@ZackTeibloom I was born to Air Sex … or so I thought. Break down the components and it’s basically a list of my favorite things: Music, bizarre dancing*, comedy based in sexual innuendo and being the center of attention. It’s all there. How could I not participate when @AirSex tweeted that they were looking for volunteers for Tuesday nights show? Having seen the show a couple of times before, I figured that I’d want a costume. The only costume I have is Jack White from my Halloween, so that was it. I told Caitlin I was thinking about doing it and she was understandably wishy-washy, but said she knew I’d do it no matter what and she wanted to support me. She insisted that she wanted to be in it, and I was more than happy to oblige. I listened to The White Stripes** until an idea for a scene came to me. I decided to piece together a mix on Garage Band and settled on this two and a half minute routine:
I sit in a chair on stage and the intro to “My Doorbell” plays. Caitlin walks on stage, dressed as Meg White, and taps my shoulder with a drumstick. I lower my sunglasses and stand up to dance with her as “Fell in Love with a Girl” comes on. We shimmy forward and backward twice, I spin her around and grab her tush. She looks at me in disgust and slaps the sunglasses off my face. “Oh Meg, don’t be rude” from “Rag and Bone” plays and she walks off stage. “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself” comes on as I mope around the stage, pouting and simulate a jerking off motion on a plastic Guitar Hero Guitar during the first two guitar strums. I then simulate blowing up a blow-up doll and dancing with it. Then I just had a loose plan to have air sex with the doll for a couple minutes and end with a simulated orgasm (to the guitar solo of “Ball and a Biscuit” and then hop off stage to “Hardest Button to Button.” Seemed pretty air tight, eh? What went wrong?
Caitlin and I practiced a few times in our apartment, getting the timing down on the slapping,*** as she gave incredible feedback like, “You know you should really use that guitar on the doll before you air sex it!****” We loaded up the car with two bags full of costumes and got to The Highball 20 minutes early to check in and set-up. We found our make-shift backstage area with a door that wouldn’t close and a sticky floor and started to get dressed. Five minutes before the show started, I realized I’d forgotten … the guitar. If I wasn’t so pumped for the air guitar insertion, I probably would have said screw it, but instead I told the head guy, MC Chris, that I had to run and I’d be back in 20. I saw a cop hiding on the route on the way to The Highball, so I had to be cautious on the 12 minute drive each way, while still in costume. When we first arrived, I asked Chris if we could go last. He said he really didn’t recommend it, but since I was leaving, he said he’d be forced to put us last. I got back after only two of 8-10 performers had gone, but we were still delegated to the final slot … aka the kiss of death.
Standing backstage at an Air Sex competition is all kinds of surreal. You hear the odd music choices like “Frosty the Snowman,” “The Power Rangers Theme,” and “All By Myself,” and hear the groans and laughs of the audience and can only imagine what in the world is happening on stage. You get another clue or two from the judges commentary afterwards: “Do you have sex with dead bodies often?” “Were those kids?” and you kind of piece it all together. You’re also increasingly nervous and uncomfortable in your costume and trying to remember every element of your bit. I think I prefer the audience experience in normal clothes, seeing the performance with a cold drink on the 70th 100 degree day Austin has suffered this year. Just me? Also worth noting, we were completely sober 5* and exhausted.
There are basically three types of Air Sex performances. There’s the overweight guy with no shame who takes his shirt off way too early and milks that gimmick for all its worth. There’s the sicko guy or girl whose act brings out something like air bestiality or necrophilia or pedophilia or any kind of -philia and makes you feel wrong for watching but you have to laugh. Then there’s the attractive girl who wears skimpy clothing and makes the act incredibly sexual to the point that she should probably be at the Landing Strip 6*. There’s nothing funny about her performance. It is simulated sex and there are most certainly people getting off on this kind of performance. You can tell what kind of performance is happening from backstage, pretty easily, based on the crowd noises and judge reaction. They hoot and holler for the chubby guys with no shame. They groan and laugh disgustedly at the -philia performers and they’re almost silent for the stripper girls. They’re silent, because you don’t really say much when you have a boner 7*. I never saw this girl perform or saw who she was, so I can’t describe it, but the hushed crowd and awed judges spoke volumes. One girl judge said she thought she knew how to pick up guys, but now realized she knew nothing. This is not the performance you want to follow. Guess who followed it?
Going last, after midnight, on a Tuesday night, after the sexiest performance of the night, is like being minutes 20-100 of a porno film. Everyone’s already blown their load and they have less than a passing interest in you 8.* The audience had gotten their yuks, had seen a wide spectrum of air sex and even climaxed with what we can only assume was a sexy performance. They were not in the mood for what we prepared. They gave a decent “ooh and aah” for our costume and we went into it. I figured the first reaction would be on the ass grab and slap. Nope. Nothing. They’d just seen a girl simulate sex. An ass grab and a slap wasn’t doing it for them.
