How To Grow A Moustache Feature Interview With The Oklahoma City Beard Club – March 13, 2013
Welcome back my furry friends. This week we will be taking a trip to Central America! No not Costa Rica Central America but Oklahoma, home to buffalo, land of musical cowboys, and the Oklahoma City Beard Club! The OKCBC is a growing group of facial hair enthusiasts stemming from, you guessed it, the Oklahoma City Area. They operate a local chapter of Beard Team USA. The men and women of the club are dedicated to camaraderie, competition, and citizenship (the three c’s). They live for beer, laughter, and lighthearted skepticism. We will be speaking with club president Travis Nance who single-handedly took home the third place bronze in the full beard category from the 2011 World Beard and Moustache Competition held in Norway that year. We catch up with them now at their most recent meeting, OK (get it?)?
HTGAM: Please tell us how long your club has been together?
Travis: The OKC Beard Club was founded in January 2010, making us just over three years old.
HTGAM: What does it take to be a member of OKCBC?
Travis: You need not be a beard or mustache owner to be a member, just an enthusiast. In fact, two of my officers, including my VP, are women. At this time there isn’t an official roll sheet, in fact my only requirement to claim yourself as part of the club is that you show up at a meeting & do your part in promotion of the club & its events.
HTGAM: Do you host events and competitions, If so how many a year and for what causes? How much have you raised?
Travis: We try to do at least one competition a year all on our own – size & scope open to review – but we’re always involved in a lot more than that. We’ve done larger competitions with a dozen categories, and we’ve done small specialty competitions. Lately I’ve preferred holding a competition in conjunction with other events in order to broaden our effect.
It’s hard to count up our own involvement – we’ve held our own events, such as last year’s Beards & Babes Cookout & Car Wash, which even on an unfortunately rainy day still raised $1600 for the Piel Family Relief Fund after the Woodward, OK tornado. We also love helping out other organizations put on bigger & better events – I’ve served as emcee and judge for a number of competitions – emceed for Beerds DFW at the Big TX Beer Fest, head judge for the first Lone Star Beards competition last year, and will be judging in Nashville in July. Last year was our first involvement in the OKC Stache Bash which is a huge annual charity event – we ran the mustache contests.
HTGAM: Does your group participate in regional, national or international competitions?
Travis: Absolutely, yes! Collectively, and depending on how you define group membership, we’ve been all over. Several of my members have moved away to join or start other groups as well, so I often claim them. Altogether we’ve been represented at WBMC 2011, 2 of 3 nationals, and regional competitions from NYC to Bend and back.
HTGAM: Have you had any big wins?
Travis: I brought back bronze for Verdi full beard in 2011 WBMC Trondheim. I still claim Devon Holcombe of Jacksonville as our own, he was in the club for a couple of years when he lived in OK – he took silver in Anchorage WBMC 2009. We’ve also brought back prizes from several other states. I pulled a gold at NTBA’s contest at the Rahr & Sons brewery, we had a couple of winners in Springfield and a few other places. I’m sure there’s more – we don’t keep much track of our wins, it’s more about getting out there & meeting up with old friends.
HTGAM: What is your connection to the Steampunk movement?
Travis: We got accidentally involved with steampunk, though we had a great time. I was approached by some folks running a steampunk expo in OKC because I have a very steampunkish look. It makes sense, since I have a penchant for fancy hats, vests, and pocket watches. We ran the beard & mustache contest and the costume contest at the 2010 steampunk expo, and we had a great time with that crowd.
HTGAM: What was it like hanging with Jack Passion?
Travis: I met Jack in 2010 in Bend Oregon. He couldn’t have been nicer & more genuine. This is a commonly asked question, “Do you know Jack Passion?” Yeah, we’re friends. We met and hung out in Oregon, and since have always enjoyed meeting up again. He’s always got cameras around but he’ll always make time for me even though the cameras don’t really care about me since I don’t compete in Full Beard Natural. I got to spend a good amount of time with him and Burke (Kenny) in Trondheim.
What you need to know is that Jack turns on his persona for the cameras. It’s how he gets to just be bearded for a living, and it generates interest. He’s a complex human guy with feelings & motivations & insecurities like everyone else, though. I feel like he’s gotten a bum rap due to how Whisker Wars portrayed him. I haven’t agreed with all his actions & decisions, but part of being human is having the right to make mistakes and being given the opportunity to learn from them.
[pullquote]“Are we human or are we dancers.” – Eddie F. Mercury[/pullquote]
HTGAM: Any breaking news for the OKC Beard Club?
