Here's a guest post from Slate V intern Lindsay O'Neal:
On Wednesday, I joined a hundred other voyeurs at the Rock 'n' Roll Hotel in D.C. to watch air guitar's scandalous sister sport, air sex. Air sex, as the name implies, is a theatrical sexual performance with an imaginary partner. The Air Sex competitions are to be held in 16 cities across the U.S., culminating in the World Air Sex Championship where the Ultimate Air Lover will be crowned. (It would have been 17, but the Utah venue, facing a threat of a revoked liquor license if it hosted the event, backed out.)
I was surprised to find that the performers and the audience were of the typical D.C. mold-professional and straight-laced. My favorite, "Dr. Love," came straight from the hospital still donning his scrubs. (Watch him, and the rest of the highlight reel, below.) The first performer, Auto Asphyxia, a Georgetown Law student, told me why the Teach for America alum wanted to enter into the sexual three-ringed circus: "Bringing comedy to sex helps ease the tension that so many people feel about it. It relaxes people."
View highlights from the Air Sex Championship.
Don't see the video? Click here.
I guess I’m one of those tense people he’s talking about. I was raised in a socially and sexually conservative environment where not only was sex not dinner table conversation, but it was almost completely ignored.
Now past my formative years, I still am extremely reserved when it comes to sex. I am notorious for dodging even the slightest PDA. The thought of kissing in public causes my eye to twitch, and public handholding turns my face red. Yet, I found myself with a front row ticket to some serious PDS (public displays of sex), and loving it.
Yet, I refused to believe that anyone here could see real sex as a mere performance. Or is it? Have all its wonders and mysteries been navigated, leaving just a shell of entertainment? Was I the only one who does still find it mysterious, who still has anxieties or sexual inhibitions?
I brought my question to the night's winner, Auto Asphyxia. His response: "Sex can be a very powerful thing, and it's kind of nerveracking not being able to know with 100 percent certainty what sex means to that new partner." So, even the most skilled of air sex-ers comes into real relationships with a little bit of stage fright. Who knew an air sex competition would bring such peace of mind? Still, I don't think I'll be pleasuring a vaporous lover on a stage any time soon.