“The first thing I’ve got to say about beards, is that they grow on you” says Josh T Pearson with a grin. The proudly hirsute songwriter released one of the albums of the year in Last of the Country Gentlemen, but he’s also a two-time competitor at the World Beard and Moustache Championships.
The internationally-recognised event takes place every two years, with the next scheduled for Stuttgart in November 2013. It includes prizes for moustaches including the Dali, Imperial and Hungarian, and beards including the Chinese, Musketeer and Alaskan Whaler. GQ.com sought Pearson’s advice on what it takes to make it in the hairiest of situations:
A good beard takes time.
“My beard is ten years old this month. I’ve had many beards before. I’d grow them for a year and shave them. I’m a handsome man underneath this beard, but I’m an even more handsome man with it. I trim it to keep it at this length. I don’t want to look crazy! Not a lot of girls like ’em, but the ones that do… they’re pretty cool.”
Growing a beard can be a competitive business.
“I went to two World Beard Championships. The first one was 2005 in Berlin. I went in good fun but I did compete. The Germans are really serious about it. The second one I went to was in Brighton in 2007, the year that Nick Cave was judging moustaches.”
Everybody can compete.
“There were 21 categories, from full-beard freestyle to the handlebar moustache category. Length, size, shape, there’s a category for everyone. It was a good lookin’ room. I thought it would be fun to be in a room with a hundred bearded men, and it was! Just to get a picture with all those bearded beauties in one room is worth the flight.”
Beware: the judges don’t always appreciate innovation.
“I competed in “full-beard freestyle” in Berlin. You can make it into anything you want to, so I got some putty and shaped the beard into a tornado. A funnel cloud. Then the extra step was to put little train-set miniatures into it: a telegraph pole and a little person. The greatest thing was a little trailer poking out, because in the South the cliché is that hurricane alleys always seem to go through trailer parks. I was too avant-garde for the conservative German judges. They’re really serious about their beards. The guy who won had a tear in his eye. It’s a big deal for these old Bavarian dudes. My “growing on you” joke isn’t so funny to them.”