Last Night: The 2008 'Stashe Bash
The 2008 'Stashe Bash
Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008
Words by Jennifer Maerz, Photos by Eric K. Arnold
Better than: A giant bowl of mustachio ice cream.
San Francisco is a city that loves to dress up. And while that may mean one thing in Russian Hill, or the Marina, or Davies Symphony Hall, the attention to outfitting I'm talking about here is the kind lending itself to events like the Zombie Mob, Santacon, Bay to Breakers, Yacht Rock, and Love Fest.
So yeah, if you didn't realize it already, we can be a pretty silly city, which is all part of the fun of living here. But from a female point of view, one of my new favorite annual costume-athons has to be the 'Stashe Bash, where dudes spend exactly four weeks going from clean shaven to sporting something of a "walrus," "caterpillar," "lip duster," "nasal mat," "a third brow," or, as it's more plainly known, a mustache.
These "growers" as they're known, don't just cultivate crumb catchers for the sake of vanity (although I imagine many of these men keep their 'stashes long after the grand prize -- a big trophy with a big mustache on top-- have been awarded). They do this so they can solicit cash from their friends (a la those trainers in AIDS marathons and cancer walk fundraisers) for charity -- in this case, Mustaches for Kids which hands a big check over to a different children's charity in the end. This year, San Francisco's lip ticklers raised the most bank of any Mustaches for Kids chapter in the country -- almost $77,000.
But last night was about more than good will -- it was about good sportsmanship, as the 'Stashe Bash is also, at its core, a beauty and "talent" competition dedicated the physical strength and mental agility behind these tickly Yule logs.
Hosted by John Wolanski (hope I got that name right-- he was one of the funniest emcees I've seen in this city, and he looked like Jason Lee with that stash), who started the night with a long "Stashe of the Union" address, the dozens of contestants were narrowed down to the top 25 fundraisers, five wild cards, and later that night, one drunken Rob Schneider-looking dude who rushed the stage.
John led a cast of characters (ranging from Mustache Sally -- the sole drag 'stash -- to Top Gun's Goose to construction workers, thugs, dandies, and Magnum P.I.s) through talent competition hoops for three judges. In round one, they were made to answer grueling questions: "If your mustache was a section of the paper, what section would it be?" "The Parade pullout." "What is your mustache's greatest weakness?" "Pleasure." (That one from a strapping Jared Leto-looking dude). These Alistair Graham Stashes and Thomas Sullivan Magnums also had to produce a "Stash-ku" -- a haiku of humorous slant. My two favorites there included one that was produced in Spanish and English, and another that started out "Hold your girl real close/ mustache just showed up, fuck you..."
Round two cut the growers down to ten, who were asked to kiss a volunteer from the crowd named Maggie. She chose if they got to peck her hand, cheek, or lips, and these men did their best to seduce out from her a rave review by dipping her, placing her on their knee, kissing her arm up to her cheek, and rubbing their ticklers all over her face. Part two: they had to dunk their mustaches in a pint of Guinness or milk and show what kind of holding power that hair held.
By round three, the momentum was lagging. With ten minute breaks between segments, and so many dramatists behind the stashes, the proceedings could've used a quicker pace (or fewer competitors). It was hard to keep focused on the game, although the last bit was pretty funny. The final five placed small clips on their lady ticklers and chose whether to lift objects (a rose, a stuffed mustache) off a table, or engage in tugs of war against other growers.
Three hours later, we had our winner's circle. After passing out awards for categories like prettiest (Mustache Sally) and thuggiest (G-Money) stashes, as well as noting the biggest fundraiser (also G-Money), the Stash Bash trophy went to judge favorite Chappy. Chappy was a shirtless "Irish" boxer (who, um, slipped into a Jamaican accent at times) with a black eye and ADD of the arms and legs. Chappy's mustache might've been a slivery black thing of a statement, but the man it housed behind the hair was one of the funniest characters -- against a very strong pool of hilarious characters -- of the night.
By the way: If you want to grow one for the kids next year, check out Mustaches For Kids.