You know how people brag about really stupid stuff? Well that’s me most of the time. But try to tell me I don’t have bragging rights on completing the Red Dog Saloon Hot Wing Challenge and I’ll set you on fire with my breath.
The chilli they try to kill you with is known as Naga Viper and it’s one of the hottest little fire beans ever measured, holding the Guinness World Record for ‘World’s Hottest Chilli’ in 2011. It rates 1,382,118 on the Scoville scale, and if you’re still not impressed, know that a jalapeño rates a measly 5000 on the same scale of measurement. Quite frankly, I’m lucky to be alive.
The challenge is well-known across London and has a pretty serious reputation for being the hottest chicken wing challenge around. True to form, I was pretty arrogant about it from the start; pretty arrogant despite a Hot Wing Champion sitting across from me unable to find words to express how horrific it was; pretty arrogant despite the waitress refusing to write down my order before asking me three times if I was sure; pretty arrogant despite being made to sign a waiver to cover the restaurant (should I harm myself); pretty arrogant despite being given a pair of gloves to wear to consume my meal.
Let’s all agree now that you should never have to wear protective gear to eat food. I almost expected the other patrons to be asked to move into a bomb shelter before I started.
I don’t really know how to explain what I went through as I ate them because I think I went into a parallel universe. I do remember going through a range of emotions though, including a bit of anger. I’m not sure if the anger was at myself or at the chicken or at Amanda who kept wanting me to provide a running commentary as if that’s normal to do during suicide. I was trying to get myself into some kind of mindful meditative state the whole time. And at one point I definitely died.
In an attempt to maintain some sort of genteel, I pulled some of the chicken off the bones first (the waitress said I could but I’ve since found out it’s not custom. But fuck you, my suffering was equal to everyone else’s.) Rules stated I was allowed 10 minutes to finish but it only took me 4 minutes and 30 seconds to get all the chilli chicken in so it could start searing holes into my stomach. (Top-ten records are all less than a minute. WTF?)
But then came the bigger battle – the harrowing 5 minutes of waiting before I was allowed a drink.
I felt like my body was making an excruciating transformation into a dragon like I’ve seen happen to werewolves. Whenever I actually managed to catch a breath it was like fire. I wanted a hug and a cry but realised my eyes were watering so intensely that I technically already was.
After getting the contagious chilli in my eyeballs and having to close my eyes for the last minute, the countdown finally came – followed by a loud cheer from my supportive homeboys/girls. The vanilla milkshake that had been stripteasing for me the entire time ended up being a thick shake which contributed nicely to my distress. But the Red Dog staff were quick with the milk – so thank you errybody up in here.
The absolute WORST part of the experience was easily the incapacitating cramps I experienced that evening and through the night. One minute I’d be colourfully expressing my opinion about what was happening on TV and the next I’d be forced into the foetal position while my gay boyfriends told me I deserved it for ragging on The X Factor.
My sleep was constantly interrupted as I woke up crying in agony, but the horribleness of the cramping was followed closely by the number of questions and comments made about the state of my bowel movements. Why do people like talking about that stuff? You’re all gross.
So, would I recommend doing the challenge? To murderers and rapists, yes. But I’d rather snog a dog than have to experience any of that again. I did win a t-shirt though, so that’s pretty cool.
Big thank you to Amanda, Dave, Mitch, Kirby and Adam for coming and supporting me. The looks on their faces were splendidly adorable because no one really knew what to do or say when they saw me struggling the way I was. You guys were awesome. Now please take the time to join me on the painful journey below. Mitch kindly shot this on his shiny new GoPro.