By Howard T. Brody

While the fashionisters (the male version of fashionista) debate over whether or not they should wear lace shorts or rompers this summer— and yes they really do exist, and yes, people really do wear them—  STRIPLV tackles the one really hard fashion question that sooner or later every man must decide.

“Should I shave?”

While some cultures around the world interpret beards and mustaches as a sign of wisdom, honor, masculinity and virility, we must face the fact (pun intended) that Americans are obsessed with facial hair. We have an entire industry built on male grooming, which generated $21 billion worldwide last year, $9.1 billion of which was from U.S. consumers. What’s more, online sales of men’s barbering products continue to grow. In 2016, men’s shaving products reached $826 million in sales through internet retail outlets, about 9% of the total sales in this space. The biggest online seller in this category, Dollar Shave Club, which has more than 3 million subscribers and whose annual sales topped $200 million in 2016, was sold last year to Unilever for $1 billion.

Americans are so obsessed with facial hair that each year a three-day event is held, sponsored by major corporations like Remington (Spectrum Brands), Lone Star Beer (Pabst Brewing Company) and Just For Men (Combe Incorporated), called the World Beard and Moustache Championships. This year the event will be held in Austin, Texas from September 1–3 at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, which can accommodate more than 2,000 people. The event will attract facial hair enthusiasts from around the world including more than 1,000 competitors and fans, and will feature live entertainment, food vendors, family-friendly activities and dozens of competitions.

So, how did we go from the old barber shave for five cents to the multi-billion dollar industry of today where we have clubs, organizations and competitions?

Well, a lot of it has to do with how Americans like their faces to look and so we have to go back about 200 years to trace America’s history as it pertains to beards and mustaches.

The Early 1800s

Right around the turn of the 19th century, American men typically had clean-shaven faces. For a good reason. America had won their independence from the British crown only three decades prior, and those who were in leadership positions were feeling a sense of authority and freedom, which in itself was odd because slavery was still very much a reality at the time. However, it was commonplace for black men who weren’t slaves to serve as barbers during this time and become independently wealthy by listening to the secrets that were shared by the scholars and power players who frequented their barbershops.

As the 1800s moved forward, racial tensions in the U.S. mounted. By 1848 the government grew from 13 colonies to 30 states, and many of them wanted to end slavery. As friction continued and we moved closer toward the Civil War, many white men began fearing the position of power black barbers held. Because of this fall from grace by the black barbers and since white men ran the risk of contracting tetanus (or even something that would lead to death if their razors were not properly sterilized when they shaved), facial hair and an unkempt look came into fashion.

The Mid-1800s

By the start of the American Civil War in 1861, all facial hair was extremely popular in both the North and the South, but heavy sideburns and Shenandoah beards seemed to dominate men’s grooming habits. While today we think of sideburns as hair down the side of one’s face – popularized during the clean shaven era by men like U.S. Presidents John Quincy Adams and Martin Van Buren and which had a resurgence more than 100 years later during the late 1960s and early to mid-1970s – in those days sideburns included a mustache that would connect the two. The term was named after Civil War Union Army General Ambrose E. Burnside, who after the war served three one-year terms as Governor of Rhode Island, was elected to the Rhode Island Senate as a U.S. Senator and who was the very first president of the National Rifle Association.

As for the Shenandoah beard, also called a chin curtain, look no further than  your wallet and the portrait printed on the five dollar bill. Oddly enough the 16th President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, didn’t grow his beard until late 1860. A few weeks before Lincoln was elected, an 11-year-old girl named Grace Bedell from Westfield, New York, wrote him a letter urging him to grow a beard to improve his appearance. The suggestion turned into the iconic look we know today. The chin curtain grows along the jaw line and covers the chin completely. This is not to be confused with the chinstrap – a similar beard style that also grows along the jaw line but does not cover the chin fully. Also, many chin curtain beards do not extend far below the jaw line, if at all, whereas all chinstrap beards normally do.

The Shenandoah remains common even today among married Amish men. Male members of this religious sect generally grow a beard after baptism but shave off their mustache. To the Amish, the mustache is associated with the German military fashion that was prevalent at the time of their community’s formation in Europe. The exclusion of the mustache serves as a symbol of their commitment to pacifism.

The Early 1900s

As the 20th century came about, men once again began to fancy a more clean-shaven look, except this time there was the occasional mustache thrown into the mix. Instead of politics and power playing a part in the pronouncement, advertising, sex and science were the deciding factors. With viruses discovered in the 1890s on the heels of the work done by bacteriologists like Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch, beards were thought to carry germs, including influenza, which of course was still a major cause of death in the early 1900s.

