The American Mustache Institute’s annual blowout, the ‘Stache Bash, needs a host city, and for the first time the organization dedicated to mustachioed rights has opened it to a public vote.
Portland, already home to an annual mustache pageant and the International Moustache Film Festival (yes, you read that right), is in the running.
“There’s already a pretty decent mustache culture here,” said Dr. Lou Jacobs, director of the New England Bureau of the American Mustache Institute, a Farmington native, a chiropractor, a former Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year finalist and the owner of an impressive handlebar atop his lip.
He’s the driving force behind landing the ‘Stache Bash.
Portland’s competition? Four cities in the U.S., one in Japan.
But it seems Maine’s largest city might just stand a chance.
“[Jacobs and the chapter] have done excellent work in reminding New Englanders of the sexual dynamism associated with accepting a Mustached American lifestyle,” Dr. Abraham Jonas Froman, AMI’s chief executive officer, wrote in an email. “Voting is currently in a dead heat between our Arizona and New England chapters. They have separated themselves from the pack and we expect the event to be hosted in either Portland or Phoenix.”
Before letting your facial hair fly, a few key details.
The very real event “is an awesome party with star power that shows up,” said Jacobs, 39, of Cumberland.
What sort of wattage? In years past, documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, John Oates of Hall and Oates and Milwaukee Brewers’ pitcher John Axford, for starters.
The bash is high silliness — costumes, mustaches fake and true, the anointing of Robert Goulet honors — with a charitable twist: The host chapter will pick a local nonprofit to which to donate money raised through event admission. Jacobs has chosen the Center for Grieving Children.
The seventh annual event, sponsored by Wahl Trimmer, will be held Oct. 27. Chicago hosted last year, a nod to its general mustache-friendliness, Jacobs said.
The American Mustache Institute describes itself as the “ACLU of the downtrodden Mustached American people, making its headquarters in the City of St. Louis, as it is home to the world’s largest mustache — the Gateway Arch.”
AMI is quick to point out that the last mustached U.S. president was William Howard Taft 100 years ago. It has called upon President Barack Obama to stop shaving. He has not. That setback aside, present day is seeing something of a ‘stache renaissance.
“I can’t believe how many I’m seeing around town,” Jacobs said. During Mumford and Sons’ “Gentlemen of the Road” stop last month, “they passed out 8,000 stick-on mustaches.”
Five years ago, Nick Callanan of No Umbrella Media helped found Portland’s Stash Pag. In March, the pageant drew 50 contestants, with the men wowing a crowd of 600. Categories included The Magnum P.I. and The 1899 Maine Legislature.
Last year’s pageant was followed by the first International Moustache Film Festival, devoted to short, mustache-happy films. Both are on tap for March 2013.
“In Portland, you’ve got a lot of creative people who play with design and the way things look, I think that adds an element to it,” said Callanan, whose Pag name is Bean Sprouts. (Thinking of competing next year? You’ll need a ‘stache name.) “There’s not really anything off the table because it’s not in style.”
Jacobs’ friends reported seeing write-ups on the film festival from as far away as France and India. It goes to his point about Portland’s need to host AMI’s ‘Stache Bash: publicity and notoriety, with a bonus of money to a good cause.
“It’ll bring a lot of fun to the town and help put us on the map even more for being a mustache-friendly city,” he said.
Jacobs, who lost his mother to breast cancer and his father to leukemia, started experimenting with his follicles as a fundraiser for the Cancer Community Center. His third annual Mystache Fights Cancer, a sort of charity grow-a-thon, kicks off Sept. 6.
He is, however, not blinded by his mustache, and acknowledges the built-in hassle — “there’s the crumb factor, the yogurt, the soup, all the things that can get caught up in there” — and a mixed reaction from the opposite sex.
“They’re not especially popular with the ladies,” he said.
His wife has asked him to shave for three years now. But really. He’s the director of the New England Bureau of the American Mustache Institute.
Online voting for the AMI’s Chapter of the Year and host of the 2012 ‘Stache Bash runs until Sept. 3. The winning city will be announced Sept. 4.
“It’s a lot of fun and it will give people who are interested a really great event to attend,” Jacobs said. “It’ll be in October. The next big mustache event isn’t until March.”