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Steward Interview - Marco

Toothpick

Needs milk and a bidet!
Good folks of B&B. It is with great honor that I present to you a recent interview I conducted with one of our very own Stewards, Marco. A fine gentleman and a dear friend to B&B. I ask you to please take the time to read this outstanding interview. Marco is one of the great ones we have here.
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•Who are you and where are you located?

My name is Marco, I'm 36 years old, I'm married since 2008 with Natascia and we have a beautiful little boy called Joey who is now 2 years old. I currently live in Rome (south part of the city, not too far from the airport of Ciampino), but was born in Abruzzo (center Italy), where my mother comes from. At the age of 5 in 1982 I moved to the USA and lived there for four years with my parents and sister. My father was a Military Police Officer in the Italian Embassy in Washington DC and we had a flat in Maryland. So, the "good, old" US has a special place in my heart and I have great memories of those wonderful years.

• Please, tell us a little more about yourself, your hobbies, your interests outside of
B&B.

Apart from wet shaving, that has always been a huge love for me, I like travelling, taking good photos, going to the cinema and eating quality food. Of course I also immensely enjoy staying with my family and playing with Joey.

• Do you still enjoy your espresso? What are some flavors you like? (does espresso even come
in flavors?) How often and how much do you drink?


Coffee belongs to the Italian culture from time immemorial and is part of our daily life. I think it's comparable to what tea is for the British and Irish people. As about flavours there are hundreds, maybe thousands of them. It depends on many, many factors: the variety of coffee beans used, where they come from, how they are roasted and how they are mixed together. You can have a new taste by just changing the proportions! My favourite Italian coffee is called "Vergnano" in flavours "Antica Bottega" and "Gran Aroma". I enjoy having a coffee at home with my Moka pot, while I like to get an Espresso when outside. Usually, I drink 3 or 4 coffees every day.

• Denzel Washington has stared in several moves since 2011. Do you have a new favorite?


Denzel Washington is a fantastic actor and I love all his movies. I also like Robert De Niro, John Malkovich, Clint Eastwood and Kevin Costner. By mentioning these last two Hollywood stars I also disclose my enthusiasm for the old "Far West". I'm recently enjoying the mini TV Series "Hatfields & McCoys", which is transmitted on the Italian television in these days.

• We know you have the utmost respect for your Grandfather. You’ve mentioned him in several
posts around B&B. Do you mind sharing with us briefly the influence he’s had on you and your
passions here?

My Grandfather was the first man ever I saw wet shaving. I still have sculpted in my mind this image: "A little mirror on the wall, a beautifully loaded brush in a bowl, a DE razor in his right hand and a white towel upon his left shoulder. My Grandfather looked at me and smiled." I was only 4 years old. Did this influence my wet shaving passion? Yes Sir, it certainly did.




• What prompted you to return to the straight razor after so long away?



I started my wet shaving journey at the age of 17, almost 20 years ago. I have always been a wet shaver and I have never changed my shaving routine that much. At the edge of 17 I learned how to use both DEs and straights, but I never learned how to hone. And this was a huge mistake. I had at my disposal a properly sharpened straight razor that I have been using for awhile. For me it was easy to handle and manoeuvre with both hands, but once it lost its keeness I simultaneously seemed to lose my interest. The lack of knowledge on how to properly sharpen was most probably the reason. But, back in 2011, I decided it was time to learn and fully dedicate myself to straights and honing, which was the only aspect of wet shaving still to discover for me.



• Was it easy to return? Or did you have to sort of "relearn" the muscle movements and
techniques of using a straight?


The straight razor immediately felt comfortable in my hands. It was like riding a bicycle again after many years. You know, once you learn you never forget. The real challenge for me was learning to hone. But where to start? What to buy? What to do? I sincerely have to thank the fine Gentlemen and great friends here on B&B who helped me from my first steps. My first honing Master was Henry (professorchaos) who taught me all the basic principles of honing. We longly discussed the importance of setting a good bevel, the refinment job to do afterwards and tests to perform during and after the sharpening process. I also have to thank Alfredo (Doc226) who is one of B&B's best Honing Masters. I had the pleasure to try one of his superb Jnat edges and it was exactly what a great edge had to be: sharp, smooth and refined. Alfredo is an excellent friend and I still contact him when I need a hint or a help. Finally, I have to thank David (Obiwan) and Gary Haywood for introducing me on Coticules, natural stones I immensely love and the only ones I use now.


• And just for fun....if you had to choose to use DE or Straight for the rest of your life which
would you choose and why?

Straight razors, no doubt. They simply shave better, are more enjoyable to use and fun to maintain. They also represent a return to the origin of wet shaving and to the wisdom of our Fathers and Grandfathers.





• Let’s play a scenario game…You won a free trip to Mars. Somewhere you’ve always wanted

to live. You can only take with you the following items: 3 razors, 2 brushes, 3 soaps, 2 creams,
2 colognes, 3 aftershaves.


