There's a giant hole in the crotch of Mean Melin's pants.
Seconds ago, he hoisted an imaginary guitar over and behind his head, strumming the invisible strings to Motorhead's frantic metal anthem "Ace of Spades." Then he dropped to his knees — and this became a bust-out performance.
He's the last one onstage at the Kansas City regional air guitar finals June 9 at the Record Bar. He's tonight's favorite, although he faces stiff competition from Hammerin' Cock And Thunderin' Ballz, Longbottom Leaf, Banana Man, Dirk Tickler and Satanica.
And he's already banged up. He bruised his foot practicing and could barely walk last night, but now adrenaline, tape and a few beers have numbed the pain. He keeps playing despite the rip in his pants. His head bangs, whipping sweat from his floppy dark hair. His fingers slide up and down the neck of his air guitar. He windmills and hammers on the imaginary chords. His fist pumps.
He spots a beer cup sitting on the edge of the stage and punts it into the crowd, then executes a flying elbow drop to end his set.
The crowd erupts. Longbottom Leaf jumps onstage and bows to him. Another fan dives onstage just to touch his red Chuck Taylors.
A goofy smile crosses Mean Melin's face.
Air Guitar World Champion Hot Lixx Hulahan — the host of tonight's battle — gazes down at Melin's crotch.
"A testimony to his rock," Hulahan says, getting an eyeful of Melin's manhood. "Is that a fucking moose knuckle?"
Now it's time for the judging.
"I was going to give you less than what I was going to give you, but then you kicked that fucking cup," says judge Charlie Burt, who DJs around town.
"Yeah, he did!" a woman screams.
Burt raises a satanic score of 666.
"I think it was the behind-the-head that convinced me," says judge Lacey Storer, a former reporter for the St. Joseph News. "You are ready to play with the big boys." She raises a perfect 6.0.
"Goddamn right!" a woman yells.
Impressing the last judge, Türoque, isn't going to be easy. Türoque knows air and he knows "Ace of Spades." That much is clear from the opening moments of the 2006 documentary Air Guitar Nation, which shows the genesis of competitive air guitar in the United States and follows Türoque's heated rivalry with C-Diddy to become the first American to compete in the World Championships.
"I don't know, dude," Türoque says. "You guys thought that was all right?"
"Fuck, yes!" someone yells.
Türoque raises a 6.0.
"Mean Melin. Mean Melin. Mean Melin," the crowd chants.
They're cheering for a guy who just pretended to play guitar — and rocked their fucking faces off.
Mean Melin throws up the devil horns. He's going to the U.S. Air Guitar Championships in Washington, D.C., on August 7.
Friday night at Washington's 9:30 Club, Melin will shred against America's finest air guitarists to see if he's good enough to represent the United States against faux Van Halens from more than 20 countries at the 14th-annual World Air Guitar Championships August 19-21 in Oulu, Finland.
Some Finns started the air-guitar competition in 1996 with a goal of promoting world peace — they figured people couldn't hold guns if they were holding air guitars.
In 2002, a couple of Americans went to the World Championships; when they returned, they started running U.S. Air Guitar competitions across the country. They documented everything in 2003 (thus Air Guitar Nation), leading to the showdown between Türoque and C-Diddy, who wore a Hello Kitty breastplate. Clubs on the coasts sold out, and C-Diddy went on to become the United States' first Air Guitar World Champion.