They really let their hair down!
Furry faces gathered in Coney Island for the neighborhood’s 11th-annual Beard and Moustache Competition at Coney Island USA on Sept. 8. One winner who traveled all the way from Maine to take part in his first competition said it lived up to its reputation as an enjoyable epicenter for hairy freaks and geeks.
“I knew it was going to be entertaining, if not a little weird,” said Bryce Royal, who won the “Ballyhoo” — or best styled beard — category. “The atmosphere was good — it was cheerful, everybody seemed to be having a good time.”
Nearly 100 contestants trekked to Surf Avenue at W. 12th Street to compete for the top prize — the Beard and Moustache Fez trophy — and across nine Coney-centric categories, including the Brass Ring (for best in show), Man or Beast (best natural beard), and the coveted Carny Trash (worst in show), with 13 lucky winners going home with bragging rights. A panel of guest and celebrity judges — including author Larry “Ratso” Sloman and fitness trainers Danny and Al Kavadlo — delivered the final verdicts.
Royal, the Maine resident, won his prize — a trophy, plaque, professional photo of the Tilt-a-Whirl, and the contest’s signature Fez hat — for his elaborate arrangement of his facial hair, which he said took him about three hours and “a lot of hair spray, some rollers, and a lot of blow drying” to complete.
“It has two big wave loops off of each side, and in the middle it was curled down and back up in a center curl, and I have my moustache curled four ways,” he said.
Manhattanite Jonathan Moll’s beard — sculpted into a spiral threaded with blue wire — was decidedly lower-maintenance, he said, adding that it only takes him about an hour to do once a month. But he was dismayed to not receive any recognition for his inventive ‘do, adding that audience members loved his look even if all of the judges didn’t.
“I was completely overlooked, which surprised me just by the general reaction by people in the room,” Moll said. “I know the judges liked the beard — one said, ‘that spiral’s perfect, perfect’s hard to do, you’ve got my vote.’ ”
Bedford–Stuyvesant resident Ronald Rentas — who chronicles his beard’s evolution on his Instagram account — showed off his twirly beard in the best styled beard category before brushing it out to compete in the best natural beard category. But even though he didn’t take home a prize, he said the camaraderie among fur-facers made the competition worth it.
“I had so much fun — I love the community, it was eclectic, it was fun,” he said.