Facial hair fanatics share their stories of personal growth

Francis Sargenti. (Photo by Carrie Jones Ross)

Francis Sargenti. (Photo by Carrie Jones Ross)

Fellas: To groom … or not to groom? Whereas the ’90s Grunge look was once assembled as carelessly as my editor’s desk pile on deadline day, hipster men and your every day man on the street all now seem to be carefully cultivating a look formerly associated with aging lumberjacks and overweight hillbillies and professional wrestlers. Beards. Trimmed. Bushy. Groomed. Shaggy. Some men seem blissfully unaware that they have even grown two weeks’ worth of facial hair and now look like the beard Czar. Others painstakingly hone it, with the help of professional stylists to complement their facial shape and complexion.

Scenario One: The Ivan the Terrible beard

“In 1987 after high school, I was working a construction job during the summer,” said Ivan “Baron Ivan Ivanov Syn Dimitriov Vynuk Tzardikov” Nosenchuck of Connelly, a Society of Creative Anachronism re-enactor. “Rather than have my face break out shaving, and working on a construction site, I just decided not to shave. Twenty-five or more years later I’ve never shaved my beard off at any time, for any reason. My wife, who I met 23 years ago, has never seen me without facial hair and still to this day loves the way it looks.” Nosenchuck reports that he trims it and keeps it groomed — even using shampoo on his beard daily and the occasional styling mustache wax.

The winds of fashion may blow hither and yon, but Nosenchuck is rock-solid in his bond with his beard. “I have no plans at anytime to shave it off … It has gotten braided for SCA events. My wife does that for me. I’ve never really thought about what kind of ‘look’ it gives me. It’s who I am, and it’s who I’ve looked at in the mirror for the past quarter-century. I enjoy it. There have been no tragic beard accidents or anything.”

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“I love his beard,” said his wife, Christin “Mathilde DeCadenet” Pardy-Nosenchuck. “I think it is such a part of who he is that I cannot imagine him without it. I think the beard accentuates his Rus persona and finishes the look. He rocks it.”

Scenario Two: Facial Hair Infamy  

“I was thinking of creating a Facebook page for it because wherever I go or travel, I have a lot of people asking to take their pictures taken with me, because of my mustache,” said Kevin Goveia of his notorious soup-strainer, self-described as a “huge, gnarly, curly, handlebar mustache.” Goveia added, “I was going to make a card so whenever someone would ask me to take a picture of me with my mustache, they could ‘tag’ my mustache, and wherever I traveled my mustache would be known, like the roaming gnome.”  Goveia, a Kingston resident, sports a large handlebar with curls, in a full circle —something which draws intense envy and fetches the eye of many casual passer-bys. “[My girlfriend] does love it, but she gets jealous and annoyed by it. She’s pretty striking too, so when we go out it gets all the attention. She says it gives me a big head.”

Goveia uses Murray’s Pomade — “thick waxy stuff, and I use gobs of it” — as regular mustache wax is simply not enough to handle the famed handlebar. Goveia substitute-teaches in a public school and teaches after-school programs; he said the mustache serves as an ice-breaker. “Usually, when I walk into a school, I get stares and snickering,” he said. “Kids don’t know how to take it but they are curious about it. It makes you stand out from the rest of the teachers. I have had it for three and a half years, and I have noticed almost a complete turnaround. When I first had it, it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously, and almost no one appreciating it, and when it was, it was only guys. Now, I guess with maybe the hipster culture, there’s a modern embracement of facial hair. I still get strange looks but a lot more people saying it’s awesome. I don’t know if I can really take it off —it’s become such a part of me. I was working somewhere, and they were contemplating not letting me keep my mustache, but if they were to have told me that I couldn’t have my mustache, I don’t think I would have worked there.”

Scenario Three: “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work.” 

Ross MacAvoy of Lake Katrine said he grows his beard out once a year for football season. Not in efforts to keep his face warm and protected from chilly autumnal temperatures and diminishing sunlight, he pointed out, but rather, for good luck for the New York Jets to win. (So far, results have been mixed.) “I just want to see them win so bad,” he said, “And I might jinx it by shaving.” MacAvoy didn’t want to go further into it, however he alluded that he “might” have also grown his facial hair out in his college days to ensure his girlfriend’s golf team’s success. MacAvoy said he also nicknamed his beard “Big Red” and was puzzled that more men don’t do the same. Since MacAvoy’s beard is bright rusty red, and often catches crumbs and dribbles, his friends call him “Red Bread Beard” — a cruel taunt and social sacrifice he said he is willing to live with to see his favorite team win.

Scenario Four: Just Can’t Bother     

Uptown, The Art Riot store owner and artist Matt Pleva said he can’t be bothered to shave his large, bushy growth. “I have had a beard since my junior year of high school,” he said. “I have never been cleanly shaved. My dad has a beard too. It hides a multitude of sins.” Pleva said it kinda chaps him to see the beard rising and falling in contemporary culture, but he now comfortably feels as though “the beard has run its course” — a fact which pleases him. “When I have so many people wishing to grow a beard like mine, I don’t see the point. I’m lazy. It’s just easier.”

Slideshow image: Kevin Goveia.

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