In addition to the fear of kicking the bucket, there was only one thing that could perhaps motivate men even more than dying – the prospect of getting laid. By 1910, The Gillette Company, which was founded only nine years earlier, began encouraging men through advertising campaigns to shave daily, claiming that women appreciated and preferred a clean-shaven face.

That didn’t stop the 27th President of the United States, William Howard Taft, from sporting a much-revered handlebar mustache, aptly named after the shape of bicycle handlebars. While Taft wasn’t the first well-known American to rock that style of ‘stache – Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill, and J.P. Morgan all wore it before him – from 1909 to 1913 he was the last POTUS to do so. As a matter of fact no presidents since Taft have worn any facial hair, and perhaps that might be contributed back to the notion of women preferring a clean-shaven face. After all, on November 2, 1920, more than eight million women across the U.S. voted in elections for the very first time.

The 1930s and 1940s

While various forms of facial hair were fairly common prior to and during World War II, the most dominant mustaches of the era were the pencil mustache (a thin mustache that outlines the upper lip, neatly trimmed so that it takes the form of a thin line, as if having been drawn using a pencil) and the toothbrush mustache (shaved at the edges, except for about an inch and a half above the center of the upper lip with the sides being vertical rather than tapered). The pencil mustache, called that because it was “pencil-thin,” stretched across the upper lip with a space between the top of the mustache and the nose. Many classic Hollywood stars of 

the era wore pencil mustaches and were considered quite handsome, including Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, and William Powell. Other notable people over the years who have worn the pencil mustache include actors David Niven, Vincent Price and Sean Penn, director John Waters, and musicians George Benson, Prince, Little Richard and Sammy Davis, Jr. In 1974 Jimmy Buffett wrote and sang “Pencil Thin Mustache,” where he wishes he had a pencil thin mustache like the titular film character Boston Blackie.

Before the start of World War II, toothbrush mustaches were also prominent among men. Living in the U.S., comic actor Charlie Chaplin was an iconic wearer of this mustache, showcasing it in such well-known classic films like Modern Times and City Lights. Another such iconic wearer of the toothbrush mustache was Oliver Hardy of the famed comedy team Laurel and Hardy. Unfortunately, the most nefarious wearer of this mustache style was German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, who pretty much ruined it for everyone. By the end of the war, this facial hair fashion was out of style for obvious reasons.

In 2010, under some ill advice, former basketball legend Michael Jordan wore a toothbrush mustache for a Hanes’ underwear TV commercial. Reaction from the public and the press was quite unfavorable and it prompted Jordan’s close friend and legendary basketball player in his own right, Charles Barkley, to tell Yahoo! Sports at the time: “I have got to admit that I don't know what the hell he was thinking and I don't know what Hanes was thinking. I mean it is just stupid, it is just bad, plain and simple.”

The 1950s

While most of America was clean cut during the happy days of the 1950s, which included sock hops, poodle skirts and the birth of rock and roll, the goatee, which had been around for about 100 years, came back into prominence. It was reintroduced into the mainstream consciousness via the counterculture movement, worn by free-thinkers called beatniks, as well as soul and jazz musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, who had been around since the 1940s.

A variation of the goatee was called the Van Dyke, named after 17th-century Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck. A Van Dyke typically consists of hair growth of both a goatee and mustache with all hair on the cheeks shaved. This particular style itself has many variations, including a curled mustache versus a non-curled mustache and a soul patch, which is explained below, as opposed to no soul patch.

Oddly enough, some of the most famous Americans with goatees are fictional characters, including Uncle Sam, who first appeared shortly after the War of 1812, Maynard G. Krebs from the old TV Show "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis", Shaggy Rogers from the Scooby-Doo franchise and Tony Stark (aka the Marvel Comics superhero Iron Man).

Along with the goatee, the soul patch, came into prominence during this time and into the 1960s, when it was common among African-American men, most notably jazz musicians. Also known as a mouche or a jazz dot, it's a small patch of facial hair just below the lower lip and above the chin. It became popular with beatniks, artists, and those who frequented the jazz scene and moved in literary and artistic circles.

The goatee made a big comeback in the 1990s as a lot of athletes and rappers donned the facial hair fashion, and it has stuck around ever since.

