Toothbrush, handlebar and pencil sound like names of objects that you might find in a… Toothbrush, handlebar and pencil sound like names of objects that you might find in a still-life painting, but they have something else in common. They are all names of different styles of mustaches, the facial hair trend seemingly pushed out of popularity along with disco dancing and Atari gaming systems. Handlebar mustache trend.
But the mustache is making a comeback at Pitt, driven by staff members of 92.1 WPTS, Pitt’s campus radio station airing on 92.1 FM.
The station hosted its “WPTS Moustache Challenge” Thursday night, where mustache-adorned participants competed for prizes, and filmmaker Jay Della Valle, a mustache wearer himself, screened his new film “The Glorius Mustache Challenge” for a crowd of almost 75 people in the Frick Fine Arts auditorium.
WPTS deliberately chose an incorrect spelling of “Moustache” to mimic Della Valle’s misspelling of “Glorius.”
At the “Challenge,” 38 mustache enthusiasts competed in the categories of best mustache, worst mustache and, so that women could also compete, best fake mustache. The runners-up and first-place winners received prizes ranging from books, CDs, gift certificates and mustache grooming kits to the grand prize of a Nintendo Wii.
Before the judging commenced, special guest Della Valle spoke about the glory of mustaches before showing his comedic documentary illustrating the recent advocacy to celebrate hairy upper lips. The film follows a group of men as they change their hairless lips into mustaches that could rival Salvador Dali.
Once a necessity of Civil War generals, the mustache was last wildly popular during the American 1970s with the success of Tom Selleck’s and Burt Reynolds’ trademark smiles. But the trend, now usually associated with dictators and pornographic films, hadn’t made a true comeback, according to Della Valle. But he would like to change that.
Trendy mustache styles
One month ago, three WPTS disc jockeys and a few of their friends had this same philosophy when they decided to deem November “Mustache Month” and took on the challenge of growing facial hair.
The idea spread quickly, and then WPTS staff members, Pitt students and non-affiliate males took part in Mustache Month.
“Every time we’d see a ‘stache, we’d tell people,” WPTS promotions director Ashley Boone said.
The promotion of mustaches in November eventually morphed into Boone’s creation of Thursday’s event. Throughout the month, WPTS promoted the competition heavily on air, while staff members hosted a mustache kissing booth outside of the William Pitt Union and gave mustache rides, where mustache-adorned staffers offered students free piggy-back rides to classes.
When a Nov. 2 article in The New York Times detailing Della Valle’s own mustache challenge caught her eye, Boone knew that it was fate.
She immediately contacted him, and he agreed to come to Pittsburgh to judge the mustaches at the WPTS event, she said.
In addition to helping WPTS celebrate its mustache month, Della Valle enlisted a UPTV camera crew to film Thursday’s festivities.
“This is the kind of stuff the film is made of,” he said, adding that “The Glorius Mustache Challenge” will be re-cut to eventually contain a segment of three to four minutes of UPTS footage.
Following the screening of the soon-to-be-completed film, men and women sporting mustaches of all shapes and sizes paraded across the stage beneath flashing pictures of notable mustaches.
Winning the “Think You Know Your ‘Staches?” competition, Lydia Heiger, Jenny Michlich and Sarah Wasilewski correctly identified the most pictures of mustached celebrities from the WPTS display case in the lobby of the William Pitt Union.
Della Valle, with the help of the cheering crowd, crowned milk mustache wearer Rich Heiden as best fake mustache and Travis McCurdy, donning a sparse patch of lip hair, as worst fake mustache. Randall Hall’s handlebar mustache proved worthy of the grand title of best mustache and earned him the Nintendo Wii.
“I thought it was unusual and fashionable,” Hall said of his choice to grow his facial hair one year ago. “Not enough people wear one.”
How to grow a nice mustache
However, 26 men committed to the WPTS challenge, and more than 10 women created their own facial treasures out of glitter, glue and other various materials for the “Challenge.”
Observing the crowd, competition participants and WPTS staff members, Della Valle added, “You can see how much a mustache can incite other people.”