Newly crowned mustache king has a handlebar on fame

Larry McClure, with his 31-inch wide mustache, holds the distinction of being named winner of the National Beard and Mustache Championships' Best Mustache division last month.
Larry McClure, with his 31-inch wide mustache, holds the distinction of being named winner of the National Beard and Mustache Championships' Best Mustache division last month. Karl Mondon, Contra Costa Times / MCT

Larry McClure slowly backed his wife's Lexus into their garage, stopped, pulled the emergency brake, rolled up the windows and ... he was stuck by a hair.

When you're the national mustache champion, sporting a subnasal decoration measuring 31 inches from tip to tip, power windows become more obstacle than convenience.

"I'm not a conformist. I just don't like doing what everybody else does," said the 67-year-old retired truck driver, relaxing in his Concord, Calif., living room.

McClure and his handlebar have attained a cultlike following in his hometown of four decades. A blog posts McClure sightings, residents constantly request photos with him and onlookers inundate him with questions.

Top question: "How do you sleep at night?"

"I just tell them I sleep standing up," McClure said with a laugh.

Last month, McClure's snow white whiskers gained national recognition when he won Best Mustache in the inaugural National Beard and Mustache Championships in Bend, Ore.

"I went there as a fluke," he said. "The win was completely unexpected."

Phil Olsen, founder and captain of Beard Team USA, recruited McClure after receiving e-mailed photos of the nearly yard-wide 'stache.

"Larry has a huge mustache which he has sculpted into quite the artistic masterpiece," said Olsen, himself the owner of a foot-long beard. "He was definitely the crowd favorite in Bend. It was his rookie appearance and a big success for him."

Jack Passion, a two-time full beard world champion and Walnut Creek, Calif., resident, emceed the event.

"I think the Diablo Valley is a very fertile valley and there's just something about the mineral profile of the soil and the great clean East Bay MUD water," the 26-year-old said, beard firmly in cheek.

A year ago, McClure had a healthy beard reaching his upper chest. He shaved it off and began growing the mustache.

"I have to go into a different bathroom because he takes 45 minutes," his wife Marilyn said, laughing. "It's his face and his hair. He can do what he likes with it."

She also squelched any intimacy concerns.

"It doesn't affect it at all. He's a real good kisser," she said.

They have been married 43 years.

Each morning, McClure showers, dries his mustache with a hair dryer and firms it with hair spray - a lot of it and the strongest he can find. Finally, he gently curls the tips skyward.

Mustache wax would not work.

"It melts when I drink coffee," he said.

Despite its follicular fame, the mustache has its drawbacks. McClure nearly set it on fire once while welding and he avoids lighting barbecues. He can't dance with his wife without impaling her eyeball.

Car windows, hair spray, fire and sitting out the dance notwithstanding, McClure plans to keep the mustache in anticipation of the 2011 World Championships in Norway.

"I'm going to grow it longer, I think," he said.

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