The 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

While most of America was still clean shaven and clean cut when the ‘60s began, by the middle of the decade, all that started to change as long hair became fashionable and facial hair was a wild, free for all, with many men sporting full beards. Beatniks were replaced by hippies, and while some of the greatest music was being created, the unkempt look among young people became the norm.

However, like all things, that fashion statement didn’t last, and by the mid-‘70s most of America’s males were once again well groomed. Hair remained long, but it was styled and while people were out at the discos, the horseshoe mustache, also called the biker mustache, and often confused with the handlebar mustache, was picking up popularity, especially among modern cowboys and rodeo performers. Lasting well into the ‘80s, the horseshoe has vertical extensions grown on the corners of the lips and down the sides of the mouth to the jawline, resembling an upside-down "U" or a horseshoe. The facial hair grown along the sides of the mouth in the horseshoe are sometimes called “pipes.” Perhaps the most well-known personality to sport this type of mustache is former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan. Not surprisingly, this type of facial hair was also commonly seen on adult film stars of the day and is one of two mustache styles that is universally referred to as a “pornstache” with the other known as the chevron.

First making a big splash in 1969 on Robert Redford in the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the chevron covers the area between the nose and the upper lip, out to the edges of the upper lip but no further.

The chevron was popular throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s and was solidly embedded in virtually every area of American culture – TV journalist Walter Cronkite, music Freddie Mercury of Queen, sports racecar driver Richard Petty, baseball star Reggie Jackson and Olympic swimming gold medalist Mark Spitz, and even politics Nixon administration liaison G. Gordon Liddy. Notable adult film stars of the day that sported the chevron included John Holmes, Harry Reems and “The Hedgehog” himself, Ron Jeremy.

But all those personalities can thank a trio of actors for bringing the chevron mustache into mainstream fashion during this time, which included Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back, Tom Selleck as the title character on the ultra-popular TV show Magnum, P.I., and Burt Reynolds of Deliverance and Smokey and the Bandit fame who also posed nude for Cosmopolitan in 1972, which was the inspiration to launch Playgirl magazine.

In the late ‘80s, while women were busy at the mall wearing big hair and shoulder pads, the five o’clock shadow look on guys was around for a hot minute thanks to Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas on the hit TV show Miami Vice, which mixed action and fashion like no other show before it or since.


With the exception of the metrosexual arriving on the scene about 10 years ago (a young, urban, heterosexual male with liberal political views, an interest in fashion and a refined sense of taste), not much had really changed in male facial hair until the beard trend of the late 2000s.

Associated with “hipster” culture, the bearded, plaid shirt-wearing look has become so popular among American men these days that they have been nicknamed “lumbersexual,” which is defined as a young, urban man who cultivates an appearance and style of dress suggestive of a rugged, outdoor lifestyle.

Today, virtually every style of facial hair is commonplace both here in the U.S. and across the globe. About 33% of American men currently have facial hair, compared with 55% of the men worldwide.

A 2013 study by the official journal of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society found that men with full beards are seen as more attractive, healthier, better at parenting and more masculine. That study was reinforced last year.

In 2016, researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia explored male facial hair on a global scale to determine what role it had in sexual attractiveness, masculinity and both short-term and long-term relationships.

More than 8,500 women were shown photos of men with varying amounts of facial hair. The images, manipulated by researchers to show the same men, showed the men with clean-shaven faces, light stubble, heavy stubble and thick beards.

According to the results, published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, women said the sexiest men were those with heavy stubble, followed by those with short stubble. Men who were clean shaven and those with full beards were rated the lowest on the overall sexiness scale.

So what’s the next trend along evolutionary trail of facial hair in America? It all depends on what women like. Just like in the early 1900s, there is only one thing that could motivate men to do just about anything when it comes to facial hair – the prospect of getting laid.

Facial hair may come, and facial hair may go, but some things never change.




By Lainie Speiser

The other day I had to go to Craigslist to put out an ad for the podcast I rep, The SDR Show. We are looking for ladies who will walk around Union Square Park topless with The SDR Show logo across their brave boobies, and I got nostalgic for my days when I used CL to satisfy my need for sexual adventure. I did it so often in fact that my friends started to worry that my life would be ended by the Craigslist killer, which I told them that would never happen because I’m not a victim type or a hooker. Nope, even though I should have been paid for my excellent performances I never charged anyone a dime, unless you consider cocktails and the occasional request to bring a large pepperoni pizza to my home payment.