Travis: As for news, we have lots of stuff coming up. March 16 we’re doing a Mustache March event in Enid, Oklahoma, and some of us are going to be present & cheering at the St. Baldrick’s event at Saints pub in Oklahoma City. There won’t be any beard-shaving this year, but we’ll be hooting & hollering. We will have representation in upcoming contests in Dallas, Nashville, nationals in New Orleans, and worlds in Stuttgart (that we know of).
HTGAM: Any advice for other “growers” out there that have not joined or experienced club life yet?
Travis: Just get out there and have fun. I regularly have people say they’d love to hang out but they can’t grow out their facial hair due to work or a wife or whatever. It’s not about that. Do whatever life allows and have fun with it. Anything below the eyeballs & forward of the ears counts as facial hair, rock it. I usually keep fake ‘staches on hand for anyone that’s feeling left out.
HTGAM: Any tips or pointers for other stache and beard wearing men (or ladies) reading this?
Travis: Keep that hair moisturized & conditioned. Nobody should ever have to fear a smooch.
HTGAM: Does anyone in your group have any humorous facial fur stories to share?
Travis: Zitta, our VP, is a burlesque performer. She once stripped as Freddie Mercury in a moustache.
Eddie F. Mercury: I one time had my moustache waxed so stiffly that after making out with a man in a bar, as we parted ways, my left handlebar hung in is septum ring. It was rather painful.
HTGAM: What are some of your group’s favorite grooming products and why?
Travis: An essential- half of a broken unbreakable comb. We make our own wax, and also use a variety of other waxes we’ve picked up from here and there. It’s necessary to keep your beard from drying out – condition every 5-10 days, and on a day-to-day basis be sure to use something supplemental, anything from Burt’s Bees moisturizer to cocoa or shea butter.
[Did anyone else pick up on the broken unbreakable comb? How we all are just denizens in a whirling world of lies.]
HTGAM: What do they look for in a moustache wax?
Travis: We’re looking for strength & malleability. For most of us, a lot of waxes just don’t have the tensile strength to keep our mustaches in place. This is a big part of why we make our own. We keep several other local & regionally made waxes on hand for comparison’s sake. In the end, we want something that will keep large mustaches in place without too much work, that doesn’t smell awful or too strong.
HTGAM: What do you see in the future for your club?
Travis: This is our good excuse to hang out regularly. If nothing else comes of this, I think everyone’s fine with that. We’ll keep involving ourselves in anything interesting but we don’t need to conquer the world to be content.
HTGAM: What are you lightheartedly Skeptical of?
Travis: This is a two-part question, because it means different things when it comes to OKCBC and Travis Nance. For the club it’s more about keeping each other and ourselves in check. We try to stay humble and not buy into a lot of hype that inexplicably comes from people running up & saying they love our beards. It’s important for us to remember we’re just people. Except Eddie, he’s the reason they came up with the question “are we human or are we dancers.”
Personally, though, it’s important for me to not hold onto ideas just because I’m used to them. I came from a mildly religious background & have involved myself in becoming a cheerleader for science-based medicine & leaving behind superstitions, which can be tough in a place like Oklahoma. That’s where my handle BeardedSkeptic comes from, that’s what I use for my blog & twitter feed, which are mostly a weird mix of awful puns, self-deprecating humor, and psychological ponderings. That’s entirely separate from the club, though.
HTGAM: Do you see an increase in the popularity of moustache and beard clubs?
Travis: It could go either way. My gut tells me it’s at its peak growth at the moment, which doesn’t mean it won’t get bigger, just that I think that this is as fast as the clubs will grow. It’ll always be awesome to have fantastic facial hair – even more so than a head of hair or an outfit.
HTGAM: What do you get out of being in a club? What’s the pay off, what’s the motivation?
Travis: To answer this question, I was instructed to just insert a picture of a banana. At this moment, my club members (aka friends) are over sharing whiskey with me as we pass a baby around and respond to interview questions. We just made enough mustache wax to last us a few months and are sharing advice and life stories. Really I don’t think I need to explain anything else for this.
HTGAM: The baby and the banana are a nice touch. More clubs should incorporate these elements into their weekly meetings.
Thanks to Mr. Travis Nance and company! For more information on the Oklahoma City Beard Club please contact them at: okcbeardclub.com or check them out on Facebook where more of the action takes place: www.facebook.com/OKCBeardClub
Youtube video by CINEMATOGRAPHY AND EDITING: DUSTY SAUNDERS
Interview by Douglas Smythe
If you belong to a club and would like to participate in our ongoing Feature Interview Series please drop us a line or two!
Contact Douglas at: firstname.lastname@example.org