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“Whisker Wars”: Meet Bryan Nelson

“Whisker Wars”: Meet Bryan Nelson (photo)

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Meet Bryan Nelson, president of the Austin Facial Hair Club and rival for Jack Passion’s full beard natural crown. Bryan was once considered the beardsman who stood the best chance of usurping Jack in the Full Beard Natural category, but Bryan is fighting his way back from a decision that has left him fighting to regain his status. But he’s not just twiddling his thumbs waiting for his beard to grow, he is using his time to motivate the Austin ranks to compete in every bearding category at the World Championships in Norway, whether they compete as part of Beard Team USA or not. He may also be using his time to impersonate Jack Passion on Twitter. Bryan sat down with us to chat about beards, bears and the Coen Brothers, so read this and then tune in to “Whisker Wars” tonight at 11 p.m. ET.

Hi Bryan, where am I reaching you today?

Well, I’m out tour managing for Peelander Z on the Warped Tour

Is that your day job?

It’s something I do a few times a year. I record bands and I do sound. I am trying to get out of working in bars.

Do you find that your beard limits your career choices?

I’ve been in the music business for about 15 years. When I’m tour managing it’s easier to pick me out of a crowd, which can be really helpful. It’s quick way to point me out, especially because I generally work with Japanese bands, so I stick out in a crowd.

How did you end up in the world of competitive facial hair growing?

There was a competition in Austin and I was a judge there. Then since I had a big beard, I was directed to the websites with all the competitions and everything. I almost went to one contest but …well, it was a whole bear society. I would get 20 emails of people asking to use my picture. Now, I really don’t have a problem with anyone’s sexual orientation but I don’t want to put myself on the front page of a bear website either. So I stuck with the Austin contests for a while.

You have a wife and child, did you meet your wife with a full beard?

We met in the fall of 2004, I asked her out at one of her art shows, and a little over a year later, after we got serious, I decided to shave my beard. I had dated other girls and, while my beard was clean, other girls had, you know, cuddled in my beard, and I wanted to give her a clean beard that was all her beard.

Did she appreciate that?

I think so.

But then you started growing it back right away?

Yep. August 2005 was the last time I shaved. My beard grows pretty fast. Last year my wife and baby and I were extras in True Grit so they had to cut my beard and my hair for that so I could look like a city person. They cut it all they way to my nipples.

So even though you compete in the beard circuit, you let them cut it for the movie?

Yeah. I was thinking my six-month old daughter gets to be in a Coen Brothers movie. Cutting it actually helped me have a more relaxed attitude about the beard and the competitions. I mean, you can’t take these competitions too seriously. The judges are like the mayor’s daughter or a hairdresser from the town. Some people get way too serious about it. Our team can get really serious and really competitive, but we smack each other down.

With a six-month old daughter around, what is the weirdest thing she’s ever got stuck in your beard?

Her whole body! First it was her hands. Then her toes and then she would get stuck and she would start screaming and she couldn’t move and would be pulling my beard out and screaming. It was bad.

What do you use to keep your beard in tip top condition?

I usually take a shower once a day. Mostly because sometimes you wake up and your beard is sticking out weird ’cause I slept on it wrong. I take a beard correction shower. I shampoo and condition it. I use Main and Tail Straight Arrow. It’s for horses. It doesn’t have alcohol, which can be really drying for beards.

What’s the hardest thing to eat with a full beard?

Actually, drinking out of a water fountain is really hard. I have to use two hands and move my moustache out of the way. Sometimes soup can be a challenge. Or soft-boiled eggs. Egg yolk is the worst to get in your hair. I am pretty good though. I would challenge anyone to a contest of messy eating. Actually, we wanted to have the Beard Olympics! You would have all these messy foods and one napkin and see who would have the least food on their bead.. Also maybe a beard soak where you dip your beard in a cup of water and see who can wring out the most.

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New episodes of “Whisker Wars” air on IFC on Fridays at 11 p.m. ET/10 ct

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.