These were the days before everyone started swiping right and left on their phones aka Tinder and when you had to sit at a computer to get some delicious, objectifying sex with a stranger. Now when I hear people talk about Tinder, I point out how I believe 80% of the men and women who are swiping are probably sitting on the toilet taking a big dump while they scan for partners and that idea is not appetizing to me. I don’t know how I started using Craigslist as my own personal single’s bar, but I do know when I left Penthouse Magazine the office manager must have found a lot of dirty emails and dick pics on their hard drive. What can I say? Some people enjoy taking a break by looking at cuddly, cute cat videos on YouTube, but I found my oasis by planning lunch time nookie for myself.

Nothing scary or bad ever happened to me from meeting strangers, like Anne Frank, I have a firm belief that most people are good. I also am good at reading people, even via emails, and never got hurt, conned or catfished, except for the 

one time I was sent a photo of a cute, geeky white guy sitting at his computer, but when I met him at Starbucks I discovered he was a geeky, middle-aged, bad moustache wearing immigrant from India wearing a wedding ring. “Absolutely not,” I said when he introduced himself, and turned around and left. He later sent me an email saying I was even prettier in person and thanked me for not leading him on. “Leading YOU on?” I wrote, “How the heck in god’s green earth did you think you could get away with this? Did you think I’d forget you sent me a photo of someone who was not you?” Now you can take these photos and do a Google search to find out if the person is legit, of course. But even when that happened, I didn’t get angry. It’s all part of the gamble, and the odds for a woman on Craigslist back then were in her favor.

It was a veritable boy buffet, and when I didn’t see anything I liked I would post (without my photo) what I was looking for: a big, blonde corn-fed boy next door, a long hair hippie with an edge, an older, bolder, DILF going through a divorce, whatever I was in the mood for, and I would always get a ton of responses. It was thrilling to see who was going to respond; that was a lot of allure. Of course, I’d meet men organically too, walking down the street, at parties or bars, but those men were no better than the ones I met online, and the experiences tended to be boring, the dates tedious with me at times thinking, “I’d rather be home eating wings and watching True Blood” (to give you a sense of the timeline). Back then people thought all you met were uglies, losers, weirdos, and murderers on such a forum, but except for the weirdos, and I’m just generally a weirdo magnet, none of that was true.

I remember meeting one man during my lunch hour who looked like a movie star, tall, blonde, built, gorgeous face – and he was nice too. He opened the door wearing a Brooks Brothers bathrobe and a big smile, we had a lot of fun, and afterward, his pillow talk was giving me some pointers for doing this. “You have a nice body, you should send photos where we can see it,” he said. “That way they know you’re not a beast and will reply faster.” While women are scared the men they were meeting off Craigslist were serial killers, men worried that the women they were meeting off Craigslist were in real-life 20 years older and 60 pounds heavier, a fate worse than death.

Even now, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve channel surfed and discovered a guy I hooked up with on Craigslist was on The Millionaire Matchmaker or guest starred on 30 Rock, or a chef on the Food Channel or an actor on the soap opera One Life to Live. For quick, horny hookups it’s rare to learn their last name, and it’s even questionable that they were using their real name. Some of these potential paramours would Google my name though, as I had no shame about it, and find out I worked in adult entertainment and think I was a hooker or a scam-artist, while others would email, “Can we have a three-way with a Penthouse Pet?” One French pilot got very angry that I wasn’t into girls and was offended when I said, “If I was looking for a three-way I would have said so right away,” to which he replied, “Okay goodbye, Stupid, goodbye!” Some men who Googled my name didn’t want to meet me when they saw I was a writer. “You’re very cute Lainie, but I don’t want to be the subject of an article.”

Not everyone wanted to meet up and screw, some wanted to have a proper date and see if there’s chemistry for a possible ongoing relationship, although it would always be sexual in nature of course. A New Yorker editor met me at a bar. He was just adorable with that tousled, curly hair I love so much, and a writer, working on a historical novel. I thought we had a pretty good time, there was definitely a lot of flirting, but before I even got home he emailed me that he thought I was attractive and sexy, but he had Googled me before the date, already knew I was in adult entertainment and was disappointed I didn’t tell him about that when we met up. I usually don’t tell people about my job when I first meet them because I don’t want to spend an evening answering questions about it. He emailed, “I think this kind of deception is not the way to begin a possible relationship and besides that, you seem to have a lot of energy, and I’m worried I won’t be able to keep up with you. I’m not a swinger.” I emailed him back, “Neither am I.” and that was that.

