I’ve got that sinking feeling. Tonight, I’m in way over my head…
“Please welcome to the stage, Gimp the Pimp!”
Shit! There’s no more time to plan. Not that I’d come up with anything better than what I’d already seen tonight. The mental gymnastics I’d done from my seat in the audience during those intervening moments between signing up and right the fuck now amounted to nothing but the mind’s equivalent of a doodle on a napkin. Here goes nothing…
I’m greeted from the stage by an uncomfortable silence I’m used to, but tonight it’s justified. I’m a competitor in the Toronto Air Sex Championship, a Japanese invention commonly described as like air guitar, but fucking, and I have spastic diplegia cerebral palsy — spastic being the operative word. The audience clearly doesn’t think I have a shot in hell; even the DJ hesitates before playing my backing track (Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer”). I have to cue her twice.
At this point, I agree with their assessment, especially since air sex seems more like synchronized swimming than air guitar, what with the judging, the in-time thrusting to music, and the elaborate costumes. Becoming Toronto’s Air Sex Champion and winning a berth at the World Championships in Austin, Texas, is serious business. The competition can only be described — you’ll forgive me — as stiff.
Take the first performer, Travis, who came out to Rammstein’s Du Hast wearing a long-sleeved teal and fuschia floral shirt, too small to cover his midriff, acid-washed hot pants, and a bandana across his long, brown mop. The whole ensemble looked like it was jacked from his little sister’s closet, but I was duly impressed when he whipped a kielbasa out of his fly and lit it on fire. It was the first act and already we had the fire marshal on stand-by. For the grand finale, he then pulled off what Marilyn Manson supposedly removed his ribs for, biting off his sausage tip and spitting into the audience.
In truth, I wasn’t supposed to be on-stage at all. I had come as a sociological observer, but when the Jesus-look-a-like emcee made an open call to the audience, the thumbscrew of peer pressure wrenched in the participatory direction when the woman sitting next to me leaned over:
“You’re going to do it, or what?”
“Oh no, maybe next time. I’ll just watch tonight.”
I guess my waffling came down to the disability. If I was going to do it at all, I’d want to actually be good. When you’re disabled, many people will give you heaps of praise just for showing up. That was the last thing I needed.
Still, the woman beside me persisted, as if she didn’t hear me the first time. “So you going to do it, or what?”
What was I afraid of? I’m a journalist — supposedly intrepid — and an air-sex competitor with a disability would be the closest most people would ever get to a disabled person fucking, unless you count the films of Bridget the Midget. I could bring awareness to the table, win or lose. Plus, sexual opportunities are few for most people with disabilities, but Iron Maiden got a record deal thanks to air guitar, so maybe I’d get laid thanks to air sex.
One act tipped the scales. A flaming redhead, Sheila Shamu, the only solo female competitor, raised more than eyebrows in her lime-green spaghetti-strap tank top and black skinny jeans when she made love, not to the air, but to a broom. She worked it like a pro, slinking and gyrating the handle between her legs before tracking her tongue across the shaft and working it between her tits. The judges noted it was the first simulated titty-fuck in local air-sex history, earning her an instant spot in the final round. I noted that I had something long, smooth and glistening of my own: my cane. She’d just confirmed its spot in the show.
Back in the present, I’m making a beeline across the stage, grabbing a folding chair from the judge’s table and dragging it into the center. The audience doesn’t know what to make of it: “Is this part of it?” “Should we help him?” Honestly, I’m just setting up, but my swaying gait’s confusing them. I actually hear one guy say, a little too loudly, “I don’t know whether to laugh or not.” In fairness, I’m wondering the same thing, but I just have to bite my lip and go with it.
My Gimp the Pimp routine begins with me sitting in a chair beckoning an invisible stripper towards me with a five-dollar bill hanging from my tongue. Unfortunately, my Night at the Roxbury-esque head bob probably looks more like a rooftop pigeon. But then I whip out the cane and air sex turns to air sodomy. It’s my big gimmick move right off the bat and the crowd reacts with whoops and hollers. I suspect every man who uses a cane has fantasized about fucking someone with it, and I’d finally found a medium not bound by laws legal or scientific.
But even sodomy gets boring after a while, so I dive to the floor, hitting my knee on the way down, and pull out the one move used so often it’s an air-sex cliché — but doggy-style just looks so good on a stage. I then mime putting on a rubber glove and fisting the air, but this gets lost in translation. I need an exit strategy and fast. It’s time to pull the chute and launch the orgasm. My two-minute time limit has almost expired, but I’m not going out with a whimper. This one is going to be the fake orgasm to rule them all. I start from deep in the diaphragm on my knees and project a guttural grunt to the back of the room. The audience is riveted as I fall forward and send my whole body into convulsions, trembling until I’m fully spread-eagle at center stage. Was it good for you?
I hadn’t planned anything beyond the sitting in the chair part; from there it was pure physical jazz. After a while, you get so wrapped in the moment your inhibitions fall away and you can’t even hear the music or the audience. It’s just you and your body, it doesn’t matter how you look — disabled or not. In many ways, air sex is identical to the genuine article: compromising positions? Check. Slight loss of dignity? Check. You just want to roll over and go to sleep when it’s over? Double check! And, like sex, even if you aren’t the best, you’re still glad you played.
Aaron Broverman is a freelance journalist based in Toronto. He blogs regularly about disability issues for This Magazine. His work has also appeared in Abilities Magazine, New Mobility Magazine.
This article was previously published in Nerve’s True Stories.