Part tour documentary, part comedy special, part exploration of sexuality in today’s society, Air Sex: The Movie follows comedian Chris Trew as he tours North America hosting the raunchy, weird and hilarious phenomenon known as The Air Sex Championships. Longstanding rivalries clash. Old and new favorites emerge. Legends are born. Lives are changed. And at the tour’s climatic end, a handful of the nation’s best finalists head to New Orleans and put it all on the line to compete for the most prestigious trophy in all of sports – the Air Sex National Championship.
The first step in any writeup of an Air Sex anything is the explanation of Air Sex itself. The simplest route from point A to point B is that it’s like air guitar, except instead of a guitar it’s a naked person. To those who get it, there’s no explanation is necessary. To those who don’t, no explanation will do. To people who don’t realize it’s a comedy show, it’s a group of desperate perverts pretending to f*ck invisible people because they can’t f*ck any real ones. To the squares, it’s gross. To people who get it and love it, it’s… still pretty gross sometimes.
Air Sex: The Movie isn’t the sport’s first foray into feature films: 2013’s Love & Air Sex (full review here) used it as comic relief, as an aside to a mostly-unrelated love story. When people stop kissing or feeling bad about not kissing, Air Sex happens. The fake f*cking that happens in that film is wildly inaccurate and a producer’s skimmed idea of what Air Sex might be, and I can say that as a guy who’s judged the event more times than I can remember. If you’re pretending to bone a ghost while dressed like a Ghostbuster, there’s a sincerity involved, dammit.
Air Sex: The Movie is attempting to explain the sincerity in its insincerity. And yes, I’ve decided to move “is in the background of many key scenes in Air Sex: The Movie” to the top of my resume.
In case you were wondering, Air Sex is full of footage of people having sex with nothing. If you’re an Air Sex virgin and are curious as to how it works, the film goes into glorious detail, from slow-motion footage of the sport’s top acts to frank discussions about how the show runs. If you’ve seen it before and don’t want to watch 90 minutes of a guy in underwear and an untucked shirt thrusting his crotch at a bunch of drunk people, you get even MORE from it.
That’s what I loved about the film. It simultaneously functions as an exploration of sex, culture, sex culture and running a comedy show. We follow around the event’s MC, Chris Trew, one of the most exceptional and exceptionally weird people in the country. Trew’s done everything from embarrass Howard Stern on America’s Got Talent to being a championship pro wrestling manager to harassing NBA teams behind the bench at New Orleans Pelicans games. The rub to Chris Trew is that he’s a man who realized that not only could he live his dream, he could live ALL OF THEM, and he could live them all at once. He’s the perfect representative for Air Sex: You believe every word he says, even when you shouldn’t.
As an old stalwart judge, the touring aspects of the documentary were my favorite moments. Those are the things I’ve never gotten to see before. Shows that inexplicably lose power. Shows the venue forgot to promote and are performed in front of only a handful of people (in Canada!). Protests from religious types who saw “sex” in the name of something and showed up with trucks and banners telling everyone they’re going to hell. If you get anything from Air Sex: The Movie, it’s that driving around the country with a bunch of dildos and an intent to make people laugh can have dire consequences.
Hell, it’s a good sports movie, too. Why wouldn’t it be?
I’ve always been drawn to niche sports culture. The With Spandex portal should be evidence of that. The worlds of Air Sex and WWE are a lot alike; it’s a show with a mixture of practiced comedy acts and amateur drunks trying to express themselves with a base, often offensive and deeply human form of art. It embraces the embarrassment of a physical act that binds us — pro wrestling has violence, Air Sex has… uh, sex… and holds it up for the world to see. It says, “This is what we do. Isn’t that weird?”
That’s the core of sports, too. Sports are about proving through some arbitrary act that you’re better than the people around you. It creates drama. Sports and theater and comedy and shock and violence, all swirling around in a big, wonderful toilet. Watching people from around the country find their way onto the Air Sex stage and become something else is a thrill, and so is seeing them rise up to the national stage and take it to another level. It’s funny, but it’s a competition. You get to the heart of one of humanity’s most personal and confusing rituals, and you win a dick. It’s magic, in a way. It’s making love out of nothing at all.
It’s coming from an extremely biased point of view, but if you’re only going to watch one film about people nailing ghosts and coming to profound personal realizations about humanity, it should be this one. You can check it out at the Air Sex site and discover it for yourself. Look for me in the background. I’m back there a lot, and I have no idea what my eyes are doing.