Beards! Championship-bound, Bay Area beards!

Xavier Marvel on his musketeer: "It's an empowering feeling. I can't help but take it to that level of showmanship."
Photo by Dave Mead

Facial hair isn't something that Xavier Marvel grows for the glory. This is his life. “I didn't decide to go to the championships and then grow my musketeer,” says the dashing Marvel, who will represent the Bay Area at the upcoming 2010 National Beard and Mustache Championships in Bend, Oregon (June 5). I spoke to him recently on the phone, painfully divorced from seeing his follical glory in person. “I already had it. The competition is not the reason for my facial hair, it's just sort of a bonus.”

Marvel sports a musketeer, a goatee-mustache combination popularized by the Dumas swashbucklers. Does the musketeer spirit, er, grow on him? “Sure, I try to practice chivalry as much as possible. Being a gentleman, that's kind of my way. Plus, I'm half French, so I do feel that it's in my blood to some degree. Do I go out challenging people to duels? Not really.”

The beard makes the man. Marvel's been sporting facial hair since letting his peach fuzz fly at the tender age of 16, and he's already competed in last year's World Championships in Anchorage (in the “Partial Beard” category, subcategory Musketeer). He didn't place in the top three, losing to long time veterans of the competitive bearding world. But, he says, “I'm not the most serious competitor -- I shaved three months ago. I'm not anywhere near Jack Passion's level of devotion. Are you familiar with Jack Passion?"

This is Jack Passion. Photo by Alessandro Sicco

Well shoots Xavier, I wasn't. But I fixed that real quick, and I'm glad I did – Jack Passion is the man. A 26 year old from Walnut Creek, Passion has won the World Championships two years in a row in the big daddy of beard categories, Full Beard Natural (or “Natty,” as Passion has nicknamed it). "I'm the Muhhamad Ali of beards," he told me -- with no lack of follicular braggadacio -- over the phone today. Passion's now got his own (sick) line of faux beard tees, and penned The Facial Hair Handbook, which he respectfully suggests for all those interested in getting their beards up to speed for the upcoming national championships.

"Big Red," as his luscious belly length locks have been dubbed, is so spectacular in fact, Jack's sitting Bend out this year as a competitor. After seven years of growing his beard and five years of professionally slaying all competition with it, he cites a desire to pace his beard career as reason for the break. Which is all good -- he'll still be in Bend as an MC and judge. But don't expect the relief for his competitors to last past the Oregon showdown. "This competition may incite a fire in my soul. If that's the case, I'm to have to crush all these guys and their hopes for bearded glory," Passion revealed.

Fellow Bay area representative Marvel is stoked for the chance to have another swat at hairy ascension. “I have a good laugh with it, now I can go bond with my bearded brothers, travel a bit, see a new place -- and then I get a chance to claim a title for my beard.” God speed, Javier. At the risk of journalistic objectivity, we here at SFBG are pulling for you and the musketeer.


Stay tuned! Turn to for Jack Passion's post National Championship rundown!  The costumes, the carnage! The Muhammad Ali of beards tells us how it all went down!

2010 National Beard and Mustache Championships

June 4-6, $10

Les Schwab Amphitheater

344 Shevlin Hixon, Bend, OR