by Rachel Swan
Okay, here's the problem with the San Francisco regional air guitar competition: It's actually split into two separate contests, one on Friday and one on Saturday, each with its own winner. That's policy, that's tradition, it's not clear who made it that way, but that's the way it is, and pretty much everyone accepts it. But this year it skewed the results. There was a giant talent gap between the Friday show, which was pretty underwhelming, and the Saturday show, which — according to everyone present — was totally freakin' amazing. Even retired champ and Friday night judge Hot Lixx Hulahan noticed it.
"Sales wise, we had twice as many people on Saturday, and twice as many people on the guest list." He added that if you counted how many people were at The Independent at the peak moment of Friday's event, there were at least that many lingering after the show stopped and the lights went up on Saturday. Plus, there was a veritable chasm in terms of performance quality. Friday's big highlights were the half-time show, the Milli Vanilli sing-along, and the round two performance by Tony Dilemma, the guy who bumrushed the judge's booth to dance with music critic Marc Hawthorne. The other highlight? Competitor Sonic Boomer, who was like 9 feet tall and looked like he belonged in a Ren Faire in San Leandro, according to one judge. But he wasn't the winner — that honor would go to Shred Nugent, an enthusiastic headbanger with a skull cap bandana.
Even those spectacles paled in comparison to Saturday night, which was bigger, louder, campier, and more fabulous, overall. The crowd favorite on Saturday was Crusher, a former champ who works in real life as bail bondsman down on the Peninsula. Also of note was Awesomo Domingo, formerly known as "The Awesome," who emerged in a full tuxedo and dropped his imaginary guitar at several points to conduct an orchestra. (Unfortunately, he lost points for that.) Unsurprisingly, though, Saturday's winner was Cold Steel Renegade, whose hard-rocking style and tight pants — which, as Hot Lixx notes, are not particularly covering or modest — have made him a shoe-in for the past two years.
"I thought it was gonna be an air-off," said Cold Steel, who won by a mere tenth of a point, but had a lot of people re-questioning their sexuality anyway. He described the overall experience as "mind-boggling," "fantastic," and "super-awesome" — well, probably not for Crusher. But oh well.
"The Awesome" doing "Beat It":< /p>
And a Cold Steel montage: