the infamous Josephine Clofullia, Jane Barnell, and Annie Jones of the early 19th century circus circuit. Women who grow natural facial hair often suffer from a hormonal imbalance, usually an androgen excess, poly cystic ovarian syndrome, or a rare genetic disorder called hypertrichosis. Many women are saying fuck electrolysis and waxing, and are now embracing their real beards – face beards and bearded clams alike! By doing this, they challenge beauty standards and societal expectations of what a proper woman should look like. I remember reading about a girl who had a beard by age 11. She was tormented by her peers and even had death threats. She eventually embraced her body hair, and couldn’t be happier, feeling more feminine with it! She will find love because she loves herself. Follow this link to read the full inspirational story of Harnaam Kaur, a young woman who embraces her facial hair.

Then there are the fakers. We wear our whiskers proud, and support charities and women’s rights by becoming beardos. A whiskerina is a female who wears a faux beard. Fake beards are usually crazy and handcrafted monstrosities, made of everything from real human hair or yarn, to moss and flowers or even rubber snakes. Whiskerina competitions started, so that women can have their own voice in the beard competition world, and not just be a side attraction in the male beard world. Watch the story of the First Annual Whiskerina Competition for Breast Cancer Awareness – it’s awesome.

On stage I have done drag for years, and iconic facial hair is a must. I often sport a moustache and 5’oclock shadow, which looks like everybody’s dad. Some other styles I have rocked are the strap on beard (fake hair molded like a beard with a convenient strap that goes around your head that I used for Boobs Ross, my Bob Ross burlesque skit), the sunglasses with dangling mustache, the pencil on (used for the Walter Sobchek chin strap in The Big Lezbowski show I was in), and the most effectively real looking mustache and crepe hair glued to the face with spirit gum. I was even in a music video with my burlesque troupe, The Stripteasers, dedicated to women with moustaches! Check it out here:

I will be competing in an annual beard competition on St. Patrick’s Day at the Essex St Pub in Buffalo, NY. Last year, my friend Melissa Campbell and I arrived at the competition – faces full of fur – and we looked damn fine. We caused a stir just by being there, people didn’t quite know how to handle us. It felt wonderfully empowering. The “real” beards were all very supportive, and gave us great beard stories and advice. It felt like we were allowed into a secret society. Neither of us won, but we were inspired. Because of that fateful day, I now know a little bit more about being a true whiskerina. So, GAME ON BOYS! This year I predict a win for all womankind.

Heed my story. A story of a once vibrant past, a bleak present, and a hope for the future.

Once I was a fresh, baby-faced young lad, with nary a care in the world. I had a nice apartment that I shared with my beautiful girlfriend, I had a great job, and I was going to be happy for the rest of my life. It was a good time for just about everyone in the whole country, as a matter of fact, and for people all over the world. Our cares seemed so far away. Looking back now it’s easy to see it as the calm before the storm. This was ten years ago. This was before the Beards came.

It started to happen here and there, to people you knew. Suddenly your cousin showed up to Easter dinner with a Beard, or one of your co-workers came back from a long weekend with one. Then, soon, they were popping up on the face of nearly every man you’d see. The Beards’ takeover was as meticulously planned and expertly cultivated as the thickets upon the chins of the growing multitudes were not.

I was one of those early casualties. My story, at least its beginning, is like most others’. Leaving a friend’s place one Friday evening after some pleasant after-work drinks, I was approached from a dimly lit alleyway by a mysterious yet authoritative figure. A description of him would have been next to impossible, except to say he seemed to consist only of a long coat, a wide-brimmed hat, and a mane of tangled hair sprouting from between them.

That description proved to be more accurate than I could have possibly imagined, for once he had drawn me into the alley, the coat and hat dropped to the ground, and all that remained was a detached, floating Beard. I tried to scream, but it was already upon my face.

Over the next few months, my life as I knew it began to dissolve. People at my workplace treated me differently, and I was made aware of a strict no facial hair policy that until then I hadn’t known existed. Maybe it didn’t exist until then. The nascent dread of these horrible beings was causing the first hints of what would become a wider-spread panic.

After I lost my job and began walking the streets in search of a new one, I was often mistaken for a homeless man. Which I very nearly became, after the pressure put on my home life reached fever pitch. When my long-time girlfriend left me after I started wearing vests all the time and constantly listened to banjo music.

But, for me to be writing this now, I’ve obviously gotten out from under the Beards’ control. The Beard remained, but control was reversed. I don’t know how or why it happened; if it was through sheer force of will, or that the soul of the Beard inhabiting me withered from lack of attention after I consistently refused to join one of the many facial hair clubs that were now springing up in pubs on every street corner, but suddenly I found myself free.

And what I discovered horrified me. In just a short couple years, the Beards had completely taken over. Lines of bearded men marched the streets and took over parties. The number of outdoor music festivals had exploded exponentially. Wool knit cap and conditioning wax had become the cornerstones of the economy. Craft beer breweries had replaced churches and temples as the premier place of worship. I had awoken in a hairy dystopia.

I was chosen, for whatever reason, to be bearded salvation. To walk the streets among the Beards, unnoticed. To take action against them and all that they’ve come to stand for. A brush-faced vigilante, my beard the feared symbol of the fight against unchecked corruption in the same manner as Gotham’s Bat Signal or McDonaldland’s Grimace Beacon.

So, if you’re reading this and you’d like to join the revolution, look to my Beard. The Beard of the underground, the Beard of the people. Know that together we can lead ourselves out of this dark time, right our path, and send the Beards back to where they belong; the lazy, the unemployed, and the lazy unemployed struggling artist.

Do your part, punch the next guy you see. Punch him right in the Beard.


Photo by Johnny Scott