Monday, January 26, 2015

Poll: Who sported the greatest porn mustache in rock history?

For my latest visitor poll (see sidebar at right), we'll be determining which rock act epitomized one of the greatest and most difficult looks to pull off in music - the porn mustache. It's a look that in some ways harkens back to a certain time and place (the '70s in particular), but in other ways is almost timeless, with present-day performers (such as The Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis recently) occasionally bringing it back. The popular music porno mustache has been worn seriously, ironically, hilariously and badly . . . but some performers have gone the extra mile, and made it their own. That is what we are here to decide - whose was the best?

There were almost too many examples to choose from, but I finally winnowed it down to ten finalists. Before we get to them, let's all give a Brubaker-style slow clap to these performers in the "honorable mention" category, whose facial hair was deemed good, but not porno-great:
  • Mountain's Felix Pappalardi
  • Motorhead's Lemmy
  • Jerry Cantrell
  • Weezer's Rivers Cuomo (the Red Album period)
  • Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott
  • Led Zeppelin's John Bonham
  • Weird Al Yankovich
  • Foghat (the entire band), and
  • The Village People (too obvious))
OK - let's get to our contestants.  Who among these ten rock porn mustache pioneers truly wore it well?
Little Richard: One of rock's true groundbreakers, and not only musically and through his flamboyant, over-the-top performances - Richard Penniman practically invented the rock 'n' roll porn mustache.

Chuck Berry: If Little Richard was the innovator and instigator of the porn mustache in modern music, Chuck Berry was the performer who popularized it, and who laid the groundwork for making it a permanent rock fashion accessory. Through his more accessible, acceptable (to white Middle American teens), less raucous rock 'n' roll music, he did much to disassociate the look from its more controversial R&B roots and bring it into the mainstream.

The Beatles: The Fab Four sported a lot of looks during their career - leather-clad street punks, Pierre Cardin-suited mop tops, hippie chic, psychedelic-shirted mods. But my favorite Beatles image is the mid-period, Revolver/pre-Sgt. Pepper era, when the boys rocked some classic porno 'stashes (especially Paul and Ringo). Here they are in all their glory.

Jimi Hendrix: No discussion of the porn mustache in popular music can be complete without including Jimi. For a brief period in the late Sixties, Jimi's image was the quintessential look of rock music, and his soup strainer was an integral part of that.

Frank Zappa: I was never a big Zappa fan; his music is an acquired taste, to be sure. And his look during the Sixties varied from "angry hippie" to "weird proto-Arab". In this competition, he loses points, in my opinion, for the 'stache/uber-soul patch combo. But there's still enough 'porno' in his facial hair to make him a finalist.

Freddie Mercury: No need to explain why Freddie made the finals. Queen's flamboyant frontman was pretty much the gold standard for this look in the Seventies. That growth under his nose would have been the envy of Harry Reems or John Holmes!

Paul Simon: A dark horse in this contest, to be sure. But someone who, as you can see, needs to be part of the conversation. In the Seventies, Paul Simon carried some classic decadent facial hair, a look that couldn't help but make one think of patrons of seedy Times Square adult theaters and filthy peep shows. Which is really too bad, because by most accounts Simon was a pretty straight arrow. But first impressions count, nowhere moreso than here. Still Crazy After All These Years, indeed.

Jim Croce: Another '70s music icon who needs to be considered for this honor. Croce's face and hard life were a perfect fit for the music he played at the time, chronicling tales of con men, down-and-outers and others beaten down by life. His mustache veers a little too close to Gene Shalit territory for my taste . . . but it's still got enough "whacka-chicka whacka-chicka" in it for him to make the final cut.

Prince:  What else need be said about the face of His Royal Badness/Purpleness? A cross between Little Richard's and Jimi Hendrix's facial hair, in his early career Prince put it all together into the unique and innovative "chocolate milk" (or "dirty Sanchez", if you will . . .) mustache.

John Oates: While Hall & Oates was ostensibly a duo, for years Oates labored beneath the broad shadow of his arguably more talented partner Daryl Hall. But there was one area in which he completely outdid his compadre - just as Freddie Mercury owned the '70s, John Oates' mustache was the one by which all other '80s rock porn mustaches were measured. His look was straight off a Vivid Video set!
Please make your choices over to the right - you can only choose one of these ten, so choose wisely! This competition ends in mid-March, so get your votes in when you can! I look forward to publishing the results in a few weeks.

All the best to you from Pee-Pee Soaked Heckhole