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Tonsorial Pallor: Bryan Brirzik adds a twirl to his brave face.

Waxing Elegant

Return of the century mustaches find a home with Ryan and Bryan

By Erika Frike

Yes, the perfect mustache can find you a job and win you admirers. "Aaron [manager of Beauty Bar] likes me around because I remind him of his dad, because his dad had the same mustache," says Bryan. "Homeless people, the vast majority, like curly mustaches. I get a lot of compliments from street people," says Ryan. Salvador Dali mustache, 1800s mustache, mustache deserving of a bowler hat. Luxurious mustaches stand around the Beauty Bar, carpeting the upper lips of bouncer Bryan Brirzik and patron Ryan Brirzik. Sometimes they help smoke a cigarette. But anyone who can stop gazing doe-eyed long enough to ask the mustache men about their handlebars will hear the dark side--like when the pulp from an agua fresca lingers in the bristles.

"I had to save up six months before growing a mustache to prepare for it," Ryan explains. A mustache requires special care and attention, which in turn requires special tools. The mustache trimmer alone can cost $50. "I tried to qualify for a loan, but they didn't understand my need. I tried to approach several friends and different organizations, but nobody would loan me the funds for a razor," he continues. "I have my own now." And then there's the upkeep--the daily dose of wax that holds that twirly thing at the end in place. Unlike a good burrito or sex club, mustache wax isn't the kind of daily fix found easily in San Francisco. Ryan moved from a neighborhood with a large Walgreens that stocked mustache wax (not all Walgreens do) to his new neighborhood, which has with no Walgreens at all. Now he purchases mustache wax in bulk whenever he sees it. And he hoards it.

Mustaches affect the most mundane daily acts. If you're thirsty, drink water. But if you have a mustache ... "any type of wetness makes it droop."And witness Ryan's sad story of smooching, the day he found out his mustache's desires were different than his own. "My mustache went up her nose one time, and it was very ticklish."

For those who feel ready to face the challenges and heartache attendant to the mustache, and are itching to seize their mustache tips between thumb and forefinger and twirl, Bryan offers some basic tips to get started. Use conditioner to make it soft, or wax to make it hard. But at the end of the day, your relationship with your mustache must take its own path. As Ryan sagely advises, "There are no mustache-twirling lessons. It's intuitive."

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From the February 21, 2000 issue of the Metropolitan.

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