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EATING & DRINKING

Crazy Legs Conti in da house!

By editorial assistant Sandi Toxic

Posted December 21, 2013
clc at nathan's
Off to Nathan's: (From left to right) Jaws, Erik the Red, CLC, the Tsunami and Eater X. © MLE

In yet another world exclusive, stalwart superscarfer Crazy Legs Conti (CLC) talks to the R&H about life, love and gurgitation.


He's culture editor DJ NRG Raver's all-time favourite gurgitator.

He's one of the longest serving eaters on the Major League Eating (MLE) circuit.

And this past December 7 this alimentary athlete shoved 4.25 lbs (1.9 kg) of cocktail shrimps down his gob to place third at the World Famous St Elmo Shrimp Cocktail-Eating Championship – Located At The Meijer Tail Greater Party On Georgia St in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's Crazy Legs Conti!


OYSTERS AND ONWARDS
But for those of you who haven't watched Crazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating (in which case, you bloody well should), how did the dreadlocked dinner destroyer first get into the greatest sport on Earth?

"I ate 32 dozen [384] oysters during the 2002 Super Bowl in New Orleans (I couldn't afford to go to the game)," CLC exclusively emailifies the Rake & Herald.

"The oysters were the restaurant record at the Acme Oyster House and were free if you broke the record."

"It was not easy, but I had conquered all-you-can-eat seafood in lobster and Chesapeake Bay crabs so I wanted the hat-trick."

"The then IFOCE (now Major League Eating) has spies everywhere and my Acme feat was on their radar."

"I joined the League at the oyster speed eating contest and have been chomping for 12 years since."

In those years, CLC has engorged himself against the clock in countless contests both within his native Noi Yoik and far further afield to boot.

"The best thing I have done as a Major League Eater is travel with Navy Entertainment to entertain the armed forces all over the world," he says.

"I have eaten hot dogs in Gitmo and even entertained on Diego Garcia, which is owned by the British military," CLC continues, noting that accordingly the assembled gurgitators really "should have been eating fish and chips there" but for some reason didn't.

"I've been to bases in Italy, Guam, Greece, Japan and South Korea."

"I've toured the USS Ohio, a nuclear sub, and the USS Fitzgerald, a giant battleship."

"The armed forces men and women love talking competitive eating, food and their hometown food favourites."

"I am simply amazed by their service."

"It's not easy (even though the food is good)."

And on the subject of food, CLC reports that, perhaps unsurprisingly given his beginnings, his favourite disciplines tend to be seafood-related.

"I am still waiting for a sushi contest," he says.

"Tim 'Eater X' Janus did a solo where he ate 160 pieces in 6 minutes, but it was a lot of veggie rolls."

"I want the good stuff – the eel, ikura and octopus."

"I am generally anti-condiment so butter I struggled with (attempting to recreate Don 'Moses' Lerman's world record) and Jay Leno once booked me to eat mayonnaise, but Ed 'Cookie' Jarvis was faster so he got the gig."

"The Leno booker called to apologise and asked if I was mad at him."

"I wasn't mad, but if he had told me on Friday, I wouldn't have spent the weekend eating only mayo."


clc in action
The cat in the hat: CLC takes on the burgers. © MLE


THE HOUDINI OF CUSINI
Fortunately, while he may not be too keen on butter, CLC isn't averse to popcorn, which is handy because back in May 2004 he found himself having to eat his way out of glass-fronted sarcophagus filled to the brim with Lord knows how many pounds of the stuff.

That particular food-fighting feat remains one of the Rake & Herald's favourites to date.

However, we've been at a loss to find the full footage of CLC's daring escape from that tomb of Zea mays everta, so can the man himself throw any light on the matter?

"On the DVD Extras [of Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating] there's a short piece with footage from the Popcorn Sarcophagus."

"Sadly, the original footage was sent to a TV show in LA and they went out of business and the footage disappeared."

"It's like the Zapruder film of food at this point."

"Or the missing Nixon tapes (I think it was 18 minutes of him eating lunch)."

"The stunt came about because Chris Kenneally and Danielle Franco (the Zen filmmakers) wanted to do something to tie in with the film premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival."

"We went to the dream masters – George and Rich Shea [MLE chairman and president, respectively] – and they came up with the idea and helped execute it."

"The sledgehammer was real and so was George's fear."

"He really thought I was going to die."

"I was flattered by that because generally George doesn't care about much."

"In the end, the coverage went worldwide and we got calls from India and Israel."

"I think that the Popcorn Sarcophagus created the 'food stuntman' category," he says.

"I notice David Blaine stays away from anything food related – you don't see him going down a cliff in a giant bagel."

"It earned me the moniker I am most proud of, 'the Houdini of Cusini'."


GURGITATION GOES MAINSTREAM
But with 2014 rapidly approaching, how does the Houdini of Cusini feel 2013 went?

Were there any particular highs or lows and what about the year ahead?

"Well, I didn't make the Nathan's final for only the second time in my career," he says.

