Handlebar Moustache Survey by Aleksi
- How long have you had a handlebar moustache, and what is your history with moustaches?
I’ve had a handlebar moustache since March 2013.
Ever since I was a teen unable to grow anything more impressive than peachfuzz I wanted a moustache. It wasn’t until I hit my mid-40s that I was able to grow a decent one. But my efforts were always half-assed: I’ve always hated shaving, so I would grow my facial hair for a few weeks until I got sick of it. Oh, I’d try something out now and then, but there was never any intention behind it other than laziness, so nothing looked right and I would soon shave it off.
But since becoming a supernumerary for the Canadian Opera Company I have finally found an intention.
- What moved you to grow a handlebar moustache? Do any relatives or ancestors have handlebar moustaches?
A supernumerary is the fancy name for an extra in an opera: we’re part of the scenery, the details that contribute to the setting’s verisimilitude: we’re the guys holding spears, serving drinks, looking drunk and threatening in one scene, festively carousing in tuxes another.
In my first role I had to look like an upper-class Victorian thug, so I grew a moustache and beard that fit the part. When it was over I decided to keep the ‘stache and jettison the beard. When I heard the next production was going to be La Boheme set in La Belle Epoque I decided to grow a handlebar in case they wanted me to return, knowing that handlebars were very common during this wonderful period.
Turned out they wanted me to be a waiter, which is quite an honor for a supernumerary since it’s a pretty prominent part, serving the principals food during their big numbers. When I came in for the fitting and they saw my new handlebar they were thrilled: it was perfect. They thought I went above and beyond.
But, personally, I was happy to do it — I like the way it looks. When the production ended I decided to keep it.
Oh, and in terms of relatives or ancestors… no one in my family, nuclear or extended, nor their peers, friends, milieu, acquaintances, nor, really, their extended cosmos, would have been caught dead with any kind of facial hair. It wasn’t even a possibility since no one would consider it as something within the realm of the possible.
- What are some of the reactions of others as you grew your handlebar moustache? What sort of reactions or comments did you get initially from your significant other?
My wife thinks it’s silly but fun. My kid, too. When I made an appearance at my son’s school a few weeks ago to drop something off there was some commotion to its being spotted. I learned later from him that it was a big hit. Last night, in fact, I learned that it’s still a topic of conversation amongst his peers, though they’re under the misapprehension that what I sport is not a handlebar because, in their misguided belief, what I sport is a fu-manchu. I’ve asked my son to please disabuse his friends of their erroneous denotation, but they refuse all evidence to the contrary.
Generally people seem entertained by it. But as I’ve let it grow out I’ve been getting a surprising number of “Cool ‘stache!” from complete strangers lately, especially younger “trendier” men.
- What are some of the funny or strange comments others have made about your handlebar moustache over time?
Haven’t really noticed any. Oh, except for one time. I was an extra at a film shoot for a scene around the 1890s, so there was some fake facial hair there. Some men were smoking cigars. I asked one of them if it was real, because from a distance they looked convincingly like real, lit cigars with smoke. He said “As real as your moustache.” When I said my moustache was real he was embarrassed and tried to disappear.
Oh, and another time at the mall a woman wearing a handlebar moustache t-shirt gave me an amusing triple-take when she noticed me walking by.
- Has having a handlebar moustache had any effects on your personality/behavior, attitude, self-expression, sense of self?
Yes… all good, too. It’s helped me come out of my shell a bit, ’cause you can’t melt into the crowd with this thing. Plus it also helps me take myself less seriously. (See answer to #18 for a fuller explanation.) So yes, it’s been a confidence booster. I teach a college class, and it somehow gives me both a sense of authority and a cool cachet that wins the students over. Wear a mask long enough and you come to embrace the role, I suppose…
- What is it in your personality that drew you to growing a handlebar moustache?
I’ve always been something of an iconoclast, so I don’t fear being seen as different.
And I’ve always liked hats. I have quite a few of them, and have worn them all my life. Indeed, I’m thrilled that hats have made a comeback.
