Muh Muh Muh Metal Monday!

This is what I’m having fun air guitaring to today. It’s not quite metal but I love Fu Manchu. The guitar parts are so fun on this track. Lots of slides, stops, and *wowha wowha* (makes high pitch noise with mouth) It’s interesting to start listening to songs with a different sort of ear now. I’m definitely listening for the guitar solos and visualizing how it would work for performing. It’s sort of like when you play an instrument you can easily pick it out of a song- your ear just automatically isolates it. I guess it’s the air guitar equivalent of that. I’d insert a crying/laughing emoticon here if I could.

I know it sounds silly. But it’s just how my brain has started working. I’m thinking about air guitar all the time. I went to bed last night debating the color of my air guitar costume as I fell asleep and opened my eyes and immediately was like, “how am I going to get in an hour of stretching today so I can do that god damn split?” When I get into something- I get INTO it. My brain has a hard time balancing all the other shit I already have going on. I’ve got two weddings to officiate this month, I’m the lead decorator for a burlesque convention coming up, I’m in a play at the end of the month, I’ve got shows I’m MCing soon, I’m on the board of directors for our community playspace, I have a job, a marriage and a three year old kid. My brain is a busy place. So everything has had to shift around to make room for air guitar and it’s a constant battle to not let it dominate all of my mental energy.

That said- I can’t think of a more perfect addition to the mix.

 

Just Got Back from DC’s US Air Guitar Nationals!

I did it. I flew myself to Columbus, OH, met up with my sister and drove over to Washington DC this past weekend so we could go and witness The US Air Guitar National competition. Part for research and development and part for an excuse to hang out with my sister- I’m so glad I went for a long list of reasons. Mostly, I learned a hell of a lot. Way more than if I had just stayed home and watched the competition online. It wasn’t all good.

Here’s what I learned

It’s about balance.
You have to have an equally good costume, stage presence, song, and technical ability. You can have the raddest costume and character but if your song is lacking in the guitar department- you’re toast. You really can’t lean on the costume and special effects if you’re song doesn’t have enough guitar in it. Doesn’t work. There was a particular performer who had everything there- costume, character, stage presence but the song came on and I was like, “Really? Where’s the rad solo?” and it never came. Did the song go with the theme? Yes but it’s not about the theme. It’s about the guitar.

Know your venue.
I’ve got all these amazing moves in my head that I want to master- death drops, splits, floor slide and guess what- none of it would have mattered. The stage was so low the judges would never have seen it. They could really only catch what was from the waist up. Maybe even chest up. SO much was lost on them with the fancy floor work of the performers at Nationals. One performer had the forethought to ask the audience to make a space so the judges could see but by him doing that right before his set- it made it awkward. So if you’re going to ask folks to move- make your friends do it so you don’t have to step out of character while on stage.

That said- I watched the darkhorse competition a few nights before and they had a quite different problem- the stage was the tiniest stage (maybe 4 feet wide) in the corner of a tight bar. That’s a totally different routine. You’ve got to be prepared for that.

Know your judges.
I’m not sure if there’s a way to find out who’s judging ahead of time or not. But this was the biggest eye opener for me. There were three female judges on the panel- two of which were really obviously judging the female competitors differently than the males and it was total bullshit. Bull.shit. I was appalled. I’ve been told that those particular judges won’t be asked back next year but it still speaks to a larger issue that the female competitors ARE seen and judged differently than the males. This totally effects how I approach my character, costume design, song choice… everything. Ugh. More about that another day.

Energy must be immediate.
You really have to walk out onstage like you’re high as fuck on cocaine and ready to party. The saunter in just doesn’t jive well. The crowd wants to see 60 seconds of the most bananas possible controlled chaos punching them in the face as soon as you walk out there. The audience is drunk and they want to rock.

Your character has to be relate-able.
The judges at this competition didn’t seem to like things that they saw as too schticky.  They had no love for The Lumberjack or The Grandma or The Retro High School Basketball dude all citing that they didn’t like the schtick. BUT they did crown the Middle American Mom the winner. Why? She was a pretty damn good air guitarist. But was she the best one there? I’m not so sure. Maybe it’s because the contrast of a high waisted, bad hair cut, mom with a brown bag lunch playing air guitar is so rad that it just works on a level no one can describe. But it seems like a tricky tricky gamble.

Try to be original.
SO many performers spit something out into the air during their performance hoping for a wow effect. I was over it. When I saw the footage of Justin “Nordic Thunder” Howard performing at the World Championships in 2011 where he drinks from a horn then spits out the water perfectly synchronized into the air with the guitar- I was like, “Oh shiiiiit. Damn, that’s good.” but it ended there. Because as a performer, I know that everyone else who saw that thought the same thing and would try it too. Maybe he wasn’t the first to do that- probably not. But still. OLD. And if you’re performing and you see everyone else is doing the same thing- think of something else quick.

It’s all in the face.
Well maybe not ALL in the face but a lot of it. You’re in a venue- people in the back can barely see your facial features so make whatever expression you’re making HUGE. Connect with your people AND the judges.

There’s so much more to say. So many thoughts going on- game plans, changes in direction, etc that is swirling around in my brain that I need to sort out. In the mean time- here’s a picture of me and the 2016 World Champ and totally sweet person- Airistotle!

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Let’s Get This Workout Party Started!

 

​This Saturday was my first workout with my new personal trainer and total badass, Meghan Mayhem! Naturally I had to get dressed up. Cause how else am I going to get motivated to do a bazillion squats, kicks, and lunges?

Let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. Other than the fact that I forgot how high cut the leotard was which made modesty impossible while stretching and that I was so uncoordinated when she tried throwing all of these fast paced combos at me… it went well! We’re gonna slow it down a little next week and work more on my form rather than speed. But despite my fumbling and awkward attempts to manage a up, down, left, touch this, then that- I was still sweating like crazy and am definitely feeling the burn today.

 

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!