Has Krokodil, the Flesh-Eating Russian Street Drug, Made Its Way to the US and UK?
You remember when we first alerted you to the joys of krokodil, right? In case you’d forgotten, it’s a drug from Russia that is just like heroin, except that it eats your flesh alive(NSFW link) because it’s made of painkillers cut with things like gasoline and sulfur. In other words, it’s probably the worst drug in the world. Well, unfortunately, it seems to be spreading. It made headlines last week when reports came through that it was being used in Arizona. And in the UK, Dr. Allan Harris, a specialist in treating drug addicts and the homeless, has reported that “there are plenty of warning signs” that krokodil is being used in Gloucester, where his drug clinic is. In an article he wrote for the Independent, he also mentioned that he’d treated a man in his early 30s who he believed had injected krokodil.
I called Dr. Harris to discuss his findings. We tried to negotiate whether to call the drug “krokodil” (from the Russian) or to Anglicize it now that it had made its way over from the mainland and start referring to it as “crocodile.” (I’ve used the former here, but Dr. Harris was pretty adamant about using the latter.) More importantly, it was an illuminating insight into the UK’s depressing cutting-drugs-with-things-that-are-even-worse-for-you-than-drugs scene.
VICE: So is it just the one case of krokodil that you found?
Dr Alan Harris: Yeah, I mean, it’s a bit retrospective really because it was a few years ago now. At the time, I just thought it was the citric acid burns of a heroin user, but looking back the tissue destruction was far, far in excess [of what you’d expect from that]. When you get citric acid issues you usually get second-degree burns, but this actually took out a huge crater of all the forearm muscle. When you took out the dead tissue you could actually see the tendons moving at the base of this crater and the bones as well—so pretty much like these horrific pictures you see on the warning leaflets for krokodil. It actually got to a point where he couldn’t move his right hand any more because it weakened the muscle so much. He could roll a cigarette and that was about it.
So how did they treat it?
They put a free skin graft over the top, which all healed OK but it was horrendous. The muscles never grew back because they were completely gangrenous. Looking back, it didn’t fit at all with citric acid because that’s an irritant but no worse than a slight infection. This was actually very, very disproportionate. From one small injection he took out the area of about 12 by eight centimeters of tissue, and quite deep as well—skin down to bone.
The ATL Twins Would Like to Introduce You to the Li’l Twins
The world has always been a terrifying place, but few have the bravery to stick there head into the vilest and most dead-end aspects of the human condition and document it. As far as we can tell, this is the thesis ofVrille, a twisted-ass video series directed by Matt Swinsky. We found out about Vrille by way of our favorite stripper-banging, double-penetrating duo, the ATL Twins. They helped Matt put the inaugural “episode” together, which features their childhood friends Adam and Andrew Gates—who also happen to be twins and go by the collective “Suave” and “Cutesy,” aka the Li’l Twins.
The ATL Twins and Matt first met the Li’l Twins at a young age via the skateboarding scene of Atlanta. But over the years the Gates boys went off in a peculiar and depressing direction, devolving into boozing hermits who spend their days watching obscure films on a near-broken TV, smoking cigs, and, on the rare occasion when they’re feeling social, hanging out with the dregs of society. You can tell after the first few moments of this clip, which is shot on gritty VHS tape within the Li’l Twins’ dilapidated home, that the two boys have seen some really fucked up shit in their day.
We won’t completely spoil the story contained within this video for you, but we will say that it involves an alleged murderous KKK member who has skinned a few folks (whether they were alive or dead at the time of the skinning has been lost to the sands of time). We also want to make it clear that the gnarly-ass tale told by the Gates Twins is believed to be gospel by both the ATL Twins and the director Matt. The ATL Twins and Matt also want everyone to know that this document is not meant to be exploitative in any way, and the Li’l Twins gave them full approval to shoot it—in other words, it’s “just real shit.”
VICE: How’d you guys meet the Li’l Twins?
The ATL Twins: When we first moved to ATL, we moved to this neighborhood and we met them they were skaters and they were twins. The whole crew was little kids, we were young too, but they were younger—like 16 or some shit—but we got with them and started skating and became really good friends with them. Eventually we became roommates with them and worked with them and shit. Actually, they used to be really amazing skateboarders.
