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US Air Guitar Championships: Rockness Monster takes it again

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Shredding ensued at last night’s LA regional competition of the US Air Guitar Championships at the Key Club in West Hollywood. 16 air shredders competed to represent L.A. in the US Championships in NYC on August 16, and a possible chance to represent the US at the world championships in Finland.

The evening was emceed by the now retired Bjorn Turoque, the author of “To Air is Human.” He opened the show with a searing Black Sabbath performance. Judges were Roy Trakin from Hits magazine, Joshua Glazer from Urb and a comedian named Jeff Davis. Competitors were scored on three factors: technical merit, performance and “airness,” the quality that allows the performance to transcend and become an art form.

The evening began with Meticulous, the only female of the night. Even though one of the rules is you’re not supposed to use props, Meticulous did perform a 20-second vagina solo, which I guess is less of a prop than a penis. The judges were impressed, and Meticulous left … um, satisfied.

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Next was Hardcore Henry, who brought out the death metal. I thought HH kind of ruled, but one judge deducted points for too many tribal tattoos, which I guess is fair. HH was followed by Whiplash Joe, who was inexplicably dressed like a vato, a la Suicidal Tendencies, I guess, but he spent half his set smoking a cigarette and mad-dogging the audience. A judge further confounded the audience by referring to WJ’s performance as “a little lonely,” which I think was the deepest moment I’ve ever experienced at a US Air Guitar competition.

Things got weirder with Daddy’s Little Smashing Pumpkin, a man dressed as a baby with blood dripping from his crotch and one of those big colorful swirly lollipops you get at Disneyland. “I think we all feel raped in some way,” said Davis.

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Up next: The Next World Champion, who donned a cape and a very small pair of US flag speedos and performed to a rock version of “Summertime Blues.” His balls fell out of his speedos a lot, which didn’t win him points with the very male audience. Maybe if he was hot, but he looked kind of like a whiteUrkel, and no one ever wanted to see Urkel’s balls. It also means, as he found out, that if you do a stage dive, no one in the audience will want to catch you. Ouch.

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By this time, I was weary of all gimmick and no technical skill. After an impressive performance by a mulleted Madness came Poison the Will, a mime in suspenders who played some searing death metal. Personally, I though PTW was a shoo-in for the second round, but he didn’t make it. Something about him “being a professional and cheating.”

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Contestant 8, Sly Dingdoor (sp?), who bore a striking resemblance to Rob Schneider in a skin-tight catsuit, scored high for his grindcore routine. He was followed by Broccoli Spears, who did a lot of air tuning, which Trakin found “a little avant-garde” and definitely didn’t go over well with the audience and then a pretty overweight Elvis impersonator who didn’t actually play to Elvis and got some crap from the judges for his “Elvis camel-toe.”

The gimmicks continued. The President of the U.S. appeared with bodyguards and all and played to Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality,” probably one of my least favorite songs of all time. It’s like bad Red Hot Chili Peppers, which is really bad. “I don’t know who I like less,” said Davis, “Living Colour or George Bush.” Tight race. I’m going with Vernon Reid. And then Axebert Grindstein, dressed like Albert Einstein and butchering (not in a good way) Black Sabbath. Judges found he looked too much like Doc Brown from Back to the Future. “That sucked 1.1 gigganauts,” said Davis.

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Next up was the Crusher, dressed like a mix between the bondage character in “Soul Caliber” and the Gimp in Pulp Fiction. I was prepared to like the Crusher, who finally brought out some Metallica, but his “One” solo melded into some other weak-ass song and his fingering technique was poor. The Crusher was followed by Air Jordan, who played metal air to a slow Burl Ives song. Yawn. One audience member yelled, “Erase that from my memory!” Amen.

Then the real competition began. L.A. regional champ from 2004, 2005 and 2006 and fan-favorite Rockness Monster ripped it up with a killer solo and a balls-out stage dive. RM has dominated the regional competitions, he’s pretty much the Takeru Kobayashi of air guitar. “How is it that Asians are so good at eating hot dogs and playing Air Guitar?” asked Trakin.

RM’s fingering was not as good as last year’s, and he met some unexpected competition in The Prince of Bel Air, an unexpectedly hot guy in a robe and boxers who scored high for technical merit. “When they asked me to judge this contest, I had no idea there’d be this much male flesh,” said Glazer. No complaints here.

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After a halftime performance by reigning US champion Hitlicks Hoolahan, who basically showed everybody up with his performance of Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker,” the winners were announced. The top five were The Next World Champion, Crusher, Sly Dingdoor, Prince of Bel Air and Rockness Monster. The judges felt Meticulous (the vagina soloist) was robbed by being first, and they decided to throw her in as the wild card. “It’s unorthodox, but I don’t care,” said Bjorn Turoque, “It’s fucking air guitar.”

The six second-rounders had to perform to a surprise song, which turned out to be Quiet Riot’s “Bang Your Head.” yuk. Meticulous turned out to be a disappointment; she didn’t know the song at all, which, considering she looked over 25, is quite an achievement in itself. I mean, I’d certainly be a happier woman if I didn’t know that song so intimately. The Next WC got booed, and Crusher and Sly did OK, but the real competition was between Rockness Monster and his upset competitor (basically, for you eating competition fans, his Joey Chestnut) The Prince of Bel Air.

The Prince did okay, but the audience booed him the second time around and judges found that “his airness wasn’t quite there.” Rockness Monster pretty much took it away again, playing the last half of the solo while standing on the shoulders of audience members. RM pretty much has it all, technical merit, stage presence and that je ne sais quoi that makes a true air guitar champion. We should be proud to have him represent us in New York City.

The night ended with all the contestants and any hammy audience members playing a free-for-all air performance of “Free Bird,” at which point I felt it was safe to go home. I had some “Fade to Black” to practice.

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photos by Dumbergirl