Howard Shanker journeyed from Philadelphia to New York City with a single purpose: “to go big.” Think: Michael Jordan big. Think: Derek Jeter big. Think: Ron Jeremy big.
Think: East Coast Air Sex Champion.
The bareheaded, heavyset Jewish real estate contractor—fully licensed for termite and radon inspections—never expected to be a major league athlete; he merely dreamed of ridding prejudice from his “fairly racist” neighborhood. “None of the kids use racist slurs near me because they know I’ll have something to say about it,” Shanker says. “I do my best to counteract that with conversation. If I can get people to think more open-mindedly or look outside their normal world, I’ve succeeded.”
However, one conversation was impossible to have with his neighbors. “Every day I play the clean-cut professional collared individual,” the happily married Shanker says, “but I have a three inch hole in my balls. My dick’s split in half; my tongue’s split in half. Oh yeah, the head of my cock’s split and there’s a big hole in my balls.”
Shanker, who also has nipple rings and an enormous Star of David tattoo on his back, recently discovered an opportunity to unveil his “deviant side.” A Philly bar where he moonlights as a bouncer hosted an Air Sex World Championships preliminary match. Without any preparation, his lascivious alter-ego “Big Dick Door Guy” sprang into existence; this jaw-dropping performance secured him a spot at the NYC regional finals:
“Do I have a perfect body?” Big Dick Door Guy asks rhetorically. Far from it. But I’m comfortable with who I am. And if someone else is uncomfortable with me, that’s a reflection of their discomfort with who they are.”
Discomfort is the name of the air sex game. Since the American league’s 2009 inception—the phenomenon originated in Japan, of course—thousands of attendees have derived voyeuristic delight from watching (often intoxicated) exhibitionists ravish invisible partners. In the words of ASWC founder Chris Trew, “World Series: nothing. Super Bowl: nothing. WrestleMania: something, but it’s not enough.”
You surely know the basics. Air sex has received a huge amount of media attention, and perhaps the joke is getting stale. Except that, to many of the competitors, it’s not a joke whatsoever. A winning performance, Shanker’s improvisation notwithstanding, typically requires hours upon hours of practice.
For defending regional champion Dustin “Dirty D” Diaz, who performs in an American flag Speedo and navy cap—which complement his bald eagle tattoo and ‘70s-style creeper mustache—it’s a way of life. And therapeutic. “I have a really hairy ass,” Diaz admits. “When I was a teenager, my friends would make jokes about it in the locker room. They’d call me ‘Chewie-ass,’ like Chewbacca. It was hurtful… I kept it pent up.”
Now he musters the courage and fortitude to overcome this emotional adversity, and presents his “shaved, smooth, pristine” backside to hundreds of complete strangers.
“Whatever’s personal to you, take it to the stage,” Diaz advises. “Don’t ham it up. Keep it real.”
Diaz boasts that he “used to do air sex in the kitchen” long before it became a fad: “In 2007 I was showing my roommate how to have sex with a girl, demonstrating what moves he should use… I gave him a lot to work with.” And Diaz’s years of experience are evident tonight when he showcases his analingus skills at length; the audience is simultaneously appalled and enchanted.
“I’m really happy that my mom is here to view it,” Diaz says cheerfully.
The competition for Shanker and Diaz is fierce. And stiff. For example…
The Donkey Show: Two women and one guy molest a donkey—with impressive acrobatics—while Simon & Garfunkel’s “At the Zoo” plays on the sound system. (“We fucked and killed a goat last year,” one of them explains, sounding not at all fetishistic.)
Professor Longhair: A naughty female teacher gives a lesson in the oral arts to the tune of Petula Clark’s 1965 classic “Downtown.” (Ironically, oral sex did not exist until 1969.)
Chuck Naked: A tall blond gentleman who starts his routine with a tender make-out session, accompanied by Boyz II Men, but then dons a black mask, decapitates his invisible lover to a death metal cacophony, and defiles her corpse before masturbating on the panel of judges. (“I was fucking terrified,” said one judge, “and that’s how I like it.”)
Anna Banana: A twenty-something woman who performs expertly mimed fellatio and writhes alluringly, but ultimately disqualifies herself when she flashes her bare breasts to the audience. (Who says that air sex isn’t worth the $15 price of admission?)
Yes, the odds of triumph were daunting. But Howard Shanker didn’t let it faze him as he took the stage, shed his clothes, and gyrated in a bizarre, dragon-phallused thong that he found “someplace very obscure on the Internet.” The audience went completely psychotic with approval, especially when he wiped his booty handkerchief on the judges’ faces.
“I’m happy Dirty D’s mom is here to see this too,” Shanker deadpanned.
It’s no surprise that both men—the reigning NYC champion and the Philadelphia upstart—made it to the final round, but there could be only one victor. And by popular vote, measured in decibels, Big Dick Door Guy conquered the day.
“I’m so thrilled, so excited,” Shanker said, admitting that “Dirty D is great” and “it was too close.”
Diaz, who blames his loss on “pull[ing] out my signature pile driver a little too soon” instead of pacing himself, likewise admires Big Dick Door Guy: “[He] deserved that win… I am honored to know someone else that can pull it off. Our styles contrast a bunch because he’s a bit of a hate fucker and I’m more of a dirty foreplayer.”
Unfortunately, the prejudice and bigotry that Shanker aspires so courageously to vanquish from his hometown followed him all the way to the Big Apple. “You’re a Jew,” shouted a heckler in the crowd. “You’re a Jewwwwwww.”
“He’s just another asshole,” Shanker says of his anonymous detractor. “Nobody chooses to be black or Jewish or Asian or gay. I will always judge people by the decisions they make.”
But Shanker refuses to allow the haters and cynics to disturb his concentration; he’s already preparing for the championship in Austin. “I’ve basked in the glory, and now I’m back to planning my strategy,” he says the next day. “My goal is to come up with something more ridiculous. I will probably put in endless hours of thought.”
He needs to make good on these promises. Thanks to a “wildcard” victory in New Orleans, Dirty D will travel to Texas for a rematch against Shanker, and intends “to use this defeat to make a strong comeback” by “having more sex with my girlfriend and studying it play by play on my camcorder.”
Trew, who wants to take the sport to TV and DVD, has nothing but kind words for Shanker: “He’s quite a character … and the audience will always respond to that. Also, he was having the most fun out of all the contestants.” Nevertheless, if there’s a Tiger Woods or Hulk Hogan of air sexing who will dominate and define the sport, “I haven’t seen it yet, but I have a sports mentality with the show so I’m definitely aware of the possibility… A lot of the performers in Austin regularly get upset if they don’t do well.”
They’re upset over nothing beyond pride; the winner receives no grand prize, merely a trophy. But for Big Dick Door Guy, it’s not about materialism in the least: “If I can say, ‘Hey, I won,’ what more do I really need?”