We encountered plenty of colorful characters, from a man who stayed up all night crafting his beard to a guy who molded his facial hair into the shape of a birdcage. Consider it the ultimate Movember inspiration.
The National Beard and Moustache Championships took place at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn on Saturday, November 7.
Far away from the glitz of Manhattan, the Kings Theatre is a beautiful, newly restored landmark theater in the Flatbush section of New York City's largest borough.
300 men competed in 18 beard and moustache categories, separated into beard, moustache, and partial beard contestants.
Scott Miller from Chicago competed in the Verti beard category. He uses Clubman creamy wax to style his moustache, which "hardens and looks like wood." It took him about an hour and a half to do.
Craig Keough's lumberjack ensemble matches his full, natural-growth beard.
Alfred Nash's English moustache took four years to grow. "It's only a toddler," he told us. It takes him between an hour and a half and two hours to style it. It was worth it: Nash won in his category.
Nathan "Chops" Johnson hails from Los Angeles and has been competing for 4 years in the sideburns category. It's easy to see where the nickname comes from.
Adam Gazda from Newark, Delaware, has been competing for a year and a half, but only for six months in the freestyle beard category. "I've been going to art school since 4th grade, so it's just kind of a natural thing to do," he told us.
This was only Dave Ray's third facial hair competition. He competed in the full beard and styled moustache categories. It only takes him half an hour to style his beard, and he doesn't use wax, which is yellow and doesn't work on a white beard. "I've even told the wax companies that, and they're all, 'yeah, well, sorry wax is yellow,'" Ray jokingly told us. He uses styling gel instead.
Steffen Rasile competed in the sideburns category. He's been competing for 4 years, but his beard is only a year old.
Harry Holman from Montana competed in the partial beard freestyle category. After winning three times in a local competition in Montana, Holman decided to try his luck in his first national competition.
John Morrow from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, used gel and wax to spike his beard to match his helmet.
Simon Cleveland is a local beard grower and runs the Gotham City Beard Alliance in New York. He competed in the Hungarian mustache category.
Gary Faulkner from Cincinnati, Ohio, competed in the freestyle category. It took him two hours to style his "8-0 beard," in honor of his beloved Cincinnati Bengals.
Dennis Dickenson paired his beard with a very convincing Colonel Sanders outfit. He told us he also sometimes dresses as Mark Twain for events and competitions, but Sanders gets a better crowd response.
James McMahon pairs his musketeer beard with an appropriate outfit. He's been competing in national competitions for three years, coming in second last year. He limits himself to about an hour styling in the morning. "I try to limit myself to an hour, because after an hour it just gets worse, actually," he told us. "You just overstyle."
Chris Bates from Detroit, Michigan, was competing in his very first national competition after entering two locals. His entered the full beard and mustache, custom category, which means you can't shave or trim. " started it at about 11 [p.m.] in Detroit and flew here at 5 [a.m.]," he told us. "We haven't been to bed yet."
M.J. Johnson from Minneapolis, Minnesota, competed in his fourth nationals in Brooklyn with this incredible Imperial partial beard. He told us that it's earned him the nickname "the human werewolf." He doesn't use wax, instead opting for a super-strong hairspray. He gets his picture taken so often, he wears red sunglasses to combat the camera flash.
The winner overall, however, was Eric Brooks and his birdcage beard. His prize was a free trip to next year's championships. His showing was even more impressive considering entrants are banned from using fake hair.