Last year 125,000 moustaches were grown across Australia in the month formerly known as November, resulting in a whopping $16.2 million contribution to the Prostrate Cancer Foundation of Australia and beyondblue – the national depression initiative.
Almost one week in, we talk to the man behind the Mo – Luke Slattery – and find out why Movember is a very Melbourne story.
This is your sixth Movember, right?
Seventh actually… it all started over a beer with my mate Travis Garone (Movember co-founder), at the Gypsy Bar on Brunswick Street back in mid 2003. That year we coerced 30 of our friends to join us and we had a registration night at The Black Cat also in Fitzroy. It was during that first year that we realised what a conversation starter the moustache is.
Where did the idea/inspiration come from?
The initial conversation was all about fashion and trends and how everything from our past, the seventies and eighties were coming back into fashion. As we got onto the topics of moustaches and their mysterious disappearance sometime in the eighties, we came up with this idea of growing a moustache for a month… and Movember was born.
We were also inspired by a number of women we knew who were raising funds and awareness for breast cancer. As we tossed around the idea of Movember, we thought it might be a good way to do something for men’s health. As we discovered the statistics surrounding prostate cancer and depression in men, it was evident that something needed to be done.
The reactions we got from that first year showed us that the Mo can really be a catalyst for changing, or in fact starting, the conversation around men’s health issues. We never thought it would be as big as it is today, which for us shows that men really do care about their health and want to do something to change the way prostate cancer and depression affect our lives.
What type of Mo do you plan to grow?
Every year I decide to let the Mo choose me – and every year I seem to end up with what I call a Burt Reynolds inspired Mo – a Mo that just turns around the corners of the mouth without becoming a full set of handlebars.
Will you adapt your fashion style for the month to complement your Mo?
I’m probably not going to start dressing like Burt Reynolds, but I might need to head down to City Hatters to find myself a new hat or even a new book from the Hill of Content to go with my new Mo. It has been said that a Mo can bring out the intelligent side of a man, so if you see a gentleman with a moustache, a hat and a book in the Fitzroy Gardens feel free to sit down for a chat about moustache history and astrology.
How will you look after your Mo?
There are two favourite places of mine to head to for a proper shave. One is Leo’s in the basement of Henry Bucks in Collins Street. He is the master! Way back in the day he ran a barber shop in Swanston Street that had something like 15 barber chairs always full with people getting a shave or a haircut.
The other is the Rockit Barber Shop also on Collins Street – a couple of guys a fair bit younger than Leo but they know what shaving is all about.
Do you get interesting reactions from strangers when you go out?
I think the Mo actually brings people together, during Movember men from all walks of life have a common bond, the Mo. So don’t be surprised if you some indie musos having a chat with a guy in a suit while having a drink down at Riverland… or while having a bowl of bolognaise at Pellegrini’s you see strangers sharing tips on how to keep the sauce out of their Mos.
The moustache commands mutual respect and you will see them at all your favourite Melbourne haunts.
What do you plan to wear and who will be your lucky date for the Gala Ball at Birrarung Marr?
My Gala costume is always top secret, so unfortunately I can’t share anything here. I will tell you that my aim each year is to be the only one dressed that way at the party – which is becoming increasingly hard. The fancy dress shop in Hardware Lane loves Movember as in their words, “it’s like moustache Halloween or the straight Mardi Gras!”
As far as my lucky date, my girlfriend Jess will be attending the Gala again and for her it is one of the best nights of the year, as she loves nothing better than a man with a Mo…
The facts: one in 11 men will develop prostate cancer before they are 70 and one in eight men will experience depression.
Grow a Mo or support someone who can!