words: Marla Cantrell
images: courtesy Scott Hutcheson
Scott Hutcheson sits in a coffee shop in Fayetteville, Arkansas, his MacBook, covered in stickers, open in front of him. He is a big, burly, bearded guy with big black glasses that he regularly pushes back up on his nose. As he talks, he taps his fingers on the table. He uses his hands to make a point. And he breaks into laughter over and over again, describing this past year and what led him to create First Annual Beard Calendar: Featuring Premium Beards.
“If you have a beard, you know five or six other people who also have beards,” Scott says. And bearded guys, according to Scott, are a lot more fun than their clean-shaven counterparts. So he started thinking. There were plenty of calendars with perfect people with perfect bodies. There were plenty with dogs and cats and flowers and old barns. But there wasn’t one that he could find with guys like him. When he told his two close friends what he was planning, they loved the idea and jumped at the chance to be part of his project. They also started telling their friends. Soon seventeen other bearded guys were knocking on Scott’s door, hoping to be part of the calendar.
The result is a wild, just-this-side-of-outrageous romp through the months of 2014 with bearded men in capes, really short shorts, and covered in day-old donuts. “The first Friday in June is National Donut Day, and initially I was just going to get a dozen donuts and have Mr. June eat a whole bunch of them. Then I called Old Tyme Donuts, over by my house, and asked what they did with leftover donuts. I told them we were using them for props. They told me to come at 11:30 and bring a tub. And then they sent me on to their other store to get more. I had a twenty-gallon container full of donuts of every kind.
“So we borrowed a kiddie pool, filled it up with donuts and had him sit in there. At the end people were throwing donuts on top of him. It was madness and a lot of fun.”
For March, Scott was the model. “March has March Madness, so I found the shortest shorts I could find, a throwback to seventies style basketball. September is National Chicken Month, so we have a bearded guy eating chicken. April has a National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day. So we just made these monster peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and me and another guy ate them. For weeks after, I could still smell peanut butter in my beard. And for December my wife and I went around to the thrift stores and bought a bunch of ugly sweaters and we took what looks like the world’s most awkward family photo.”
Scott’s favorite beard in the entire project belongs to a man named Merve, who’s been growing his beard for eighteen years.
The shoots took place all across the area, in a Bentonville bar; at Scott’s father-in-law’s martial arts studio in Lowell; at Scott’s house; even in the woods. As soon as he could, Scott posted out-takes on his website. The response was instantaneous. “I’d get thirty comments on one picture, with people asking us to come shoot at their place.”
Even before the calendars came out, bearded guys were signing up for the 2015 issue, which is already in the development stage. There will be ninety bearded guys in the upcoming calendar, including one model who works as a professional Santa. There are others from as far away as New York and New Hampshire applying, something Scott never envisioned when this idea came to him.
But this thirty-something graphic designer/web developer/photographer does seem to have a knack for creating a buzz, beginning when he was eighteen. That’s when he was hired by a major retailer straight out of high school, in their IT department. From there he went on to St. Louis, where he worked for an IT company. And it was while he was there that he started a movie review website. “I just like talking about movies,” Scott says. “I’m not a great critic; I’m not even a great writer.” None of that stopped him, and on a whim he filled out an application to attend the renowned Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, founded by Robert Redford. He was accepted, a little overwhelmed, and absolutely star struck. “You see about forty movies in nine days at a ski resort. My first time there was in 2009. It’s almost like you’re the celebrity because all the publicists want you to talk about their movie. You go to all these parties. You’re like, ‘Oh hey, Ryan Gosling. Oh hey, George Clooney.’ It was absurd to me because the next week I’d be back at my nine-to-five job, but right then I was hanging out with Joseph Gordon-Levitt.”
He sold the website in 2010, because it had started to take over his life. But the next year he started a T-shirt company that he’s since sold. He designed T-shirts that read I would cuddle you so hard, and others geared toward “bearded, chubby people,” in part because he fit the profile, but also because he’d found a niche that wasn’t being filled. One of the most popular slogans was I heart bearded, chubby guys. “The problem with a lot of guys like me is they have trouble talking to women,” Scott says, and touches the bridge of his eyeglasses. “But if they see an attractive girl wearing one of my shirts, I’ve just set up a connection.”
The beard calendar is also helping make connections. The guys in the calendar have become minor celebrities in Northwest Arkansas, and they’re meeting people they might never have known.
As for a profit, that’s not what Scott’s really looking for. At least not this year, though he has high hopes for the 2015 edition. When he started out he wanted to have fun. He wanted to make people laugh. He wanted to do something unlike anything he’d ever seen.
And he thinks he has. It’s a great joy for Scott, who readily admits not all of his ideas take off. That never stops him. He always has the next idea waiting, the next product that meets a need you didn’t even know you had. Life, according to Scott, should feel more like a playground and less like a cubicle. He smiles, strokes his chin. He’s been seriously working on growing an even bigger beard since September of last year, and his diligence is paying off. He wants to be ready when shooting begins again. He wants a beard his fellow models will be in awe of, and that’s not easy when you’ve made it to the major league of facial hair.
Scott is offering one modeling spot on his 2015 calendar to the overall winner of DoSouth’s Beards and Brew Contest. To enter, go to DoSouthMagazine.com/BeardsAndBrew.
To order a First Annual Beard Calendar: Featuring Premium Beards, and read profiles on the models, visit beardcalendar.com.