I met a cellist who worked for the Broadway musical, Wicked, in the orchestra pit. After some drinks we went back to his place where he asked me to take off my clothes and lie down on the bed. After I did he did the same, laid down next to me, and finger banged me into a decent orgasm, then reached under his bed, produced a bottle of baby oil, ask me to rub him down and jerk him off, which I did, feeling like I worked in a massage parlor. He wouldn’t fuck me. He was afraid of disease even though I brought my Lifestyle condoms, and when I left, it was one of the rare times I felt empty from my sexcapade. I didn’t contact him again, and he didn’t contact me, until six months later when he emailed me saying he jerked off thinking of me that morning and wanted to see me again. I should have left it there. I didn’t want to see him, but instead, I emailed him back that although I found him to be very attractive, he was rather robotic and cold for someone like me, so thanks, but no thanks. He emailed me back that I was a nasty bitch who smelled like cigarettes and told me to go fuck myself. “I already did an hour ago,” I replied. I thought that would be the end of that, but he emailed me again a month later with the same message about jerking off thinking about me, etc. I think he completely forgot our last exchange, but this time I just didn’t reply.

When I was telling my friend, comedian Josh Accardo, the host of The Broken Tailed Podcast about my Craig lusty past he asked me if I was a sex addict and what kind of place was I at during this time.

I could tell you that I was bored and lonely, but mainly I was horny. I wanted dick, and I don’t think love and sex are the same things. While I do think they can exist happily together, and they do with my husband now, I don’t think it’s necessary.

I told the young, beautiful producer Shannon of The SDR Show who hasn’t had sex in two years, “If I waited until I met the right person to have sex, I too would have gone that long without sex, and that is not an idea I could handle to explore.”

“I wanted dick,” I said to Josh during his podcast, “I was a vampire for dick, I needed it, I wanted it, and I was going to have it.” Masturbation is just a snack between well-balanced one-on-one sex meals to me. I don’t see why I have to do without the one thing I love that is free and safe and makes me happy if I don’t have to.

There were, of course, some jackasses here and there. Men who were obviously married or fake and didn’t want to meet up. They just wanted some email sex, 

some masturbation material. I wasn’t going to give that away for free, and as far as I’m concerned that’s as much cheating as having sex in real life. When the emails continue for days with no plan of meeting up, or they keep hedging the subject, do not continue, it’s not going to happen. He’s either a total troll or he’s married and wasting your time. I would engage in a limited amount of emails and if there was no plan being made I stopped engaging. Or if I kept being asked for more and more photos, I would also stop engaging; I see no reason to give away jerk off material and dick picks, for me, like with most women, are boring. I would also get annoyed by the double standard.

One handsome, stacked young man in finance, who turned out, lived in my neighborhood, kept asking me for more photos so he could gauge what I looked like better. But he in turn only sent me one single photo, that was obviously his work ID picture. “I’ll send more photos when you do,” I said when he asked me for more photos of my body. He enjoyed my feisty nature, and we did meet up. When we were making out on his couch, I stopped, removed my top and said, “I’m sorry I hope this is up to your high standards. Should I go?” He laughed and said, “No, no, stay I was an idiot, stay, stay!” I felt better after that, and we hooked up several times after that until he moved to the West Coast.

Of course, there were a whole lot of men who I wouldn’t want to sit next to on a subway much less get busy with. When I got a response from someone I did not find attractive, unless he was a dick or sent me an unsolicited dick pick when I clearly wrote in my post, “No dick picks please,” I would always respond. I think it’s rude not to reply to a person who put themselves out there for you. I would email back, “Thank you for your response, and while you are certainly a nice-looking person, unfortunately, you are not my type. Good luck and have a great day.” And more often, than not, I’d receive a polite thank you, or no response at all. No matter what you’re doing, I always believe in being polite in respectful, whether you’re in a business meeting or buying an eighth of weed, everyone deserves to be treated politely and with kindness.

