To ‘Stache or Not to ‘Stache

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It says a lot about the power of hair that in with vengeful ex-cons, baby-switching and Vanessa Williams all packed into the season premiere of “Desperate Housewives,” that all I could think when I watched it was “OMG…Carlos shaved his mustache!”

Ricardo Chavira, who plays Eva Longoria’s husband on the show usually sports a seriously macho-man goatee, but he showed up last Sunday with a totally bald face, a subtle but powerful surprise that a change in male facial hair always brings. Women have a little bit more room to play with their appearance via makeup, hair and a greater variety of available clothing styles, so it’s less of a surprise when they do it. Facial hair is one of the more malleable corners the male aesthetic playground and the last few years have brought us everything from Brad Pitt looking like a cartoon prospector to Joaquin Phoenix looking like the guys I always see sleeping outside the library. to Apollo Ohno’s soul patch to hairless, heart-throb vampires.

As for whether to beard or not to beard, to shave or go Ned Flanders, it depends on the guy. Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp both have classic good looks but whereas Brad’s ZZ Top look did not have legs, Johnny could probably have worn that disgusting octopus appendage from “Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest,” on his chin and still looked good. Jude Law is another actor of classic handsome looks but with the mustache he looks like he just stepped off a gay porn shoot, circa 1974. Russell Brand, on the other hand, looks a little better with the facial hair…born to look like a rock star. Joe Namath was one of the handsomest men in sports…until one year when he appeared to have stapled a weasel to his upper lip.

As for Ricardo Chavira, at first I thought “Wow! He looks so much better without the ‘stash,” but the more I looked the more I like the classic Carlos. Still, the rush of the novelty was pretty cool.

Doubtless everyone will have a different take, though…and if you seriously get into this comparison thing, you can go to The Bearded Gentleman: The Style Guide to Shaving Face and check out their Rate My Whiskers page where perfectly strange men seek out your opinion on their facial fuzz. Nick Burns, who, with Allan Peterkin, co-authored the book “The Bearded Gentlemen,” about the history, cultural significance and fashioning of facial hair has said that the mustache is a sign of manliness…I don’t know. Someone should tell that to Rip Taylor (if you don’t mind a face full of confetti).

The novelty of a facial hair change can be a great buzz but hopefully the change is pretty quick. Five o’clock shadow can often look really sexy in my experience but there’s nothing like having a moment of oral intimacy and suddenly hearing yourself say “Ow! WTF was that, sandpaper?’

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