Pictures: Portland Keeps it Beard @ West Coast Beard & Mustache Championships

By Natalie St. John

2011 West Coast Beard & Mustache Championships @ Crystal Ballroom

Somewhere in a lamp-lit room deep in the catacombs of the Crystal Ballroom, a Union Soldier was waxing the tips of his handlebar mustache. Next to him, a gold-prospector carefully scrutinized his facial hair for bits of lint in a hand-held mirror, while an Alaskan whaler helped another man cement the twin turrets of his considerable beard into place, with the help of a specialized industrial-strength hairspray.

2011 West Coast Beard & Mustache Championships @ Crystal Ballroom

The uninitiated might assume they’d walked into the dress rehearsal of a musical revue of America’s History, but for the contestants in the Stumptown Beard Collective’s 2011 West Coast Beard and Mustache Championships, this was business as usual.

2011 West Coast Beard & Mustache Championships @ Crystal Ballroom

Sunday evening, spectators packed the house at the Crystal Ballroom to cheer as costumed participants competed for titles, including “natural mustache”, “natural full beard with styled mustache”, and “freestyle beard.”

2011 West Coast Beard & Mustache Championships @ Crystal Ballroom

In addition to cultivating their facial hair, most contestants also strive to create a persona through the use of costumes and props.  For some men, their natural resemblance to a character, such as Abe Lincoln, or Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top determines the costume, props, and beard style.

For others, the personas and hairstyles evolve more organically, drawing inspiration from costume-shop discoveries, personal interests, and experimentation.

2011 West Coast Beard & Mustache Championships @ Crystal Ballroom

“It’s hard to say which comes first,” one contestant reflected, “after a while, the beard and the persona become one.”

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Natalie St. John is a freelance photographer, writer and educator with a knack for getting into mischief.  She loves bourbon, honesty, and photographs that tell a story. You can follow her adventures at theprofessionalforeigner.com

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One Response to Pictures: Portland Keeps it Beard @ West Coast Beard & Mustache Championships

  1. Wario! January 25, 2011 at 16:42 #

    It’s a me! Wario!!!

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  1. 2011 West Coast Beard & Mustache Championships - January 25, 2011

    […] are a few shots I liked that didn’t make it into my PDXPIPELINE […]

  2. West Coast Championships | Los Angeles Beard and Mustache Club - February 2, 2012

    […] http://pdxpipeline.com/2011/01/25/portland-pictures-west-coast-beard-mustache-championships/ […]

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