So it's here once again: Movember. The month when upper lips all across the world sprout fresh crops of stubble to raise awareness of prostate cancer. In some past eras, though, the Movember concept would never have worked; after all, everyone had moustaches already. In honour of this nobly hirsute month, then, let's take a look at some of the ways the ultimate gentleman's accessory has manifested throughout history.
WFT History Lesson #606:
The History of the Moustache
Humans have been shaving since they learned to make blades of any kind. You can get a really sharp edge on a stone tool if you know what you're doing – but a lot of ancient cultures either went completely clean-shaven or sported full, luxurious beards. Contrary to stereotype, there are some tombs of ancient Egyptians rocking jaunty lip caterpillars. Prince Rahotep, for instance, was an Egyptian royal from the third millennium BC whose neat facial hair gives him a very smooth, club-goer look. I mean, apart from the bit where he's wearing nothing but a linen kilt. I guess it depends on the kind of clubs you go to.
Another (but much later) famous ancient moustache belongs to the unidentified horseman on a fragment of felt carpet found in a tomb of the Iron Age Pazyryk culture in Kazakhstan. Our unknown rider disdains the neatly-trimmed smoothie look Rahotep had going on, instead letting the whiskers fly free. Presumably they whipped entertainingly in the wind as he galloped across the steppe, or maybe I'm getting carried away.
The forbidden moustache
In various cultures around the world and throughout history, moustaches have been associated with the military. French soldiers of the Napoleonic era prided themselves on their stylish whiskers, and there have been times when moustaches in the British armed forces were actually mandatory. This association with military service is why Amish men grow full beards but never moustaches – the military style is seen as contrary to their pacifist creed.
Why do they call it a porn 'stache anyway?
When you think of a male porn star, the image of a guy with a big fuzzy moustache immediately leaps to mind, even though (in straight porn at least) that hasn't been a thing since the 1970s (well, OK, maybe the 80s). And in those days everyone was sporting a bushy mark of virility. So why is the iconic facial accoutrement of the 70s so associated with porn?
I have a theory. It relies on casting your mind back to a time when porn wasn't absolutely everywhere on the internet, when magazines and videos ruled, and when getting new porn wasn't as easy as the click of a mouse. People – especially, say, high school students who weren't supposed to have any porn in the first place – held on to their porn a lot longer. I personally knew people who owned wobbly, squeaky videotapes of horrible old German porn featuring atrocious 70s moustaches – and this was in the early-mid 1990s. Did this behaviour preserve these moustache images beyond the point where they had vanished from mainstream television and advertising, giving rise to the stereotype of moustaches as a porn thing? I think it might have.
Maybe it's just because many cultures see moustaches as a sign of sexual power and virility?
And of course …
Above all, how could we celebrate the moustache without mentioning its iconic place in gay culture? Gay and bi icons from Freddie Mercury to Armistead Maupin to the Village People's Glenn Hughes displayed moustaches ranging from the discreet pencil to the mighty horseshoe, and a good moustache is still much-prized in some quarters of the gay community today.
So why the connection? Maybe it's the old symbol-of-masculinity thing, or maybe it's just that the importance of the 70s in LGBT history mean that some 70s styles have become iconic. I'm neither old enough or gay enough to know the answer, but either way, moustaches will always have a special place in the hearts, or more accurately on the upper lips, of gay and bisexual men.
The icons of moustache history are here to stay. Honour them by getting yourself checked out for prostate cancer as soon as fucking possible gentlemen! You love your butts and so do we!
This article was contributed by one of our fabulous guest writers! Got something to say? Wanna get featured on the Fuck.com magazine? Send us a message write (at) fuck (dot) com
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