The Newfoundland and Labrador Beard and Moustache Club are aiming to give back to the community in perhaps the most unique way possible.
Few have caught a glimpse of the elusive MerB’y. A rare breed, these majestic creatures, as rare as the Unicorn, Sasquatch or the Chupacabra. Their siren song of ‘wadda ya at me ol’cock’ and ‘by da lard thunderin dyin’ jumpins,’ legend has it, has lured many a sailor to their watery doom.
The Newfoundland & Labrador Beard & Moustache Club have managed to capture these mythical beings in their natural habitats, adorned with tattoos, bountiful beards, and usually with a pint or two in tow. Seven of the finest photographers on the island have photographed the MerB’ys in unique settings and predicaments for the 2018 MerB’ys Calender and they have done so for a worthy cause.
“There were a couple of things I wanted to accomplish with this project once it actually became a thing,” explains Hassan Hai, Founder and President of the club. “One was to just have fun, do something to promote our beard club here, but also to poke fun and poke some holes through the traditional gender roles and stereotypes there.
Not A ‘Good Ol’Boys’ Club
“Often, and especially in Newfoundland, if I was to mention to someone on the street about a beard and moustache club they’d immediately think of a men only club, probably white male – I immediately debunk that – being not so white myself, and very much it being a ‘good ol’boys’ club. I don’t have any time for that. The club itself is incredibly open and diverse. We have women members, you don’t have to have a beard if you don’t want to, you just have to appreciate it. People are not here for self promotion, but it’s a way for people to get together, primarily social, and a great byproduct of that is you get to do something really good for the community, because in numbers we’re really strong.”
Of course, funny fables not withstanding, there are no actual Mermen or MerB’ys in this fantastically fun and eye-popping project – just a few dozen bearded lads with makeshift flippers and the occasional glitter and mock seaweed. It’s all done for a laugh, but with heart and morality at the center.
Hai notes that the club’s members don’t exactly fit the stereotypical model of the burly men you necessarily associate with beard clubs. Not all six packs and lumberjack-esque bods here, and thank God for us normal folk.
“We have members who are LGBTQ, various body-types. I’m sized voluptuous I like to call it,” Hai says with a laugh. “It’s not all abs and six-packs here. We couldn’t go further from the gender stereotypes than what we are. You talk about tattoos, beards, it’s a very rough persona that people have and yet I have a bunch of guys here holding hands and blowing kisses at one another. This is what we’re doing here, smiling and winking at one another and there will be glitter beards and stuff like that. I can’t even talk about this and not laugh.”
Three Cardinal Rules
Proceeds collected from the calender will be generously donated by the club to local non-profit Spirit Horse, a mental health program which teaches life skills to people of all ages through therapeutic interaction with horses.
And indeed, it is that facet of the club, whose mantra it is to give back to the community as often as possible, which offers yet another layer to this entire venture. It is a part of the three pronged creed of the Newfoundland & Labrador Beard and Moustache Club.
“There are three cardinal rules in our club and in no particular order,” Hai says. “One is that you have to appreciate facial hair. Number two is that we value diversity and we embrace diversity, both in our membership and our communities– that’s people of all colours, backgrounds, ethnicities, gender identities, you name it. We embrace that because that’s what our community is made of and that’s what our membership is made of and if that’s not your jam then we’re not the club for you.
“The third rule is that everyone needs to embrace the responsibility of giving back. The whole purpose of our club besides just getting together is doing things. It’s great to get 10-20 people to appreciate facial hair in a room. Yes we have a pint and we chat but it’s all about helping the community and what we can do to make this community and this world a little bit better.”
The calender is limited to an initial run of 1,000, with over 25 per cent sold in less than two weeks. Printed locally, the club plans to launch the finished product on November 18 at Erin’s Pub, with strong promotion heading into the craft fair and Christmas season. Talk about a conversation piece under the ol’ tree this holiday season. And no matter if you have a pre-pubescent tragedy of a beard (guilty) or one that rivals Rapunzel locks, know you are welcome under the banner of NL bearded brothers.
“We appreciate facial hair in all of its glorious form,” he says. “If you have one lonely but courageous chin whisker versus a luxurious ZZ Top beard and everything in between there, every one of them are beautiful. They are as varied and lovely as the people on this planet.”
Calenders can be ordered through nlbeardandmoustacheclub.com. For more info on the club visit their social media pages.