Mayor's mustache launches shave-or-save battle

Sunday, May 10, 2009

MURRAY, Utah -- The mayor of the Salt Lake City suburb of Murray says he has little choice but to shave his nearly foot-long handlebar mustache for charity.

Dan Snarr is putting the decision to a vote of residents and said his fashion statement is "getting creamed."

"People are voting 'shave.' It's a way to get back at an elected official," said Snarr, who has sported the waxed mustache for three years but now is resigned to shaving.

Besides, his wife hates it. She's sick of puckering up for a kiss and getting poked in the eye.

Yet the 59-year-old Snarr also is facing pressure from the mustache lobby. The St. Louis-based American Mustache Institute got wind of his plans and called on Snarr to keep a stiff upper lip in the face of opposition.

The Mustache Institute -- a tongue-in-cheek group dedicated to defending a man's right to sport a mustache against modern aversions -- is demanding Snarr "recant" his shaving pledge and find another way to support the Children's Miracle Network.

"This could include shaving your head, your back or committing to not clipping your toenails for up to eight months," the group's leaders wrote to the mayor.

Snarr said he had never heard of the Mustache Institute and isn't certain how to respond to the letter. "It's like politics -- whatever you do, you're damned," he said.

A local Costco warehouse store said residents have been voting since May 1. The paper ballots will be counted May 16.

Snarr said the last he checked, shave votes in one glass jar far outnumber the save votes in another and that his graying mustache was doomed. But the vote is tightening, a store manager said Thursday.

Still, Snarr said the only voter who matters is his wife, April, who calls her husband's mustache "obnoxious."

Snarr should face down his opposition -- mainly women -- and keep his mustache, said Aaron Perlut of St. Louis, chairman of the Mustache Institute and a social-media consultant.

Perlut said mustaches fell out of favor in the 1970s and that his group's most recent surveys shows only 20 percent of women favor them. That's why more men are sporting tiny chin beards, which Perlut calls a "spousal compromise."

The group stands in defense of the singular mustache, rejecting all other styles of facial hair, even beards.

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