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Mustache garners accolades

Karl Horeis

When Maury Apfel of Carson City first saw his competition for the World Beard and Mustache Championship he was intimidated.

“I thought, ‘Geeminy Christmas, look what I’m up against.'”

The first-time facial-hair competitor went up against Guinness Book of World Records record holder Gerhard Knapp and World Champion Jurgen Burkhardt -both Germans with 15 inches of spiraling mustaches.

But the occupational therapist stayed the course and took home the second-place trophy in Category 4, Handlebar.

“I never thought I’d even place,” Apfel said.

According to the contest program, the requirements for handlebar are: “Bushy; small, upward pointing ends; areas past the corner of the mouth must be shaved. Artificial styling aids allowed.” Or, in German: “Bushig; klein, nach oben geshwungene Spitzen; Haare nur bis der Oberlippe angewachsen erlaubt. Hilfsmittel erlaupt.”

Apfel started on the path toward a world-champion mustache when he graduated from high school in 1970.

“I started growing it that summer,” he said. “I cut it once for an internship, but nobody recognized me.”

He said he started sprouting facial hair at the early age of 12.

“I used to think, ‘One of these days, I’m going to let this thing go.'”

Apfel said he was inspired to grow his mustache by his parents’ fascination with classic cars and by his love of old-time music. He plays Dixieland tuba, trombone and euphonium, which is similar to baritone but has two bells.

Just out of high school, he played on the road with Clyde McCoy, traveling three years with him across 36 states. In the late 1980s and early ’90s, he played with the Guy Lombardo band and has recently played with Big Tiny Little.

And the hair on his upper lip has been there through it all.

“It goes with the music I play,” he joked.

The World Beard and Mustache Championships came to the United States for the first time at the end of October. About 100 competitors -most from foreign countries – walked in the Nevada Day parade then competed in the annual Nevada Day beard competition before the world championships at the Carson City Community Center.

Apfel said the foreign facial-hair enthusiasts were “some characters. Some of them just knew their home languages, and that was it. But they were passing out cards and the whole bit. It was a lot of fun.”

He said the crowd at the community center was supportive.

“Especially when they found out I was representing Carson City. Boy, the applause just went wild. It was great.”

Apfel uses only one product on his mustache – Pinaud-Clubman Mustache Wax.

He works as an occupational therapist at Mosaic Rehabilitation in the Evergreen medical facility. He and his wife, Sue, plan to attend the next World Beard and Mustache Championship in Berlin in 2005

“My father was from over there, and I’ve never found where. I’d like to go find out,” he said.