Confessions of a competitive bearder: "Little kids were terrified"

Meet this bearded lady (don't worry, kids—it's fake) at the Fourth Annual Beard and Mustache Competition at Irving Plaza this Saturday

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Jessica Ivy Distad, 30

Jessica Ivy Distad, representing the Gotham City Beard Alliance for the The Fourth Annual Beard and Mustache Competition

Jessica Ivy Distad, representing the Gotham City Beard Alliance for the The Fourth Annual Beard and Mustache Competition Photograph: Liz Clayman


What’s with the getup? I got involved with creative fake bearding about a year ago. I have a friend who is in the Gotham City Beard Alliance, and he mentioned that I should compete in the Coney Island Beard and Mustache Competition. I did and I won. After, he said, “You should come to our big competition in December.” So I went and got hooked. Everybody in the competitive-bearding community is so friendly, has crazy stories and loves to party. It’s a really welcoming, awesome group of guys and girls.

Is the competitive-bearding community big? It’s really exploded in the past couple of years. There are clubs in a lot of the major cities around the country.

Is everyone in NYC’s community from Brooklyn? Nooo. We’re all over the place. Guys in Long Island, Queens, the Bronx. Some of our most active members grew up in Gramercy. There’s a fair number of Brooklynites, too.

What’s it like competing in these events? It’s a lot of fun. It’s not really about who wins and who loses. Everybody’s just there to have a good time; it’s silly. And any excuse to dress up, I’m there.

Why are you dressed as Lady Liberty? Our competition’s awards this year are Statues of Liberty with beards on them, so this is very apropos.

You’ll be handing out the awards? I sure will.

Do you wear a fake beard? [Laughs] Oh, yes. I only know one chick with a real beard and that’s not me.

Where do you get your beards? I make most of them out of crepe hair. Sometimes I cut up a wig or two, but most of them are just theatrical makeup.

So no beard itch? [Laughs] Wearing a fake mustache is really difficult; it’s really hard to drink and eat. Everything has to be done through a straw. It makes putting on lipstick especially difficult. But with a beard, not so much.

Do you ever wear it in public? Only at events that are promoting the club. It was my first Mermaid Parade this year. It was funny walking around Coney Island getting food—little kids were terrified.

Event details

Fourth Annual Beard and Mustache Competition

  • Critics choice

These facial-hair competitions seem to get more extreme every year. Someone like Rollie Fingers or Keith Hernandez wouldn’t even be allowed onto the stage. Have you seen the guy who turns his beard into a functioning birdcage? It’s bewildering. Expect to witness a whole array of styles and hues at this year’s edition.

  1. Irving Plaza 17 Irving Pl, at 15th St
  2. Sat Dec 7
More info

Gallery: Coney Island Beard and Mustache Competition 2013

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

  • Photograph: Alex Strada

    The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition

Photograph: Alex Strada

The 6th Annual Coney Island Beard and Moustache Competition


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