Author, media personality, and world beard champion; retired.
Jack Passion was the stage and pen name of a musician who grew a huge beard to become a world beard champion and the first “Professional Beardsman.”
Jack wrote The Facial Hair Handbook, and was featured in numerous documentaries and television shows. He eventually moved on with his life, cut his beard short, and now happily enjoys a wonderful life doing other things.
This website serves as a remembrance and encapsulation of the era; less of a headstone, more of a monument.
This book is for the man who is ready to look like one.
It should have been seen as a sign that a man can shave every day of his life and his beard will keep growing back. Over the past few years, we’ve seen facial hair sprouting up on faces everywhere. Men want to experiment with their facial gardens, but it’s not always just as easy as putting the razor to rest…
The Facial Hair Handbook is a hilarious and informative guide to all aspects of facial hair, for men of all ages and all faces. From making the decision to wear facial hair, to the best way to take it off, all men can finally be stylish and care for their appearance while staying true to who they are: Men.
You know, for the kids. Gotta start 'em young.
Reading time is about 15-20 minutes, so I'll summarize:
The Jack Passion/Beard Thing was a fun, wild, interesting adventure; Then it wasn't, so I stopped doing it.
Hey, how’s it going? This is Jack speaking/writing now. Sorry/not sorry for the third-person bio up there – that’s just how those things are done. Because so many people keep asking what happened to me, I thought I might update this website and seal off the tomb forever, so to speak. What follows is a very brief timeline, an epilogue/reflection, and a final farewell. I’ll warn you, there’s going to be some more first-person/third-person usage and if you don’t like that, too bad, because I’ve got the talking stick, bitch!
Let’s get started/Let’s get ended:
Burke Kenny [an OG beardsman, a non-bull-shitter, and nothing less than a brother to me] and I talk all the time, and one thing we always come back to is that the Alaskan cruise leading up to the 2009 WBMC was the highest point of the bygone beard-times, and it was downhill from there. That’s not to say that everything else afterward was “faking it,” or that I had totally checked out, but the competition thing certainly started to become less and less fun by 2010.
Anyway, I also emceed the US National Championships in Bend, Oregon, a great town filled with amazing human beings. Definitely had a blast in Bend. I had a grass-fed beef endorsement, I was spokesperson for Combos snacks, and I was the subject of an award winning short film called Passion. 2010 was a great year to be Jack Passion! However, when I wasn't doing cool stuff, I really just bummed around, broke as shit, increasingly surrounded by negativity. Wherever there were crumbs of money or food I could trade beard one-liners for, I did so. You or someone you know probably made or bought me dinner during this time; thank you again for that. One of the TV shows panned out, and I think I did some filming for that and a movie called Mansome, too. Honestly, some of this stuff might have been 2011; 2010 and 2011 are kind of a blur.
I did some other travel around the US and Europe to competitions for TV. Those trips are all a blur. The TV show I was doing aired, but it might have been early 2012? I was part of an award winning ad campaign that made my beard into, among other things, a pinball game! I had more sponsorships. I emceed another National Championships in Amish Country. I vividly remember hanging out with fans after that long day on stage, the sun setting, signing books, taking pictures; that was definitely one of the best times. And while the money was shit, in 2011, I was finally actually living off my beard only, ergo, "Professional Beardsman.”
I was still doing TV stuff in 2012 too, traveling around to "competitions" for filming second season of that TV show, to air later that year. I didn't get to pick any of the contests I was sent to; it was a very "manufactured" "circuit." The show reduced the beard thing (something that by this point in history I cared a lot about, and had invested a lot of time, energy, and money into) to a school-yard-childish, simple-minded, us-vs-them binary, and then amplified it, attracting a bunch of people with the wrong ideas about what it was about. It ushered in an entirely different vibe, 180 degrees from the quirky, eccentric vibe that got me started with it all back in 2005. I am sorry, both as an apology and as an expression of regret, for having been part of something so foul. While my relationship with some of the cast was strained beforehand (What began as unprovoked heckling, impersonation, and other antagonization, starting in 2009, was definitely blown out of proportion for television, as was my response and self-defense), any grudge I hold is with the show/TV as a whole, not with any of the people affected by it. Shit was splattered; it was dumb. Boys will be boys; Men move on.
