Though its name alone may evoke some salacious and/or puzzled thoughts, Air Sex is actually fairly innocent – well, as innocent as pretending to have sex with an imaginary someone (or someones, or something) on stage in front a large and boisterous crowd can be. It is, admittedly, a bit odd.
“It’s weird for some people, but I kind of just got it immediately,” explains Jonathan Evans, director of Air Sex: The Movie, a comedy-tour documentary about its namesake event. “It just sounded so fascinating. It’s not something that you need to overthink too much. It’s just a really delightful little thing.
Above all else, Air Sex is meant to be fun, good-natured, and hilarious – and yes, at times, even a bit naughty. Following the annual Air Sex National Tour (around 30 live shows around the country) leading up to the World Championships held in New Orleans, the film does a phenomenal job of getting this positive message across.
“I find that when comedies do sex, they tend to make it really tawdry or juvenile,” Evans explains. “What I like about Air Sex is that you have a little bit of everything – every interpretation of comedy and sex. And at the end of the day, it’s just a fun show.”
With a number of different directions he could have gone in with the film, Evans decided to make Air Sex: The Movie more akin to a comedy show. “To prepare, I didn’t sit down and watch a lot of documentaries, instead I watched Religulous and (Dave Chappelle’s) Block Party. They were my inspiration.”
For a film like that to succeed, an outgoing guide is needed, someone to explain how this all works and to fill in the gaps between shows with a bit of irreverent humor – and for this movie, and Air Sex in general, that man is Chris Trew. Gloriously bearded and a multi-faceted entertainer, the New Orleans-based comedian is the Godfather of Air Sex, having launched the competition in 2006 when his The New Movement Theater was headquartered in Austin, TX.
“Chris is the face of Air Sex; he’s the first and last thing you see at a show. So, it just made sense that he be the lead of the movie,’ explains Evans. “I kind of just kept the camera in my hands at all times. He’s always being funny. And together, we set out to make more of a comedy concert film than a traditional documentary.”
The film is able to accomplish that unique spirit and feel they started the project looking for. “I wanted the structure of the movie to almost exactly mirror the show itself,” Evans elaborates. “If you go to a show, Chris gets on the mic, he explains the show, and does his routine. Then he calls up the competitors until they crown a champion. So, I thought it would be awesome if the movie was like one long show and it all leads to a final round where a champion is crowned.”
Like the show, the performances are the main attraction. The film gives a quick rundown of the good, bad, and the ugly (and the down n’ dirty) of performing Air Sex. Playing remarkably like a sports movie, the second half of the film introduces the champions, those narrowed down from bars all across America and picked to compete against one another at the Air Sex World Championship.
“Overall, people were pretty cool with the camera, and everyone has a unique reaction to it,” reveals Evans. “I think some people are worried that it’s shameful, but more so, that we’re going to exploit or make them look dumb – which, of course, isn’t our intention. I wanted to respect the anonymity of it. You come onstage and you put on a name and a character and do your show.”
The performances themselves are great, but caused a bit of trouble for the film: not for their raciness, but for the music. Most performers dance to hugely popular songs, everything from Ginuwine’s “Pony” to Psy’s “Gangnam Style.” Thankfully, the filmmakers had a creative solution to circumvent the costly copyright issues this could create – and what they came up may have been even better in the end.
“I knew that we’d never have enough money to get these songs. So, I thought, what if we delete it all and record our own music?” Evans says. “We already had someone who could do that in Michael Felton, who was the sound guy and had come on the road with us. He wrote everything and composed all the music. We kind of mirrored the real songs at first to recreate the spirit, but ultimately, the songs mutated over time and became representative of the people. I was just super impressed with what Mikey accomplished.”
That is indicative of the film as whole. Like the collaborative nature of The New Movement, Air Sex: The Movie took the same approach. “Chris has a style and he knows himself so thoroughly. He knows what he believes in and what he is opposed to, and with that, he has a lot of confidence and the trust in the people he works with.”
And it all works. The film – and Air Sex – is hilarious. The film is a terrific introduction into the delightfully weird world of imaginary sex. Do yourself a favor and check out the film and a live show – coming soon to a bar all across America.
The film is now available for rent and purchase online at VHX (along with the soundtrack).