A: I've enjoyed spicy food for most of my life, but didn't get to the superhot stuff until probably 2010. Honestly, I didn't go any higher than the Taco Bell hot sauce through college. Then I did the Salvador Molly's habanero fritters in Portland, Oregon. I suffered afterward, but I was hooked on the spicy stuff.
Q: What was the stupidest stunt you've ever done?
A: 16 ounces of Trinidad Moruga Scorpion salsa. Hands down. Very bad idea.
A: The "Marine" burger at Killer Burger in Portland, Oregon. I completed it back in May 2011, before I started filming my challenge attempts. The capsaicin cramps were severe enough to give me tunnel vision and I nearly lost consciousness. To this day, I still have no clue how I finished it.
Even though I probably suffered worse on the "Marine" burger than the Trinidad Moruga salsa mentioned above, my spice tolerance then was nowhere near what it is now. Taking all that into account, I wouldn't have even come close to completing something like the Moruga salsa in 2011, let alone try anything comparable. (FYI, the Moruga to my knowledge first got more national attention as the world's hottest pepper around February 2012)
For videotaped challenges, the "Angry Hawaiian" and two spicy drinks I did at Church St. Pizza (Salem, Oregon) was also extremely stupid. Yes, it was a makeshift challenge, but I added a ton of hot sauces and pepper extract. I put it in the pizza and in the drinks. Brutal. This was part of the first OregonMania in May 2012, my first in-person meeting with Naader Reda.
A: The 5-pound poutine challenge at The Original (Portland, OR). Attempted it in July 2012. First, let me say that the poutine was very good. Just way too much fat and carbs for my body to handle. I legitimately felt sick for the next three days. So yes, try the poutine. I'd just advise against doing five pounds of fries, gravy, and cheese curds in one sitting. Oddly, I think my poutine craving got stronger after doing the challenge and subjecting myself to all that madness.
Q: Tastiest food challenge?
A: The Peanut Butter Burger challenge at Rock Rest Lodge (Golden, CO). Tried it in April 2012. Juicy beef patties, great bacon, and a bunch of curly fries. A healthy dose of peanut butter in that burger. It was also my first rude introduction to flavor fatigue. I may have failed the challenge, but I'd go back if I could. I understand if some people get turned off when seeing or imagining peanut butter inside a burger. More for me. :-)
A: I wouldn't advise people to subject themselves to this type of pain, but if you really wanted to, start with the milder stuff and work your way up. It's possible to build a tolerance. A lot of pain along the way, though, so fair warning there. Even after doing this for a while, the capsaicin cramps in the stomach still suck.
Q: You're insane! Why do you eat all this spicy food and do bizarre spicy videos?
A: Yup. Because I want to. Trust me, when my stomach can no longer deal with this, I'll cut back significantly. I doubt I'll ever completely stop loving spicy food. As for doing bizarre combos...why not? It's fun!
Q: You refer to pandas and spicochists a lot. WTF?!
A: The "panda" reference has roots in college. My friends would regularly tell me they were a "sad panda" if down in the dumps. Law school for me provided many of those depressing or stressful times. I kept telling people I was a sad panda, disgruntled panda, etc., and it took off from there. As for the spicochist nickname, I love torturing my insides with spicy food. Enough said. :-)
Q: Do you really know and talk with professional/competitive eaters?
A: Yes. I could only wish I had their food capacity....
Q: How the heck did you get through law school and pass a bar exam?
A: I just had to take it one day at a time and keep telling myself there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Schedule times to work out in the gym; it was important for me to get my exercise in. Make friends and pick times to hang out when you just need to get away from looking at rules of law and reading cases that you'll probably forget by the end of the day. Other people are in the same boat, so I just plodded along and did my best.
Q: Any favorite pro wrestling matches?
A: A couple that stick out to me include Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25 and the Undertaker vs. Mankind 1998 Hell in a Cell match.
Q: I want to start a YouTube channel and get a lot of subscribers. How do I do that?
A: Been asked this a few times even though a zillion other channels have more subscribers and video views, but this is what I'd suggest: First, make sure the channel focuses on something that you love to do. Then, the best way to build a web presence is to have friends and family spread the word. Make a website and get active on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Make friends with other YouTubers that share that same passion and do some cross-channel collaborations. There is a niche of people that will watch what you put on the internet; you just need to find and tap into that pool. It takes a bunch of work, but you can do it. You gotta start somewhere.
Q: Best advice you've ever received?
A: No matter what, do your best and find something you're truly passionate about. Shoot for your dreams.
Q: What does your YouTube future hold? Any goals?
A: Keep getting as many subscribers and video views as possible. Expand the viewer fan base. Probably meet more competitive eaters and do more YouTube collaborations. It would be awesome to do videos with Wreckless Eating, L.A. Beast, Furious Pete, and Epic Meal Time, among others.