John Webster chooses sequins over the “new restraint,” admitting caution when it comes to the length of his beard (in fear of looking like a non-union Dr. Vink – my reference, not his). Where most see aging as the last nail in the coffin, Webster sees grace and humor in style icons of the past (both iconoclast and icon-to-him). Much like his beard, he has grown out of his “they-used-to-call-me-anal-girl” roots, sporting a post-Van Dyke fullness he likes with a mixture of patterns and textures that emphasize his distinguished salt and pepper.
Name: John Webster
Occupation: Artist/ Illustrator/ Sissydude
City: Toronto, Canada
Are you a grower or a show-er? Are you a guy who has always had a beard, or is your growth a response to a trend?
Well, I’ve played with beardidge on & off for like 15 years. I’m a lazy shaver so some sort of facial hair always exists. A full on beard without much grooming is my new love (after a good solid 4 months of sporting a dandyish Van Dyke) … and I’ve got major grey going on now… workin’ the silver daddy.
Do you keep your beard neat and clean or is a little unkempt more your style?
In the past when sporting a “fullish” beard, I’d always been a tad too neatly groomed… and I started looking like Alexander Julian or some anal kid’s TV show host (not very sexy). Unkempt with a little trimming now & again is way better… and with a receding hairline & lots of grey, too unkempt can become “crazy old guy”.
Does your beard ever factor in to the clothes you choose to wear? Do you like to frame it as your statement, rather than wear bold patterns, graphics and colours to distract from it?
Definitely! Clothes work so much better on me with a beard… I tend to wear mixes of patterns and colors… vintage pieces mixed with new stuff. Not to distract from the beard but to enhance it. And I LOVE wearing ties… suit jackets… and sneakers. I wished I loved good leather shoes but I sadly prefer a sneaker (I walk a lot). When I don’t sport a beard I look at least 10 years younger.
A graying beard feels like a true acceptance of aging. I’m also very inspired by writer Patrick Dennis (Auntie Mame)… his dapper suit with hat & beard was really quite smashing. As I get older, I look to stylish old folks of the past to see how to do aging amusingly, if not gracefully… ish.
Does facial hair suit everyone? If you weren’t fully bearded, would you sport a ‘stache?
I’ve done the ‘stache! I just can’t pull it off… at all. A handlebar emphasizes my weak chin and a porn ‘stache… I think that can really be hot, funny & ironic on cute young boys or old Greek daddies. Men with darker skin tones can really work a ‘stache. I wear lots of flowery prints… with a mustache I just look funny… not good funny. I think everyone looks good with a beard.
How would you classify your style?
I’m a pretty eclectic/ classic dresser. I wear very plain classic shaped clothes. I’m 6 foot 7 inches tall, so I’ll do something I think is subtle but it can come across as way too showy to mere mortals. Like bright magenta knee socks & tight above the thigh gray shorts… or my black cashmere cape with a velvet collar… I’m like a Sunday school Vincent Price!
What do you think about bearded, less-standardized models on the runways of Yohji Yamamoto, Vivienne Westwood, Walter Van Beirendonck? Can high fashion be showcased in this way?
There are so VERY many sexy bearded models out there… the beard will of course come in & out of fashion again & again. But it is all over the place lately. I think it’s great. On my tumblr blog, Sissydude (NSFW), I frequently post (& repost) hot men of all ages sporting their beards, hairy backs, shoulders, crotches & bums. And its really grabbed hold of the artsy queers. I think it’s a rebellion to all the shaved perfect gym bodies that the fashion industry and advertisers sadly parade as the only beauty out there. The beard- the natural hairiness of a man- recalls the hippies, the gay men of the 70’s… The Cockettes. It is a very liberating thing, but eating an ice cream cone with one can be a bitch.
Name one item you will never part with from your wardrobe
My original Smiths concert T-Shirt from the 80’s… and my childhood Star Wars T-Shirt too.
Any advice to those gents out there who may want to achieve a beard like yours?
Keep it a tad unkempt and condition it too… also, I use a dab of Dax Short & Neat Light Hair Dress to keep it (the beard) in line and soft to the touch. Oh, and it’s really fun to yank one’s beard… it’s a real plaything!