I can’t remember the last person I met on Craigslist; I just know I abruptly stopped because the pickings were getting slim and I started my own business and didn’t have that kind of time and interest to Tom Cat around the web. The thrill was gone, plain and simple. I had bigger fish to fry, and I had enough “repeat customers” to serve my needs anyway. The last time I went on the web, was when I finally listened to my big sister and made a profile on, where I met my husband David, who was the only man I went on a date with. I posted a pretty but modest photo of myself because my sister said I should project a look that said relationship, not lunchtime dalliance. I received David’s profile on the Match daily “suggestions” and sent him a cute, but short note (never respond with more than a paragraph, or you’ll look like a lonely, sad person). David responded right away with, “Interesting,” which is never a good response. So, I let it go and decided to post the photos I sent on Craigslist which were sexier and the real me, which made David reach out again and email me, “Hey thanks for the new pictures, they are great, I love your cleavo! How about we meet up and kick the tires and see where this can go?” Five years later we got married. The lesson to be learned: don’t be afraid to get what you want, don’t worry about what other people will think of you and always send photos showing your best attribute, which in my case are, my two best attributes, my boobs.




By Nick Hawk

The number one question I get asked is, where do I find my motivation? I always reply with, where did you lose yours?

I’ve been on a quest since my mid-20s to operate at my full potential, and it took much work to do so. Being a gigolo was some extra motivation because many of my clients look to me for answers. Some may call this realization a “midlife crisis,” but it’s an entire life crisis if you’ve yet to seek necessary development, or have yet to find this “motivation.” Now I do some next-level shit that few people will convince themselves they have the mindset or energy for, but it’s as simple as that. Programming your mind to know that you are more than able to accomplish anything you set out for is a possibility for everyone. Once we’re on a path of operating at our full potential, we understand how necessary it is to test ourselves continually. I’ve been challenging myself for a long time, and with everything I overcome, I become a better human being.

I spent most of my life trying to convince myself that I was special and that I didn’t have to work hard to be good at anything. From creating art or music to being a high-level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. A lot of people spend their life convincing themselves they’re not special and they give up. I was fortunate to find drive or guidance that didn’t allow me to do so. I think it was from being brought into this world with money disadvantages while living in a community where most people had much more money than my single mom and her child support checks. I’m able to admit now, that without my English bachelor’s degree and tens of thousands of hours writing that I would not be a good writer, and without the same amount of time put into mixed martial arts, I would not be a Brazilain Jiu-Jitsu black belt, IBJJF Nationals Champion, IBJJF World Champion, IBJJF Pan American Champion or a three-time NAGA Expert Division Champion.

Winning the 2017 Pan American Championship as a brown belt and receiving my black belt on the podium was the greatest day of my life. All the torture and physical and mental challenges paid off. I wrestled for a good chunk of my life and fortunately, most of what I did translate into Brazilain Jiu-Jitsu. I have a very aggressive style. I’m always on the attack, and I never give an inch to my opponent. A lot of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitors wait for you to make a mistake, and I think that is a mistake in itself. I’m the one controlling the tie-up. I’m the one attacking, shooting outside singles, snapping my opponent down, tripping and throwing my opponent through the air with various throws and my fireman’s carry. It’s been my favorite move since high school. I will never step off the mat thinking I could’ve done more. I always put in immense and necessary preparation before each bout, but my game really elevated last year when I started taking private lessons with my coach, as well as coaching myself, taking notes and dissecting my game. I also have a pressure passing system I developed to break a locked guard, and have never seen anyone do it. I fold my opponent’s legs over his head with my torso and small their face to their knee until they allow me to pass or go to half guard. I used to be a wrestler, but now I’m much more than that, and I’m comfortable in any position. Some may call the blood, sweat and tears I put into receiving my black belt a sacrifice. I prefer the word trade. There’s nothing I would trade back for that day. I didn’t miss out on anything that would compare to that day. I’m a fucking Robert Drysdale black belt. How dare you ask me where I find my motivation.

Now, where did you lose yours? I guess somewhere between this excuse you call “life” and the poisons you put in your body. It’s sad when someone tells me they don’t have “time” to rest, eat healthy or workout. What the fuck do you have time for? If these aren’t your priorities, you have been sorely misled. Sleeping a few hours a night, eating garbage fast food and working 16 hours a day is not being efficient or productive. You’re operating at a depressed level, and you are accomplishing little. You’re a miserable brain-dead zombie, who continues to make bad decisions. Your creative juices are not flowing. No, you don’t have to go where I go and be a world champion or a black belt, but you do need to understand what a healthy lifestyle and continual challenges do for you. The main reason you work out is to make you feel good, looking good is just a bonus. I recommend doing anything that increases your heart rate and makes you break a sweat for 30 minutes or more, every other day, and if you miss a day, you go the next, no matter what. And the little extra time and money it takes to cook and eat healthily is the best investment you can make in your soul. Once you get on track, you will accomplish more with a six-hour work day than you do with your 16.



