Alexander Antebi, Competitive Mustache Champion

On September 20, 2007, by AMI Staff

Never one to shy away from a special, if not odd, honor for his personal style, Alexander Antebi accepted an exclusive invitation be one of fifty members of Beard Team USA to compete in the 2007 World Beard and Mustache Championships in Brighton, England September 1, 2007.

Representing the U.S. in the “Imperial Mustache” (the handle bar mustache in layman’s terms), Antebi was not only one of the youngest competitors in this globally covered event, but he won it in 2007.

The American Mustache Institute recently caught up with Antebi for its Monthly Mustache Interview.

Q: How long have you had a mustache?
A: Four years.

Q: What prompted you to grow it?
A: A crush with the old world and the 70s. I am lost in antiquity. It was just something I did and the more it grew, the more I grew into it. A mustache is a funny thing. Once a person starts to get some length and growth, the hairs start going in different directions and dictate to the owner or host what kind of mustaches they should have.

Not every kind of mustache will work on every face unless one uses a lot of product or heat tools, which defeats the purpose. A mustache is a extension and celebration of one’s manhood and individual identity. Like a finger print, no two mustaches are alike. So, finding or growing into one’s true stache is a combination of listening to one’s body and within one’s options, finding a style that suits one’s face and character. This is the journey of this man and his stache.

Q: Have you experienced discrimination because of your ‘stache?Alexander Antebi - Rock & Roll High Kick
A: An interesting question. Yes, in fact, but I don’t think it is just my stache. I have very brown hair and a smile, style and profile all my own. In certain Middle Eastern countries and cultures people did not understand how someone with such a stiff, masculine upper-lip appendage could have long hair, which is viewed in these other cultures as quite feminine. It was a contradiction. People were attracted and fascinated, but a bit puzzled when I walked down the street.

People from these same conservative groups in other countries like Sweden and Denmark make comments, which I luckily do not understand. I may be a dandy, but I am man. I have a hairy chest, a man’s walk, talk, so my long hair combined with some tight “Alexander Antoinette” bell bottom pants and red snake skin boots is probably not something that the people who are making comments have ever seen before.

Q: Have you observed how mustaches are received in countries around the world? Is it different than in the U.S.?
A: In the U.K., Germany, Mexico, Sweden, Denmark, Israel and many more, the mustache is very well-received. There is at least one person or cultural icon in each culture’s history or past that I resemble and if all else fails I am awarded the honorable title of Frank Zappa.

Whether I am at a publisher’s conference in Boca Raton, Florida or a pub in East, London, I find that the biggest, macho guys will always buy me a beer. Multiple guys have walked up to me on a dark street or in a bar and just think that I am going to be punched, I get a hi-five, compliment, beer or all three. Never thought my that my stache would be a passport to global modern uber-macho society, but I am very glad. This passport of mine has allowed me to connect with people who I probably would have never talked to otherwise.

The only problem is that, I find myself answering the same questions over and over again, but hey, I guess it comes with the territory. It is very easy to rely on one’s stache as their identity as opposed to an identifying mark or expression of oneself. Facial hair should not define a person, so one has to be careful not to let their whole social web revolve around it, but unlike youth and hair on the top of a man’s head, one can most likely have their stache, if they want it to the grave.

They say that your fingernails and hair can continue to grow after one has passed. So youth and beauty may fade but the stache will never die. A stache is a terrible thing to waste or misuse. It can be a friendly ally or a deadly weapon, a parasite that wears it’s host or a extension of one’s self and manhood. It is up you. Only you have the power to stop stache abuse.

Q: If you have to choose between shaving and losing a limb which would you choose and why?
A: Seriously? Come on, you cheeky questionnaires. I am not going to answer that. My stache of course. Take everything, but don’t take my stache. On my driver’s license, I have donated my organs, but most importantly my stache. I am a stache donor. Your legs will grow back, but your stache might never.

Q: How do women react to your mustache? Are you single?
A: I am a single dependent, when and who you catch me with. Looking is free, but touching costs. The good news is that you get a free mustache ride with every purchase. Women and girls alike are intrigued by it. They always want to touch it and want to know what it feels like to kiss a geezer with a big mustache.

I was talking with a beautiful Australian strawberry-blonde creative director from London, who was telling me that men of the stache can get away with a lot more than those with a lack thereof. For example, when we wink it is cute and funny as opposed to the man with a lack of upper lip machismo whose wink comes off as weird and slimy. A wink and a kiss from a man with a mustache tickles the soul.

A: Do you have any special techniques for grooming your mustache?
A: Special technique, huh? Ok, I will give you one good secret technique for the stache that has everything. Try washing your stache with beer before manipulating it with or without an aid or product. This was a well-kept Bavarian secret until I did this interview.

Q: Who is your mustache hero and why?
A: Günter Rosin, who is the current World Hungarian Mustache Champion. He has one of the most well groomed, tasteful and elegant pieces of facial hair, that I have ever seen anywhere. A German Champion, having competed in fifty-one competitions and receiving 1st place fifty of those times. Picture a German with an even sun tan, salt and pepper hair fashioned in a slightly grown out crew cut, and the most magnificent stallion of a stache you have ever seen.

A silver stallion of a stache that sits upon this well tanned man with a contrast that resembles the color combo of a 1966 or 1967 silver Avante with chocolate brown or dark tan interior. This stache is perfect in symmetry, color shape size and it fits it’s owner’s face perfectly.

