Local air-guitar champ Romeo Dance Cheetah on national TV tonight | Bleader

Local air-guitar champ Romeo Dance Cheetah on national TV tonight

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Romeo Dance Cheetah during the 2010 U.S. Air Guitar Finals
  • Romeo Dance Cheetah during the 2010 U.S. Air Guitar Finals
Tonight local U.S. Air Guitar Hall of Fame member and 2010 national champion Matt "Romeo Dance Cheetah" Cornelison will perform on national TV as a contestant on America's Got Talent.

It's been a little more than a year since Cornelison's previous public display of what fellow air guitarists call "airness"; he was last seen around these parts competing in the July 2011 national championships at Metro, where Justin "Nordic Thunder" Howard took the prize. (Justin Kendall wrote a B Side cover story about Howard at the time.) Cornelison spent the intervening months away from the bright lights and fame that come with being an air guitarist. "I had gone into hiding and grown a huge beard and started writing in a cabin in the woods for a while, just contemplating life," he says.

Not long ago Cornelison heard that the folks behind America's Got Talent wanted potential contestants to send in YouTube footage of their special skills. So he submitted a clip from an air-guitar performance of Daft Punk's "Robot Rock" and wound up one of a dozen contestants scheduled to perform tonight.

Cornelison won't say what song he'll subject to his air-guitar skills, but he hopes it will surprise his peers. "The air-guitar community will be shocked," he says. He'll be wearing his beloved red bodysuit, with its insane belt buckle and even crazier Ming the Merciless-style collar. He's had to reinforce the costume a bit after four years of wear and tear, but it's still the same flashy outfit his mom made for him. "There's no craftsmanship like my mom, and she worked hard on that thing, along with a friend of mine," he says.

Cornelison has been training for tonight's performance—he tells me to imagine a Rocky-style montage, but with air guitar instead of boxing—and he says he's going to spend much of today getting psyched for the competition. That basically boils down to "looking in the mirror telling myself how awesome I have to do to win," he says. "Using adjectives describing what my performance has to be, like magnificent and inspirational. Heartfelt. Ridiculous. Sexy."

Tonight's live America's Got Talent YouTube round will kick off at 7 PM CST; voting begins right after the program ends, and the most popular acts will proceed to the semifinal round and could eventually win $1 million. Cornelison says folks at home can vote ten times per voting method, so vote early and often.

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