Morgan Spurlock on Mustaches, Mantyhose and Mansome

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Warrior Poets

Morgan Spurlock, in 'Mansome'.

Documentarian Morgan Spurlock likes stunts. For Super Size Me, he gorged himself on McDonald’s burgers and fries to make a point about obesity. He dealt with product placement, marketing and advertising in The Greatest Movie Ever Sold by attempting to get corporate sponsorship for every aspect of his life. Now, in his latest film, Mansome—which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival—he tackles the not-so-pretty side of male beauty. (Executive producers Will Arnett and Jason Bateman even submit to an on-camera spa day.) Spurlock spoke to TIME about the hairy world of manscaping, the lengths to which men now go in order to look perfect and what it all implies about our concepts of manliness.

What did your personal grooming habits look like before you started this project?

I was a very minimal and quick-out-of-the-house groomer, and I still am. It still takes me probably about 20 minutes from the time that I wake up to when I leave, so it’s not like I’ve done anything different. I haven’t been going in for laser treatments or exfoliating treatments or anything. I use the same products that I used before. I’ve still got two giant bottles of Mane ‘n Tail shampoo in my shower from The Greatest Movie Ever Sold.

Did making the film change your ideas about female grooming habits?

I think what you start to realize is that men have been made to feel just as insecure as women have for decades. Now with the commodification of manliness, we’re seeing through advertisements and through magazines this idea that you’re too fat, you’re not good enough, you should look better, if you really want to get a woman this is what you should do. It’s interesting what’s transpired over the last 10 or 15 years.

Do you have a theory about what caused that change?

I think a lot of what always pushes things is financial prospects. Just as the industry drives bad eating habits, I think the industry also drives grooming habits. It’s a multi-multi-billion-dollar business that does have a tremendous amount of influence on the choices we make.

(MORESpurlock’s ‘Greatest Story’ and Other Film Product Placements)

It sounds like you think the topic is pretty serious—how do you go about about using humor and comedians to address it?

We have a mantra that we try to live by in my company, which is “if you can make someone laugh, you can make someone listen.” Through humor you can get people to pay attention. You can also have people leave with a lot more information. You can only browbeat and hector someone for so long before they kind of shut off.

The film also features competitive beard-builders and addresses the connection between their beards and their sense of manliness. But your own mustache has come and gone a few times recently. 

It’s one of those things where the minute I shave it off I become completely unrecognizable. It’s great because I can suddenly become invisible and that’s nice, but I think at the same time you want to be judged on something more than a mustache, the quality of your work or the content of your character or whatever it may be.

(MORE: 10 Questions for Morgan Spurlock)

So have your feelings about your mustache changed?

I never had that much of a feeling about it either way. It was one of those things where I could always shave it off if I wanted to or keep it if I wanted to. I kept it for years because I’d been working for years. This was one of the few times where I wasn’t going right into another project or in the middle of one where I needed to still have the mustache.

And how does it feel when you don’t have it?

It’s just weird. You look in the mirror and it’s like, “Wow, somebody else slept in my bed. Who’s that guy?”

I’ve read that you’re working on a fiction project. What can you tell us about it?

Not anything more than I’ve told anyone else. We’re developing a fiction project that hopefully will be shooting this summer.

And now that you’re done filming Mansome, are there any grooming routines you saw that you would never do?

Apparently there are guys who get pejazzled [the practice of applying tiny Swarovski crystals to a man’s…]. There are girls who get vajazzled and apparently there are guys who get pejazzled. We tried to get somebody to go on camera and talk about his pejazzling and we couldn’t.

Did you hear of any other rituals that really surprised you?

The fact that mantyhose actually exist is more frightening to me than anything. And the professional wrestler in the film, who has to shave this body every day. To do his job he has to get up and shave down any bit of hair that has grown out. From head to toe, he has to be completely clean-shaven. With that I’m like, yeah, that sounds a bit extreme and it sounds like a lot of work, but I would shave myself down before I would want to walk around in mantyhose.

(MORE: Introducing Mantyhose. Yes, Mantyhose.)

Do you think mantyhose has some kind of deeper meaning?

That’s a good question for a man who wears mantyhose.

The film Mansome is currently playing at the Tribeca Film Festival and will be released in theaters nationwide on May 18.