Normally, having sex in a bar will get you kicked out.
On Friday night, it could get you halfway to a free New Orleans trip. Provided, of course, you keep your clothes on and are really, really good at faking it.
"Air sex is a competition where you compete in the art of making love to nothing at all," said Kate Anderson, a 26-year-old Edgewater resident.
Anderson, better known to air sex aficionados by her stage name, Cuntastrophe, should know--she's the defending Air Sex National Champion. She'll host the Chicago Air Sex Championships on Friday night at Abbey Pub.
Anderson describes air sex as a performance art, a not-quite-X-rated version of air guitar. There's no nudity involved, although performers are encouraged to, well, be enthusiastic.
"It's better to have more vigorous movements than not," she said. "Being into it, being realistic is the most fun that you can have and really going for it. I think that's what makes a really great air sex routine."
Despite being an accomplished air sex performer, Anderson says she rarely practices her craft—solo, that is.
"I usually have someone to practice with when I am practicing," she said. "I don't practice air sex often. I really let the song inspire me and I sort of feel out the song. I have to have a song that I really feel like I would have sex to, and then I sort of let my imagination take over. Then you kind of tweak it in the week before the competition."
Her parents--and most of her coworkers--are blissfully unaware of her success in the art of simulated public coitus.
"Some of my coworkers know," she said. "Usually the reaction is ‘What? What do you do?' And then it makes sense because they know me."
But not all air sexers share her live-in-the-moment mentality when it comes to performing. Anderson's performances tend to be more spontaneous, work that has earned her acclaim on the regional level before last year's championship-winning performance.
"There are other people who have choreographed routines to the music," she said. "Other people have done video game songs and they'll choreograph Mario jumping around the stage. You can do it either way."
As with traditional intercourse, there are challenges to performing air sex, especially since you're doing so without a partner. Anderson said the hardest part is not having someone else to react to. Also, performers must be entertaining while simultaneously keeping it real.
"You've gotta really experience it happening in your own mind in order to make that a little bit more sense to the audience," she said. "Girls don't just go straight from standing up to laying down. Like they sit down on the bed and you have to awkwardly get their bra off because it's never gone off nicely. Maybe you kiss weird because you bit her tooth. Maybe she wore two pairs of pants because it's winter in Chicago."
Air sex as a competition is the brainchild of Austin-based comedian Chris Trew. Trew became bored hosting air guitar competitions so in 2007, he decided to take things in a different direction. What started as a lark has turned into a national event, complete with local competitions in Chicago, New York City, New Orleans and other cities.
So does being good at air sex translate into the bedroom? That all depends on who you ask.
"I mean I've never had a complaint," Anderson said.
Trew tells a different story. He said he treats his air sex performances in much the same way professional comedians use smaller standup shows to practice for the main event.
"I'm able to workshop things on stage and the crowd responded nicely to this, then maybe I'll do this to my wifey at home," he said. "It's like my personal sex open mic. I'll try out a thing and then I'll try it out in the bedroom. Sometimes it works, a lot of times it doesn't though."
Winners of the Chicago Air Sex Championships will receive a trophy and a spot in the Chicago championships, which will be held later this year. Those who are interested in performing can reach out to Trew directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.
Chicago Air Sex Championships
11 p.m. Friday at Abbey Pub (Doors open at 10 p.m.)
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