Arthur’s megabeard culled for charity

October 28, 2011 in General

A little while ago, I wrote about my favourite beards. You may recall one of them was Arthur, the afro-beard man pictured above.

Needless to say, the beard is somewhat impressive. If we were in an episode of Star Trek, the tricorders would be out and it’d be tested for sentience.

However, he has decided to give it up – temporarily – for charity.

The 21-year-old has decided to do Movember this year, which of course requires him to be beardless and baby-faced for November 1st. In New Zealand, Movember’s proceeds are donated jointly to the Cancer Society and the Mental Health Foundation.

But rather than let this megabeard go to waste, he has kindly agreed to sell it to the highest bidder at the Urge Slave Auction this Saturday night. Yes – you can pay for the exclusive opportunity to de-beard Arthur, and see a face that only his family and high school friends have seen.

Speaking of school, that was the last time Arthur had an audience for shaving – when he was a boarder.

“Having had the hirsute genes kick in rather early, shaving became somewhat of a hidden art for me,” he remembers. “Being in boarding school, you’d be sitting in the laundry and then suddenly the word would catch and go around the dorm, ‘oh my god, Arthur’s shaving!’”

“No one else had reached that stage yet, so the first couple of times it was a bit of a novelty factor,” he laughs. “You’d turn round and realise you had an audience.”

Beards weren’t allowed at school, so he’d hang out for the holidays when he could grow it back. After leaving school, it blossomed into the creature it is today. He wouldn’t look out of place in an old pioneer photo, and on a recent trip to the States, people took to calling it ‘Abe’. He says he looks like a terrorist in his passport photo, but managed to get through Customs unscathed.

Born in North Canterbury, Arthur comes from a farming family and has spent most of his life living rural. Before recently moving to Auckland, his last town of residence was Oamaru, which is about an hour away from his parents and two brothers. His sister already lives in Latteland.

The New Zealand Young Farmers have also pledged themselves to Movember, seeing who can grow the biggest “face fleece” during the month. Region will be pitted against region, with the resulting facial fur being weighed at the end of the month to see who can grow the most.

How would Arthur fare against his fellow southerners?

“I might put up stiff competition, but there are a few very talented beard-growers down there.”

In the bear community, the legend of the Milne beard stretches the length of New Zealand and across the Tasman. Winner of the first Mr Bear Canterbury competition, he went onto win Mr Urge Bear 2011 and then to Melbourne in June to compete in Mr Australasia Bear. He’s not sure how people will react to his clean-shaven appearance on November 1st.

“I’m not particularly fond of it, it makes me look like a little kid,” he says. “Getting rid of it is a big thing. You’re talking to someone who had aspirations of it being twice as long as it is now.”

The Darwin beard? What will evolve during the course of next month?

“I read the rules, and it has to be a moustache, so I’m thinking, I’ll probably go for a thick stubble, trim it up…I might do the sideburns and sleazy Frenchman’s twist,” he says with a completely straight face. “Potentially. If it grows enough.”

He’s already got his Movember page up and running, and at the time of writing is in the top 10 for money raised to date, and the month hasn’t even started. He’s also started a Twitter account, and is promising daily photographic progress updates.

I for one am very proud of my mate for donating his face to raise money for men’s health, particularly mental health, which is such a major issue for our communities.

And I’m looking forward to the photos, which promises all the fun of a train crash – but with follicles instead of fatalities.