My Dad the Bodybuilder
Meet the ‘Testo Junkie’ Who Hacks Her Gender with Testosterone
In 2008, Beatriz Preciado published Testo Junkie, an unclassifiable essay that turned the academic world upside down and placed her as an international reference on what happens when you take testosterone outside a medical protocol or even outside a gender re-assignment protocol. She tests this thesis by using self-managed testosterone intake as a tool of “gender-hacking”—breaking into the gender codes that prescribe our social identities.
Testo Junkie was recently published in the US, which presented me with the perfect excuse to get in touch. Although Beatriz agreed to talk to me about her thesis, she’s not very fond of the press. As we head to a café she tell me that “VICE is the best of the worst.” I call her Beatriz and she corrects me: I should call her Beto. She smells like man and flowers—a gardenia in a suit.
VICE: Hi, Beto, thank you for agreeing to this interview. It’s an honour. Can you talk to me about your idea of using the body as an archive in Testo Junkie?
Beatriz Preciado: Thinking that the body ends where the skin does is ridiculous, and yet that’s how we think. Instead of talking about the “body,” I use the term “body archive.” I see the body as a cultural and political archive, with images, narratives and practices stored in it. Our body is small but the wider somatic apparatus is gigantic.
What happens when testosterone comes into play?
It is about your willingness to make your body a place of commitment. How you are perceived collectively, how you are built collectively—because, even if you independently decide to take testosterone, it’s never a completely individual act. There is a network involved; someone is going to smuggle it and you have to do it knowing that there will be side effects—that is, you will be viewed differently by society.
Obviously, when you take testosterone there are molecular changes taking place in your body, but above all there is a shift in your social position. So testosterone is to do with the management of your own body, but it goes way beyond that.
Weegee’s Pre-Photoshop Darkroom Distortions, from the VICE 2014 Photo Issue
I Used Roach Killer to Cure My Yeast Infection
Editors note: You probably shouldn’t try this at home.
Vulvovaginal candidiasis, commonly known as a “yeast infection,” is experienced by at least 75 percent of women in their adult lives. Most people treat their yeast infections with over-the-counter creams like Vagisil that use an applicator to insert into your vagina overnight. As many women know, this usually leads to the cream leaking out into a massive, irritating mess.
Alternatively, there’s the oral medication Diflucan, which is supposed to cure a yeast infection in 24 hours, but requires a prescription. These treatments are effective for a lot of women. However, none of these medications work for all women, and for a large minority of women, none of them work at all. Women with chronic yeast infections are forced to take the same medications over and over as they continue to suffer from this uncomfortable condition, while most doctors tell them there’s no other choice.
I have had chronic yeast infections since the age of 12, when I spent almost a year feeling too ashamed and scared to even tell my mom. I tried everything. The over-the-counter and prescription medications available would only help temporarily, if at all. I’ve found ways to deal with it over the years, but sometimes a bad one still comes along and I’m flung right back where I started, with no idea how to proceed.
Last year, during a particularly disabling infection, I went to see a new gynocologist, an old Indian woman in the East Village. She had a curt and strange bedside manner and stuck things in me without warning, barely talking to me. Feeling somewhat violated, I left with a few prescriptions, vowing to never go back. Then I went to an alternative pharmacy the next day to pick up the boric acid suppositories she’d prescribed me.
I used them for a few days and WHAM: no more yeast infection. I was floored. Nothing I’d ever used had worked as well as that.
Hey, Young Person—in Case You Plan on Dying, Here’s How to Write a Will
Being in the 15–24 year old demographic is pretty freakin’ sweet. Nobody expects you to be responsible or employed, and you’re still living at home, playing Angry Birds: Star Warson the phone your parents bought you. This frees up a lot of time for unbridled drug use, alcohol poisoning, reckless driving, climbing structures that would best be left unclimbed, moshing, punching people in the head, and other stupid shit that is liable to get you killed. As a generation we’ve got the highest number of accidental deaths, by far. Mostly thanks to car accidents. Thanks.
The fact is, you’re going to die. Probably sooner rather than later. And when that happens, who do you think will get all of your wacky, vintage junk? That’s right, your lame parents. And what are they going to do with it the moment they’re done grieving? That’s right, it’s going straight in the fucking trash where it belongs, now that you’re dead.
For your pre-mortal benefit, we called up Florida estate attorney Grady H. Williams Jr., LLM, of FloridaElder.com (whose hold music was Bobby Fuller’s “I Fought the Law”) for some info about getting a will and testament set up so you’ll have one less thing to worry about while texting Aaron the story of you getting sucked while off going 90 in the Civic.
VICE: Mr. Williams, what happens to my stuff if I don’t have a will and I drive into the ocean on my scooter because I’m distracted by a Google Glass update?
Grady H. Williams Jr.: Here’s the deal: If you don’t have a will that is legally enforceable upon your death, then your state or jurisdiction has a default will for you called an intestate succession. That’s legal talk for how the state legislature thinks your property, your stuff, your legal rights should be passed upon your death, based on your marital status. If you’ve got someone like my son, for example—who as far as I know is single with no kids—if he deceases tomorrow, then his mother and I are his heirs. Whereas if he had a one-year-old child we didn’t know about, that child would become his heir.
