Dave Cousins’ hobby, for lack of a better word, is being “The Dude.”

He’s got the long mane of hair, and he’s got the same worn-out sweater as Jeff Bridges’ “Dude” character in the Coen brothers 1998 cult comedy classic “The Big Lebowski.”

When he’s not working as a web developer, Cousins travels to Lebowski-themed festivals around the country.

“I’ve been to the one in Louisville, Kentucky, which is the granddaddy of them all,” said Cousins, 41, of Portland. “When I found my sweater on eBay, they wanted $300 for it. I guess they figured with all the festivals, somebody would pay that.”

Cousins, however, offered a lower amount, and got the sweater anyway.

But being “the Dude” and going to Lebowski celebrations isn’t all Cousins does. He bowls, which of course is central to the film and the Dude’s character. But he also likes to raise money for charities in his community.

Three years ago, Cousins started “Viva Lebowski,” a bowling and movie screening party at Bayside Bowl in Portland. (He couldn’t call it “Lebowski Fest,” by the way, because that’s copyrighted.)

Some Portland-area venues have hosted Lebowski parties that included screenings of the film. But Cousins wanted bowling too, and a way to use the contagious weirdness of “The Big Lebowski” to do some good.

So when people pay their $20 to attend this year’s “Viva Lebowski” on Friday, proceeds will be going to the United Way of Greater Portland.

“The first year, we raised money for a friend with MS (multiple sclerosis) who was having trouble running his business,” said Cousins. “This year, we’re trying to help the United Way reach out to a different demographic.”

The bowling, Lebowski-loving demographic, that is.

In the past, “Viva Lebowski” has attracted 140 or so people, with about a quarter of those coming in costume. This year, the festivities will include an hour or two of bowling followed by trivia contests and costume contests, with awards for “Best Dude,” “Best Walter” and other assorted characters. Then, around 10:30 p.m., there will be a screening of the film.

There will also be drink specials so you can drink like the characters in the movies. “Yes, there will be White Russians,” said Cousins.

And Cousins will be in his full Dude persona, complete with his sweater and his hair.

It’s not a wig, by the way. He really has Dude hair.

“I try to embody the essence of the Dude as best as I can,” Cousins said.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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