Ashley Vicos (second from right) with the Yellow team. Photo: TLC
Okay, so we made that last one up. But finally, this week, these exemplars of excess, these purveyors of frosted decadence, have met their match: a monster truck rally. Considering that what these people do for a living is the culinary equivalent of leaping over a row of flaming school buses in a tricked-out, 20-foot-tall Ford pickup, it only makes sense.
So, after fixing ourselves a plate of corn chips smothered in Velveeta and 20 ounces of Midwestern pilsner in a plastic cup, we settled in for the show. Bring on the screaming crowds, the megaphones, the exhaust!
Little did we know our cast of characters -- er, contestants -- would bring all that and more. There was Ashley, a Georgian and former Cake-Off champ whose swimming-pool-blue-colored contacts were only rivaled for fakeness by her eyelashes, which looked plucked off of Anna Nicole's still-warm corpse. (This is, after all, TLC.)
We kid because we love: Ashley endeared us with her admonishments to her team to "pretend you're not a bunch of rednecks!" and her goal to make her cake -- a towering mass of knobby chocolate tires and dry ice fume exhaust -- at least 95 percent edible. Of course, we could boast that the cakes we make at home are 100 percent edible, but in a contest where you're allowed to cover up styrofoam and cardboard tubes and call it dessert, we admired Ashley's purist approach.
If Ashley was loud on the outside and tasteful in her handiwork, the deadpan Christy was the opposite. Pressed for time and stressed out beyond belief, she fashioned a garish day-glo contraption that looked something like a cross between a car wreck and a Kiss concert, with a giant tongue jeering at us from the middle. When a judge describes your work as "a Venus fly trap eating a cake," you know you've thrown all attempts at classiness out the window.
The most formidable challenger was the lumbering Mark. Flanked by family members both young and ancient, he threatened to "beat my team into submission" if things went wrong, which was either a bad joke or a cry for help; we couldn't really tell.
The man sure could pour sugar, though. Equipped with industrial-strength gloves and a kettle of boiling sucrose, he fashioned a giant hoop of fire, a flaming tailpipe and a leaping monster truck, all of which looked ready to crack into a million pieces when it was rolled in front of the judges.
We did, however, admire his incongruously hoity-toity choice of cardamom and cinnamon spice cake for his filling -- that is, for the zillion pounds of base cake that cracked the hardwood stand provided to him by the show.
But all of Mark's poundage couldn't keep him from being second runner-up -- "I can't believe I was let go first!" he cried -- leaving Southern Belle Ashley the clear choice for number one. As she accepted her prize, batted her long black lashes -- was that glitter on her face? -- and posed for the screaming masses at the Vegas Monster Jam, we couldn't help but think it was a perfect match of artist to her audience.