It’s 9:30 on a Wednesday night and I’m in a dimly lit room sitting at a table on the second floor of the Columbus Theatre. A classical music piece plays over the sound system. In front of me, a 20-something man pretends to be tied down to an invisible wall with invisible rope to experience unknown pleasures, and I wish I was talking about the Joy Division album. A large banner hangs in front of the table, reading AIR SEX CHAMPIONSHIPS in bright and bold colors. I’m one of four judges and at that moment, I was wondering what the hell my boss had gotten me into.
Despite that intro, the Air Sex Championships were actually a light, amusing night. The premise is pretty simple. By yourself, with minimal props, perform your best fake fucking routine. It sounds bizarre, but it’s actually a lot of fun to watch. It’s best described as karaoke burlesque. Put your name down with a song to fake fuck to and a stage name. You can come rehearsed or make it up on the spot. The championships are touring nationally, with a string of dates throughout New England and the rest of the country before climaxing at the end of the year in Austin, Texas.
There are three other judges: two local comics and a manager at a local shop. My job as a judge is pretty simple: provide feedback with gentle sass, and choose the two finalists to compete against each other. My comments are probably more self-deprecating Paula Abdul than Simon Cowell, but it’s all in good fun and no one gets too mean. The crowd was good for the event; there wasn’t a bored face in the place.
The competition was eventually narrowed down to the two finalists who have to come up with a final air sex routine on the spot to a song predetermined by the people running the event. The song is “Circle of Life” from The Lion King soundtrack. And the contestants both made it work … somehow. This time, the judges don’t judge, the crowd votes by screaming their approval. And the winner of the first ever Rhode Island Air Sex Championship is a woman whose stage name is Corrine. The prize is a bag of goodies from Amazing and entry into the championships in Austin, Texas.
If this event comes to town again, I highly recommend anyone looking for some adult and scatological humor go. It’s body positive, frowns upon any kind of shaming (air walks of shame are not part of the routines) and at times quite interpretive and artistic in a certain kind of light. And if you’re brave enough, volunteer to do a routine. If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?