"The field, especially the women, were fantastic and I chose my qualifiers poorly."

"We just had the first winter Nathan's qualifier at Bally's Tunica and Aaron 'A-Train' Ostoff ate 27."

"I think that may be the baseline."

"I want and need to eat 30 (in 10 minutes) in 2014 and I plan on running the NYC Marathon too."

"I need to physically and mentally prepare for both."

"I also hope the Navy Entertainment trips return in 2014," CLC continues, adding that his "dream wish list" would also "include a sequel to the CP Foods shrimp wonton contest, where we had contests in Singapore, Thailand, Australia and Hong Kong".

"Major League Eating did well in 2013 – releasing Major League Eating: The Game for people's phones."

"It's odd to see someone playing as the Crazy Legs Conti avatar on their phone, eating corn better than I do in real life, but I like the surreal."

"I hope 2014 is a banner, and a buffet, year."

But other than going digital and appearing on smart phones around the globe, how has competitive eating changed over the years that CLC has been gurgitating and, before that, following the face stuffing as a hugely dedicated fan?

Well, for one thing, "professional eating", he says, "has left the subculture and gone mainstream".

"Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut was on Game Day giving his college football picks; other sports seem to recognise competitive eating, which makes sense because food is the fuel that propels the athletes in the NBA, NFL and Olympics."

"I had a nice chat with Olympic snowboarder Shaun White."

"When he started snowboarding it was a recreational activity and now he boards for gold."

"I would love to eat in the Olympics for my country and eat for gold."

"In terms of change, prize money is the biggest factor and because of that the number one eater can make a living."

"I would like to see Nathan's pay every final qualifier and also some sponsorship outside of the contests (like clothing, shoes or beverages) but overall, I have nothing to complain about – I eat great food in amazing cities and sometimes get paid to do it."

"It may not be a parent's dream job for their kid, but it is certainly my stomach's dream job."


GET AHEAD, GET A HAT
As a highly dapper gurgitator who has dazzled the crowds with some pretty sharp tailoring over the years, CLC is arguably one of the few gurgitators out there that can really give Stephanie 'Xanadu' Torres a run for her money when it comes to natty head adornments.

However, CLC's extensive portfolio of titfas isn't solely limited to the physical.

As a regular and highly entertaining contributor to the Huffington Post, CLC also lays claim to a metaphorical pundit's hat the size of Wyoming.

So how does he rate the young whippersnappers that have been making their presence increasingly felt at the contest table over the past couple of years?

"Matt 'Megatoad' Stonie may look like Rory Cochraine's character in Dazed and Confused, but he is the sweetest, nicest kid," he says.

"Sonya 'the Black Widow' Thomas' small frame has never stopped her and I think Stonie is the smallest male by weight, but he has done over 50 Nathan's [hot dogs and buns (HDBs)]."

"He is studying to be a nutritionist, which is an interesting angle as a competitive eater, but I would guess he may eventually have to give up on eating fast to focus on helping people eat well."

"I've seen him put down a 5-lb burger like he was eating an order of French fries."

"He is an amazing talent."

So too is Miki Sudo, who CLC describes in no uncertain terms as "the future of the sport", noting that the Las Vegas rookie has "beaten Joey" on several occasions and also "won wings in Buffalo".

"I think Sonya will have a hard time beating her at hot dogs," he says.

"If there is a documentary meant to be, it's that 2014 in Major League Eating will be the year of the women – hear their stomachs roar."

"Somebody should contact MLE and head to Vegas and start filming Miki."

"She did 8.5 lbs of kimchi in 6 minutes."

"My lifetime total of kimchi is less than that and I ate in that contest."

"She's the real deal and should have her own Woman v. Food TV show," he states, calling her "a ratings bonanza".

So what advice does CLC have for any rookies or wannabe gurgitators out there looking to up their game?

"MLE eating is long-term gain," he states.

"I think eating in contests year after year and gauging your performance against yourself is better than spending credit card money travelling to a lot of contests."

"Stay local until you can go national."

"A guy like Mathew Raible – funny, I don't know if he has a nickname – just came in the money for the first time in Indy".

"He has been eating for a while – he's [drawn with] me in Twinkies – so slowly, like digestion in reverse, he is moving up the food chain."

"Keep eating, keep a smile on your face and be nice to the fans – one never knows where eating too many hot dogs can take them."


clc behind the wheel
The journey begins: CLC behind the wheel. © MLE


NUDITY AND TIDDLYWINKS
Sadly, for some people, such as yours truly, eating too many hot dogs can simply lead to them having buy ever larger undercrackers and dunghampers, so how does CLC, a rather trim chap, keep himself from ballooning like Elvis after he's just pulled the rip cord?

Indeed, for that matter, does he follow any particular training routines, whether physical, mental or spiritual?

"I am a jogger," he reveals.

"My gym membership has expired, but I try to stay in traditional shape."

"I eat healthy year round with the occasional French toast binge."

"I need to find more spirituality in my life – yoga was good for that for several years, but the last two years I have been battling heartbreak after an eight-year relationship with a woman I hoped to be with for a lifetime ended."

