Mane Man

Mane Man

One Walnut Creek man shares his love affair with facial hair.

“Show me a man with a beard and I’ll show you what he had for lunch.” —Unknown quipster, 14 A.D.

The above crack doesn’t apply to beard champ Jack Passion. Despite the fact that he sports a fluffy red mane cascading down to his belly, it’s always bread crumb– and soup- particle–free. Using special oils and soaps, Passion maintains his mane as if his life depended on it—and, in a way it does. A member of Beard Team USA, he captured his second “natural” (meaning it undergoes minimal primping) full-beard title donning a white bowler and tails—presentation is everything in the beard game—earlier this year in Anchorage, Alaska at the World Beard and Mustache Championships (yes, there is such an event). Passion (his real middle name—he won’t reveal his last name for security reasons) is cashing in on his whiskers too. He’s got a book out on facial hair care (The Facial Hair Handbook), has hosted a TV show about beard competitions, and even has had some feelers out about doing a reality TV show. In his spare time, Passion is also a musician. I smoked Passion out of his Walnut Creek crash pad recently for a little set-to at a Rockridge cafe to see if he could drink coffee and have a full beard at the same time.

Paul Kilduff: Full-beard natural, so that basically means you’re not trimming that a whole lot.
Jack Passion: No, I’m not trimming it, and at a competition, I’m not styling it up.

PK: It really doesn’t look like you do a lot to that.
JP: Well, I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I do spend quite a bit of time conditioning, oiling, brushing, snipping split ends. It’s a lot more work than it would be to just be clean-shaven.

PK: Do you have dreams about just shaving it all off? Put on some aftershave?
JP: Only because I could go back to being a male model. I mean the money was great but, you know, it’s a hard life.

PK: This is kind of a Zoolander situation for you.
JP: It is.

PK: My understanding is you were at U.C. Santa Cruz. You were about to finish up and you decided, on a whim, to just start growing this beard. This was how long ago?
JP: Actually, it was right at the end of my freshman year.

PK: Freshman year!
JP: So it took like a school-year’s worth of being at a very progressive, very bearded U.C. Santa Cruz for me to decide, “Oh yeah, I’m growing a beard.” You always grow the beard first then you carve it into something else. So I grew out my beard with the intention of going to another style. Summer was the first time I’ve never had a job or summer school so I was super relaxed. I was getting up at like 2 p.m. every day and it’s California, I’m hanging out by the pool. It was great. So I didn’t have any pressure to shave and when I got back, the beard was so red and thick. It was like a legendary beard like even in its infancy. That sounds kind of arrogant, but . . .

PK: Jack, it’s very impressive. I mean, the pictures do not do justice. I’m sitting here in front of you and I was kind of expecting scraggly, oily, but I mean . . .
JP: It’s a little dry, I mean, I’m in the wind a lot but . . .

PK: It’s quite a statement. So basically, you have not been clean-shaven in how many years now?
JP: Six years.

PK: Six years of this. Does it interrupt sleep? What do you do? Tie it up?
JP: I usually stick it in my shirt just to get it out of the way. Sometimes, I’ll braid it. These are the kind of things that I think about: “Oh man, if I braid my beard, it’s kind of dry, I’m going to get a lot of breakage so maybe I should oil it up and then braid it.”

PK: These are the things that consume your life.
JP: Yeah, I mean, I will say this, though. I’ve taken a page from the book of extreme German beards and extreme Sikh beards, and when the beard is in good condition and you braid it, you’re not going to get a lot of breakage. But like yesterday, I had my beard in a tight braid. I just stuck it in my shirt and when I was walking around town, everyone was like freaking out, running out of stores. People I don’t know [were] like, “Oh my God, did you shave it? Did you cut it? Did you cut your beard?” Because it just made me look like I had a short beard. But what was awesome is I could get into my car and not get it caught under my leg, and I could put dishes in the dishwasher without it getting stuck in the dishwasher. You know, it was like I still had a beard but it was a short beard and I kind of felt liberated.

PK: But it sounds like you’re not ready to start trimming it back anytime soon. Is this your identity now?
JP: I’d like to think I’m more than my beard. I always say, especially with girls, the beard is like a web that I get people stuck into but they’re not going to stay if it’s not for something more.

PK: Yeah, right. This attracts people. It gets you in the door.
JP: And then hopefully, I can be an interesting guy with something to say.
JP: Yeah. “Oh man! I dig this guy named Jack. He’s so awesome and so handsome and smart and something about him just makes me want to take my clothes off.” That’s usually how it goes.
PK: I can see that happening.

PK: Beard guy.
JP: It’s my brand and it’s been instrumental in the kind of things and the kind of career I want to do. I feel like it’s indicative of a lot of traits and qualities that I hold to be sacred in an individual. So I wrote this book, The Facial Hair Handbook, and I preach clean clothes, well-groomed beards. My book is telling you not to do what I’m doing. I don’t tell people to have a huge beard. I tell people to have a nice beard and I feel like sometimes, it’d be nice if I could practice what I preach.

PK: So you’re basically saying, “Don’t try this at home. Leave this to the professionals.”
JP: You don’t know until you try it but there’s so much work involved and it’s such a liability. Not every woman who’s into beards is going to be okay with this huge of a beard.

PK: Or every potential employer, if you’re going down that road, too.
JP: That’s true, yeah, exactly.

