If you can believe it, Wing Bowl 23 was the tamest Wing Bowl in years. Even modest, perhaps, by Wing Bowl standards. This year, there was no projectile vomiting at 94.1 WIP’s annual event. Most of the scantily clad women remained at least partially clothed.
But Wing Bowl 23 was still Wing Bowl. And Wing Bowl is always a shitshow. What follows, dear readers, is one brave woman’s experience of Friday’s event.
4:03 a.m. My alarm goes off. Four hours of sleep will have to do. Ugh.
4:28 a.m. I put on a baggy T-shirt, old jeans, a hoodie and boots. This is not my first wing-eating rodeo; I know that if you dress like a woman at Wing Bowl, you will get treated like a woman at Wing Bowl (read: you will get treated like a piece of meat). Actually, you’re likely to get entirely objectified at Wing Bowl no matter what you put on your body, so long as that body is female.
I should add here that I am entirely sober. The only thing I’ve had to drink is coffee.
5:03 a.m. I finally get into the parking lot. It’s very dark, but this doesn’t stop a pack of bros double-fisting cans of Miller Lite from shoving their faces close to my car’s windows while screaming. Two guys yell “Take your top off!” as I approach the Wells Fargo Center’s entrance, but I’m not sure whether they were calling to me. There are at least 15 men here for every one woman, though, so they were probably calling to me.
Note: This is considered perfectly acceptable behavior here. Also, there are anti-pornography protesters here.
5:45 a.m. I reach the main floor, ironically one of the safer spaces for women during the event. I have access here as well as a lower-level section stage right of all the action. iPhone in hand, I steel myself for what’s to come: Fishnets. Knee-highs. Kissing. Jiggling. Oh, and a bunch of guys – and one woman – stuffing their faces full of chicken.
5:59 a.m. This is when things get started. Cameras begin rolling and images of the eaters, their floats and women in various stages of undress (primarily the latter) flood onto the screen. This year, there appears to be two main shticks employed by ArenaVision, the crew who controls the video that goes up on the big screen: Can Cam, when we’re treated to women in the crowd who, well, have large “cans,” and Kiss Cam, much like you’d see at a Phillies game – at Wing Bowl, though, Kiss Cam only features pairs of women. And lots of these women shove their tongues down each other’s throats to loud cheers.
6:47 a.m. I move, briefly, to the section beside the stage. There’s another woman here! Let me clarify: Another woman who is fully clothed here! We exchange uncertain smiles.
6:53 a.m. A friend texts me from the club level that there are strippers, like, actually stripping up there in the boxes and suites. Dollar bills everywhere, he says. And possible lap dances in those little private bathroom stalls. Lovely.
7:22 a.m. This year, I’m told, unlike in past years, the ArenaVision crew was instructed to show as few, uh, bare top halves as possible. One girl, who quite possibly got the memo, took it upon herself to draw boobs on her thin white tank top in permanent marker. ArenaVision loves this girl. So does the guy a few seats away from her who reaches his arm across to squeeze and rub her left drawn-on breast. She pulls away, and pretends to smile. When the camera leaves her, I’m pretty sure I see her cringe. I don’t think I’m projecting.
7:25 a.m. Because of the limit on bare breasts featured on the big screen, we’re getting treated to asses. Lots of asses. There’s currently a row of them shaking around behind Lou Nolan, the Flyers’ P.A. announcer who annually takes the helm at Wing Bowl, too. Someone yells to Lou to turn around and kiss the nearest rear end … and he is happy to oblige.
7:49 a.m. They actually have a guy singing the National Anthem before the eating commences. I don’t have the words to explain what it’s like to watch each Wingette (the women charged with supporting the eaters) balance a plate of greasy wings in one hand while placing her other hand on her heart. All of the men in the stands (you know, the drunk ones copping a feel whenever possible and yelling degrading things at strippers all morning) remove their hats in honor of our country. AMERICA!
7:50 a.m. The eating begins. Remember: That’s technically the reason we’re here. I think. The eating competition features two 14-minute rounds and one final two-minute speed round at the end to determine the winner. Molly Schuyler, last year’s winner and the only female entrant, is favored to win again.
7:56 a.m. Someone throws a beer at me. And cheers. I’m sure he thinks I look way better wet!
8:03 a.m. The entire arena begins to sing “Sweet Caroline.” That includes the eaters, some of whom sway side to side as they continue to shove their faces full of orange chicken meat. Where am I?
Mick Foley, a famous wrestler who is competing in the competition, has been thrown out of the competition for cheating. He’s been shoving uneaten wings in his fanny pack, apparently.
8:39 a.m. Can Cam focuses on a blonde woman in jeans and a long-sleeve shirt. As soon as she realizes it, she turns around and keeps her back to the camera. Can Cam lingers on her for a while, perhaps hoping she has a change of heart. She does not. I like this woman.
9:01 a.m. It’s over! Oh, thank God, it’s over. A crowd of media surrounds the surprise winner, Patrick Bertoletti, on the stage. He has defeated Schuyler 444-440. Yes, really: They ate a combined 884 wings. I try not to think about it as I make my way to the parking lot.
Most of the pack flooding toward the exits will go to one of the city’s strip clubs for breakfast and, I’m guessing here, the bare breasts they missed out on at this year’s event.
I’m going home to take a shower. And then a nap.