That’s What’s Up: Coney Island Beard and Mustache Competition

Partially as evidence that I actually leave the apartment (well, sometimes), partially to point out design-y stuff outside our cozy walls, and mostly just because I want to, I’d like to start writing occasional posts about some of the other things I enjoy besides the aroma of drying latex paint and the sweet melody of my electric screwdriver. To kick things off, I present to you the annual Coney Island Beard and Mustache Competition.

Aside from being one of my very favorite places in this fine city, Coney Island boasts a pretty cool mix of design elements. Colorful hand-painted signage everywhere, graffiti, extensive use of neon– it’s dazzling. It’s a haphazardly layered testament to 90 years of history, a constant contrast of old and new. At once charming and revolting, it never fails to warm my heart.

I sport neither a beard nor a mustache, but hold a great deal of respect for people who do. Growing one seems like a difficult and humiliating process, a true labor of love. It takes gumption. Which is why, once a year, it’s important to recognize and support these brave pioneers of facial foliage while drinking locally manufactured beer on the southern tip of Brooklyn.

This dude should have won, but he didn’t.

I was enchanted by this couple, and I wish their fetus the best of luck with its hair-growing aspirations.

As a show of support, we donned fake mustaches with the help of some eyeliner. Here I am, applying a trucker-style ‘stache to my friend Emily.

The judges were some of the characters from the daytime sideshow acts, including the sword swallower, an elderly gentleman who looked like Buffalo Bill and performs a lasso act, and, appropriately, the bearded woman. That’s our emcee, Donny Vomit, assisting the sword swallower.

The “Best Natural Mustache” (as opposed to styled mustache) came down to an extremely tense arm-wrestling competition. The guy on the right won, but it was close.

The assorted winners. In the back row: Best Natural Mustache, Best Natural Beard, Best Sideburns, Best Styled Beard, Best in Show. Front row: Best Styled Mustache, Best Bearded Woman, Best Fake Mustache, and Worst in Show. The awards were their red fezzes.

I didn’t want to show this. But since I had to see it, so do you. The show ended with the other emcee/sideshowman feeding a small rubber tube through his nose, out his mouth, and then feeding whisky into it through a syringe for people to take “shots” from. It was disturbing and I could have watched the procession of audience members all night. No, I did not participate, I was raised right.

My friend Maya and I wore our mustaches all the way home because they suited us so nicely. Which kind of goes without saying.

About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 9.24.10
    Mom said:

    You just crack me up. I am actually sitting in the family room laughing out loud, having had to pause Grey’s Anatomy to read you. You should take that as quite a compliment because you know how addicted to Grey’s I am. Thank God for that pause button. I think you look a little eerily like “Dudley Do Right”, a character long before your time and aging myself again–but then you do that for me all the time. You will have to look him up to see if my memory of Dudley is accurate.

    • 9.24.10
      Mom said:

      Nevermind, Dudley was a RCM and always clean shaven–was thinking of his nemesis, Snidely Whiplash. And upon further reflection you look nothing like him either.

  2. 9.24.10
    Mom said:

    BTW, Maya looks great! Trend-setting? ….I hope not.

  3. 9.24.10

    I love reading about the adventures of decorating your first apartment, and visit frequently {although this is my first comment} for inspiration. I moved out years ago, and you’ve done way more with your place in 4 months than I have in my 4 years. Now I’m on a mission to finish what I started!!

    Can’t wait to hear about your adventures outside of the apartment too.

  4. 9.24.10
    monica said:

    Fun post! TFS.

  5. 9.24.10

    One or all of these fine gents could be fine nominees for the American Mustache Institute’s “Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year” award

  6. 9.24.10


  7. 9.24.10

    Everything about this post is fucked up and hawt.

  8. 9.24.10
    marné said:

    As much as I love your posts, I think I like your mom’s comments even more.
    I have a new appreciation for my husband’s trucker mustache, so thanks for sharing!

  9. 9.25.10
    Ella said:

    The arm wrestling pic is a beaut, as well as the one of you and Maya.
    Lovely post!

  10. 9.25.10
    jeannette said:

    you and your buds are 2 cute. thanks for a great adventure, i’m sure they’ll all be as stylish as your indoor efforts.

  11. 9.25.10


    Donny Vomit’s sister is Kathleen of Jeremy and Kathleen (do you read their blog? It’s awesome), and he’s a fellow Ripley’s sideshow performer with my lifelong friend, Albert Cadabra (whose website I *just* designed).

    I’m starting to thing that Albert puts me within 3 degrees of separation from everyone on the planet.

    Maya’s hair fills me with hair-envy, by the way.

    • 9.25.10

      That’s hilarious! I didn’t know about Jeremy and Kathleen’s blog, but I like it. And Albert Cadabra’s website looks AWESOME, by the way. Respect. *stamps of approval*

      Maya’s hair has a way of doing that to people.

  12. 9.27.10
    misst said:

    I have always been partial to the Boston Blackie ‘stashe. Props to your mom who took this blog post to another level. Oh and the photographs are just dreamy. The color is beyond as Joan Lofgren would say.

  13. 10.7.10

    I’m going to make it to this contest next year, for sure.

    I’m with Anna – the world just keeps getting smaller.

  14. 10.14.10

    How did I not hear of this? What an awesome event.

  15. 10.24.10

    Donny Vomit’s sister has a blog, and she’s a pretty awesome graphic designer (and appreciator of modern furniture)

    • 10.24.10

      I know, Anna @ D16 told me about it up there in the comments (she just designed Donny Vomit’s website, too!) and I’m now a subscriber. What a freakin’ awesome family.