Hangovers and Bangovers

A few weeks ago I had my first public performance doing air guitar since I started training. I honestly focused a totally disproportionate amount of attention on the costuming rather than the air guitar part. I’m super pressure motivated and I really needed a reason to get the costume started so in that sense- it served it’s purpose. For weeks leading up to the show- I spent hours and hours gluing rhinestones, sewing on patches, and hand studding my denim vest. But practice? Nope.

I learned a few things after doing that show-

  1. Not to drink four ciders in a short period of time on an empty stomach. Ya might get drunk.
  2. Don’t get drunk and try to perform an unrehearsed, fast paced song for two and a half minutes in platforms and expect it to look really good.
  3. That headbanging for the entire length of said song while drunk in platforms is not a good idea. I had to google “how to cure a bangover” the next day I hurt so bad.
  4. Fuckin practice.

I walked away after that night feeling pretty disappointed in myself. It was definitely not a performance that I was super proud of. Was it funny? Yes. Was it awesome? No. So I started to beat myself up about it. But the feeling was familiar. It reminded me of back when I was new to burlesque. I was producing one of my first heavy metal burlesque shows and trying to get a Gwar act together for myself to perform that night. I was feeling really pressed for time so I used what little time I had on the costume and never even bothered to choreograph much of a routine. So when the time came to do the performance, which included multiple other people on stage with me, it was hilarious chaos involving me fake ejaculating silly string from my cuttlefish, killing a grandma, and moshing around with another performed dressed up as fellow Gwar performer Slymenstra Hymen. It was entertaining and funny and ridiculous but in the end- it was not at all what I wanted it to be. It didn’t feel like a representation of what I was capable of. Even though the crowd loved it, I was bummed.

Now granted, I’m very into being in the moment on stage and improv-ing much of what I do. It’s become sort of my thing. I think it can work to achieve a more honest performance where you’re connected with the audience if you have space to respond to what they’re responding to. Over the last seven years I’ve found a balance that works for me of developing a loose structure and certain marks I want to hit then filling in the rest with whatever happens. But to walk blindly into a performance with no real preparation and expect it to just turn out okay is naive.

So when I found myself feeling kinda low after this last air guitar performance I was quick to remember where I am now as a burlesque performer and how I got there. It made me feel a lot better to see a path that had already been traveled and to know that we all have to learn from our mistakes and not be discouraged by them.

It’s only up from here.

7 Weeks and a Few Inches Closer

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It’s so annoying to make a list of moves I want to do, look at it and go, “Okay, how do I make that happen?” and realize the answer every time is work out to build strength. Oh you want to do an epic air guitar toe touch? You have to have abs. You think doing a super cool back bend while you pretend to shred sounds nice? Gotta work on your abs, back, and legs! Having stage presence is one thing, picking out the right song is another but I’ll be damned if I really do have to get in shape to take this where I want to go. I kind of don’t have a choice.

I have a problem with having unrealistic goals. I feel like I’ve said that before. When I first thought about doing air guitar, I had all of these insane ideas about moves I wanted to master. Including something that looks straight out of a college varsity cheerleading competition. I’m a 35 year old woman. See “unrealistic”. But maybe not? In seven weeks I’m this much closer to doing a split! That’s something, right? I’ve got over 8 months until the regional air guitar competitions. This picture is making me feel hope. I look at it and I’m feeling empowered. Last week was the first time I didn’t have to support myself with the blocks and the first time my front calf was fully touching the ground. And truth be told, I haven’t really been working as hard as I can on the stretching. I could do so much more between classes.

Now that I’ve educated myself a bit about stretching, have goals around it that I’m working on, I’m going to move forward and start focusing on my core strength too. I really do want to get some air while jumping from standing so that’s the next goal. I’m meeting my friend and trainer Megan tomorrow to start our ab blasting mayhem. Ridiculous ‘before’ videos of me attempting a toe touch to come.

Solar Eclipses and Surprise Cream Filling

I’ve got to admit my laser tight focus on air guitar has been feeling a little hazy lately. I’ll blame it on the eclipse. As a matter of fact, for the next 9 months I’m just gonna go ahead and blame everything on the eclipse. Cause it seems like the perfect cosmic scapegoat. What’s the eclipse gonna do about it? Nuthin. Take that Eclipse. It’s your fault my laundry pile just keeps growing and I just keep on staring at it. Eclipse, why did you have to spend so much money this month on shit you don’t need? Fool. Silly, Eclipse. I’m on to you.

Truthfully, I just think my brain has just been so consumed with AG that I needed a bit of a break to regroup. Going to the Nationals in DC really made me have to rethink a lot of my ideas on my approach. And I was so legitimately bummed at the bullshit garbage that came out of some of the female judges’ mouths that it really did take some wind out of my sails. Also, fuck your lateral oppressive bullshit, ladies. Ugh. Still makes me spicy.

