The Stupid Question: Can A Moustache Truly Be Ironic?
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when it began. Possibly with the meme-revival of Magnum PI or Chuck Norris. Possibly with the childhood nostalgia of Generation Y. Possibly with the rejection of futurism, or the growing spread of sleaze-culture, or the ascendance of steampunk. But sometime in the last decade, moustaches become cool again.
Well, not cool exactly. Irony was the primary appellation to the cookie duster. Moustaches became cool because they were painfully uncool; the working class facial hair beloved by bikers, truckers, and dodgy fuckers.
Movember cashed in on the mo’ mockery for a good cause. Tattooists earnt 40 clams here and there from hipsters jokily getting a fingerstache inked on. A dog ball with a plastic Dirk Dastardly won Best New Product at the Global Pet Expo. Rollie Fingers’ handlebar has its own Wikipedia sub-heading. The World Beard And Moustache Championships appeared ever more regularly on the ‘wacky segment after the weather’ on the news. Sports sites rank the Best Sporting Moustaches Of All Time (redundant spoiler alert: Boonie won).
ALF t-shirts can be removed. As can fluoro Wayfarers. As can Red Indian headdresses and Hammer pants. But lip spinach has to be grown over weeks and is there when you’re doing dishes or waiting at the bank or trying to scrape dog shit off your shoe. The joke is never over. It must be hard enough to keep this snarky attitude for the month of November, let alone your entire twenties.
While hipsters are regularly mocked for their own ironic attachment to the soup strainer, at least one man can claim that robust face fungus made his career. The mythology of Jesse ‘The Devil’ Hughes, mastermind behind honkytonk revivalists Eagles of Death Metal, centres around a middle-aged man tiring of the drudgery, dumping the wife, hopping on the amphetamines, and exchanging his mundane life for Californian days of rollerblading in hotpants and nights of playing rampantly-pelvic garage rock for the moistening masses. And do you think he could’ve got away with any of this without that moustache?
In the ‘Making Of’ video promoting his new “solo” electro-funk album Honkey Kong, under yet another of his nicknames Boots Electric, he describes the writing process as, “I took George Clinton, bent him over and then raped the shit out of him with Gary Numan, using Little Richard as a dick”. He also says of the lyrical subject matter, “All irony; the album’s fraught with irony,” then, as he traces his fingers over his luxuriant red womb comb, “Ironic moustaches, everything.”
Is this man, whose public persona is built on his truckstop rentboy image, which is itself built on that amazing honker hedge, saying he’s wearing it as a joke? Hughes spoke to The Enthusiast about the album (on his birthday, no less) but we really wanted to know about the mo.
Jesse, Boots, Devil, when did you last see your upper lip?
“1999,” he strains to remember, “But I feel like I saw it for the very first time when it was covered in hair.”
The moustache is no longer ironic, then? It is you and you are it?
“The moustache, to me, is ironic. I’m not trying to be stupid,” he semi-clarifies. “The way I look it is: a lot of girls didn’t have sex with me on purpose in high school. When I finally got into getting down with girls, I was a little more scientific in my approach than I should’ve been.”
“So to me it seems fundamentally advantageous to look like every girl’s dad when they were about three. To buy into the concept that every girl has of their daddy. It’s called ‘Paging Dr Freud’.”
Even if there’s irony involved, it takes a man with hair on his nuts to be bold enough to let loose the hair upon his upper lip. Not taking yourself too seriously is as bold. Peacocking and writing cheesy, sleazy, irresistibly danceable music helps. But taking advantage of the Electra complex is certainly devilish, Boots. There’s no irony when it comes to rounding up the fillies.
Boots Electric’s debut album Honkey Kong is out now and it’s a strange beast. But it’s still as sexy as a dripping ‘stache.
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