Burb's Eye View: A pastime that grows on you

If you’re going to try to sport a prize-winning beard, the best advice I’ve heard is to keep trying, no matter how itchy it gets. After a while, it grows on you.

And so it has been with John Myatt, who two years ago took his facial hair to the next level and into the fascinating world of competitive bearding.

It wasn’t long before he helped form the L.A. Beard and Mustache Club for like-minded fellows with similar ambitions.

Today, Myatt’s big red beard can be easily seen from across the room, though it falls on the slightly shorter side when compared to national and international competitors.

“This is a huge beard for L.A. We’re a mustache town,” the 25-year-old said.

The group, founded in 2010, claims 40 to 50 members who meet regularly to honor and admire members’ facial accouterments — tongues in cheeks.

The attraction is hard to put one’s finger on. The group attracts all walks of life — nerds to cool kids and everyone in between — perhaps because it is open to facial-hair enthusiasts of all walks of life.

Among them is Jeffrey Moustache (whose real surname is Beard), the group’s co-founder. His mustache measures 22 inches across.

As Myatt puts it, the club is more a support group for facial hair. About 40 or 50 meet once a month, usually at Timmy Nolan’s on Riverside Drive, and continue their new friendships over a pint and a soul patch.

And like an Elks or Moose Lodge, there’s an altruistic component as well — the group recently received its LLC status, affording it more prestige as it raises money for charities.

“It can’t be just whiskers and beer,” said member Al Underwood of Burbank.

But when the time comes to pit beard against beard, it’s every whisker wizard for himself.

Bearding competitions are part beauty pageant, part dog show, Myatt said.

The larger ones are held in Europe, where Myatt competed last year. In the Verdi category (as in Giuseppe Verdi, who rocked a wild mane — look him up), Myatt became the first American to place at the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Trondheim, Norway.

Not bad for a beard that only occasionally sees conditioner or hair spray.

“For having the best beard in America, I hardly do anything,” Myatt said.

Competitors are judged on shape, color, grooming, and whatever shapes they can curl and twirl from a can of wax.

Myatt’s club will host its own competition for beards and mustaches 2 to 9 p.m. June 24 at The Bellasco, 1050 South Hill Street in Los Angeles.

After the event, it’s back to serious business — auditing charities, holding the monthly meetings — until the next time these folically fortunate beardsmen face off again. And there will be Myatt, whose support group has grown into so much more.

“The beard started the conversation,” said club member Nate Johnson of Burbank. “But you bond elsewhere.”

BRYAN MAHONEY is a recent transplant from the East Coast. When he’s not growing his own Fu Manchu mustache, he can be reached at 818NewGuy@gmail.com and on Twitter @818NewGuy.

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