San Antonio’s first Battle of the Beards is on schedule to present awards in seven facial-hair categories Saturday night. The contest for the best beards, mustachios, and even women’s beards is all for a good cause.
The credo of the Alamo Beard Club is: Fraternity, Community, and Charity... and promoting facial hair.
“It was a dark, stormy night right in that room right there. Yeah, the back room at the Friendly Spot," said Kevin Martin, who was talking about the inaugural meeting in June. Beard clubs are popping up all over the world, and the San Antonio group is hoping to give the Austin club a run for its money with its Battle of the Beards this weekend.
“This is not a competition or a feud with Austin," said Martin. "They want neither. Austin embraced me when I first moved here. I went to a competition there. And they are a club we look up to. They have 1,500 people show up for their contest. And Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top was a judge. And this is their 7th year doing a contest. So they’re ahead of us.”
Battle of the Beards is Saturday night at the 502 Bar, which is "basically a beauty pageant for facial hair; and for creativity, and for spirit,” said Martin.
A proper beard requires proper care
There’s a lot more to sporting a beard than meets the eye. The women are the first to tell you their guys have lots of beard products. Eva Ruth Moravec says there’s a maintenance routine involved.
“He does have rituals," said Moravec of her boyfriend. "He uses apple cider vinegar and he brushes it. I found a large green bowl in the bathroom the other day, and I’m like, ‘What is this?’ And apparently he uses that to dip the beard into the apple cider vinegar.”
“All of us use conditioners and oils and we take care of our face," continues Martin on the pampering of the facial locks, "and that’s important because there’s skin underneath there and it doesn’t see the light of day. I mean, mine’s soft. I don’t have any issues with it. You know, Andy turned me onto an oil that I went to Whole Foods and found and it saved my life. I haven’t had, like, dry skin in a month.”
The guys say they’re not into a counter-culture movement, there’s just the common bond among the men, and although Tyler Lutz said they all come from different walks of life – there seems to be a common thread.
"I feel like everyone’s very creative," said Lutz. "We have a glassblower, a metal worker, a digital artist, a photographer, musicians."
The Bearded Women
Many of the women support the men by entering the contest themselves.
“The women I’ve talked to this week that are going to compete are all sort of choosing a beard they want to create that represents who they are or what they do,” Martin said.
“I’m making a beard out of old film canisters and film. Like unused film,” said Jennifer Whitney, a photographer. “I’ve been considering the logistics and I’ve come up with a few different ideas. But I think to start with, I’m going to string the canisters on a string and then pull the tongues out. And then cut the tongues into really small strips and then curl the strips,” Whitney said.
Crissy Baker is entering the contest with a fake beard to match her hair and said that sometimes, boyfriend Tyler’s beard gets a little wild.
"When he met Kevin, they were so excited because they each had similar pictures on their Facebook pages. And they were like, ‘I put Christmas lights in my beard, too!'" Baker said.
Bearding for a Cause
Though the event is going to be fun, the guys are still just doing this for charity. With a full, bushy, red beard, Andrew Diehl plans to be a free-form contestant and says the club is donating its proceeds to the Westside Dog Initiative, a group started last year to bring responsible pet owner information to an area where many dogs roam the streets.
“We talked to folks and found out who in San Antonio was in the most need and could use the most support. And we decided to go with the underdog just to be able to help them get their feet on the ground,” Diehl said.
Next month the club plans a benefit for prostate cancer research.
Contestants will compete in seven categories – full beard, mustachio, best groomed, goatee, freestyle, partial beard, and the women’s division. The winner of each category will compete for the Best of Show Grand Prize.