The beard: A symbol of manliness, power, strength, and a carefree lifestyle. It has phased in and out of style for men throughout history, and has found its equilibrium here in the 21st century. But it’s no longer simply a fashion trend. IFC’s new documentary series, Whisker Wars, follows individuals who actually try and out-grow one another in competition. Fierce competition.
Like most competitive leagues, there are regional, national and world competitions, and yes, we have a USA team. “The Olympic Team has people who ski jump for America, or throw shot puts for America. Beard Team USA grows beards for America.” says Phil Olsen, Captain of Beard Team USA, introducing the nationwide brotherhood of beards.
Whisker Wars hits close to home, as it follows our very own Austin Facial Hair Club, a grizzled troupe of good ol’ boys that you’ve probably seen around town, specifically at The Mohawk. Featured members are Bryan Nelson, Alex Laroche, Allen Demling, Miletus Callahan-Barile, all of which are likable characters in the show, which documents their struggle to get to the World Beard Championships in Norway. Speaking of the Mohawk, there’s going to be an awesome premiere party on August 1st there, with the guys from AFHC guest bartending. If you go you can drink beer and talk beard.
You’ll also really like Myk O’Connor, from Brooklyn, who is also trying to get his beard on the map, and under all that hair, he’s a sweet guy who’s in love with his beard coach (yep…beard coach) girlfriend, Karolina Gwiazda.
A not-so-likable character is the current reigning champion, Jack Passion. His monstrous red beard has won him 2 world championship titles, and has also won him a big fat ego, depicted in the series. Yes, his beard is awesome…but he knows it and shows it. He’s looking to make money off it too, having written a book on growing and grooming a beard. Attempting to go pro, he’s also fishing for sponsorship. “The Moniker ‘World Beard Champion is my title, is my qualifications, when I’m seeking out these endorsements. That name is Jack Passion: World Beard Champion, not Jack Passion: Awesome guy with a beard.”Whether Jack Passion is a pretentious person in real life or not, Whisker Wars has definitely set up an exciting underdog v. top dog rivalry, as the Austin Facial Hair Society begrudges Passion’s fame and glory with…dare I say…a passion.
Also look out for Aarne Bielefeldt, from Willits, California a wizardly figure who you can’t help but adore with his lackadaisical approach to the sport of beard growing, while sporting an impressive Gandalf-esque beard: Check out this new show, and you’ll find yourself laughing and learning, about beards, the men behind them and their quest for excellence in beard-dom.
Don’t have a TV? (Honest question.) Catch the 1st episode online here.
Have a hairy day!