If you passed through the intersection of Park and Mt. Moriah sometime between roughly 2006 and 2010, you've probably seen Chris Robinson. But chances are, you don't know him as Chris – you know him as the Little Caesar's Air Guitar Guy.
He was the Tony Allen of sign holding. Headphones on, Chris played his square pizza sign like it was a flying V and he was in an arena, not on a street corner during rush hour. He jumped, he slid, he arched his back and lifted his air guitar to traffic in a neverending, silent solo.
Though Chris has been replaced by a new, less exciting Little Caesar's sign holder, he's still in Memphis. I caught up with him to find out where he is now:
So, where are you now?
Right now, I’m at home doing a bunch of nerd stuff. I have a hobby / side job where I fix iPhones and computers. I also work in the art department at Brunner Printing. It’s a pretty fun job.
No more Little Caesar’s?
I quit about two years ago.
Did Little Caesar's sell more pizza when you were working?
I couldn't tell you how many people came up to me saying I made them want to buy a pizza!
What do you think when you see other sign holders?
I think, “That used to be me.” I know how it feels to be out there. I got lucky, though – I hit a sense of awareness on the first day (of the job). It’s going to be just as embarrassing not matter what, so you may as well have fun.
At least they never made you wear a costume.
I chose not to wear the costume. There was a gorilla suit. I wore it once, just to see what it was like and said no. It was 80 degrees outside and the mask kept falling in my eyes, and I said no. I just did my own thing.
You do know that you ruined sign holding for everyone, right?
I get that so much. I’ve had people who are sign holders come up to me and be so angry because they’re getting told “You should be more like that guy at Park and Mt. Moriah.” I’ve gotten so much crap for that.
Do you still get recognized? How often?
In my heyday, it was every day. Now, it’s about once a month.
How did the job change you?
I used to be the shyest person before that job. It helped with my anxieties and gave me confidence. The way it changed me was important – I’m not afraid to go into a new situation.
Did the sign help you meet girls?
A lot of girls came up and talked to me. I was in high school – I didn’t understand that some of them actually thought I was cute. I just thought that people were being nice.
You got to see a lot of Memphis drivers. Do you have anything you’d like to say to them?
Drivers should stop picking their noses. I do notice. Also, don’t throw things.
People threw things at you?
Mostly just in the beginning. My philosophy was to make them laugh. People can’t throw accurately if they’re laughing. Most people were nice, though.
In what way?
One woman – I think she was a teacher – came up to me to talk, and I mentioned that I hadn’t taken my ACT yet. She kept bringing me materials and checking up on me until I took it. An elderly lady laminated the Commercial Appeal article about me and gave it to me. I thought that was really sweet.
Do you still play air guitar?
Air guitar and real guitar.
What are your top five, all time air guitar songs?
In no specific order: Tool – “Parabola”, Lamb of God – “11th Hour”, Iron Maiden – “Fear of the Dark”, Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Tell Me Baby”, and Tenacious D – “Tribute”.
Where did you get your moxie?
Usually I answer this with, "Pizza and Gatorade", but I'll give you the serious answer. The source of my energy was emotion. All the events and memories of my life, both good and bad, became fuel for the air guitar machine. Because I was drawing attention to myself I was thrown into more unique situations with people, which in turn became more for me to draw upon. I also had music to amplify whatever I was feeling. It was easy to have a self-sustaining flow.