I remember sitting at Freddie’s Place on South Congress, waiting for the thermometer located on a tree outside to hit one hundred degrees so I could order a Freddie’s Crutch (Jack Daniels and frozen lemonade) for ninety-nine cents. It was a blistering June in 2013. My wife, Diane, and I had left Honolulu with our pit bulls, Titan and Malia, traveling across the country visiting friends in different cities as we made our way to Washington, DC. While sitting at Freddie's, I thought about how much I liked Austin, despite the heat, and remarked to Diane that perhaps we should consider moving to Austin rather than DC where we had lived prior to moving to Hawaii. She shook her head and smiled, dabbing the sweat from her forehead. That was my fist hint to Diane of my desire to live in Austin.
Even with that thought, there was no way to know we’d end up here, in 2019, as the non-profit beneficiary for the Austin Facial Hair Club’s Come and Shave It #13, a beard competition that brings competitors from all over the country (and other countries) and donates the proceeds of the competition to a local non-profit organization.
Upon moving to Austin (we got as far as Ohio on our cross-country trip), I started a new podcast with a local traveling comedian who I knew from playing in punk and hardcore bands in Cleveland during the mid-nineties. His girlfriend, Deathwish Dena, was a member of the Austin Facial Hair Club (AFHC) and invited us to an end-of-summer event hosted by the AFHC and Misprint Magazine (RIP). At the event, I shaved off my beard in preparation for competing in the Six Month Sprint category that would be held at their annual Come and Shave It (CASI) event in February. That was my introduction to these hairy hooligans. Six months later, I competed. I didn’t win. I’m not sure who won in my category as I ended the event early due to some health complications (read: getting really, really drunk). So it goes…
The following year, I attended the same end-of-summer event at the Shangri-La where competitors for the Six Month Sprint shaved off their beards. By then, I had formed a friendship with Bryan Nelson, the President and Co-Founder of the AFHC. After the day’s shenanigans ended, Bryan and I hung out for a bit. He told me about a Dog Beard and Moustache Competition (Dog BMC) they were planning and asked if I was interested in being the Emcee. I assumed he had done some homework and knew that Diane and I rescued pit bulls and that I was also a public speaker. It didn’t take much encouragement for me to agree to host the event.
Considering it was the inaugural event, no one really knew what to expect. On the day of the event it drizzled, it was cold, the sky looked depressed, which put a slight damper on the outdoor event. I remember looking into the audience, who were standing back from the stage under cover from the rain, and seeing two biker-looking dudes with their arms crossed watching me. During a break, I walked off stage and one of them told me I was funny. I told them to laugh at my jokes, rather than stare me down, because they were freaking me out and I was using them as a joke barometer. They laughed. Had I known then what I know now about Jeff Raye and Patrick Langley, I wouldn’t have been intimidated by them. They are both close friends of mine and dog lovers with giant hearts. The other attendees, both human and canine, also had a good time and we raised a bunch of money for the Austin Animal Center.
The following year, I attended an AFHC meeting to talk about the second Dog BMC which I had been asked to Emcee again. During the meeting, Bryan asked me to quarterback the event and the rest is history. I joined the club and my life in Austin changed forever.
This past October, the AFHC hosted its fifth Dog BMC. Over the years, both Diane and I have quarterbacked every Dog BMC and have created a lot of amazing relationships with folks in the “dog business” in Austin. We’ve raised money for the Austin Animal Center, Austin Pets Alive, Love-A-Bull, and the Shrodi’s Memorial Training Fund.
After our beloved Doggy Trejo passed away suddenly in December of 2017, we committed to launching our own pit bull rescue and animal sanctuary, a dream we both shared and one of the reasons we moved to Central Texas. With the help of our local relationships and the AFHC, Bully Ranch was launched during the summer of 2018.
I’ve also Emceed several Come and Shave It competitions, the 2017 Remington Beard Boss World Beard and Moustache Championships, and a host of other events held by the AFHC and our partners in Tom Foolery. Besides being presented with the opportunities to Emcee, I’ve participated in dozens of fundraising events with the AFHC, raising thousands of dollars for local non-profits, and traveled to other states for competitions, supporting their club’s fundraising efforts. It’s a world I never knew existed and am now grateful to be a part of.
Diane and I have built so many wonderful relationships since joining the AFHC and bearding community. Much more than friends, many of these folks have become our family with whom we travel, celebrate holidays, know each other’s families, and simply enjoy all life has to offer. That’s why Bully Ranch is honored to be the non-profit organization benefiting from the thirteenth Come and Shave It hosted by the Austin Facial Hair Club. Because without them, there would be no us. This is truly a match made in Austin.
The festivities for Come and Shave It #13 start Thursday evening and go late into Sunday night. Click on the links below for details on how you can party with us at one, some, or all of the events.
Thursday, 2/21: CASI #13 Early Bird Dinner at Via313
Friday, 2/22: CASI #13 Austin Java Lunch
Friday, 2/22: CASI #13 Pub Crawl
Saturday, 2/23: Come and Shave It #13 Beard and Moustache Competition
Saturday, 2/23: CASI #13 After Party at Drinks Lounge
Sunday, 2/24: CASI #13 Celebration Brunch at Licha’s
Sunday, 2/24: CASI #13 Sunday Night Dance Party at Elysium