CHIKARA’s Party Tsar Vlad Radinov Talks Bodyslams and Bourbon-Glazed Hams

credit: Dorothy Lee

When I first saw Los Ice Creams dump sprinkles on the ring to the absolute horror of the commentary team, I knew CHIKARA had rescued me,  just as it rescues so many.

And the reigning herald of that warm front of revelry, the Silver Surfer to CHIKARA’s Galactus of euphoric transformation, The Russian Party Tsar Vlad Radinov has agreed to talk with us on the pompatus of cheesesteak and dream matches.

If you are hungry for wrestling, or if you are just hungry, come and know Vlad Radinov’s litany of squared circle convivality.

What duties, stately and ceremonial, encompass the scope of a Party Tsar? 

As currently commissioned by the Director of Fun, my job is a simple but serious one. Ensure that every member of the CHIKARMY who comes to see us, first time enlistee to grizzled vet, feels welcomed, appreciated, and amped to have a good time. To act as host of the fun filled lucha superparty, and enjoyment concierge to all assembled.

Has the local fare of Philadelphia been kind to your regal palate? What makes a cheesesteak or Italian ice worthy of your table?

In my humble opinion, Philadelphia is the best food city in America.

We run the gamut from the humble pretzel to James Beard Award-winning chefs, and while we care about the details, we leave the pretension to other locales. Philadelphia has perfected the simple classics. The roast pork of the Reading Terminal Market, the classic red gravy gems of South Philly, the ubiquitous cheesesteaks, the unpretentious brunch, Philly is a food city that is accessible and enjoyable without gimmicks.

As far as cheesesteaks go, for me, Wit* & Wiz. American with a slight brush of mayo if they don’t have wiz. Anything else is too complicated. Pat’s over Geno’s always. Jim’s on South Street & Campo’s in Old City are also favorites.

*with fried onions.

Some might think the role of ring announcing is the easiest job in pro wrestling. Why are these dinguses wrong? 

If there is one thing I have learned in my time with CHIKARA, it’s this: Take everything you think you know about the grueling travel, the aches and pains, the personal sacrifice  and triple it, because there is nothing easy about pro-wrestling.

Everyone, from the title holding champ to the greenest student is giving their all to the cause, to create this memorable experience, and that can mean long stretches without a decent meal, being on your feet for 14 hours at a time, sleeping in places for which the word “Hotel” is a dangerous overstatement. It’s a hard business.

As the Party Tsar, I am often acting as liaison between production, crew and roster, fitting in games & giveaways, Magic Move Matches, Bad Dance Parties, and the like, while trying to remember the combined weight of NRG, or the rules of the Infinite Gauntlet. Of course, I am also on every event. Never not booked! Event days are hectic and you wonder how 14 hours can slip through your fingers so quickly. But when it all comes together, when something gets it’s desired reaction, when the fans are laughing at your joke or leaping to their feet as the ref counts to 3, it really does make it all worth it.

What’s your go-to pick-me-up after a long night of wrestling and civic administration? Do you have somewhere to get waffles and buffalo wings at 4 in the morning?

My all time, number #1, Grand Champion of my stomach will always be a breakfast sandwich. Bacon, fried egg & American on a kaiser, Scrapple scrambled & provolone on a long roll, Spam, egg, fistfull of scallions & Scottish mature cheddar on ciabatta (a combo I tried recently & recommend).

The Breakfast Sandwich is the Ric Flair of foods. During events, I typically subsist on protein bars and almonds, and I can’t wait to get myself to a breakfast sandwich and a beverage with bubbles. If I am going out after the event with friends, it’s a plate of buffalo wings, well done, hotter the better and a river of blue cheese. I guess that is the Razor Ramon of foods for me.

The metaphor is falling apart, but so many questions in my life can be answered with “Breakfast Sandwich” or “Razor Ramon”.

Do you have official parameters for what constitutes a party under your jurisdiction, or are your politics more aligned with Andrew WK, i.e. anything can be a party?

I tend to be more “traditionalist” when it comes to parties. You need good friends, good music, preferably good food. It helps to dress in a way that makes you feel like your best self. Parties are special, an EVENT. That atmosphere is key. A sale on dungarees, changing the toner on the copier, taking the bus to the doctor’s: not a party.

Mr. WK and I do seem to agree on white pants though.