PK: Are you self-employed?
JP: I am self-employed. I mean, I’ve been a musician for a long time. The book, though, is kind of taking off and making it. I used to work in a recording studio. I just do odd jobs. I used to hawk a lot of stuff on Craigslist. I’m the CEO of my own limited liability corporation and I’m starting to narrow the focus of what I want to do and invest my time and capital into it.

PK: You don’t have to worry about the job interview jitters—shave the massive Rip van Winkle beard?
JP: Totally. When I was doing the job thing, the beard was a huge asset because it’s not just a big long rough beard. I try to dress well and take care of myself, and I can speak. So I’d go into these interviews and they’d be like, “Wow! I don’t know. He came in here in a suit and he had this really nice beard. I mean it was like he was wearing a fine fur.” And so, it worked well. That being said, I’ve always been kind of involved either in entertainment business ventures or computers. And in Silicon Valley in IT a beard is a symbol of true engineer nerd status, you know?

PK: Being of the male persuasion, I’ve grown a few beards. I used to always do the Sheriff of Nottingham trim-it-three-times-a-day goatee to the point it was almost superfluous. I mean, you could barely even see it because it’s very light and I finally just said, “To hell with it.” You are blessed with the genetics to be able to grow a beard like this. Not everybody can pull that off obviously.
JP: Yup.

PK: How important is the genetic aspect?
JP: There’s three basic tenets on which you’re judged in the natural full-beard category in the world championship—length, girth, and color. And I’m not an extremely hairy guy. I wasn’t a werewolf but my beard grows in just super thick.

PK: You’re a lucky guy. Speaking of long red beards, obviously you’ve been asked (about) the ZZ Top guy. Is it just one guy who has a long beard?
JP: No, there’s two guys, Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill.

PK: Are you in contact with these guys?
JP: I met Billy Gibbons at a convention one time. I don’t think he knew who I was. This was when I was third in the world before I started winning these things. He came up to me, he’s like, “That’s a great beard.” It’s funny, there’s so many cool, interesting people and conversations that get started because I have this huge beard. I’m the consummate bullshitter and all I do all day is talk to people on the street and drink coffee.

PK: You have a big red beard.
JP: I have a huge red beard, that’s what I do for work.

PK: I admire you, man.
JP: I make enough money to get by.

PK: You’re house-sitting right now?
JP: Yeah, it’s all about passive income. I get up early and I work in the morning and then I just fart around all day.

PK: The stubble thing—some guys can pull it off, some guys can’t. How do you feel about stubble, and any advice?
JP: It all depends on the color of your facial hair. If you’ve got dark facial hair, dark brown or black, stubble’s going to come in easy and it’s going to look good. Within two days, you’re going to have an acceptable stubble beard. If you’ve got salt and pepper, again, it’s going to look good because you’ve got the dark with the white. You’re going to look hot. I mean, that’s the definition of sexy stubble. Lighter color beards, red or blonde or white, it’s so hard because when it starts looking good, it doesn’t quite look like stubble. It looks like the beginnings of a beard. So I usually say, if you’ve got light-colored facial hair, maybe stubble isn’t going to be the move.

PK: I learned recently that Bono actually dyes his stubble because his stubble comes in white. Do you recommend that?
JP: Yes. Be totally sensual. Facial hair can, depending on the color of the facial hair, either age you 10 years or take 10 years off. So a lot of guys tell me, like 35, 40, their facial hair is now grey or white. They say, “Man, I want to have a beard. When I grow out the beard, I look 50.” So they keep it clean-shaven. I know men who are 60, 65—they dye their beard, they look 40.

PK: So it’s okay to dye your beard?
JP: I say okay, absolutely, because that lets you wear the facial hair and again, if you’re doing it clean, you’ve got clean lines, you’re shaping it well, it’s going to take 10 years off you.

PK: You’re going to be a sex symbol. How about a Jack Passion reality TV show?
JP: I don’t know what I’m supposed to say or what I’m not supposed to say but there has been some interest expressed. And there are some things in the early stages of development. It’s not necessarily just about Jack Passion.

PK: It’s about the whole competitive beard thing?
JP: Yeah, and I mean, listen, if you were going to do a show then you’d be crazy not to have me involved.

PK: Your modesty kills me, Jack. What about eating and food particles, that’s got to be an issue. How do you deal with that?
JP: I’m a professional. I won’t eat soup in public. I won’t eat crumbly bread in public. I was at a Fourth of July party and there was this Mexican delicacy, this sugar-butter bread. I couldn’t keep myself away from it because I love to eat. I’m not going to lie. I did eat it. I got some in my beard but I was quick. I’m swift. I know how to get the crumbs out.

PK: Do you carry something around for that?
JP: I don’t. I’m like an extreme minimalist. At one point I considered a solo Jack pack tool kit for beard emergencies but no, less is more.

PK: You currently involved with someone?
JP: Yeah.

PK: She just wraps herself up in that thing?
JP: It’s a cold winter in the Bay. You got to stay warm any way you can and we’re not going to do that by burning wood and polluting the environment. No. Just stay close to the fire that comes out of my chin.


Suggestions? Please email Kilduff at
See more of what he is up to at

Jack Passion Vital Stats

Age: 25

Beard age: 6

Birthplace: Heaven, where all angels come from

Astrological sign: Libra

Occupation: Author, musician, entrepreneur

Extinct animal I’d like to be reincarnated as: Billy Mays

Favorite East Bay taco truck: La Perla

Websites: and


Faces of the East Bay