Many Hungarian men have mustaches that border Bullwinkle or old-school-comic-cool, but not every day can be Halloween. Well, maybe it can, but this man’s stache is big without being too big. This is one of the reasons he always wins. Remember, it is not how big or long your stache is, but how well groomed it is and how well it suits you as demonstrated by the Hungarian Mustache Champion.

Q: Did your father or mother have a mustache?
A: My father grew mustaches, goatees and beards when we used to go on family vacations, but never rode a stache to freedom like some of us from the old world. Although, I do remember being a kid and raising money for the American Heart Association. I used to participate in a program called Jump For Heart, not stache for cash.

I was a little boy at the ripe old age of eight or nine. He use to work for Bear Stearns and I recall going around his office pitching all the brokers on the charity, because I wanted the remote control car, video games, and pizza party for my class that came with raising the most money for the charity. I was always one who did things for the right reasons. ;) Anyway, it was there that I encountered my first white platinum handle bar mustache. I could barely speak when I saw it.

I walked into the office of this broker, he may have even been a partner and I forgot my whole pitch. He has the second nicest stache I have ever seen. I forgot my pitch and that is when I fell into the web of facial hair fashion. It is a day I will never forget. It was the day I saw a grayscale Imperial Mustache in it’s natural habitat.

Q: If you could tell the young people something about the experience of growing a mustache, what would you tell them?
A: Go to your local mustache dealership and see if there is a mustache that is right for you. Mustaches are not for everyone and should not be used without a permit in the state of California. You’re a man, start looking like one. Wear your stache and wear it with dignity. It is not a piece of hipster-cred that you use to score cool points; although, you will get a lot.

It is something that takes commitment and requires maintenance, patience and care. A truly well grown and groomed mustache is not for fad-fed fake and bake fashionistas, for by the time you are half way there, the trend is over and you can’t wear your new chartreuse spandex with red sequin ticker symbols on it, for every good style-o-phile knows that it will clash with the stache.

Q: Were you honored to be part of the U.S. team at the World Beard & Mustache Championships this year?
A: I represented my country proudly. Even in the U.K., Americans are not well-liked. Before the championships, during the parade of facial hair factions people from atop of buildings threw a light assortment of vegetables and other lovely treats at the American flag holders.

I was on a mission of diplomacy for my country. Our country is that of many colors, peoples and opinions and it is important that we can show our differences in a respectful way. We need all the p.r. we can get and on all fronts. So, I did my part to the best of my ability.

Q: How has the experience shaped your worldview?
A: My world view is constantly being reshaped, but meeting so many genuine people from all over the world that share a similar pride in their manhood, culture and their facial hair was a lovely thing. Even when there were language barriers and we could not totally understand each other, we still found ways of communicating. It was a meeting of the staches, but not in the romantic sense. Well, at least not for me. I can’t speak for all staches of nations. I am only one Champion.

Q: You have your own clothing line with partner Ashley Hester called “Alexander Antoinette.” Tell us how you shape an outfit to suit a mustache appropriately?
A: An outfit is a lot like a mustache in the sense that it should fit the person. A stache is like an accessory and once grown, one may not be able to wear the same styles of clothing that they maybe previously wore without there being a clash or looking too costumy and not in a good way. As a man lost in antiquity that also takes his cues from many decades in the 20th century, it was a difficult task. I am El Conquistador. I am a American and I am me, so this was a difficult task.

I can’t speak for others, because my outfit was an amalgamation of influences tweeded in a bowl of elegantly wasted pasts. I am one, who looks forward to the past. In an interview with Time and the BBC, I described my couture creation as “Southern Civil War Vermeer meets Rajestani Rock N Roll Eleganza.” In order to find or design an outfit that fits your stache, one must dig through the past and present to find inspiration. Even if one only sees things that they don’t like, it is ok, because this is an important part in shaping one’s taste.

A lot of people from Marc Jacobs to many of The World Beard and Mustache competitors draw from a heritage or uniform that they relate to either visually, culturally or both and use that as a base for their creation. They then start the customizing, personalization or ornamentation process and obviously, do so while wearing their outfit.

The only advice I can say, is be imaginative and tasteful. I love spinal tap, but if the World Beard and Mustache Championships turns into something like that, then it will lose the charm and authenticity that makes it such an interesting and odd, yet beautiful festival and culture of celebratory people.

Q: You are also a musician. Tell us how your music is shaped, if at all, by your facial hair?
A: I am a Conquistador. My facial hair is part of my visual identity. I wear myself inside out. Should we choose to use it articulately and well, personal adornment is a mode of communication and form of expression.

My stache like many others is rebellion without noise or words. The modern world is obsessed with youth and the male idea of aesthetic beauty is not one of a man, but a boy. I am a man and I am proud to be a man and proud to have conquered puberty. This is one way I can express that idea.

I, like many others consciously and unconsciously are challenging convention, because we do not agree with it. It is great to be young, but it is also a special thing to reach manhood and it is something that should be embraced not denied, or something to be ashamed of. We are men and we are proud.

My music is that of a living thing, but it is more than just melody and words. It is something that is meant to emote, inspire, challenge, amuse and uplift and this visual representation of my inner-self is another component of my music. All of these forms of expression overflow into one another forming the sea of Conquistador.

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