Evolution BBQ
Barbecues and Grills: What's Cookin' in Your Backyard?
By Howard T. Brody

Next to baseball, hot dogs, apple pies and automobiles, nothing quite says “America” like a good, old-fashioned cookout. And unless you live in a climate where cookouts occur year-round, this is the time of year when you fire up the grill and invite all your family and friends over for a backyard BBQ. 

Now, before we get into a technical debate, there are some things we should keep in mind and put on the picnic table to avoid any confusion. First, despite the variations of how the word is spelled, barbecue (or is it Bar-B-Que?) is both a cooking method and a device. So, for this discussion, we are going to concentrate on the apparatus as opposed to the cuisine.

To further confuse things, most people grill, they don’t barbecue. Barbecuing is done slowly over low, indirect heat where the food is flavored by a smoking process, while grilling, which is what most Americans do – and often refer to their grills as barbecues, or barbies— as in “put another shrimp on the barbie!” – is generally done quickly over moderate-to-high direct heat that hardly produces smoke at all (unless you’re burning something).

However, the two terminologies have been so interwoven over the years that when you are either hosting or going to a cookout, your food is most likely being grilled as opposed to being barbecued.

Grilling has existed in the Americas since even before the first settlers on the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock. The Arawaks (a group of indigenous people from South America and historically from the Caribbean) roasted meat on a wooden structure that the Spanish called a barbacoa. For centuries, the term referred to the wooden structure and not the act of grilling, but through the course of time the word morphed into “barbecue.” The term was also used to describe pit-style cooking techniques.

While barbecues were originally used to slow-cook hogs, different ways of preparing food developed and led to the regional variations we see today across the U.S. such as Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and St. Louis-style BBQ, among others. Over time, other foods were cooked similarly, with hamburgers and hot dogs being fairly recent additions, and primarily cooked on a grill.

Now it’s hard to believe, but before 1952, if you were to have a cookout, your food was not prepared on the type of grill that has been woven into the American fabric.

After World War II, the “chicken in every pot and a car in every garage” America that Herbert Hoover once promised during the ‘20s seemed to be coming to fruition as people migrated from the cities to the suburbs and outdoor entertaining became a part of life. Free-standing metal braziers (containers for hot coals) started replacing traditional barbecue pits as the focus shifted from slow-cooked techniques to grilling. On the weekends it was not unusual to see smoke climbing over your neighbor’s fence.

In 1952, George Stephen Sr. was working in a metal fabrication shop for Weber Brothers Metal Works in Chicago, welding steel spheres together to make marine buoys, when he came up with an idea for a better grill: a dome-shaped design. Stephen was tired of the wind blowing ash onto his food when he grilled, so he took the lower half of a buoy, welded three steel legs onto it, and fabricated a shallower hemisphere to use as a lid. He took his creation home and following some initial success, started the Weber-Stephen Products company, which to this day makes outdoor grills and related accessories. His invention, the “kettle barbecue,” intended to protect food from the elements, ignited a backyard revolution.

Right around the same time, Don McGlaughlin, owner of the Chicago Combustion Corporation, (the company who manufactured the successful gas fired Broilburger) was inventing the outdoor gas grill, better known today as the LazyMan. Up to that point, gas grills were only found in commercial cooking. Not long after the LazyMan was introduced, two other companies – Charmglo and Falcon – released competing portable grills. These portable gas fired grills featured state-of-the-art burners. The burners were built off the burner technology that had already been established by the Chicago Combustion Corporation. Other early gas grill designs included electric rotisseries, porcelain on steel fire boxes, and lava rocks to emulate the flavor of charcoal. For the LazyMan, McGlaughlin’s grandson needed a fuel source for the new portable grill and the iconic propane tank that is now associated with today’s grilling industry was sourced from 20-pound propane cylinders that were used exclusively by the plumbing industry. In 1959 you could purchase the portable LazyMan (Model AP) for $131.25 ($1,178 in today’s money).

We’ve come a long way in more than 60 years of grilling.

Today there are hundreds of companies around the world that manufacture and sell grills of all types – charcoal, propane, natural gas, electric and even infrared. Which type is the best is a personal choice. Always has been and always will. Cooking hamburgers, hot dogs, and steaks on an outdoor grill is such an ingrained part of Americana, and the grill is such an established feature of homeownership, that three out of four U.S. adults own a grill or smoker.

