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Philly Inquirer Jan 25, 2002
Politically incorrect, but who cares?
The promotional stunt and uproarious cultural rite drew an estimated 23,000. For the record: Defending champ Bill "El Wingador" Simmons captured the title again by devouring 143 wings. l videos
By Art Carey INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Bob "Mize" Meyer was bleeding from cuts in his brow and hand. But he was a proud and happy man. Moments before, he had circled the floor of the First Union Center, high-fiving his fans.
He had stepped up. He had done what he had to do. In less than two minutes, he had smashed and burst six full cans of beer against his head.
The Quakers are right: Everybody has a divine spark, a special gift.
Sometimes, Meyer clobbered his forehead with a single can repeatedly. Then he'd alternate, crushing two cans at once against the sides of his head. When they finally ruptured, they soaked his Donovan McNabb Eagles jersey and sprayed the admiring crowd.
"The beer was brewed in St. Louis!" crowed Meyer, 36, a computer programmer from Bensalem. (Make of that what you will, Rams fans.)
Meyer was one of the featured attractions at Wing Bowl X, which packed the house today,, drawing an estimated 23,000. This gift from 610 WIP Sportsradio to Philadelphia has grown from a bizarre and uproarious promotional stunt into a bizarre and uproarious cultural rite.
Why do we love it so?
It's part pre-Super Bowl party, part Mummers Parade, part Mardi Gras, part strip show, and this year especially, part Eagles pep rally.
It's a celebration of our Dionysian side, harkening back to those golden days of yore when women were babes and men were slobs, and if you think ill of that, the hell with you.
It's an in-your-face repudiation of political correctness and the dictatorship of virtue, an unabashed and uninhibited taste of what the world would be like if it were run by the rowdy denizens of the 700 level of Duh Vet.
The centerpiece of the Wing Bowl, of course, is the chicken-wing-eating contest. For the record: Defending champ Bill "El Wingador" Simmons captured the title again by devouring 143 wings, besting contestants like Quarter Ton, the Lord of the Wings, and Ali Blobba.
But the wing-eating was almost anticlimactic, compared to the introductory processional, the sequined and befeathered entourages, and the bumping and grinding of the Wingettes, many of them ecdysiasts at some of the city's finer gentlemen's clubs.
"Miss Wing Bowl" - Jennifer Burmeister, who displays her assets at Cheerleaders - evoked a mighty roar as she gyrated atop a multi-tiered birthday cake that was paraded around the arena. This year, she adopted a patriotic theme, sporting the national colors on swatches that did little to conceal her sublime conformation.
Yes, this was worth getting up way before dawn for, said Mike Young, 31, an options trader from Havertown, who, circa 8 a.m., was enjoying a breakfast of champions, Wing Bowl-style: a soft pretzel and a beer.
"I've been up this late drinking, but never this early," Young said. "Some of these guys have been drinking since 6 a.m. And in two hours, half of them are going to work!"
For some, the Wing Bowl was an occasion to make major life changes. Melissa Cheafsky, 23, of Mayfair, was supposed to be a Wingette, but her wedding date interfered. No problem, she donned a splendid white gown and got hitched to her ironworker beau in front of thousand of witnesses. "It was awesome," said Cheafsky, a bartender at Dangerous Curves. "The biggest wedding party a girl could ever hope for."
For five years, Paul Reilly, 27, a Reading cop, was a vegetarian. What better place to get normal and resume eating meat than the Wing Bowl? "It was a great coming-out party," said Reilly, who competed as "the Vegetarian Hero" after qualifying by eating 3 pounds of black beans and a foot-long vegetarian hoagie in 8 minutes.
The Wing Bowl inspires that kind of heroism - and loyalty. George Eckbolt, 45, who grew up in Southwest Philly and is a diehard Eagles fan, flew in from Ohio. "I live for it," said the investment banker. ". . . They don't have anything like it in Cleveland."
What's the pull, the cosmic meaning of it all?
"People are sick and tired of the PC crowd telling them how they can have a good time," said WIP's Angelo Cataldi. "This is about women as sex objects and fat guys stuffing wings down their throats. It's about all those terrible things the pressure groups hate."
Wing Bowl will return next year, thanks to sportscaster Howard Eskin, who failed to defeat a live chicken in a game of tic-tac-toe - an outcome that would have doomed this contribution to Western civilization.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 26, 2002
-- (email@example.com), January 26, 2002.
I'm surprised that the three pounds of beans did not doom this contribution to Western civilization.
-- Peter Errington (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 26, 2002.
I'm not aware of anyone who thinks a chicken wing contest is politically incorrect, except maybe Cin.
-- (huh?@huh?.huh?), January 26, 2002.