Everything we asked of Chris Trew felt like an awkward come-on. "How do you prepare your skit? From personal experience?" felt painful to inquire out loud.
Yet Trew, air sex star extraordinaire, answered with the ease of a well-seasoned simulated intercourse performer.
"I've spent many, many hours carefully choreographing every lick and pump," he says. "I just practice a lot."
You see, air sex, much like air guitar, is the act of performing simulated foreplay and sex with an invisible partner in an exaggerated manner. And, of course, it was invented in Japan.
Trew, who's a comedian, originally started out preforming air guitar, but quickly grew bored.
"We were doing air guitar shows in Austin and we got kind of bored with the repetitiveness of air guitar," Trew says. "We saw these videos of these guys in Japan who were staging this air sex competition, but it was a very low-stakes event and there weren't a lot of people around. We thought, 'What if we pair the pageantry of professional wrestling and elements of sports with the basic premise of air guitar?' We did it, and it was awesome, and basically we thought, 'Let's never not do this.'"
And so it's been six years, and Trew and crew are still at it. He even auditioned for America's Got Talent with one of his air sex skits. It didn't go over too well with the audience, or the judging panel, even though Howard Stern was presiding.
"That was Howard Stern's first year coming on. I had to do a really PG version. It didn't go very well. I was very happy with the performance, but the Internet hated it. YouTube commenters hate it. And the audience wasn't happy with it. One guy wanted to fight me outside of the venue after the show," Trew says.
If Howard Stern says your act is lewd, that should tell you something.
And it's pretty easy to see why this whole thing would be a turn-off. Certainly, anyone (OK, any woman) who sees images of a lady on all fours giving a fake blowjob in front of an audience cringes internally (and probably externally). We've come a long way, ladies, but apparently not far enough.
Yet the whole thing is done in the spirit of comedy. It's supposed to be funny. And, perhaps, the funniest things are those that make us just a touch uncomfortable.
Or really, really uncomfortable.
The Air Sex Championships comes to town this Saturday, Aug. 23. All are welcome to prepare a skit and enter the competition. Contenders can sign up ahead of time or just bring their stage name and song selection to the show to be added to the list of performers.
"It's kind of like karaoke," he says. "Your name is called to get up on stage and you do your routine."
Trew's right, of course. Isn't karaoke usually a mix of painful embarrassment and the feeling of standing naked in front of an entire people-filled room?
"The Air Sex Championships are not as disturbing and uncomfortable as you would think," Trew says. "There is definitely room for that, because when we do the preliminary rounds, anyone can sign up. There are people who think they're going to do this and it's going to be hilarious."
Beginners be warned: More preparation is needed than a couple beers and a high five from your best buds. Trew says contestants are more likely to bomb if they haven't choreographed their skits fully.
He also notes that, though it might seem funny, arriving too early (if you get what we're saying) doesn't get as big of a laugh as some people think.
"The thing that bombs most often is when people do the 'I came too quick.' So they get up on stage and they come and they're done," says Trew. "That bombs the most because the audience is disappointed and the show loses momentum. We usually have someone try to do that in almost every city."
So, what sort of people usually put themselves out there in such a way? Trew says the Air Sex Championships bring people of all ages, sexualities, genders, and colors together.
"I think the common thread is that they all like to have fun," he says. "But we have a nice mixture of younger, older, gay, straight, male, female, black, white. It's all kinds of people doing it. There are people who are performers and then they are people who wouldn't call themselves performers who get up on stage and do stuff like this."
At the end of the show, a winner will be chosen. That winner will have a chance to go on to compete in the finals. Ultimately, the named champion will experience a touch of fame, getting media interviews and receiving praise for their long-hidden talent, much like a rookie athlete.
"It's the most prestigious sporting event of all time," Trew says. "It's like a sporting event, but also a comedy show, so it's the best of both worlds." — mt
The Air Sex Championships take place at the Loving Touch at 22634 Woodward Ave., Ferndale on Saturday, Aug. 23; doors open at 9 p.m. and the show starts at 10 p.m. thelovingtouchferndale.com. Tickets are $5.