During the summer, Suffolk’s Charles Abadam is busy fighting blood-sucking pests, but in the off-season he stays busy waxing his whiskers.
Abadam, superintendent of Suffolk Mosquito Control, has been named winner of the 2016-17 Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year award. He was presented the award by the American Mustache Institute at an October ceremony in Pittsburgh.
“It’s a pretty big deal, especially within the mustache community,” Abadam said. “We have the title for a year, and it’s kind of a cool thing to be recognized for having a mustache.”
The Goulet award is a special honor, started in 2008, one year after the death of the popular entertainer, with winners chosen by online voters. Abadam received nearly 600,000 of more than 900,000 votes cast.
He has worn some kind of facial hair ever since he started working for the city 11 years ago, he said, but only began competing “seriously” in contests two years ago.
Friends nominated him for entry into the Goulet competition, and he became Virginia’s first winner of the award.
In public, Abadam often wears his mustache “up,” which in hirsute parlance means it’s waxed and hairsprayed to the nines. He’s been compared to the likes of the Monopoly Man and Salvador Dali. Most comments, however, have been complimentary, he said.
He’s a founding member of the Hampton Roads Beard and ‘Stache Society, which meets monthly at a pub in Norfolk.
“We just get together and congregate, and all the guys get together and talk,” Abadam said. “Like most beard clubs, we donate to our charity – Vetshouse, a charity that finds homes for homeless vets. We raised about $5,000 for the organization this year.”
Beard and mustache competitions at the local club are not just a guy thing.
“A lot of the guys have significant others who compete as ‘Whiskerinas,’ and it’s very popular,” Abadam said. “Women actually make their beards or mustaches in a category called Fake Creative.
“With real hair it’s called Fake Realistic. Some of them look so real that you can’t tell that it’s fake. One of the last prizes is ‘Best in Show’ and I have seen many Whiskerinas win best in show.”
Abadam has logged a lot of miles judging and vying in whisker contests in recent years. He usually competes in the Musketeer category, a handlebar moustache style with pointed goatee.
Another of his favorites is called Partial Beard Freestyle, a creative competition where his goatee is coiffed in concentric circles.
He’s judged competitions in Richmond, Fredericksburg, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, and several other Mid-Atlantic locations. He took first place May 28 in his category at Holy City, South Carolina along with several second place finishes during the year, including a national competition Sept. 24 in Denver.
“I wanted to compete at nationals because it took into account a lot of competition that I’d never seen before,” Abadam said.
Work at Mosquito Control is slow during the cold season but not so much for Abadam. He must still analyze data from the summer, determine what worked, where improvements are needed, attend conferences on the latest mosquito control techniques and prepare for the next season’s threats.
He’s still never too busy to keep his award winning whiskers in shape, he said. It takes some time and effort and can sometimes even be uncomfortable, but the overall goal is for bigger ambitions next year.
“Next year is actually the world beard competition, and that going to be in Austin (Sept. 1-3) and I plan on going to that,” Abadam said. “Taking second place at nationals made me feel I can place in the world.
“I know I’m gonna have to really bring it. Everything needs to be clean; my outfit needs to be sharp, my lines must be neat, clean and very symmetrical,” he said. “I’m an Asian American, a Pacific Islander, so I’m really in the minority. I dress very southern but eclectic. I do whatever I can to stand out from the crowd.”
This story originally appeared on PilotOnline.com.