My last public appearance/abeardance ever was as a spectator at 2012 National Championship in Las Vegas; I pretty much just dropped out after that.
It was an interesting ten years to say the least. When I started, there were no beards and no beard competitions; now every male has a beard and there are multiple competitions every weekend. When I started, there was no reality television, and it was “stupid” to be “famous” for “having a beard.” Now nothing is weird, and you can be "famous" for anything. I can hardly believe how much happened/changed in that ten years.
That timeline is really short; this was just written in one go, and there's obviously a lot left out. There must be a hundred outlines and beginnings to a memoir that I am just too unmotivated to pick up and finish. I am one voice; I'll never be able to speak louder than a network television show, or Paul Rudd in Mansome, or the endless conjecture/opinions barfed around by people on social media. That timeline also reminded me that I never actually told my story; it was always filtered through some bullshit machine/editor/outlet/financial-incentive. Why? I was a performer. When it was showtime, I put on a (damn good) show.
When the “Jack Passion Beard Thing” availed itself as a series of potential opportunities in or around 2009/2010, I had to see where it could go. From the beginning, the beard was always an outward expression of my internal proclivity for personal and creative freedom. "Money" and "fame" can buy/enable more freedom, or it can backfire and trap your ass; You take a risk, just like starting a business, making an investment, or following a rabbit down a hole.
Usually, the passage of time almost always ensures a positive, nostalgic look back on the way it all unfolded, but if I knew then what I know now, I might have just stuck with music. Alas, I didn’t know what I know now, so life had to be lived the way it was lived. It can be a lot of fun to travel and to be part of creative production; my experience was really like being in a band in so many ways. Similarly, just as many people before me have left the beard and the “beard community” behind, people grow up and do things other than live in a van and shred hot licks on guitar. Maybe that’s a bad analogy, because I’ll always love a good Econoline and power-ballad riffs.
“Jack Passion” – the “thing,” the concept, the half-man-half-beard meta-reality and the whole experience of people, competition, and media – was a literal cocoon in which a bored kid from the suburbs who liked to be on stage entered, and a wiser man emerged. It turns out, I don't really like working in entertainment: When you play music, you engage a skill to express and share yourself with the world in a meaningful way. When you "model" (because that's what standing there with a beard is, plus "posing" for "photography" is elemental to the bearding experience) or pop off the same soundbites until the lighting is right, there is no skill, nor is there any meaning.
The path of male actualization can take many forms, but the beard is by far the easiest with the most guaranteed results; I still recommend it to anyone and stand by everything I said in Part I of Facial Hair Handbook. I wear a short beard now, closely groomed, exactly what I recommended in part II of The Facial Hair Handbook. I like it, and mine is the only opinion on it that really matters. Quick story, though: Last week an amazing woman thought I might be a barber because my beard was “so well-groomed.” Oh man, if she only knew :) ...Although, she is neither European nor Canadian!
Before we’re done here, I would also like to say thank you to the amazing mass of friends, family, and fans for their support during and after the whole JP/Beard thing/era: The words “thank” and “you” don’t even begin to get at the breadth of my gratitude. Generous, selfless people hosted me, fed me, housed me, bought a book from me, dated me, laughed with me, traveled with me, inspired me, taught me, jammed with me, employed me, talked to me, listened to me, emailed me, messaged me, supported me, and more – through shitty times and shiny ones. Thank you so much, to all of you, whoever you are, in whatever capacity you hold/held in my life.
Farewell, with my utmost gratitude and well-wishes to the universe and all who occupy it.
©2005-2015 Jack Passion LLC.