Talk about hair-raising!
It was bushy business at the 10th-annual Coney Island Beard and Mustache Competition last weekend, where participants and spectators shelled out $20 to show off and take in bristly beards and meticulous mustaches at the Coney Island Sideshow. The annual event is an enjoyable one for competitive and casual hair-growers alike, said one successful participant.
“It’s just a fun, awesome event,” said Christian Fattorusso, a three-time competitor who won this year’s “best styled mustache” award with his 1900s-inspired handlebar mustache — meant to evoke the ones worn by that era’s professional baseball players — which he topped off with a vintage baseball uniform that he bought specifically for the contest. “Some people are very competitive about it, and I definitely knew this year that I wanted to step up my presentation, so I got the baseball outfit — I went the extra mile.”
Fattorusso said he started growing out his beard for this year’s competition last November, and then chopped off the sides and middle part of the hair within the past few weeks in preparation. He maintained his facial fur with shampoo and conditioner, and set it with Elmer’s glue the day of the event, because he needed a strong product to hold it up.
“It’s too heavy to hold beeswax!” he said.
On the beard category, one competitor fashioned his Santa-esque white beard with hairspray and cream to make loopholes on both sides of his face and a heart shape under his chin, which won him the prize for “best styled beard.”
“I just wanted to have a heart,” said Jim Daly. “I’ve done a heart before and I just wanted to have a heart in there. My mirror is a blank canvas. Every time I do a different beard, it’s a different style.”
Daly said the beard took him an hour and twenty minutes to style, and that he employed a curling iron and hair straightener in order to get the design just right. The six-time competitor, who traveled from Philadelphia for the competition, has racked up four previous wins — including the prestigious “best in show” prize in 2011.
The top prize went to a Coney Island character with a long beard, who said he entered the contest for the first time this year for fairly obvious reasons.
“I have a great beard, and we love Coney Island,” said Anthony Natale.
Natale beat out around 30 other entrants to claim his victory, which came with a trophy and swag bag. Although he said he usually ties his beard up in daily life, he let it all hang out — down to below his waist — on the day of the competition, securing it with a “good luck mermaid” hair tie at the bottom to pay homage to his three turns as King Neptune in the annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade. But the hair tie also had a practical purpose, he said.
“It kept the ends a little gathered so it didn’t fly all over the place, and a little bit of weight there accentuates the weight and gives it a little positioning,” he said. “And it’s an homage to the Mermaid Parade and a thanks to Coney Island, USA, for all the fun my wife and I have at the parade.”