Air Guitar Hero

The Year in Being Fingered

And, as it turns out, not even much of a stage. The final-round duel between Tuff and East Coast champ C-Diddy never really came off. Call it a communication breakdown. As event coordinators played a song by the White Stripes, Tuff began to perform. When he saw that C-Diddy wasn't performing, Tuff stopped, awaiting further instructions. The song stopped and started again. C-Diddy quickly began to perform alone, leaving Tuff confused. He believes that cost him the title.

"The air-guitar people apologized and said they told the judges that C-Diddy didn't engage," Tuff says. "I think it cost me the trip to Finland. I was on my home turf. The audience was chanting my name. I had a few more licks and kicks to do even though I was sweaty."

But now the cheers have faded, and his wig is covered by a thin layer of dust. Hintz looks back on the night with mixed feelings. "It's definitely been a blessing and a curse. It's given some attention to my craft. Air-guitar fans had been waiting for the day that air guitar would have its due. But you also find yourself [performing] at weddings and at parties, and people introduce you to others and say, 'Let's hear a little something.'"

In the meantime, Hintz waits patiently for fame. "My phone lines are open," he said. "I have ideas. I think Krye Tuff has lots to offer the entertainment world. I'm the West Coast champ, I live in LA and it's 2003. The stars are aligned. It appears that the time is now for air guitar. When I look out the window from my cubicle, I sometimes think Krye Tuff should be let out, and someone should give him the opportunity."

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