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The Life And Times Of Evil E: I’m With The (Air) Band


Proof of Fierce Nerd ID by Else Duff

Cringe worthy moments of my life! No. 2 The Air Band Years

Long ago, in a time known as the 80’s, some shopping mall marketing “genius” came up with the idea that if you can’t get a star like Tiffany to perform outside your local Dillards in order to attract the masses that you could hold a lip-synch contest and get girls to dress up like the current teen stars to attract people. It was a hit! If you were a wannabe rock-n-roll star this was your chance, yes it was a simpler time, long before Guitar Hero and I was a lip-synch contest fanatic.

1983 Airband

Girlschool Air Band (Me: 2nd from left)

I always wanted to be the front woman in a rock band, but with absolutely no ability to carry a note most of my rock-n-roll fantasies took place in my bedroom lip-synching to Stevie Nicks songs in front of a mirror while holding a hair spray can as a microphone. My local mall was all about having lip-synch or air band contests and my first opp to participate came along while I was in Junior High. My friends were planning to do the Go-Gos and lucky for me one of the air-guitarists dropped out and I secured her spot. I remember how seriously we practiced in my friend Genni’s living room, working not only on

accuracy and showmanship, but also carefully planning our outfits. The contest was a total blast, we didn’t win but I did catch a Y & T record in a record toss, sadly I seem to recall I actually fought a pregnant woman for said record.

Now at these contests whether you preformed one song or two depended on how many people were entering. Second contest I entered there wasn’t many people performing, the contest was ill-fatedly scheduled on the same night as a Romantics concert. Hey it was Las Cruces, New Mexico and concerts were a rare thing, when someone came to town, regardless of who they were, most people went. Since not many people entered we got to perform two songs. First up my friend Liz lip-synched a Pat Benator song. Second song we all switched spots and I became the lead singer and we did “Play Dirty” by Girlschool. So awesome! I was 14 and a little shy back then, but dressing up and performing brought out a different side of me. After the contest I was introduced to a guy named Dave Gardner by my friend Sandra and the whole night seemed to change my life. Dave was a bass player and he looked like Tommy Lee and he was my first love. After that I wasn’t just a shy geek, I was more outgoing, I had finally been kissed, and I was preparing to buy my first guitar. Suddenly I was a rocker chick and I never looked back. Long haired boys, Jack Daniels and Motley Crue – ALL THE WAY!

More girl band adventuring after the jump:

Because that particular lip-synch contest didn’t do so well, after all it was competing against the Romantics concert, it was a while before the mall did another one. Which was fine, because I finally started playing in a ‘real’ band. I was the guitar player in Krysus! We practiced like crazy in my friend Susie’s garage and even secured a place playing Dokken’s “Breaking the Chains” at our High School talent show. No video seems to exist, be grateful.


Krysus (Me, right)

My next chance to do another air band contest was in college, they were holding a ‘Rock-a-like” contest at the student union. My friends and I decided to do Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me,” after all we were 4 girls and Poison looked like girls (actually when that record first came out we thought it was an all girl band.)

We worked our asses off in my friend Michele’s living room mastering our choreography. We worked so hard on our look that we made the bass player, Sandra, dye her hair black to look more like Bobby Dall. Luckily Sandra was always up for anything, and she also managed to borrow the most amazing gold lamé pants from her sister. I was Bret Michaels, Becky was C.C., and Michele was Rikki Rockett.

The excitement was high as we waited for our turn at the contest. And then what happened, well some idiots called the Air Dorks decided to join the contest at the last minute. They went through the other contestants’ cassettes and took our song. We were PISSED! When it was our time I got on stage and let it be known we were going to show the Air Dorks how it was fuckin’ done and we did – WE WON!! Okay we sort of won. An entire sorority and fraternity joined together to lip-synch “We Are the World” – they all voted for themselves and got first place. But at this contest first prize was a trip for 4 to Vegas, second prize was a keg. They relinquished their first place spot so they could get the keg. We were the official winners and our tape was sent for consideration for participation in a national spring break Rock-a-like contest, sadly we weren’t selected. And being that we were only 18 and didn’t really want to go to Vegas and not be able to drink, we made a deal and changed our flights in order to go to Dallas to see the Texas Jam/Monster of Rock concert (but that is another story.)

Our Poison “Talk Dirty To Me” Air Band Vid:

Poison Air Band

We performed that same air band a couple different times, although sometimes with different air drummers – I guess we were sort of the Spinal Tap of air bands. Our winnings also included free pizza.

Poison Air Band 1989:

Poison Air Band 2

Finally the local mall decided it was time to bring back the lip-synch contest. By then I had dropped the guitar for drums* and had been playing around town in my band Jumpstart Kitty, but I wasn’t going to miss my chance to be a lead singer, I mean lead lip-syncher. So when they announced the first ANNUAL Leap Year Lip-synch Contest. (Yup first ANNUAL leap year contest!) We didn’t try to explain to them Leap Year only comes around every 4 years, we just signed up.

My friends and I decided to do Wilson Phillips “Hold On.” Once again Sandra went above and beyond the call of duty by putting on a fat suit to be Carnie Wilson. Our premise was she would keep eating food, would order a pizza, and when we were lip-synching “Hold On” it was about fighting over the pizza box. I would like to add that Mad TV, I think it was Mad TV, did a similar type of video a couple months after we did the concept. I guess we were ahead of our time when it came to making fun of poor Carnie. At the same contest, our friend Joaquin decided to do Right Said Fred “I’m Too Sexy.” He had just shaved his head so it seemed like a good fit. He recruited me and my friend Jana to be his back up models. Joaquin stole the show winning first place and our Wilson Phillips routine was a runner-up.

Wilson Phillips Video:

Right Said Fred Video:

Not long after that contest I graduated college and moved to L.A.

Los Angeles has enough entertainment going on, plus they can actually get a real teen star to show up at the mall, so that was the end of my lip-synch career. I had a blast, I had a good run, and I have these videos to help me remember it all. I’ll always be grateful for these contests, they helped a shy young girl come out of her shell and I haven’t been the same since.

*Drumming For Jumpstart Kitty:
Jumpstart Kitty