Most of the world was only recently exposed to the magical experience of the Magic Cyclops when he appeared on American Idol's Aspen audition show in January, but for many in Colorado, the magic, and the laughs from Magic Cyclops have been followed for years.
The legendary air guitar champ and hysterically funny live performer that hails from Davenport, IA (you can hear it in his thick Iowan accent), but calls Fort Collins, Colo. his home, recently sat down with Huffington Post to talk about American Idol, collecting air guitars and if a Magic Cyclops television show is in the works (we hope so).
How long have been performing as Magic Cyclops?
Twelve long, painful years.
When do you first learn to play the air guitar?
I have been playing air guitar since I was young and listening to the radio in my bedroom. I had no idea what it was, I just didn't have a real guitar at the time. I still don't. Sometimes the music just grabs hold of you, you know?
(SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOS, VIDEOS OF MAGIC CYCLOPS)
What is the secret to an epic air guitar performance?
Great song, ridiculous outfit, good routine, alcohol and some luck all help make for a epic air guitar performance. But probably the booze helps most?!
How many air guitar competitions have you been in?
Too many to count. I hosted the 2004 Denver Regional competition of the US Air Guitar Championships and then halfway through it I realized I should have been competing in it. I have probably spent more money than any other US Air Guitarist and have traveled from coast to coast in my quest to make it to the US Finals. I have only made it to the US Air Guitar Finals once after winning the Denver Regional in 2008.
How many air guitars do you own?
I own 11,000 air guitars, give or take a few. Yes, my air Gibson Les Paul Ace Frehley model with smoking pick ups autographed by the great Ace himself is my favorite. The challenge with air guitars are the strings -- they break all the time because they are zero gauge and I personally play like the wind.
How was the American Idol experience? Walk us through the entire ordeal.
It has been better since it aired than it was actually going through the audition process, which was less then fun. I will say all the executive producers of the show are British so I believe that they helped my chances a lot. The experience consists of a lot of getting up at ungodly hours and standing and waiting and then sitting and waiting and then when you're done waiting you wait some more. Steven Tyler still owes me that drink he offered and I am told Randy did make it to the bathroom in time, thank God. It's not the first time my talent has made someone have to go to the bathroom.
How did Jimmy Buffet fans react to your Idol performance?
I received lots of hate mail, this is my personal favorite one:
You suck!!!!!!! xoxo, Parrotheads
I also had a guy in a Hawaiian shirt throw his flip-flop at me during a happy hour at a bar.
What has the reaction been from your hometown of Davenport, IA?
Mostly great. Everyone was jazzed except for some radio DJs who tried to take credit for my American Idol audition and then recanted because I exposed them as frauds and now talk trash about me because I exposed them as liars. I think that sucks you can lie on air, still keep your job and then when your lie is exposed you trash talk the guy whose coat tails you tried to ride to increase your ratings. So now they and their one fan send me hate emails.
Other than that, my friends and family there couldn't care less about all this.
How did you get your unique accent?
It's an Iowa accent, I grew up in Davenport, Iowa. Being extremely poor, my family only got the local PBS station which mostly aired BBC programing.
Do you have a favorite song or artist that you like to perform when playing air guitar?
I like a little of everything, but I like finding those songs that no one would ever think to use. Like last year, I did "Physical" by Olivia Newton John and caught everyone by surprise on the US Air Guitar circuit, I hope this year is as successful.
What are your big musical influences?
Devo, Wesley Willis, '80s music, many of my fellow Denver and Ft. Collins friends' bands, I have a lot of great, talented friends. Reggie Watts is pretty great. Too many to name really.
Have you been approached to do a web or television series?
Yes, but all I can really say is that this won't be the last you've seen of dear old Magic.
Any advice for young air guitarists out there?
Even though I have given up several times, don't ever give up. And stay in school. And hugs, not drugs.
I'll be playing March 1st at the Bluebird Theater with Total Ghost and Mr. Pacman. I have new Magic Cyclops T-shirts and headbands available for fans. And Magic is headed down to SXSW with every other band on planet Earth. Stay tuned.
LISTEN to Magic Cyclops latest album The Magic Collection:
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