Only in Philly: A Cheesesteak Competitive-Eating Performance Piece

A cheesesteak competitive-eating performance art piece: now you know you are in Philly.

Actor and artist Michael Durkin will be presenting the sandwich-gorging concept as part of the SoLow Festival, and before you discredit the idea of an artistic brawl at 9th and Passyunk, take heart: there’s a little more behind the idea than first meets the eye.

The piece, titled Cheesesteaks Cheesesteaks Cheesesteaks Cheesesteaks Cheesesteaks Cheesesteaks (we clearly can’t make this up), is inspired by competitive eating competitions, such as the famous Nathan’s 4th of July Hot Dog variety. However, instead of being crowned the king of hog dogs, these gastrointestinal wrestlers have one goal in mind: to win the elusive Whiz Wit Belt in the midst of “Cheesesteak Vegas” (i.e.—Pat’s and Geno’s).

Durkin, better known in some circles as the artist 14th Street, claims the piece isn’t just fun and games. “Men and women [who are competitive eaters] risk their lives for the sake of competition. Though treated as a sport, competitors condition themselves for the massive amount of intake, but there is still severe damage that wreaks the competitor,” he says. “As we celebrate summer, we tend to overindulge, which isn’t a bad thing, but when it becomes a pattern and over consuming food starts to fill voids in a person’s life, that’s when it becomes dangerous.”

A percentage of the total sales of the performance, which takes place June 24 and 25 at The Garage, will be donated to Philabundance. For more information, visit the SoFlo Festival’s webpage, and be ready to answer “wit” or “witout.”