3 Razors: Boker 6/8, Ralf Aust 6/8 and Merkur 1904 loaded with Red Personna blade. And yes, occasionally I still use a Double Edge shaver.


2 Brushes: Simpson Chubby 1 Super and Duke 3 Best. I'm a huge fan of Simpsons and of the Chubby and Duke Series in particular, either in Super (3 band Silvertip) and Best grade of hair. I usually bring a Duke 2 Best with me when travelling and enjoy using a Chubby 2 when in "need" for a big, extra dense brush. I simply consider Simpsons as legendary brushes and IMHO they are among the finest in the World. Furthermore, Mark Watterson (Simpsons Managing Director) is a true Gentleman and an excellent friend for me.


3 Soaps: Cella, RazoRock Argan Oil (any scent) and La Toja. I'm a 100% soap user and I always face lather. My favourite soaps are soft ones as in the Italian tradition and hard ones in stick shape.


2 Creams: I'm no longer using soft creams, hence may I add two more soaps? If so, Valobra Fougere puck and Palmolive stick.


2 Colognes: Acqua di Parma Colonia and Domenico Caraceni 1913. Generally speaking I love traditional fragrances with good intensity and strong staying power. In other words timeless scents worn by fine Gentlemen.


3 Aftershaves: Pinaud Clubman Original, Floid The Genuine and Captain's Choice Bay Rum. Here my main choice is on classic fragrances and barbershop lotions.



• You’ve stated you hone your own straights. What hones do you have? What are your
favorites?


The first hones I purchased were the Naniwa Super Stones (1K-3K-5K-8K and 12K) along with a DMT 325 diamond lapping plate and .3 CrOx powder on balsa wood. I used this set-up with good results for about one year, but I was never totally satisfied and I knew there was something better, ie natural stones. I tried both JNats (I have a nice Ozuko Asagi) and Coticules. With Coticules it was immediately love... These great stones with some practice can leave a very sharp and super smooth edge, so smooth that it needs no added powder, paste or spray afterwards. I currently have two selected La Grise in size 175x50mm and will certainly add more Cotis in the near future. For bevel setting job I replaced the SS 1K with a Chosera 1K which is much faster, harder and needs no frequent lapping.


• Speaking of favorites (again) do you have a favorite straight razor?


My favourite are Bokers for their excellent high carbon steel, attention to detail and classic design. Generally speaking, I love most German made in Solingen blades, not only from Boker but also from Wacker and Dovo. One of the latest huge surprises for me have been straights from Ralf Aust. Mr. Aust creates truly outstanding razors, perfectly balanced and with an overall level of craftsmanship that is quite rare to find nowadays in modern straights. Also, they are superb shavers and are placed in a very interesting price point.







• What are some of the best wet shaving products available in Italy?



In my opinion the finest Italian made products are the traditional ones that have been around for a very long time. In this category I'd put Cella and Valobra for soaps, Floid and Proraso for aftershaves, Mastro Livi for straight razors and Fatip for DEs. I also must confess that I am rather partial to the Artisan made soft soaps sold by Giuseppe of Italian Barber, who is a great friend and a fine Supporter of our community. In particular my favourite RazoRock soaps are the new Argan Oil ones, which are coming in more and more delightful scents.


• Overall what is the shaving scene in Italy like? Specifically the wet shaving culture. How has it
changed over the years?


The wet shaving culture in Italy is pretty much the same as in the rest of the World. I'd say a growing interest and a strong desire for younger men to return to a proper way to shave, ie with a brush, a soap and a quality razor.


• You’re a 3rd generation wet shaver in your family, possibly more. Would you still do this if your
father and grandfather hadn’t?


Hard to answer, but I believe yes. Wet shaving is a great passion and most probably would have been anyway. My little Joey in the morning looks at me shaving exactly how I looked at my Grandfather more than 30 years ago. Will he be part of another generation of proud wet shavers? I really don't know, but "something" makes me think so. By the way, my 2 years old son already has his own shaving brush! When he was born I got him a Duke 2 Best, custom made with his name "Joey" engraved on the bottom of the handle. Furthermore, he has stuff enough for his entire life...


• Any final thoughts on B&B and good wishes?

In these years I have been invited to participate to other wet shaving forums in Spain, Portugal, Germany and of course also here in Italy. I always thanked but declined. I find my place here on B&B, a community of very fine Gentlemen that I wholeheartedly love. I publicly want to thank you all. And thank you Jason for arranging this nice interview.
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References
Marco's interivew from 2011 can be found here: http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php/241228-Shaver-Interview-Marco
All previous interviews can be found in the interivew wiki here: http://wiki.badgerandblade.com/Interviews

 
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Great interview and great feature here. As a relatively new member I have to say I appreciate it. Nice questions toothpick and Marco I thank you for sharing more about yourself so openly.
 
Thanks for sharing Marco, it was very interesting to read about your past and how you got started wet shaving.

Kudos to Toothpick for a fine interview and write up as well.
 
Gentlemen, thank you. Marco, you've been an inspiration since I arrived at B&B. Jason you do everything well. What a great interview! :001_tongu
 
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