Bristling With Possibility

Why crave a milk mustache when you can grow the real thing? Things got hairy this summer at Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners in Sausalito, Calif., when the independent shop issued a challenge to all of its (presumably male) staffers: Grow the finest mustache in the agency and be grandly rewarded. First prize? “A fine dinner with our traffic manager,” says agency rep Toni Lee. Second prize? A set of steak knives (just in case an ordinary razor doesn’t work?).

For three weeks, the guys endured the itchiness of the summer ‘stache, revulsion from wives and girlfriends and puzzlement (though no outright hostility) from business contacts. “Clients saw a lot of scruffy people over a three-week period,” Lee says, “and wished us only the best of luck in this important endeavor.”

Eight men had the stamina and/or poor judgment to press on to the finals. Fabled agency mascot Captain Hoofers was not among them. “He’s a horse, and horses can’t grow mustaches,” John Butler says matter-of-factly. “He tried to get in using the feeble ‘I have a mane that’s really long and wavy,’ but we said it had to be a mustache, so he didn’t show.”

When all was said and done, the winner—”hands-down”—was Charlie Gschwend, a copywriter, pictured here looking a little uncertain in his crown. Charlie had a mustache that went all the way around the back of his head. “Unfortunately,” Butler laments, “that was not captured on film.”