"I do think it has affected my eating, casually and professionally."

"Heartburn, one can recover from... heartbreak not as easily."

"I hope to focus on creative activities – writing and film," he continues, revealing that he has "a short film, Tiddlywink, that has been rejected by Sundance and Berlin" but which he hopes "makes the festival circuit".

According to the IMDb, the film sees a professional tiddlywink player and his coach falling in love with the same stripper and "contains nudity, heavy drinking, loud music and expert tiddlywink playing".

Call me old fashioned but that sounds f--king ace!

"I try to be good to myself and hang out with the folks who have the same weird sensibility that I do," CLC says, revealing that he celebrated his 43rd birthday this past December 13.

"It was a lot like a 13-year-old's", he says, hopefully not too miffed that we didn't send him a card.

Sorry, Crazy Legs, and many belated happy returns!

"I jogged to a bakery in the morning and had cronuts and pastries for breakfast."

"I took in the new Hobbit movie – in 3D, of course."

"I added some giant cans of Japanese beer so perhaps I departed from the 13-year-old part there."

"I finished my night at Hogs and Heifers, a great throw-back dive bar, and then had a burger at the Corner Bistro, the best burger in the world."

A few days later, he "joined Santacon and then ate a large Greek meal with some friends from Boston and their kids."

"The octopus at this Greek place was heavenly – succulent, moist, like the ocean giving you a high five."

"If I can put together days like that, there may be hope for me."

"And, I have to write each day."

"2014 is going to be filled with snacking not from the fridge, but the typewriter and computer."


DREAMING WHILE AWAKE
But when he's not gourmandising grub or bashing out sentences and scripts, what sort of hobbies and pastimes float CLC's boat?

"I love to read," he replies, reporting that he "used to play basketball but [his] jump shot is rusty".

"The New York Public Library has been wonderful for me."

"I used to be a book hoarder because I love used bookstores, but I encourage everyone to visit their local library – reading can help strengthen one's imagination."

"Reading," he says, "is like dreaming while awake."

"I think it helps with everything and gives one a view into a world they wouldn't normally visit."

"Last week, I read Toby Young's two books and Steven Tyler's autobiography."

"Oddly enough, they are very much about the illusion of success and pain of failure, but humour can survive any darkness."

Well, that's the reading but what about the breeding?

While watching Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating, we couldn't help but notice that CLC used to do cash-in-hand work as a sperm donor.

As a family website suitable only for people aged 18 and over, we obviously don't want to dwell on such a matter.

But we will anyway.

Go on, tell us more about that then.

"I am trying to help out someone now, traditionally donating sperm so she can have a baby," he says.

"She brings me baked goods and a jar and we visit for a few minutes."

"Hopefully, one kid will be produced from this, although I wouldn't want the kid to find out some of the donations have been fuelled by the Mork and Mindy porn parody movie."

"For others, I am pretty happy with my DNA and who I have become so passing it on seems like something that they can choose to re-gift to others or not."

"Legally, I can never find out who my donations may have created, but when they turn 18 they can find me."

"I would be happy to have a chat... maybe I will be stuck with a lot of lunch bills in my future."

But you don't have to be the progeny of CLC's loins to get in touch with him.

"Feel free to email me at CrazyLegsConti.com," he invites readers of the Rake & Herald.

"Contrary to popular opinion, I don't have a staff, but it's me plinking at the keys."

"I love hearing food recommendations from around the world or simply why someone loves a food so much."

"Also, if you are movie or TV agent, have I got the pitch for you..."


And talking of movies and TV, here's a collection of clips from CLC's numerous appearances on the box followed by his epic appointment with the Popcorn Sarcophagus and his recent shrimp chomping sesh in Indianapolis. Massive thanks for answering all our questions, Crazy Legs, and all the very best for the year ahead. Tiddlywink sounds bloody brilliant! Hell, we'll happily review it if you bung us a copy.











The above vids were embedded, respectively, from the YouTube channels of Danielle Franco, MLE and He Eats She Drinks. Give 'em a butcher's, why dontcha?


See also Hot dogs, cold shrimps, posted 18/12/13.


WARNING! Competitive eating can be dangerous. As well as choking hazards there is also the possibility of poisoning yourself, something that could lead to hospitalisation, permanent health damage and even death. Don't believe us? Read this. Consequently, the Rake & Herald does not recommend you emulate the above video(s) yourself. Seriously. We are NOT joking. You have been warned.


Do you like our Sandi's scribblings? If so, why not befriend her on that FaceBook thing? We don't let her out much, see, preferring instead to shackle her to her desk inside an indestructible cage (it's actually a Perspex box with a couple of air holes stabbed into it with a chisel). As such, she's terribly lonely and unloved. Please find it in your heart to help her before her constant whining drives us to kill her with a sharpened curtain rod. Remember, Sandi's life is in YOUR hands so get 'friending', or whatever the trendy modern verb is. Please. She's just started crying again.




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