Bribe and groom: Growth and graft are key to beard competition

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These contestants are in the cross hairs!

Shaggy locals will comb together in Coney Island to determine who has the finest facial hair, at the 11th annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition . The host and producer of the event said that the judges will pluck 13 whisker winners from the nearly 100 entrants based mostly on the quality of their chin coiffure — but that gifts of booze, cigars, and other treats may sway their opinions.

“They’re looking for thickness, style, look, presentati­on,” said Adam Rinn, who also swallows swords at the Coney Island sideshow under the name Adam RealMan. “And of course, being Coney Island, they’re also looking for bribes. We encourage bribery in this event.”

The competition’s top prize — the Beard and Moustache Fez trophy — has been bestowed upon deserving beard-bearers since 2008, but the contest has added several new categories over the years, including the Brass Ring, for best in show; the Coney Island Curl, for best styled moustache; and Carny Trash, for the worst in show. Rinn said some committed contestants are tearing their hair out to win the latter category.

“Most contestants really do take pride in their facial hair, but every so often you’ve got someone that’s just going to purposely mess it up just to get that award,” he said. “Poorly groomed, shaped, dyed — there’s lots of horrific stuff we’ve seen.”

Winners will take home professional photographs of Coney Island taken by Rinn’s daughter Eliza, along with plaques, gift bags with merchandise from the Coney Island Brewery, and tickets to Deno’s Wonder Wheel and Eldorado bumper cars.

And everyone at the moustache match will leave with some new friends, according to Rinn. In recent years, the competition has been infused with a spirit of camaraderie as “beard club” members come to the contest to mingle with like minds.

“When it started you didn’t have as many beard clubs that were coming out as groups — you had individuals coming out,” he said. “Now you’ve got a lot of people who hang out together in these beard clubs. They spend a couple of nights a month hanging out and talking about beards.”

Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition at Sideshows by the Seashore (1208 Surf Ave. at W. 12th Street in Coney Island, Sept. 8 at 8 pm. $25.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Posted 12:00 am, August 31, 2018
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