However, grill sales in the U.S. have only grown by low single-digit percentages each year over the past 10 years, and according to the research firm IBISWorld, the home grilling market is about 20% smaller than it was a decade ago. With grill sales closely tied to changes in the U.S. economy, especially the housing market, it’s no surprise that the domestic grill industry suffered a setback between 2008 and 2010 when the housing crisis and severe recession occurred. The industry has been gradually recovering since that time in sync with the economy’s rebound. U.S. grill sales rose to $1.47 billion last year from $1.21 billion in 2009, according to IBISWorld. That’s still well below the $1.78 billion in sales the industry did in 2006. As if the industry didn’t have enough to deal with, in addition to the slow rebound, U.S. grill manufacturers are now facing tougher competition from imports. Foreign manufacturers now account for 56% of all U.S. grill sales. That’s up from 46% a decade agos.

While most companies will be taking the fight to their foreign competition online and in stores, relying on consumer ratings and customer feedback, one company seems to be taking aim at overseas manufacturers both literally and figuratively.

If battles were won based solely on advertising campaigns, Kid Rock’s American Badass Grill (available in charcoal and gas), with the slogan “Made in the USA – by American workers for American workers,” wins the war hands down. 

In March, just a week after announcing his new portable grill, Rock literally began blowing away his competition with a video that quickly went viral. 

At the top of the video, a female friend of Rock’s asks, “You know what’s American? Catapulting foreign-made grills through the sky and shooting them down because they stink. If it’s not made in America like the Kid Rock American Badass Grill, you don’t want it.”

With that, the woman deploys a nearby catapult, which launches a Chinese-made BBQ grill into the air. Rock, positioned nearby holding a shotgun, sets the foreign grill in his sights. 

“This is what we think of ‘Made in China,’” he says as he begins firing at the grill. “Woo! In your face, China!” he says after blowing away the grill.

Unfortunately, despite what you may read elsewhere, trade wars aren’t won on websites or through social media posts. However, American companies are still holding their own.

According to IBISWorld, the leading U.S. grill supplier remains Weber-Stephen as they hold 30.3% of the market by dollar sales. Weber has been growing faster than the overall market in recent years, helped by its brand recognition, product reputation, the improved economy and higher exports. While the company is privately held and doesn’t disclose financial data, IBISWorld estimates that Weber-Stephen’s global grill sales have grown by 10% a year for the last five years, to about $235 million as of 2015.

Next is Middleby Corp., an Elgin, IL company that has a 16.6% share with brands that include Viking and MagiKitch’n. In December 2015, Middleby purchased Downey, CA-based Lynx Grills Inc., a maker of high-end outdoor grills that sell some crazy, off-the-hook models, including a voice-activated one that costs more than $8,000.

The best-selling imported outdoor grill includes the Char-Broil models made in China by 131-year-old W.C. Bradley Co., a privately held company based in Columbus, GA. Bradley moved their production from Georgia to China eleven years ago. At the time, they said that production costs were 25% lower in the People’s Republic of China and that the company made the move to remain competitive in what they called a dramatically changing marketplace.

In a survey compiled last summer by the industry trade group Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, 37% of U.S. adults intended to buy a new smoker or grill with 56% of those sales accounting for replacements. The good news is, according to the survey, buyers aged 18 to 34— millennials — are just as hooked on outdoor grilling as the 35-plus crowd. Not only are they carrying on the grilling traditions of their parents, but they are partially influenced by watching TV shows like BBQ Pitmasters on the Learning Channel and Grill It! with Bobby Flay on the Food Network.

One of the industry’s biggest changes that have been helping domestic grill manufacturers is the ability to adapt to the consumer’s desire to grill a wider variety of foods. So, to meet that need, companies have offered more accessories for outdoor grills beyond the staples like rotisseries, tongs, spatulas, hand mitts and cleaning brushes. Among the more popular grill add-ons are woks, fish and broiling baskets and pizza stones.

When it comes to the heated battle between gas grills and charcoal grills, it seems Americans prefer gas (both natural and liquid propane). While some might argue that gas is simply more convenient than charcoal because of the cleanup and disposal of afterward, gas grills outsold charcoal grills, 57.7% to 40.1% with the remaining 2.2% of the grills being electric.

So, while the numbers paint the picture of the industry across the board, there is one debate that will still rage on long after you decide which grill (or barbecue) to buy: How would you like your steak cooked? Rare, medium or well done?

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