even makes it all the way to the corner nook at
, patrons are staring. In a sense, they’re looking at him and in a sense they’re not. Buoncristiano is an unimpressive 5’6’’ and good looking enough, but he’s got a beard that stands out: It’s wild, thick, almost mane-like and maybe a foot long itself. It’s a star.
Jeff has served as a sort of talent manager for his beard since an image he posted of it on Reddit showing his hairy reaction to being dumped on Valentine’s Day went viral almost one year ago today. The 34-year old
was suddenly getting emails from companies like
, and JackThreads, who wanted to know, in essence, if the beard could come out and play.
“What do I do with all of this?” he remembers wondering. Being an American, he decided to make money.
Jeff reached out to the
and made an agreement to step in front of the camera. He became, quite suddenly, a facial hair maintenance guru, dispensing wisdom about combs, brushes, and oils. The filming was down in Buoncristiano’s apartment and the video get the attention of
, a legendary beard model who was looking for models for a coffee table book devoted to the world’s best facial bushes. Buoncristiano was only too happy to sit for a portrait by one of his photographer buddies, Symon Chow.
has a cottage business modeling for a number of brands. He won’t disclose how much he makes because his business is in its stubble stage - not fully grown.
Jeff is setting out to "
help other men's confidence with themselves and change the way people see beards" with money as the last thing on his mind
But he’s still making a living. And there are perks too.
“I’m oblivious when people are watching, but sometimes they come over,” he says. "And hey, who doesn’t love attention?” Specifically, he enjoys the attention of women, a certain type of which are seemingly entranced by the outgrowth. Buoncristiano says he’s careful when talking to a potential mate to make sure that "it’s not just about the beard.” There are, after all, follicular fangirls. It’s a good problem to have.
Buoncristiano is fond of a Gandhi quote that goes like this: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” To Jeff, this sums up a lot and is particularly trenchant in regards to his beard. When he started growing it, he was in a bad way. “I sat around all the time, watching Netflix,” he remembers. "No fucks given.” Then people laughed at him, but where they saw evidence of self hate, he saw an opportunity.
No one is laughing anymore. Staring, sure, but not laughing.
Photos by Rachel Iwanyszyn (@jaglever)