"Everyone has grown this thing for months. It’s a journey, you know. Everyone has struggled through the week where it’s crap, the week where it’s getting there, and the week you can do this… [evil twist of his handlebar mustache]." Matt Matheson, Movember Communications
Entering a room full of men wearing mustaches can mean many things: a Paul Bunyan casting call, a Hell’s Angel club meeting or a Village People theme-party where everyone showed up as the cop. But to this writer it can mean only one of two things: either I stumbled onto the set of a gangbang scene from the 70s or it’s Movember. Thankfully for me it was the latter.
Movember began the way all great ideas begin, in a basement over beer. But what started as a gentlemen’s bet over who could grow the best mustache has turned into a global charity promoting prostate cancer awareness.
For Mo Bros (supporters of Movember), the month of November is dedicated to cultivating upper lip facial hair (the Mo) and seeking out sponsorship for said gallant effort. The month promises a channeling of everyman’s inner Tom Selleck and the sanding down of girlfriends' faces.
At a recent Movember launch event I met the man at the realm of Movember, Australian born Adam Garone. Being introduced to anyone sporting a Fu Man Chu mustache and houndstooth jacket, I was suspicious, as all should be. But meeting anyone who has made a mustache into a career and saved male prostates in the process became a lesson in how far an idea can go with the right front man. This is a man who has literally charmed the mustaches onto faces worldwide.
Garone is one of few people who could get away with saying things like, “There is so much love in the room.” And I wasn’t second guessing that I had walked onto a porn set. The man used the word ‘journey’ and my reaction wasn’t a scoff. My soul didn’t want to wretch. My soul wanted to pack its bags and find out how I could go on this journey with him.
Playboy: It’s unbelievable how far this comical idea has come. How many times a year does it hit you that your life’s work revolves around the ability for men to grow facial hair?
Garone: Everyday. Everyday I wake up and think…My life is about a mustache. It has become so much more than that though. That the mustache is having a global impact on men’s health is humbling and constantly inspiring.
Playboy: How does the modern man mustache and the mo’ lifestyle transfer into the Playboy lifestyle?
Garone: I think Hugh Hefner is one of the icons of his time. He was the modern gentleman and for us it’s about being a modern gentleman and that is so different now than it was 20 or 30 years ago. You can be a DJ or in a band or you can work in finance or whatever. What we’re trying to do is bring the aspiration where everyman wants to be the modern gentleman…bring back chivalry and yes be aware of the health issues you face, be passionate about prostate cancer. Just be a gentleman and do the right thing by your friends and the women around you.
For us that’s the important part of the campaign and what we’re trying to achieve.
Playboy: So your campaign is bringing chivalry back?
Garone: Yeah, just bringing back masculinity. Facial hair now is quite popular. This gives the confidence to be a man. And it means so much…being a man changes from person to person. It doesn’t always mean the same thing. But the bottom line is chivalry and doing what’s right.
Playboy: With the amount of people you meet, what’s your best Movember story?
Garone: I met this guy on the street and I asked him about his mustache. He told me he was doing it for Movember and I said, hey I’m doing it for Movember as well. He goes on to say, “I know it’s for men’s health and prostate cancer but this is a tribute to my mom” and his eyes started to well up. And he goes, “Well my mom had breast cancer back in Sri Lanka and we were sending money back for her treatment but we couldn’t afford sufficient treatment and she passed away six months ago, so my Movember ‘stache is a tribute to my mom and her battle against cancer.” And chills went down my back. It was one of the most humbling points of this journey.
It taught me that each person has their own story. It doesn’t have to be about prostate cancer. We don’t think of ourselves as that precious.
Playboy: You’re now working with another popular charity, Toms. Are there any other new groups you’re teaming up with this year?
Garone: There are some fantastic partnerships in the works all around the world. Some of the larger ones include, Schick, Speedstick, Harley Davison, Links of London, Landcaster, PKG and more.
Playboy: Since your life revolves around mustaches and cancer awareness, what are some key grooming tips you think every Mo Bro should know that you’ve learned along the way?
Garone: Start the month clean shaven. Keep it about the mo - No goatees or beards. It’s a confidence thing when you come down to it though. You’ve got to groom it of course, but you have own it and wear it proudly. Sometimes the lamest Mo makes for the best conversations.
Playboy: Does each mustache bring out a different persona?
Garone: One of the wonderful things about Movember, that a lot of guys don’t realize, is that it’s this journey and you don’t know how it’s going to turn out and, guys doing it for the first time ever don’t feel their projecting themselves not in the best light so they go on this journey and the first couple of weeks are tentative and then the last two weeks they get a new level of confidence and start thinking I can do this. Guys start to walk a little taller and talk a little louder
Playboy: Are you sad when you shave it off?
Garone: One of my friends said it best, “Nov 1st is like a rendezvous with me and my mustache. And then we say goodbye at the end of the month.”
Playboy: So, does the Mo help or hurt when picking up?
Garone: Picking up is easy….uh…closing is harder. Makes for quite the opener but not all women are used to kissing a guy with a mustache.
Playboy: Best mustache pickup line?
Garone: Do you want a mustache ride? They’re usually 50 cents but I can give you 3 for a dollar.
Playboy: What are some of your favorite iconic mustaches Mo Bros can look to for inspiration during the month of November?
Garone: It’s gotta be Errol Flynn, Tom Selleck and Dali.
Playboy: Jon Waters stash. Yay or nay?
Playboy: What celebrity could rock the Mo the best?
Garone: Brad Pitt
Playboy: What was the wildest Movember party you’ve attended?
Garone: It’s gotta be the Playboy club in Vegas ….or the Gala Parté at Cowboys in Calgary.
Playboy: At the end of the day, what do you want people to take away from the Movember experience?
Garone: The importance of looking after your health and be responsible for it. If they walk away championing the Mo with their friends and family and looking after their health then we are doing sometime right.