So it’s probably important to set up a will if you don’t want your mama, baby mama, or baby baby to inherit your collection of female-bodybuilder VHS porn, or whatever.
Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish versus what your default position is, yes, it may be very important to you. On the other hand, if you don’t have anything, or if you’re perfectly happy with your parents or children or wife getting everything, that may be OK.
Ask yourself this: Am I really in a position to be complaining about what a woman does with her body hair? No. You should be down on your knees, praising any woman who’d allow you to take as much as a whiff of her sweat wicks.
It’s Time to Shut Up About Your Pubes
“There’s been much ado lately about pubic hair, from Cameron Diaz’s Body Book to Lady Gaga’s ‘au-naturel’ Candy magazine cover. Janeane Garofalo recently weighed in on the subject, and she is decidedly pro.” —Huffington Post
“If you are a woman brimming with pubic hair pride and you’ve been looking for someone to tell about it, Sunday is your lucky day.” —SFGate
“Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my pubic hair.” —The Bustle
A Google search for “pubic hair trends” reveals 187,000 results. Summer brings with it a veritable tsunami of bush-based thinkpieces, as columnists and feminists and ladybloggers and male writers hash out their thoughts on whatever “trend” exists for women’s body hair at the moment.
The Bustle piece quoted above—“Will The Full Bush Trend Continue Into Summer? Why Waxing Is Getting Even More Complicated”—is a perfect example of its kind. Its quick summary of pubes over the years, from the full bush to the Brazilian to the full-bush Brazilian, is followed by, well, this: “With ‘normcore’ pubes supposedly all the rage, will the beaches really be chockfull of women and their pubic hair this summer?” Can it be? Will we be applying #buzzword to #bodypart, and in #public? It concludes—as most pieces about pubic hair do—with a reminder that it really is a woman’s own choice, ultimately up to her.
Very personal, you know. Love your pubes, sisters. End thinkpiece.
But do we have to love our pubes? Is an apparently obligatory pride in our underbrush as unhelpful as the previously obligatory shame? Although certainly more positive, the end result is that we continue to endlessly dissect what’s happening in all of our ladygardens, instead of, say, our heads. Or even our beds.
Things Men Have Said to My Face After Seeing My Naked Body
Since the dawn of time, with the exception of maybe a few weeks there at the beginning, nakedness and shame have gone together like snakes and planes. Ear hair and bassists. Milk and cheese. Drunk and uncles.
Like all of those examples, when shared, one’s nakedness can be received with anything from elation to degradation. But you don’t have to tell me twice about the vulnerability and embarrassment that accompanies nudity.
Here are five verbal reactions I’ve gotten after various dudes saw my unclothed human form for the first time. Much to no one’s chagrin, this won’t be a detailed account of my sexual history. That’s for my gynecologist to know (hey Greg!) and for my new gynecologist to find out (Greg’s leaving the practice soon).
So sit back, relax, and put your feet in these stirrups here. I apologize if my hands are cold.
“DO YOU REALIZE HOW HOT YOU’D BE IF YOU WORKED OUT EVERY DAY FOR THE NEXT THREE MONTHS?”
You can’t have your cake and eat it too, and if it were up to this guy I wouldn’t be anywhere near a cake ever again (unless I’m fully clothed and standing next to one with a stripper hidden inside).
This is a banal observation. Who wouldn’t be hotter after working out every day for three months? Think outside the bun, dude! But in the moment, benefit-of-the-doubt-me got it. He was just trying to help me realize my… uh… untapped potential. Zing!
A few other questions spring to mind: Why three months? Do you want me to complete that “Thinner Thighs In Thirty Days” program three consecutive times? Can I stop working out after the three months are over? Also, why in the name of Satan’s colostomy bag would you say this to a person’s face?
In the moment, I could only assume he meant, “You don’t look bad, the bones are there, underneath a squishy layer of goat cheese and herbs, but I prefer nude people look like Susan Fucking Powter.”
What I learned: If you can’t say anything nice, sure as hell don’t say it to someone who just showed you their Geena Davis for the first time. Gratitude goes a long way. A simple, “This is very kind of you, thanks,” makes the moment pleasant and (God-willing!) forgettable. If not, chances are your reaction is emblazoned on their brain forever, and the chick will have the opportunity to write a weird essay about it. Who wants that?
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING? I NEED A SHOT.”
What kind of shot are we talking here, pal? Rabies, tetanus, diphtheria, polio? As far as I know, we’ve yet to develop a vaccine against seeing anyone’s naked body, much less mine (Hope-atitis C?).
All joking aside (yeah, right), sometimes the truth punches you in the teeth before it sets you free. That’s just one of the risks we have to take when we’re open to self-discovery. So call it what you want; a nude surprise gone awry, the fast track to sadness, a fucking terrible idea. They’re all apt synopses of this situation, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, and e-books in Biden’s Kindle library.
What I learned: You can’t assume anyone wants to see you naked, ever. And if they must poison their liver before doing so, git along little doggie. There are greener pastures and better metaphors that don’t involve so many references to cattle.