February 2, 2011 — Descending on the Nation's Capital for the first time ever, Literary Death Match DC, Ep. 1 at The Black Cat — sponsored by ModCloth, and produced in tandem with 826DC — was a spectacular AWP spectacle of whimsy, wit, wildness and otherwise, as The Written Wardrobe rep David Wanczyk took the crown over Dzanc Books rep Matt Bell in a dashing game of Literary Fashion Mastah by a score of 26 to 24 to take home the LDM crown.
But before the first famously well-dressed author's name was pulled from a fez, the night kicked off with co-host Ann Heatherington offering the mic to Wanczyk, who took the stage in a battle against DC's world-class performance poet Regie Cabico. Wanczyk led off with a John Ritter-peppered tale about a star-filled $25,000 Pyramid episode clue-giving gone skewed, while Cabico stirred the audience by spilling a from-memory story about growing up and wanting to go to the Duke Ellington School of the Arts (which mystified his mother).
The mic was then handed to the LDMs diverse and endlessly talented team of critics, including multiple-award-winning author of How to Leave Hialeah Jennine Capó Crucet, actor extraordinaire Delaney Williams (a.k.a. Sergeant Jay Landsman from HBO's The Wire), and Washington Post-er and former Q And Not U-er Chris Richards. All shined, but Richards' soliloquy about Flavor Flav's constant agreement with Chuck D (always shouting "yeeeeaaah!" following his lyrics) and the alternate-universe possibility of Flav being disagreeable, was brilliant, and after a huddle, the judges decided to send Wanczyk on to be the night's first finalist.
After a boozy intermission, the second round kicked off with Moon Milk Review rep's sharp-penned founder Rae Bryant leading off with a sex-charged story that drifted to the far corners of non-sexy, followed by Dzanc Books' Matt Bell who reeled off a fast-moving and fantastically delivered book excerpt from How They Were Found that delivered advice on how not to be murdered in the murder capital(s) of the world.
Again, the judges took center stage, with Crucet reeling off a few hilarious not-quite-barbs, followed by Delaney Williams wondering if Bryant's story about the hunt for a tiny penis in thick pubic hair was about him, and asking the same thing about Matt Bell. After a long deliberation, Bell was announced as the night's second finalist.
Then came a fashionista-skewed ModCloth-themed finale like none other, as LDM creator and co-host Todd Zuniga offered up the names of two historically top-garbed scribes to each finalist, then welcomed audience members who matched that criteria (for example: Tom Wolfe: come to the stage if you’re wearing a white hat, jacket or pants OR if you’ve ever thrown a dish “Bonfire of the Vanities”-style at a former or current lover; Oscar Wilde: come up if you’re wearing pinstripe pants, a cape or cane OR if you’ve slept with over 30 men). Wanczyk was the better author selector in the end, winning the epic clash by a wee 26-24 margin in what has been described as "the greatest LDM finale in the event's five year history." Wanczyk was then crowned, as literary immortality was all his.