Hello, young comic lovers,
This is the premiere of VICE’s new weekly comic, Flowertown USA, by Rick Altergott. Rick is best known for his series Doofus, which is one of the funniest comics about two creeps who are part of a men’s masturbation society and steal their neighbors underwear for their bizarre “naked games” ever created. Get it from Fantagraphics; you won’t regret it.
Right around the time that a lot of Rick’s comic peers were striking it rich, Rick kinda receded from the spotlight and focused on his domestic life. I’ve been trying to lure Rick back into comics for years and have finally succeeded. Flowertown USA is about a quaint American town populated by the most repulsive oddballs you can imagine. It’s a lot like an early John Waters movie. I hope you love it.
VICE’s Art Editor
The ‘Women Eating On the Tube Protest’ Was Weird
There’s recently been some media coverage and a lot of hoo-ha surrounding a Facebook page set up to gather pictures of women eating on the London Underground. Before it was removed from Facebook, the group—titled “Women Eating On the Tube”—provided an outlet for camera-wielding voyeurs to take a break from sneaking up-skirts and instead indulge in a far more manageable, less arrest-able form of creepiness.
The page’s founder is “filmmaker and artist” Tony Burke. He claims that taking candid iPhone shots of women mid-chew is “an observational study” and “reportage photography,” as opposed to a bunch of assholes embarrassing busy people for indulging their basic human need to feed themselves.
The page was taken down last Friday. On the day of its demise, Burke visited the Radio 4 studios to sit down with pissed-off student Lucy Brisbane McKay, who had announced a protest on the Circle line against the page, “Women Eating Wherever the Fuck They Want.” McKay was correct in what she said: The policing of women’s behavior in this way is unacceptable, weird, degrading, and pretty embarrassing for Burke. But McKay said she wanted it to be a “celebration of women eating.”
Cry-Baby of the Week
The incident: In an effort to get a date, a man handcuffed himself to a coworker.
The appropriate response: Some kind of argument.
The actual response: Police were called, and the handcuffer has been sent to jail for four years.
Jason Earl Dean worked at a Taco Bell in Ringgold, Georgia. He had a crush on an unnamed 18-year-old coworker, and asked her out on several occasions. On all of these occasions, she said no.
Undeterred, Jason made the extremely unwise and creepy decision to wait for the girl outside of work one night and handcuff himself to her as she tried to get into her car. Shockingly, the girl wasn’t too into this and started to scream. At which point Jason unlocked the handcuffs and ran away.
Two days later, Jason was arrested and charged with false imprisonment.
Jason entered a blind guilty plea in court and WAS SENTENCED TO TEN YEARS—four years in jail, and six on probation. Holy. Fucking. Shit.
People Who Watch People Having Sex in the Park
Kohei Yoshiyuki is a Japanese photographer best known for The Park, his series of photographs of people watching other people have sex in the public parks of 1970’s Tokyo. It’s that exact mix of hilarious, depressing, and creepy you’d expect to get from pictures of people hiding in bushes and touching themselves, and it’s great.
The photos are currently being exhibited in Liverpool’s Fact gallery and are displayed in a darkened room. Once you arrive, you’re given a torch to guide your way around the space and witness the peepers in their natural habitat – darkness. It’s a creepy but oddly intimate experience, and adds another layer to the project, turning you into the voyeur as soon as you start perving on all the perverts.
That exhibition is running alongside some of Yoshiyuki’s other famed work, The Hotel; a series of grainy stills from hidden-camera footage taken in one of Tokyo’s many “love hotels” – places used exclusively by prostitutes and their clients. I called up Kohei to find out what’s so special about shooting people at their most vulnerable.
VICE: Hi Kohei, how did you first get into photographing voyeurs?
Kohei Yoshiyuki: I was walking in a park in Shinjuku late at night, when I came across a scene. A couple was having sex and I saw these people were watching them. That experience inspired me to try to capture these shocking and fascinating night scenes.
Was it common knowledge what was going on in the parks at the time?
I only knew by hearsay that this stuff was happening in Toyko’s parks. A park is a place where we usually see children and their mothers relaxing during the day, but the same park can host a completely different world in the darkness. I found there to be something amazing about that.
How long did you work on the project for?
I photographed the scenes of the couples and the men who were peeping on them from 1971 until 1973. Before shooting, I spent about a half a year trying to arrange the project.
If you knew where to go to find the voyeurs, how come it took so long to start?
What I needed to do first and foremost was to make the voyeurs believe that I was not a photographer, but just one of them. Otherwise I would have been severely beaten or had the film pulled out of my camera. During this period, I also spent time studying the techniques and the best equipment in order to capture these scenes in darkness. I used infrared films and infrared strobe, which was considered a sort of expert-level photography skill at the time.
Continue + More Photos
If you’ve been following our coverage of Amanda Todd’s suicide, you’ll know that it led to a realization that there is a very active corner of the internet where pedophiles find young girls on webcam chat sites like BlogTV, coerce them into taking their clothes off, screenshot their images clandestinely, and share the screen-caps with each other in a sick bartering system that leads to rivalries among their ranks. Once you understand this network of predators, it’s clear that the cause of Amanda’s death is wrapped in a dizzying and upsetting online world. One of the most perverse and alarming elements of this subculture is an animated newscast series called The Daily Capper, which covers the exploits and stories that develop inside this playground for pedophiles. This Saturday, The Daily Capper released its first video since Halloween of 2011 (embedded above), which claims to unravel the mystery behind Amanda’s blackmail. The tone that this newscast takes is severely different from any other video that The Daily Capper has released previously.
In this video, the animated newscaster who had previously reveled in the dark activities of cappers by providing them with awards for blackmailing or warning of FBI monitoring on BlogTV, opens by taking a moral high ground against Canada’s law enforcement and the mainstream media. The newscaster opens by declaring that Amanda Todd’s suicide is more than a case of cyber-bullying, which is what I reported weeks ago (since then, this narrative has become the popular understanding in Canada’s mainstream media). The video goes on to reveal a timeline of events that starts with Amanda flashing on BlogTV, moves on to screenshots of pedophiles sharing her live chat link on BlogTV, and then reveals emails sent to The Daily Capper, supposedly from Amanda, that asked for the newscast’s help in exposing her harassers. The video also attempts to verify that Kody Maxson, the man the upstart New Jersey branch of Anonymous outed as her blackmailer, was in fact the man responsible for harrassing her. However, given what we know about the ongoing rivalries between cappers and the sick nature of what they do, it’s impossible to trust The Daily Capper when they say that Kody is more guilty than Viper, the pedophile whom Kody has blamed in the press.