For your further entertainment, I conducted a short interview with our illustrious winner, Michael, this morning, before his busy schedule called him away:
Jhayne: What brought you to the O Face arena, Michael? Your work is impeccable, your poise and display are the best I’ve ever seen.
Michael: Well, you see, I actually come from a long line of "O" Face artists. My father and mother met while on the promenade, competing against each other in the Welsh finals. It was very romantic, apparently. They even turned it into a double act later, which also runs in the family.
Jhayne: That’s fascinating! I had no idea.
Michael: Oh yes. I was told that one of my great aunts even "O" Faced Queen Victoria.
Jhayne: How juicy. So is that how you began your studies? With your parents?
Michael: At first it was my parents, but I didn’t really feel a connection to the art until I was older. I can actually pin-point the exact moment it shifted from being something I practiced at home to make my family happy, to something I was doing for myself.
Jhayne: Can you tell us about it?
Michael: It was at a competition on the Drive, the local neighborhood where all the poets and hippies hang out, kind of an open mic gig where people would go up and do their routine for, like, 30 seconds and then be rated on their technique. Very tongue in cheek, and I could tell the people up there weren’t really trying. It was a joke to them, you know? Something to film and put up on the internet to laugh about later. I think that’s part of the problem these days, part of what I’m trying to do now is create more of an awareness, that this is a real art that people take seriously. Anyway, I never really practiced my “O” facing out of the house in those days. I mean I knew I had the background and I would always be practicing with my parents and stuff but I never thought that this was really for me. But when I went up there, it felt right. It felt like that was what I was meant to do. When I was finished I looked at the judges, and you could see it. You could see that they had witnessed something really special, that this wasn’t just someone’s hobby, it was real.
Jhayne: I’m familiar with the recording. It’s grown to be quite a popular bootleg, and cited as an inspiration by some very influential people.
Michael: It’s lost it’s grandeur these days though. You go into a coffee shop, meet a nice girl, tell you that you spend a lot of time pretending to have orgasms in front of a mirror, and she looks at you like you just fell from space.
Jhayne: And what effect has that had on your career?
Michael: I don’t do it professionally anymore, just, you know, charity gigs, stuff like that. I went into philosophy because I knew I couldn’t cut it as an "O" Facer, what does that tell you?
Jhayne: Yet you’ve kept your hand in, continuing the small circulation specialty magazine your parents founded, Le Petit Mort, and turning it into quite the success. It seems like you’re actively cultivating a burlesque cult of personality.
Michael: It’s true. When Le Petit Mort was founded, it was very DIY. We would spend our evenings hand setting the type for the printer we kept in the garage. Our clothes would always smell like ammonia. It was pretty punk rock. Now, though, with the advent of the internet, I’ve been managing to expand our subscription base. Offering a forum where "O" Facers can find each other and connect, share tips, it’s like a miracle. All these people thinking they’re laboring alone, and I get to offer them a community. It really made me, as a celebrity, in a totally new way. I’m hoping to eventually gamble on that, and try to expand our web presence, maybe push our tiny empire back into regular public consumption, restore "O" facing to its former glory as the face of American culture, back where it belongs on the front of every magazine, like the good old days. Sex sells, after all, even when in caricature.
Jhayne: You’re saying appearances are more important than objective truth?
Michael: Yes, definitely, though I don’t mean to say "O" Facing is insincere. It certainly isn’t. Making an O face isn’t just about sex, it’s about life.
Jhayne: Enjoying life, maybe.
Michael: Ha. Yes. Well it’s like we’ve always said in the magazine, it all comes down to the core rules of the “O” Face: Concentrate. Build. Relax. It’s true for pulling off a good “O” face, and I think it’s true for everything else, too. It’s about empowerment.
Jhayne: It seems that’s an interpretation that’s been lost in recent years, replaced with the idea that it’s no longer a lifestyle choice, but an eccentric hobby.
Michael: Very much so.
Jhayne: Did you feel any sense of regret about that, or was it a relief to say, "Okay, this is how we have to do it"?
Michael: It was weird, like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, like I was finally coming into my own as a person, reinstating myself as the defender of the "O" Face. I could feel that I had a responsibility, that I couldn’t let the tradition go on like this. All these amateurs, mocking what used to be a respected institution.
Jhayne: Was that part of what’s prompted your recent re-emergence as the undisputed master of the "O" Face?
Michael: Completely. I’m a veteran "O" Facer with a loyal following. I couldn’t just walk away from such a public challenge. If someone else won, I’d have to start over, building my cred from the ground up. I’d rather step in to stay on top, even at the risk of being made fun of, then fade away, forgotten except as footnote. “O” Facing is important, and I’m glad for the chance you offered to showcase talent.
Jhayne: Well, thank you very much for showing up and giving us your best!
Michael: No, thank you. It was my pleasure.