And I smoke a pipe. I’ve always liked pipes.
I’ve since discovered that I’m naturally drawn towards a personal style that I learned is called “retrosexual” (as opposed to metrosexual). A handlebar moustache definitely fits that profile.
Not that I identify strongly with masculine gender identities. I’ve never had any issue with my own, or anyone else’s, gender identification. People are who they are, and they can either accept it or fight it. But I think a retro man’s look suits me well.
- Have you been in any moustache contests or attended any such gatherings?
Not yet, though some have suggested I ought to.
- It takes courage to wear a handlebar moustache. What would you say to those who think you look odd, silly or stupid with it?
- What waxes, styling aids or glues to you prefer and why?
Other than Pinaud (which I don’t like) in the occasional drugstore, it’s almost impossible to find decent moustache wax here in Canada (even in Toronto). I have found some at a local tobacconist, but the prices are exhorbitant (>$30!)
So I looked around the web to try something else. I came across one called Dandy Candy by Petal Pushers that suited me well at first. But my hair is fairly wavy and as the ‘stache got longer it didn’t hold as well. So I tried a few others. Currently I use Hndlebars for a firm hold, and Capt Fawcett’s (ylang-ylang scented!) for touchups. I think next I’ll give Brooklyn Grooming a go ’cause a sample I recently tried was promising.
- What do you think a handlebar moustache does for a man?
A difficult question to answer. Depends on the man, I suppose. I don’t think it works for just any man.
One of the things I feel is a curious historical attachment to previous images of manhood, one that I am ambivalent about, but which provides me with a curious frisson of connection to previous cultural epochs.
In our day and age it’s not a look for someone wanting to recede into the crowd, so it demands a certain willingness to stand out. But, as Paris Hilton says, “Life is too short to blend in”, so why not?
- How attached are you to your handlebar moustache and what would it take for you to cut it off or remove the curls and not grow it back?
I like it right now. My self-identity is not based upon having a handlebar moustache. I seem to change my look easily and naturally quite frequently, disconcertingly so to some people.
But, having said that, now that I’ve had it for a couple of years, it does seem to be becoming a part of me, my “branding” I suppose. A good indication of this change in attitude is that at first I thought if the opera company asked me to shave it in order to have a role in some production I would probably do so; but now I’m not so sure…
- Have you accumulated any moustached merchandise, shirts, mugs or other stuff?
I’ve received a few gifts from others with moustaches on them. The only thing I got for myself is a zippo lighter with a moustache, glasses & hat.
- Can you recommend some other moustache web sites?
Probably nothing unseen by others here already.
- All about color: How closely does your moustache match the color of the hair on your head? How many colors are in your moustache? Do you like its color? Have you ever dyed it?
It’s a perfect match: black, with streaks of gray.
- What would you like to see on handlebarmoustachelife.com?
Don’t know yet…
- How has having a handlebar moustache affected your love life, dating, and does it interfere with kissing?
It hasn’t; no.
- What do you do for a living and what impact do you think your handlebar moustache has with customers, coworkers and superiors?
I think the ‘stache helps “brand” me with the work I do as a creator of visual music.
- Does your handlebar moustache give you any superpowers?
Yes, and a very important one. Tom Cutler, president of The Handlebar Club, articulates it perfectly, “Taking oneself seriously we regard as hopelessly vulgar.” Having a handlebar moustache is a great way to not to take yourself so seriously, which is, admittedly, something I have been guilty of… To me, this is a requisite superpower to have in our unmirthful times.
- Eating – neatly – can be a challenge with a larger moustache. Do you have any eating tips, or stories to share? Have you been tempted to remove the HB due to eating issues?
Never been an issue for me. I just keep a napkin closer at the ready.
- Have you ever styled your mustache in a comical manner or specifically for a Halloween costume?
- What is your preferred style for your handlebar moustache, and do you do a variety of styles?
Just the quintessential iconic style. It’s now a bit longer than what appears in the picture, so it’s got a nice curve to it that I will sometimes make into a loop.
- Would you share your location and / or your age? Toronto, 55