MY TOUR OF GUY FIERI'S FLAVORTOWN
When they told me where I was going, I was scared. Rumors had always circulated about the cult of personality and cacophonous chants of the ever-present crowds. But I was granted a level of access never before given a reporter. Not only would I have an audience with his excellency, Guy Fieri, but I would be escorted through town by the man himself!
- •The PalaceOutside the wrought-iron gate, Flavortown's palace casts a striking shadow from the early morning sun. With a hiss, the drawbridge lowers. The scent of garlic and rancid pork fat fills my nostrils. The roar of pure American muscle is heard from somewhere in the palace's shadowy entrance. "Out. Of. BOUNDS!" A voice cuts through and the engine roars. A fire engine red Camaro pulls up to me. From behind bright yellow sunglasses, his excellency growls, "welcome to Flavortown."
- •The CamaroThe smells of several dozen In N Out Burger wrappers and over-waxed vinyl swim through my dizzy head. We must be clocking in at 120 miles per hour, but Fieri's eyes are focused on the rear view mirror. "It's about bold flavors. It's all about bold flavors." He adjusts his almost neon blond hair. The grey spots in his undyed goatee betray his age. "Let me take you to our land's boldest flavors. This spot is bananas." He leans in to me, not once looking at the road. "And you know bananas is good."
- •Cabo Grill"It's always off the hook at the Cabo Grill," my host shouts, leading me into a dimly lit dining room. It stinks of acrid tequila-vomit. "Have a habanero bacon popper." He hands me a tray positively laden with nearly indistinguishable blobs of brown. He takes one off of the tray and eats it in one bite. I pick one up as well. The scalding hot grease burns my mouth. The pepper brings tears to my eyes. In the corner I see a stage. Sammy Hagar is playing. Are his legs chained to the wall?
- •Crazy Ciller CakesI used to live by a hostess factory. The smells of their insidious confections were so sweet, it could almost make me nauseous. Outside Flavortown's famous bakery, I'm brought back to that place. "You GOTTA try the Tequila Chocolate Slamjob." He leans in uncomfortably close. "It is so MONEY." I suppose what I am handed could loosely be described as a cake. I lift a forkful up to my mouth. "Are you crazy? Let me show you how it's done!" Fieri slams his entire face into the slop like a trough.
- •The Royal CorridorAfter a meandering drive, Fieri announces that he must change his bowling shirt and bathe himself. I am left to wait outside his changing room with an attendant. "He is a beautiful man," the attendant says. "With a beautiful mind." I snicker at this. The attendant looks at me, quizzically. I explain that I only think this is a high level of praise for a man who says bacon tastes good. If pressed to describe the attendant's reaction, the word aggrieved is the best I can do. Fieri emerges.
- •The Royal Sitting RoomHere is where the bulk of the interview is scheduled to occur. Fieri leads me in. Two chairs are positioned facing each other. He indicates one for me to sit in. As he sits down, the attendant whispers something in his ear. He glares at me. A peculiar mood fills the air. It is slow to pass, but it passes. "My attendant will prepare you a drink." I thank him. I ask what drew him to food. The attendant places a glass near me. I sip from it. "Enjoy your drink." Blackness.
- •UnknownA cold sensation pulses on my left cheek. I awaken in damp darkness. My hands are shackled. As my eyes adjust to the light, I can make out another figure in the room. In a panic, all I can see are spikes and a goatee. Is it him. "Relax," comes a voice from the shadowy figure. "I'm not him." The mysterious figure scoots over. It is Smash Mouth lead singer, Steve Harwell. He laughs which comforts me until surly men walk in. "Let's go!" they shout, dragging Steve out a door. I hear muffled cheers.
- •The DoorIt's not long before the surly men return. "It's your turn, college boy." They undo my shackles and pull me up. They push me through the door. I'm blinded by the sun's sudden intrusion. An unknown man, perhaps a child, hands me what appears to be an oversized sauce mop. There is a thick reddish brown liquid on it. "Don't eat that. It's poison," someone says. In front of me is a field of dirt. Steve Harwell lies decapitated in front of me. Sammy Hagar lifts a sword in the air, then points at me.
- •The BattleI don't have much time to gain my bearings, but I am at the center of a coliseum. I see Fieri seated in an ornate balcony. He waves at me. I turn around to narrowly avoid Hagar's insidious blade. Thinking quickly, I swing the mop around. He dodges my blow. Sammy, I implore him, Sammy we don't have to do this. Together, the two of us can take him on! Sammy pauses briefly, but he lifts his sword up and charges. I deliver the poisonous blow directly to his mouth. Death is slow to come. He suffers.
- •The Challenge"Money!" Fieri stands and begins to clap. "If ever any moment was money, surely it was that." Come down here, I demand. Come down here and fight me yourself. "This is not a wise request to make." I don't care. I won't die like a dog for your amusement, but I'll die fighting you hand to hand. "Very well," he replies. "I've been eager to return to the field. You should know I'm quite a fighter." Then why are you drugging and shackling detractors? "Enough talk. We shall fight at dusk."
- •The Dusk FightIn his fighting uniform, he approaches the transcendent beauty of a lion just before it kills a gazelle. I am still only armed with the sauce mop. "Residents of Flavortown, your leader has been challenged. Well, I rise to every challenge and thus," he points his sword at me, "I rise. Let's fight!" He runs at me. I dodge his blade. My errant swing sends "sauce" flying. He laughs and centers himself. He runs toward me, but loses footing on some sauce. His foot slides forward as his body tumbles.
- •The Final ActLooking down at this weak, hurt man, it is tempting to feel pity. He laughs. "You can't kill me. You don't have what it takes." I look out at the field. Dozens of bodies are in varying states of decay. "Look at the destruction I rain. You can't defeat me because you can't match my cruelty. You are nothing." I jam the mop into his face. Shock comes over his face. His breathing slows. He waves me closer to him. I lean in. He puts his lips to my ears and whispers, "money."