Some sports have their signature foods; baseball has hot dogs and beer; British soccer has Bovril. What would you make the official food of pro wrestling?

If you were to look in the wrestling locker rooms around the world, you would think the official food of pro wrestling was sad, room temperature rice and flavorless chicken in beat up tupperwear. My choice for the official food of pro wrestling is the beet pickled egg. High in protein and you can eat it with one hand! They eat them in cuisines of my homeland (Russia) and my adopted homeland (Pennsylvania, specifically PA Dutch Country).

And who doesn’t love cold purple food!
 
Don Muraco once brought a meatball sub to a match, and took breaks from wrestling his vastly undermatched opponent to take a bite. If you could design a special grudge match around a sandwich, what kind of sandwich would it be, what would be the rules, and who should fight? 

The first thing that comes to mind is a “Fans Bring the Sandwiches Match” and I am the only competitor and I always win.

I also wouldn’t mind seeing a Sandwich strap match, a couple of guys like Oleg vs Max Smashmaster, tied together with a strap, you have to drag your opponent to all four corners and eat the sandwich that awaits you there.

If you were asked to launch a CHIKARA-themed pop-up restaurant, what wrestler-inspired variations of your favorite dishes would you serve? 

As a man who loves food, and has designed the menu for countless parties, I could literally write a book about this (and may still) but here’s what I think my pop up menu would look like:

Opening Contests
 
Trent Seven Layer Dip
Refried beans, guacamole, cream cheese, onions, scallions, olives, and cheddar cheese blend, served with house made tortilla chips.

Hermit’s FlatCrab Cakes 

Crepe style crab pancakes served with Rocky Beach remoulade 

Thunderlegs!
Farm fresh, buttermilk battered, deep fried frog legs. Taste from the Gods! 

Hammermeier Weiners

Mini German style Brautwurst in a salted pretzel blanket, served with Bruderschaft des Ketchup. 

Dinner For You 

The Sea Stars
Duo of Catch of the Day fish, one filet, one carpaccio. 

Dragon Dragon’s Chicken Chicken 
Piri Piri sauced whole chicken, head removed, served on a bed of sautéed onions.

The Kentucky Gentleman
A tough, bourbon glazed ham steak, served on an awful (-ly good) waffle. 

Chuck Taylor TM
Sometimes when you order the Kentucky Gentleman, you get this instead! It’s takeout from a different restaurant. 

Seitan Worship 
A vegan envoy worthy of UMB’s Black Tea Garden! Spicy Seitan & vegetable stir fry so good you’ll think you’re being mind controlled. 

The Bled Island
A coffee & Pop Tart encrusted rare steak, ensconced in a jungle of mixed greens.

One More Match

Sidney’s Baklava-bella
An extremely nutty, somewhat bitter, always satisfying Baklava. 

The Sugar Creature
A darling house made multi-color rock candy sculpture. Can be eaten solo, but enough to share. 

That’s Karate Daddy
A deep fried peanut butter and banana stuffed french toast fit for a king, with a kickin’ bacon caramel drizzle.

Los Ice Creams 

Sabores del día

 

What does pro wrestling mean to you, personally? Do you think wrestling can contribute to the greater good? 

I know that wrestling can contribute to the great good, because I have seen it happen. In big ways like CHIKARA’s yearly National Pro Wrestling Day fundraising efforts, and in small ways, like when one of our younger fans tells me all bout their favorite grappler, and how they’re going to wrestle too someday.  Wrestling can be a joyous, enthralling, all consuming escape, a comforting balm in times of strife.

Being around wrestling can have a lot of positive health benefits, at least it has for me. I have learned quite a bit about eating in a more balanced way, in ways to fuel yourself. I also can’t recommend enough the tiered classes at the Wrestle Factory. Even if you don’t see yourself going pro, they can be a really fun way to jump start an exercise regimen.

I love professional wrestling, to me it is the perfect art, capable of incorporating so many different forms, and able to be enjoyed at all ages. When it wants to be, it can be truly egalitarian. A party to which all are invited.

If you would like to learn more about the fun-filled lucha superparty that is CHIKARA, check them out online at chikarapro.com or on Twitter @chikarapro

Vlad Radinov can be found on twitter at @thepartytsar.

Author: Jetta Rae

Founder of Fry Havoc. Can be found on twitter at @jetta_rae

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