Air Guitar Nation, which screened late on the opening night of the Wisconsin Film Festival, was without a doubt tremendously entertaining. It will be tough to beat this weekend in terms of laughs.
The most interesting element in this documentary about the tongue-in-cheek performance art is one of its Wisconsin connections, though. Namely, the air guitar competitor who finished second at the L.A. competition to eventual 2003 world champion "C-Diddy" had his own cheering section at the Orpheum Stage Door.
Every time Gordon "Krye Tuff" Hintz got screen time (and there was plenty of it), whistles and whoops started erupting from the first level of the theater. Who is this guy, I wondered; he must have some sort of connection to Wisconsin.
He sure does. Gordon Hintz, 33, is the state representative for Assembly District 54 having been first elected last autumn. Citizens of Oshkosh, and indeed Wisconsin can rawk in the fact that this assemblyman finished second in the 2003 U.S. Air Guitar National Championships, and is a member of the American Air Guitar Hall of Fame.
He was working as a budget analyst for the City of Long Beach back at the turn of the century when professional air guitar premiered on the American stage. A detailed look at his run for the title was published by Orange County Weekly on New Year's Day 2004.
Since returning to Wisconsin and embarking upon a run for public office, Hintz's political opponents haven't tried to to a hatchet, make that axe-job of his guitar god status. "In a world where Ronald Reagan has been president and Arnold Schwarzenegger is governor of California, I don't know where being a professional air guitar player stands," he says.
Hintz saw the movie at South By Southwest in 2006 at one of its early screenings. "Obviously it forever lives," he says when asked to look back at his career as a professional air guitarist. "The only thing I say is when I found out they were making a movie about the competition, I wanted it to be good," Hintz continues. "I think it captures air guitar pretty well."
Watch Hintz (as "Krye Tuff") perform "Yankee Rose" by David Lee Roth:
The representative is retired from the professional air guitar circuit now, though he confesses that he is tempted to pick some licks when he hears classic rock on the radio at home, or when holding a tennis raquet. "Given that one always has their air guitar with them," Hintz explains, "they can never really retire."
In the end it comes down tow one thing, he explains: "How much rock and roll can you squeeze into 60 seconds?"
Hintz did not attend the screening on Thursday night, as he is currently back in Oshkosh. He sure had plenty of fans there, though.
Though Air Guitar Nation is not among the Wisconsin's Own films programmed for the festival, this local connection in the documentary makes it as Skonnie as anything.