I just had my 6th contortion class where I’ve been working on stretching my body out to get some of my dream moves. And yesterday while I was laying on the floor, yanking on a strap to try and get my leg up to my ear- I felt like a badass. I was impressed with myself. I was getting better and stronger. I’m not very good at working on things I’m not good at. I have a track record of just giving up. It was in this satisfied moment that I really felt a renewed sense of, “I could do this!” Maybe I won’t be able to get my ankle to touch my ear but I’m at least working at it and air guitar isn’t about gymnastics, it’s about rocking out and I can do that! The splits are just the surprise cream filling.

So How Does One Train to Be an Air Guitar Champion?

Here’s What I’m Doing.

At this point, I have no idea what other folks do to train. All I know is that I have really lofty goals of what I’d like to be able to do and the drive to start somewhere. So I’ve started with the obvious- if I want to do a split, I need to stretch. If I want to do some badass jumps- I need some core and leg power.

I’ve reached out to air guitarists Kara Picante (who organized the West coast regional competition) and the current West Coast champion, The Marquis to meet up with them and see if they’ll share how they get ready for competitions. They both are getting ready to compete in DC in a few weeks so it will be fun to check in and see what they’re up to.

But here’s the plan so far

Sunday- Getting in some actual air guitaring through the day while chasing around a 3 year old.

Monday- It’s Metal Monday! I spend about 3 hours listening to new and old favorites to help hone in on what style of air guitar I want to do.

Tuesday- Contortion Class! 1.5 hours on intense cardio, stretching and strength building to help me achieve some killer air guitar moves.

Wednesday- Yoga at work! They have a free hour long yoga class on Wednesdays so I’m gonna start that next week to try and work on my flexibility and strength. I’m really out of shape, ya’ll.

Thursday- Yoga at the gym! I have a membership and there’s childcare. Boom! Stretch me oooooout!

Friday- Research day! Watch videos of guitar guitarists for inspiration and look at what other air guitarists are doing. I really don’t want to do something that’s already been done so watching other folks helps me figure out what I like and what I don’t like.

Saturday- One on one training with the badass lean machine, Meghan Mayhem! She’s gonna help whip me into shape with a custom regimen of workouts to help me work towards the moves I want to master for performances. At this point it’s mostly core, stretching and strength building.

What’s really rad and super heartwarming for me is how many friends have offered to help me get where I want to go. No sooner had I told Meghan Mayhem about my AG dreams was she like, “Can I train you?” And she got SUPER excited about it! As excited as I was/am and that’s rrrreally excited!

Then I posted that video of me drunkenly babbling on after the West Coast regionals on Youtube and my friend Eric Eisenhauer (extreme sweetheart and guitarist of the amazing PDX metal band Weresquatch) somehow saw it and commented, “Can I have the honor of being your “real/Air geetar player” coach/trainer on your journey to becoming the SUPREME MASTER WIZARD SORCERESS WORLD AIR GUITAR CHAMPION OF THE WORLD???”

YAS!!!

AND my good friend Darcy Sharpe is going to be documenting my whole ridiculous process over the next year to make a short film!

Dream team! I’m feeling super lucky and super ready to make this magic happen.

 

 

 

Oh Snap! It’s Metal Monday!!!

 

I almost forgot to post some metal for Metal Monday. This video has everything I love in it- deserts, rad women, cheesy synchronized guitar moves and a bus that crashes through a giant wall of TV’s! Wendy O. Williams is an icon. Besides being a radical babe, she used to saw guitars in half with a chainsaw on stage! Rest in Power Wendy.

 

 

You Want Me To Put That Where?

The only way I dream is big. When I think about getting up on stage and doing air guitar I’m not picturing me just swinging my hair around, doing a simple kick in the air and a slide across the stage on my knee pads. Basic. Nope. I’m seeing all out, show stopping, balls to the wall wacky splits, jumps, death drops, whipping my leg up in the air so I can play it like a guitar style show(wo)manship. There’s a problem with this vision though. I can’t do a split. Let alone get my leg up past my hip. I am in no way in great condition or well equipped for such awesome nonsense. I have started stretching dailyish to try and limber up but once again I have no idea what I’m doing. So I turn to the Youtube. What I find is a shit load of videos by 15 year old gymnastical Gumbies teaching you how to do “the splits” in one day. Nope. Have three babies, tack on 50 lbs and try that again sister.

So I phone a friend. My pal Jolene is easily on my top 5 list of the bendiest people I know and she runs Afterglow Aerial Arts. She would know what to do. I ask her, “Are my goals unrealistic? Can I do it? Where do I start?”

“Yes. If you’re willing to put the work in and train. You should sign up for the contortion class we have. It starts this week.”

Shit. I can see it now- me in a room full of Gumbies, barely able to touch my toes. I try to talk her out of thinking this is a good idea. She insists. I tell her I’ll think about it….

I start tomorrow. This is going to be ridiculous.

 

Check out http://www.afterglowaerialarts.com/ if you’re looking to spice up your life with some new party skills like handstands, fancy hanging from rope high off the ground tricks and more!