Alex Ambrose said that ’80s music makes him want to move. Walks around Brunswick give him time to listen to his favorite bands and lets him move to the music.
ALYSSA ALFANO / GAZETTE Enlarge
BRUNSWICK —This is not just some kind of costume. The neon green and black spandex pants, black cut-off T-shirt and shiny metal arm shields 26-year-old Alex Ambrose wore Monday is not just a gimmick he pulls off once a year — even though the calendar will tell you Halloween is just a few weeks away.
Instead, Ambrose’s said his style of dress is so synonymous with who he is as a person that he long ago accepted the moniker “Brunswick 80’s Guy” — and the hometown notoriety that goes with it.
“I have a hard time not dressing like myself,” said Ambrose on Monday.
The near constant nod to guys like Eddie Van Halen, Jon Bon Jovi and Rob Halford may give residents a blast from the past thanks to Ambrose’s propensity for big teased hair, bright outfits and dedication to hair bands from the 1980s. But for Ambrose his style is rooted in something more personal.
“It all started with my dad,” Ambrose said Monday. “I grew up listening to, like, rock ‘n’ roll and stuff. … That’s kind of how it all started. Then I kind of branched off from it.”
When Ambrose was at Brunswick High School, he said he started discovering bands that shifted his view of music and gave him the idea of how he wanted to dress.
“I discovered a band called Europe and they got me into ’80s hair metal and it just skyrocketed from there,” he said. “I saw the bands I listened to and was like ‘they look awesome, I want to look like that.’ So then I grew out my hair, I started teasing my hair, I started wearing the clothes and it just kind of kept going for years.”
After high school, Ambrose said he has stayed pretty much in the community — he lives in Brunswick with his father and stepmother — and gets around mainly by walking, often with his iPod playing his favorite albums. It’s those jaunts down main drags like Center Road that have caught the attention of strangers enthralled by his look.
Ambrose started gaining more popularity and attention after an anonymous fan created a Facebook page about him.
“Somebody made the ‘Brunswick 80’s Guy’ Facebook page about, I think, six years ago and that’s how it kind of took off. People started seeing it and it just blew up,” said Ambrose. “I’ve been dressing like this for about eight years.”
Ambrose said he has also found a passion and interest in medieval and ancient history, which he shows through body armor he makes and wears around Brunswick.
“It was a game called ‘Age of Empires.’ My dad was playing it and then I started playing it. Ever since then I just really got into ancient history and stuff,” he said.
He’s made several different pieces including a chest plate and wrist guards. His tailoring skills also include finding vintages pieces on the internet and cutting, sewing and mixing them to fit his style.
Ambrose said he enjoys walking around town while listening to music — walking around in his armor sometimes proves to be a challenge as the pieces weight just over 30 pounds.
The way that Ambrose dresses, which he does to show off his interests, has drawn more than social media attention. He said that the funniest reactions he’s ever had are from kids. A kid who saw him at a Walmart thought he was a character from the video game “Guitar Hero.”
“I’ve had some people come up to me saying how I’ve affected their life, like, made it better and made them more confident and stuff,” he said. “So, that’s always really crazy.”
Ambrose said that the way he dresses is part of who he is and he can see himself dressing this way for many years to come. And right now, it doesn’t even interfere with work as he mainly works part-time with his father’s construction company.
“I love ’80s hair metal because its awesome, it’s powerful and it gets you moving,” he said.