“How much for your beard?” Simple question, isn’t it?
This question was posed to me when I was last in LA. I was on a road trip with my friend Spencer - the lead guitarist on my new album. We stopped into a small quirky music store on Hollywood Blvd. A short Iranian man in an ill-fitted bowling shirt comes up to us and starts chatting. After an over enthusiastic series of ‘hello’ and ‘come in’ the store owner asks me the aforementioned question, “how much for your beard?"
I’ve had people stare at my beard. I’ve had people ask to touch my beard. But this is the only time someone has offered to buy my beard.
I was taken off guard, to say the least. In true Canadian fashion, managed to squeeze out a wavering ‘I’m sorry?’ but the man persisted. He repeated the question, over and over, cycling with intensity. He then throws out an offer - 'I’ll give you a thousand dollars.’ Spencer is cackling beside me at this point but the man remains resolute, ‘$1000, take it or leave it.'
I cocked my head to the side, questioning his motives. What would he even do with my beard? Would I just shave it off and put it in a bag? Or did he just hate bearded young people?
Before I could say much he yelled, ‘$2000 - I will buy your beard for two thousand dollars.’ His face goes stern for a second, then back to a smile. Spencer is still giggling away beside me and at this point I’m smiling, considering that hair grows back, what’s the harm in going down this road?
I suggest that he show me the money. Obviously my Jerry Maguire impression left a lot to be desired because the short man then yells out loud, ‘MARIO - GET THE SHOTGUN.'
I freeze a little as he slams his hand down on the store counter. Like many, my guard is up when I travel and I am weary of firearms. But, once again, the store owner’s face shifts from serious to playful and we all started to awkwardly laugh together once more.
I cannot remember the exact words for the life of me but to my best recollection this kooky middle-aged man then said, ‘this beard is a part of you, don’t let someone just buy it.'
He then went on about his life, his shop, his various mistresses and his use of viagra. He yelled out to the elusive Mario whom we never saw emerge from the back room for gun support a few more times as part of a running joke. Face hurting from smiling and laughing, I bought a guitar tuner and some LA guitar picks and we left the store.
As I reach the LAST TEN DAYS of my Indiegogo campaign to fund Zulu Panda’s new EP project, I find myself toying with crazy schemes to encourage support. There are loads of perks in this project already - from the pre-release of my new album and a personalized theme song just for you, to VIP tickets and a signed guitar. It would be great to find the perfect incentive for everyone. However, I won’t be selling my beard. At least not for the sake of publicity.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done for money? We’re not talking about moments of desperation, just kooky situations. Let me know!
I want to share my new music with the world and talk to young people across Canada about songwriting. Your support in this creative project would be VERY appreciated. Please share.