To Beard or Not to Beard: A Hairy Situation

The ASU Beard and Stache Society enjoys being a group dedicated to having a good time and hopes to use that fun as a way to give back to the community. (From left to right: Josh Owens, Kyle Peck, Kevin Klawinski, Karl Bogner and Matthew Briggs in front)
Photo by Cydney McFarland

Ke$sha, James Harden and ZZ Top: all are infinitely different, yet all share a common thread. The first seems to have a minor obsession, the second’s is perfectly sculpted and the third lets it all hang loose. That’s right; the common thread between the three tickles lips and flows in the wind: the beard.

Beards, and all facial hair for that matter, take many forms and serve many purposes. Wiry untamed whiskers turn a boy into a man. Long, silky, salt-and-peppered beards distinguish the wise and gifted from mere mortals. And the five o’clock shadow had evolved into the ultimate rugged sex symbol. It doesn’t stop there.

These furry face-warmers are also making a home at ASU with the formation of the group ASU Beard & Stache Society.

The Society was started in the spring 2012 semester after being approved in early September 2011. President and co-founder of the group, Kevin Klawinski, says he got the idea to start a beard club from a show on The Independent Film Channel called Whisker Wars.

The show follows the trials and tribulations of Beard Team USA as they compete for top beard honors and try to come home victorious from the annual World Championship Competition. The second season of the show just started.

After looking around the state for a similar assembly of whisker-loving fanatics and having no luck, Klawinski decided to go ahead and start one on campus. The 21-year-old digital culture major was pleased to find other students who were interested.

“There are obviously people who have beards that are down, so it makes it worth it,” Klawinski says.

Three of these bearded friends are Karl Bogner, a sociology senior and the group’s 21-year-old vice president, Matthew Briggs, a 22-year-old digital culture major and the group’s webmaster, and Kyle Peck, a 22-year-old secondary education major with an emphasis in mathematics and fittingly the group’s treasurer.

The four men, including Klawinski, are all co-founders of the group.

“The first time I met you, I was like, ‘Dude, sick beard!’” Klawinksi says to Briggs.

Facial hair in shades of blonde, brown and red envelops each of the men’s faces, linking them together in a mutual understanding. They all agree, though, that the club is open to anyone—even girls.

Klawinski currently has the longest beard in the group, which works in his favor according to the beard-lady ratio.
Photo by Cydney McFarland

“They always want to touch it, “ Briggs says. “It’s like the forbidden fruit.”

The members also agree there is a ratio between beard length and the amount of ladies attracted. The longer the beard, the more women come calling—or inquiring that is.

As of now, the group is a social hangout for facial hair enthusiasts, but the group has high hopes. The Society is only in its second semester, and the members are still gaining their footing. In the future, however, they have plans for more fun filled hairy events, more members and even fundraisers to help local charities.

“There’s not really a lot of just fun social groups out there, so we would like to make a big impact,” Briggs says.

Earlier this November the group hosted a No Shave November event. On November 2 and 5, the group ran a booth outside the MU, taking before pictures of students who were going to participate in the anti-shaving month. To follow up, on Friday, Nov. 30, the approximate 25 participants are set to come back to the same booth and take hairy after-pictures.

Free pizza will be provided to those who attend, and prizes will be given for the best beard and the best mustache.

Beside quirky events, the group meets every second and fourth Monday of the month to talk about future plans in COOR 195 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The group already held its last meeting for the semester, but will start up again after the holidays. The time and place is expected to change next semester based on member schedules.

The conversations at the bimonthly meetings vary from ambitions to the best beard conditioner.

In addition to entertainment, Briggs says the group also acts as a support group when the traditional clean-cut person gets a job over a fellow member.

“We are kind of put into the same category as people with tattoos,” Briggs says. The other three co-founders agree, saying most places of occupation cast judgment on work ethic based on facial hair.

Besides the occasional remarks about hygiene or questions about their living situation, the four bearded men say they’re shown respect for the most part.

“There is something refined about a beard that only certain people can understand,” Briggs says.

“Once you grow a beard, it’s a whole new experience,” Klawinksi says.

As for their furry face-lover celebrity counterparts, the members say they aren’t big fans of Ke$ha and they get ZZ Top references regularly.

And as for ASU’s beloved James Harden, an invitation:

“Maybe we should recruit him.”

 

Reach the writer at kbiggers@asu.edu or via Twitter @kiggerstaff