FIRST THERE WAS MAYNARD C. KREBS, the goateed proto-hepcat of the goofy ’60s sitcom Dobie Gillis. Now Maynard’s scruffy spirit must be stalking the land once again. What other explanation is there for the recent appearance of all those hair-today, gone-tomorrow wispy growths on all those celebrity chins? JFK Jr., Ashley Hamilton (Mr. Shannen Doherty) and neo-hippie rocker Lenny Kravitz, among others, are paying homage to Maynard, even though they may not know it.
The modified billygoat look hasn’t been really fashionable in the West since the 17th century, when it was de rigueur for such grandees as Charles I of England and Cardinal Richelieu of France. Goatees had a brief revival during the American Civil War, when young officers wore them for added dash. Then came a long dry spell in the States—until the beatniks and Bob Denver’s crazy cool Krebs. Umberto, a one-name-only Los Angeles men’s hair stylist, who has trimmed goatees for Rod Stewart and Julian Lennon, likes them because they offer a quick, low-maintenance way to change a guy’s looks. “If a man wants to extend his chin, he can make the goatee longer and thicker,” says Umberio. “If he wants to sharpen the jawline, he can make it shorter. Men use goatees the same way women use makeup.” And hey, man, goalees don’t run in the rain.