It was about 7:30 a.m.when porn legend Ron Jeremy leaned into a microphone and told 15,000 people inside a basketball stadium everything anyone needed to know about the sleazy entertainment, competitive eating binge before us and its place of origin.
“This,” started ‘the Hedgehog,’ his signature long, greasy hair and mustache alive in the sea of Wing Bowl 19 Friday, Feb. 4, “would only work in Philadelphia.”
I arrived at the stadium district of South Philadelphia with a buddy some two hours earlier, slinging back Kenzingers on the walk from the subway to the Wells Fargo Center, home of the Sixers and Flyers. We were there to see our first competitive eating match — this a battle of several dozen eaters cleaning the meat off of hot buffalo wings — but the event has developed its own reputation for other kinds of excess: large-scale entourages entering on floats, strippers, porn stars, event promotions and marketing, flashing, drinking and its ilk.
Some see Wing Bowl, which was founded by a couple of sports talk shock jocks at 610 AM WIP, as perfectly Philadelphian in its regional flavor and for giving sex and sleaze to binge eating, a true carnival of excess. Of course, others just see it as the most boorish display in a city known for such depths. [The second Philly institutional event of the year for me.]
Whatever the case, it was an experience I’ve wanted to see first hand, and I thought I ought to pass on some of my experience.
Below, I share text message reports from that day, those that I sent and some I should have.