10,000+ Maniacs Visit the King<
By Mike Kolman

It was more like 15,000 maniacs. It was a dark and miserable day. First light snow, then sleet and finally a light steady rain. As I set my alarm clock to wake up at 6:00 on a Saturday, I silently asked myself, "Am I nuts?" Well, I had read so much and heard so much hype over this media event, that I figured I had to see for myself.

I arrived in Center City Philadelphia at 7:15 and reached Tower Books around 7:30am. The line was already 5 blocks long, and the tents from the previous night were just being folded up. Approximately 1000 people had camped out in line that night.

I approached the rear of the line (or near the rear) and encountered mostly friendly people. Half of the line was either drinking beer (at 7:30) or smoking pot. Some people were discussing their latest DUI or jail experiences. OK, so this wasn't the cultural elite. But at least they are reading books (I guess having pictures and comics helps).

The usual bootleg paraphernalia like T-shirts, some nice designs for only five dollars, buttons and misc. stuff was being sold by young entrepreneurs. As long as the cops didn't confiscate their supply, they were happy. One guy in line next to me actually made a unique T-shirt deal - 3 dollars and half a joint for a shirt.

As the rain continued to fall, we started to freeze. One couple offered me the opportunity to stand underneath the ground cloth they were holding as a shelter from the rain. This turned out to be a good opportunity to make some temporary friends.

At 1:30, we were getting closer to the store. Most people were frozen, but the mission quickly became a quest. We didn't care whom we had come to see, we were determined to succeed, even if it killed us.

The thought of having two books signed cheered us up, at least we could become entrepreneurs and sell one for the price that the market would bear. It helped make coming to this event worthwhile. Then we heard really disturbing news. Only one book per person would be signed.

This was the final straw. Lousy weather, no great WYSP party and only one book signed per person. This was contrary to what Howard had said on the air. As we approached the book store, cold, hungry and tired, we passed a bar called "Cheers." It was here that we took turns warming up, taking pictures and ordering food. This is where I heard my only "Sex in Line" story. It seemed a guy got lucky, an exceptional feat, since there were only two girls camping out. He was given the show's hot-line number and said that he would be telling his story on the air, which did happen on Monday's show.

A sign near "Cheers" said "Show Us Your Tits." A good idea, but the line consisted of only 10% girls and it would have taken ten minutes to take clothes off and thaw out to show anything.

Finally, the moment of anticipation arrived. It was our turn to be herded inside the store like cattle. All bags and cameras were removed from our possession, and the line was moving smoothly to see the "Queen of all Media."

As we approached, we had to take off our hats and gloves, and rub our hands to get the circulation to return to our fingers. We opened the book to the page we wanted Howard to sign and relegated any bags, cameras, etc., to a table for storage. All this occurred in 1 minute. As I approached after 6 hours in some of Philly's finest weather, an apparition appeared - Howard Stern.

A girl in front of me blathered on about how she wanted Howard to call him and gave him her phone number. He politely responded that he would, took the number and probably discarded it.

Now came my turn. I just expressed the sentiment that I was feeling, namely that although I had fun, "I would never do this again." Howard responded, "I don't blame you." Then we were shepherded out of the store with cattle prods, left to assemble our belongings outside in the elements. After saying good-bye to my newfound friends, I left to go home by train.

Was it all worth it? Well, it's something to do once. It was a giant party and would have been more fun if the weather was nicer and if Howard would have signed more than one book. However, there were bikini and thong laden women near the store and O.J. was in line (or at least someone with a good O.J. mask). He was standing next to a sign that said, "O.J. - As Guilty as Sin, H.S. 12/1/95." Melrose Larry Green, Chubby Checker, Joe Frazier and Fred the Elephant Boy were also wondering around the line. Additionally, I took a picture of Uzo and one of her lesbian lovers French kissing. She was kissing anyone in line who wanted to be kissed.

Reader's Poll - How many diseases do you think she is carrying?

Most people were well behaved and there were only 5 drunk and disorderly arrests - with most of the crowd routing for the cops for a change. Well, Howard, since you seem to have so much influence nowadays, next time can you do anything about the weather?

Special Thanks To Mike Kolman. For His Philly Story.

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