On a windswept Presidents Day afternoon, Aaron Perlut unveiled what could be considered his magnum opus: a Million Mustache March set for April Fool’s Day.
Standing before a small crowd of supporters and tourists who, curious, had ambled toward the pro-mustache music blaring from his stage on the U.S. Capitol’s West Lawn, the American Mustache Institute chairman also rolled out the “Stache Act,” a bill that would provide a $250 tax credit to mustached Americans. Perlut touted the support of tax giant H&R Block, which really did agree to support the endeavor.
“According to AMI science, we’ve increased mustache growth and thus good looks by 38 percent in this country. But those good looks came at a cost in the form of American-made facial grooming products such as beard and mustache trimmers, facial hair dyes, karate training devices, mayonnaise and dynamite. Indeed, those accoutrements are not free,” Perlut said.
“It is clear that mustache maintenance costs qualify and should be considered a deductible expense related to the production of income underneath Internal Revenue Service Code Section 212, and, hence, the Million Mustache March.”
Along for the ride was John Yeutter, a tax professor at Northeastern State University who wrote the “Stache Act” and AMI’s accompanying tax-policy white paper. Yeutter also sports a fearsome handlebar.
The April 1 Million Mustache March will be partly for mustaches, partly for fun and partly for charity. For each attendee, H&R Block has agreed to make a donation to Millions From One, a group that seeks to deliver safe drinking water around the world by purchasing equipment and developing infrastructure. Perlut’s plan is to lead 1 million mustached brethren from the Capitol to the White House.
H&R Block may seem a bit stodgy for the libertine AMI, which once promoted the “sexually adventurous lifestyle” of the mustached American male on its answering machine, and which holds an open grudge against alt-rock guitarist Dave Navarro, but the company found virtue in AMI’s goals.
“It fits our brand message of ‘never settle for less,’ and that applies to mustached Americans as well as everyone else,” Matthew Staub, H&R Block marketing manager for social media, told me at the event. “We have some very impressive mustaches on our staff.”
Perlut has been at this mustache business for a while. He is kind of serious about it, and kind of not.
In his non-mustache-promoting time, Perlut runs a social-media-marketing and PR firm in St. Louis. He’s full of mustache stats and factoids, some of which are made up. Perlut once told me that 98 percent of law-enforcement organizations issue mustaches along with badges, that 90 percent of Middle Eastern men have mustaches and that Eric Holder is the first mustached U.S. attorney general since Francis Biddle in 1946.
Perlut formed the American Mustache Institute in 2006. Until now, the group’s main event has been its annual “Stache Bash,” a raucous celebration of mustache culture held annually around Halloween. Taking votes online, AMI gives out an annual Mustached American of the Year award at the event, and Perlut used the lip-follicle platform to raise money for charity groups supporting cancer research, and children and adults with disabilities.
If it succeeds, the Million Mustache March will likely be the top mustache-and-tax-policy-centered charitable event of 2012.
ABC News’ Sarah Parnass contributed to this story.