The Great Moustachio, or, The Hair Artist

The Great Moustachio claimed to be the hairiest man alive, and hired two barbers to shave his body from head to foot each morning, leaving only a topknot and, naturally, the latest inhabitant of his sturdy upper lip.

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His stage act was predicated on the claim his hair grew so fast you could actually see this happening. Two members of the audience would be invited onstage to watch his moustache grow. Of course, he was secretly hypnotising them.

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Eventually one would faint in astonishment, whereupon his glamorous assistant, Bearded Beatrice, would rush to their aid. While they recounted their extraordinary moustache-based hallucinations to the audience, The Great Moustachio would slip into the wings.

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He would re-emerge at the climax of the act with a moustache exactly conforming to the strange ‘tache tales told by the volunteers.

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They’d then be invited to test it was real. This inevitably ended in slapstick scenes – often a gentleman, tugging with both hands on the moustache, would be positioned with a foot on each of the Hair Artist’s shoulders, and then the Great Moustachio would carry him around the stage, howling.

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Of course, the audience was in on the act from the outset, and would frequently call out for favourite recurring moustaches: ‘Give em the Spanish galleon!’ ‘Where’s the archaeopteryx, Archie?’ (The Great Moustachio’s real name was rumoured to be ‘Archie’.)

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Sometimes, if heckled, The Great Moustachio would threaten to grow all his hair back at once – he’d then apparently transform into a murderous bear, and bars would fall to protect the audience.

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On other occasions, he’d ‘top the act’ by shouting ‘Release the moustaches!’ whereupon all the moustaches – including the one on his face – would fly around the theatre, swooping on the audience, and snatching ladies’ bonnets.

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At such a moment, he’d reveal he was wearing a smaller, secondary moustache in yet another pattern. He often favoured a bat motif for this ‘under-moustache’, which he would then sport around town between shows.

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His favourite moustache was the one he cultivated into the shape of a hair ukulele. Often he would slip a George Formaldehyde 78 onto the gramophone, and pretend he was playing it.

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As Chimeramas approached, he liked to grow his moustache and beard into the shape of a Chimeramas tree, and paint the end of his nose as a rubicund bauble.

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(Indeed, it was rumoured he asked the barbers to shave, trim, and shape his entire body’s hair so that it formed the outline of a Chimeramas tree front and back, which he would reveal to Bearded Beatrice on Chimeramas Eve.)

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The problem was this made eating almost impossible, and the Chimeramas tree/beard would end up festooned with a slowly rotting advent calendar of his festive menus.

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Recently, then, he had decided to grow a neater transverse tree moustache, though you had to tilt your head to one side to see it properly, or, like Beatrice, simply watch him when he was sleeping.

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