New York Cool
Interview

(Continued from Page 1)

Jessica Cogan and Crazy Legs Conti
Jessica Cogan and Crazy Legs Conti Photographed By Evan Sung

JC: Is there a darker side of competitive eating? Is doping an issue?

CL: Here's the thing - there are always the rumors. There've been rumors that Kobayashi was surgically altered by the Japanese government. There are the theories that say hey, there's a certain substance you can smoke that makes you hungry and could that help you in an eating competition. At Coleman's Bar & Grill (where Crazy Legs makes his home), we ran an unofficial, yet sanctioned, grilled cheese eating contest in which seven contestants competed and five were on that substance. And you would have thought the guys on the smokable substance would have done better, but really, they just stood there and smiled. So, generally, no. I'd say drugs would work against you in competition.


JC: What could you never eat?

CL: Well, you know I was supposed to be on Jay Leno's show, and I was supposed to eat mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is a condiment, and I'm kind of anti-condiment, I prefer the real taste of food. I've never eaten mayonnaise, and I really couldn't do it. Ed "Cookie" Jarvis, my nemesis in the competitive eating world, called them up and said he could do a 32 oz. jar in 45 seconds. He flew out there, and Jay called him stupid and he ate the mayonnaise. That was really the only time I felt that I really couldn't do it. Mayonnaise is not for me.


JC: How the ladies react to you being a competitive eater?

CL: It's funny. They say that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and for a competitive eater, that's a big stomach, so it takes a lot of ladies. Of course, the circuit is filled with groupies, which is part of being a professional athlete. You go to a town, women are waiting at the airport, they want autographs, they want to know where you're staying. You have to deal with it in a professional manner. I keep telling them not to send naked photos to www.crazylegsconti.com, but they just keep sending naked photos to www.crazylegsconti.com.


JC: What are your goals?

CL: One of my big goals is to crack the top ten in competitive eating, and it's going to take a lot of intestinal fortitude to do it. I'd also love the world to see the movie Crazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating and truly understand what will become the nation's favorite sport in probably the next five years. There are already TV shows and movies. Soon there will probably be coffee table books. They would probably have trading cards but they'd have to be oversized because a lot of the guys couldn't fit on the standard size.



JC: What advice would you give to an aspiring competitive eater?

CL: I would say to him that to become a great competitive eater, you've got to do your homework. You need to stay in school. The guy who wants to hit the big leagues right away without hitting the books is going to be a lost cause. I say learn from the eaters who came before you. And stay in school. Don't do drugs. Never play cards with a man named Lucky. And don't eat yellow snow.


JC: What’s next for Crazy Legs Conti?

CL: Some people have asked if I’m going to retire because it does take a toll on you, but I think I'm going to keep going. Competitive eating has branched out into TV and film. I like to be creative. I'd like to write. Eventually I'd like to get up in the morning and think, what are we going to create today? And let's do it over a very large breakfast.

About the Documentary…

Crazy Legs Conti: Zen and the Art of Competitive Eating, co-directed and produced by Danielle Franco and Chris Kenneally.




Danielle Franco, Crazy Legs and Chris Kennealy

Competitive eating is a sport. It has all the intense drama and emotion innate to all athletic competitions. The players train and compete seriously, sacrificing time, effort and money, and their desire for victory is great. Competitive eating also has a comedic side and those involved understand both the serious and lighter side of the game.

Crazy Legs' positive attitude and passion for competitive eating inspired the documentary. His determination as he trained and battled to overcome obstacles during his journey from fan, to amateur, to professional eater allowed him to experience great things, meet unusual people, and push himself to his physical and mental limits. The filmmakers were alternately entertained, disgusted and moved while making this film, and it's their hope that everyone who sees the film comes away feeling that any goal, no matter how absurd or seemingly impossible, can be achieved if pursued with passion and confidence.



Special Bonus! "A few words with Eric "Badlands" Booker, currently ranked 4th in the world by the IFOCE. He holds a number of impressive records including downing 49 glazed donuts in 8 minutes."

JC: How’d you get the name "Badlands?"

Badlands Booker: I'm a bad man from the bad lands of New York - I'm from South Jamaica Queens.

JC: How did you get started in competitive eating?

BB: It started 8 years ago. I was at Nathan's with my kids, and one day I saw a sign with Uncle Sam with a frank in his hand and it said, "I want YOU to enter the Nathan's hot dog eating contest." And being the patriot that I am, I decided to enter. I'd seen the hot dog eating contest every Fourth of July growing up, and I always said, "Hey, I can do that." So, I said to myself, maybe this is the time to try it out. I entered and I ate 17 dogs and buns in 12 minutes. I got a nice trophy and some free dogs. Then I got hooked on it. I did Nathan's a couple more years. And the sport really grew. Then when Kobayashi came on the scene in 2001, a lot of contests started coming up - the Glutton Bowl, for instance.

JC: What’s the IFOCE like?

BB: We're like a big family. We're all friends. We talk, we trade secrets. When we're at the table, though, and it's game time, it's every man and woman for themselves.

JC: Competitive eaters are really branching out these days. What's this I hear about a hip hop album?

BB: I have an album out called Hungry and Focused, the first competitive eating themed hip hop album available. It's 12 tracks of speed eating venom. You can get it at www.badlandsbooker.com, click on the record store link. It's about my eating experiences and my thoughts, how I train, about the IFOCE, my celebrity status.

JC: Any final thoughts?

BB: Whatever you do in life, stay hungry and focused.


Eric "Badlands" Booker

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