The American Mustache Institute, an entity we’ve been intermittently quarreling and laughing with for the past few weeks, offered up their hairy leader, Aaron Perlut, yesterday for a deep afternoon dive into the Fishbowl by phone. We accepted the challenge as Perlut comes to town this weekend for a Million Mustache March on Capitol Hill to raise money for Millions From One, which builds water wells in third world countries with poor drinking water. He talked press strategy, shared what it was like having facial hair at an obscenely young age and offered his delusional thoughts on how sexy he thinks mustaches are. Perlut has chaired the Institute since 1965. Heed this warning Fishbowlers: Perlut speaks with the driest of humor. We went beyond five questions because we just couldn’t help ourselves. Read what you like and leave the rest.
What is your personal mustache history? I’ve had it since I was 7. Parents were afraid to let their children play with me because I was alarmingly developed. It’s tough being this ruggedly handsome for this many years. I have a horseshoe style mustache. Basically, are you familiar with a Fu Manchu? It hangs over the corner of the mouth,, half way down the chin but it doesn’t hit the base of the chin. It’s pretty awesome though. (At this point, however unsolicited, Perlut explained that there are people who compete in facial hair contests. “They call it competitive bearding,” he said. We were frightened but he continued. “Physically we tend to be the JV team compared to them. We’re advocating for the lifestyle more than anything else.
How many people to you expect to attend Sunday’s mustache march? At least one million if not two, but probably two.
Your press strategy is unusual for Washington. Lots of jokes and quirkiness that sometimes amounts to horse shit. Without a doubt. Quite frankly, if we were to deliver our message in straight-laced manner it would get far less traction. We have found by injecting humor into our efforts it goes further. We don’t mind people getting a chuckle out of the mustache.
Do you think women find the mustache sexy? I’ve had my wife tell me that she’s tired of it at times, because not only am I living the lifestyle but I am talking it ad nauseam. But she also never tires of the dashing handsomeness associated with it. She’s very familiar with the science that it raises a man’s good looks by 38 percent according to AMI science so she knows she’s getting the whole package.
Have you ever experienced ridicule for your mustache?
For many years, from early 1980s to five years ago, there was kind of a snickering when you’d see a person with mustache. Maybe it was uncool. But there have been a lot of factors that have changed that. I’d like to think we played a role in advocating for a sexually dynamic American lifestyle.
How do you say this shit with a straight face? I always do. With everything we do we try to do two things. 1) Create more discussion about living a mustached American lifestyle. 2) Ensure that the discussion has some charitable component to it. While the reality of legislation that would provide a tax break for people of mustachioed American heritage is very unlikely, this has certainly created a national conversation about facial hair.
Which famous people have the best staches? There are obvious stalwarts such as Tom Selleck, Burt Reynolds. To me the most influential mustachioed American is Walter Cronkite. Sorry if my connection sucks. I’m riding in a cab in New York City. You all recently used presidential hopeful Jimmy McMillan in your antics. His stache is pretty sensational right? He has impressive lower nose garment in terms of dearth and density.
What do you think of balding men growing mustaches? Are you for it or against it?
Perlut: “Not all men quite frankly can grow facially hair. Many people of Irish descent have trouble growing facial hair whatsoever. What we say is if you can’t grow facial hair, that you advocate or support our efforts. The reality is that 42 percent of all Americans have some sort of facial hair. We have 20,000 members. We have chapters that are run by women. It was suggested to us that we should add a rider to our proposed legislation that would cover the cost of facial hair removal for women. We’re not opposed to that in any way. There are also women with mustaches, as I’m sure you’ve seen. Personally, I’m not attracted to women with facial hair.”
On Sunday Perlut and his hairy gang will meet on the northeast front of the Capitol at First and Constitution. They will march down Constitution to the White House and gather on the north side where they will “display our rugged good looks for all of mankind to see.” Anyone who marches gets two free beers and if they want, a free fake mustache. The crew will then retreat to Capitol City Brewhouse to party their mustaches off.
Perlut concluded our interview by promising to tell anyone who badmouthed FishbowlDC to “fuck off.” Of their crusade he added, “It’s tough being so attractive that we have to share it with America.”