Air-Minded: To Fly, Fight … and Twerk?

I don’t know about this.

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It’s an Instagram post from the manager of an entertainment act hired for a recent U.S. Air Force open house & air show. I tried to embed it but my version of WordPress said no, so it’s just a screen grab. If you click on it, you can watch the video & scroll the comments.

Here’s another perspective, from

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From the article:

At Joint Base Lewis-McChord‘s air show just outside of Tacoma, Washington, this past weekend, onlookers and families saw tactical military jets, high-performance sports cars and risqué models dancing on stage in skintight red, white and blue bikinis, part of what organizers described as a “way to thank the Puget Sound community.” […] In the midst of ongoing controversy over a Pentagon decision to limit drag shows on bases after some critics complained of alleged adult content, the models and the racy musical performances over the weekend raised questions from LGBTQ+ advocates about what criteria Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is using to stop some performances associated with the gay community while allowing other provocative acts.

What’s that about drag shows? Nellis AFB in Las Vegas had planned to host one in June as part of its Pride Month observances. The drag show had been approved by Air Force leadership, but when it came to the attention of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, a political appointee, he ordered it shut down. I wrote about the kerfuffle a few weeks back:

Air-Minded: Manly Men, Revisited

There seems to be a double standard: drag shows no, sexy girls go. That’s how it looks to me, and I’m not alone. The SecDef didn’t want the embarrassment of a culture war hissy fit from Fox News and Moms for Liberty, who’ve been fighting drag queen story hours at public libraries across the nation, so he issued a Be No on the drag show. But apparently he’s okay with bikini-clad girls twerking on stage at an air base open house.

Notice that the article features a photo of the USAF Thunderbirds. Our justification for hosting open houses and air shows has always been recruitment, a way to inspire young men and women to seek Air Force careers. I can see where “risqué models dancing on stage” might help coax the boys to sign up, but how’s it going to attract women? In light of the ongoing scourge of sexual assault in the ranks (and the USAF’s dismal record of combatting it), what kind of message does an act like the one featured at McChord send to women considering joining up? That women in the Air Force won’t be treated as professionals but as sex objects? What other interpretation can there be?

Good on Tracy Nguyen and HotImportNights, her modeling/entertainment agency, for getting the gig at McChord. I know she and her models earned the money they were paid and I would never begrudge them that. I was around in the boys’ club days of the Air Force, when NCO and officers’ clubs would bring in strippers, hard-working women who earned every dollar we stuffed in their G strings as they fended off our drunken attempts to grope them. Nothing but respect.

But those days are over. The Air Force, or any branch of the military for that matter, has no business sponsoring sexualized entertainment, either for the troops or for the public attending air shows, whether it be drag shows or sexy dance acts like the one at McChord.

You wanna issue a Be No, Secretary Austin, issue a blanket ban on sexual entertainment of any kind. Not only does it have nothing to do with the missions of the military branches, it contributes to the ongoing problems of sexual discrimination and assault.

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