If you read the first footnote, you understand that I live for the feedback. It fuels everything. If no one ever commented on a blog or told me they liked something, I wouldn’t do it. I am a whore for positive reinforcement. So even though we hit every part of the intro from the shimmies to the grab and slap, the lack of audience response threw me off my game. I went through the motions mostly on point, air blowing up the doll, dancing with it, and laying it down and sticking the guitar in it (the only genuinely good reaction of the performance) and then had a minute and a half to kill of air humping a doll. God, that’s a pathetic sentence to type out and it felt even more pathetic while doing it. I’m missionary style air-humping the air as if it’s a blow-up doll and I’m not getting the feedback I thrive on 9*.
I pretend to prop the doll on the judges table and hump it there for a bit and the judges look a mix between bored and disgusted. So, there’s that. I had a vision of taking this doll on a whirlwind tour of positions, but settled for more missionary. The song transitions into a live version of “Seven Nation Army” where the crowd claps along in the track, so I did manage to get the crowd to clap along at a level somewhere between pity and half-hearted enjoyment, but it wasn’t enough to make me go off into my usual bombastic free-for-all of a ham stage performance. I still pulled out all the tricks like simulating choking myself with my white belt during “A Seven Nation Army couldn’t hold us back” (No one reacted), throwing my hat off during “I’m gonna rip it off” (Nada.) and I had my white sweatband leave my hand in a way that simulated orgasm during the “Ball and a Biscuit” part. (Zilch.) I hopped off stage like planned to “The Hardest Button to Button” and slogged back on stage for my critique.
MC Chris asked how I thought it went and I said I thought it could have been better. The judges were half asleep. The first one said she loved Jack White, but wanted more focus on sex and less on the costume. The second judge echoed the love of Jack White and didn’t add much else. The third judge said she thought I was a red Power Ranger, so she can die a slow death. They were clearly over the night and thinking about how tired they would be at work Wednesday morning. I know I was. I went backstage with Caitlin and decided to immediately change out of the costume and leave before they annouced the final three. I was sure I didn’t make it, and even if I did, I was done with it. The crowd had mostly filtered out and I had to be up at 6:20 am and it was already after midnight.
As we walked out, the 100-pounds-overweight guy whose shirtless performance made him a finalist at Fun Fun Fun Fest, nodded at me and said “I enjoyed your set.” I felt like a comic after his first night of stand-up. Sure, I kinda bombed, and never got the audience on my side, but I did it. I made it through the set and didn’t fall on my face. I’m sure I could work at it more and map out the sex better and get my routine into one of the three accepted formats, but I won’t. The air sex dream is done, and I’m OK with that. I’m happy to stay in the audience and save my dancing for weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and house parties. Until then.
*I can’t overstate what a big part of my life bizarre dancing has been. It really started in 7th grade on the Bar Mitzvah circuit where I’d never leave the dance floor, and over-emphasize every movement to the extreme. My “Cotton Eye Joe” was a revelation. I never cared much for “The Electric Slide,” so I’d run circles around the dance floor, and do my own moves. Yes, I was an attention whore. It only got worse when I was 16 at Camp and used dancing to make friends. They’d form a circle around me and chant my name. I. Ate. It. Up. It never really stopped. Two weeks ago, I almost had a heart attack during the horah at a wedding and literally poured a glass of water all over my rented tux to cool down after a marathon on the floor, but kept it going until the last song just to see my friends smiling. For 13+ years now, as long as I got a response, I went balls to the wall. That’s always been the key.
**I know, I know. Not much different than any other night. (Mah Neesh Ta Na Ha Lie Luh Huh Zeh for our Jewish readers.)
***If you ever have a situation where someone is going to slap the glasses off your face, I suggest moving them far down on your nose. The first few times: ouch.
****Caitlin’s parents- if you’re reading this: I’m sorry. She refused to high five me after that suggestion…if that helps? No? I love her very much and will treat her like a princess. Getting there? I’m a nice Jewish boy, I swear.
5*Caitlin and I had a discussion on whether or not alcohol would have helped. Eventually I agreed with her that it would have just made me sloppy and think that I’d done better than I had. Also, I drove us, so that wasn’t an option. See, Caitlin’s parents, I’m responsible!
6*Yes, I’m referencing the Strip Club in Austin that was featured in Friday Night Lights. No, I haven’t been to a strip club in Austin, and haven’t been since college when I wrote about it for the school paper. See? I’m a good guy! (OK I’ll stop trying so hard.) I always wondered why they couldn’t name any business in Austin in Friday Night Lights, but mentioned The Landing Strip by name dozens of times. Weird choice of sponsor for a family show, ya know?
7*Caitlin’s parents: Again, I’m sorry.
9* I was mildly disappointed that literally no one I knew came to watch, but I mean, I get it. It’s late Tuesday night. I guess it was for the best, but I really didn’t have the confidence I normally do. Thank god Caitlin was there. I would have felt like shit otherwise. It means the world to me that you not only came, but made the performance at all interesting.