A hairy time for a contest
BY ADRIENNE VAN DER VALK
"Everything I'm about to tell you is true." So begins my interview with Ty Connor, local celebrity bartender and facial hair enthusiast. I have called to get details about an upcoming event he's slated to emcee at John Henry's, but before I know it, Connor launches into a strange and wonderful tale of proud legacies and fierce rivalries, a story in which unlikely heroes triumph and subterfuge is its own reward.
|A moustachioed Ty Connor|
It is the story of the World Beard and Moustache Championship, a biennial international gathering of the world's hirsute elite. Since 2003, the Annual Moustache Rally hosted by John Henry's has been Eugene's answer to the high profile international event. While the WBMC awards prizes in highly contested categories such as "The Musketeer" and "The Fu Manchu," local founder Dustin Lanker says the Eugene rally takes its celebration of the soup strainer a little less seriously.
"It's really a celebration of something arbitrary," he explains. "It could be moustaches, it could be egg salad. It is almost just a reason to have a party."
Almost, but not quite. November is actually the International Month of the Moustache. And since its launch four years ago, the Moustache Rally has become an increasingly popular showcase for gender bending and image experimentation, a chance to embrace one's inner Ron Jeremy in safety and learn a little something along the way. As we speak, Connor is compiling a pictorial history of the "nose neighbor," a slide show that tells the story of moustaches "from Tom Selleck to Hitler."
"It provides a forum for those who do not normally wear a moustache to mingle and exchange pleasantries with those who wear them all year long," he says daintily. "It is an opportunity for people who cultivate them to wear them with pride."
It is also an opportunity to drink from the potent fountain of John Henry's and listen to local musicians interpret the sounds of the moustache's heyday, the 1960s and '70s. Fans of the Visible Men will be excited to see their hairy alter egos, Stoneder, belt out classic rock tunes. Touchforce groupies will no doubt be waiting in line to see Secret Train, described by Connor as a "wizard, dragon epic thing." If the lineup isn't tongue in hairy cheek enough for you yet, don't miss out on "Captain & Neal," Lanker's cheese-duet project with baritone crooner Tom Heinl. Heavenly Oceans will also appear as themselves, followed by a "crapload of special guests" in various degrees of real and artificial 'stached glory.
Lanker and Connor both express their desire for the people of Eugene to come and "revel with the moustachioed" whether they choose to sport whiskers or let their lip go naked.
"Those without moustaches are welcome to come bask in the glow of those who do," Lanker emphasizes. "Come as you are."
When I ask Connor if those with falsies are ever made to feel inferior, he scoffs.
"Do you have to believe in the virgin birth to celebrate Christmas?"
4th Annual Moustache Rally 9 pm Fri., 11/24. John Henry's • 21+ event. $1 with moustache. $2 without.