In the interview Chris Nieratko did with you a couple of years ago that sort of introduced you to the world, you guys said something like “fuck other twins.” So I’m surprised you were so close with these two.
Yeah well, we never really ever met any other twins to be honest with you. Other than the Li’l Twins, we haven’t kicked it with any twins. We can relate to them in a lot of always; they were different, they would fight, they were close, but they would also get into fights. One of them knocked the other one’s tooth out. They werebad. They were also really close. We really clicked with them—skateboarding, movies, and shit. We always saw eye-to-eye on everything, they were really cool.
In December, the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, threw the country into a deep depression, followed by a fiery debate about guns. As January brought the US six more school shootings, many “solutions” were proposed, from arming janitors to banning all guns, while companies hawking bulletproof blazers, suits, and even children’s clothes saw sales skyrocket. One of these vendors, Amendment II, has bulletproof backpacks starting at $300. I called company president Derek Williams to ask if business was still booming.
VICE: I assume from your company’s name that you really love the Second Amendment?
Derek Williams: We’re trying to develop products that save lives, but we all are concealed-weapons carriers, and we all believe firmly in the right to bear arms.
Do you feel that selling body armor somehow encourages people to buy more guns?
I can see that from outward appearances, it looks like we’re promoting the Second Amendment by selling body armor. But there is really no causal relationship between body armor and shootings other than the fact that the increase in shootings has caused people to want body armor. The reason I stress that is that we’ve had a lot of hate mail from those who say that we’re contributing to the problem of gun violence.
You sell something called “designer armor.” What does that mean?
We can bulletproof anything you’ve got: jackets, dress shirts, things like that. Prices are high—some items cost $2,500. We sell to people like celebrities; anyone who wants to look good and be protected.
Could you bulletproof a beret? Or a cravat?
Tell me about the children’s backpacks that have caused all this controversy. How did they
At trade shows I’d have people come up to me and say, “Hey, this armor is lightweight, I’d love to have a vest or a backpack for my kid so I can take him hunting,” or, “My kid was at Virginia Tech during the  shooting, I don’t want to risk anything else like that.” After the Connecticut shooting everything just exploded, and we now have a four-week backlog on orders for the backpacks.
[Editor’s Note: Welcome to “I’m Short, Not Stupid,” a weekly column focused on highlighting rare and obscure short films. Enjoy this flick (the video is at the bottom) and check back next week for another peculiar adventure in the art of short moving pictures.]
Bear is not a classic story of two lovers, two lovers fighting, two lovers making up, and two lovers living happily ever after. Jack, played by director Nash Edgerton, is a fuck up with a good heart. He also always seems to have something up his sleeve. The film begins with sage words from Jill, Jack’s ex-girlfriend who went all the way down the drain in Nash’s previous short film, Spider (which will debut on VICE next week). Unfortunately, Jack’s new girlfriend, Emelie, doesn’t know about his pension for pranks and has no idea the wild ride in store for her. Both Bear and Spider are crafted around the premise of a boyfriend messing up and attempting to right his wrong with a theatrical gesture.
Nash has been on the scene for some time, making his mark as an actor, stuntman, writer, and director. While doing stunts for big budget features—like the Matrix trilogy andthe Star Wars prequels—he made a number of music videos, including three for Bob Dylan. His original work is darkly comic, violent, and expertly executed. And Bear is no exception.
There are many reasons Bear is so effective: good actors, realistic characters, beautiful cinematography, and a smart script. However, what really takes it over the top is Nash’s closely controlled reveals in story and character that string the audience along so we’re just as stunned as Emelie is when Jack makes his big “transformation.”
Why Are All These Gays Taking Grindr Photos at a Holocaust Memorial Site? We Spoke with the Guys Behind the Website Grindr Remembers
VICE: How did you guys start this site?
Lewkowicz: It wasn’t started with an idea. It was actually pretty spontaneous; I saw this one picture and I sent it to Ariel. Then we started exchanging more and more pictures and wherever we went, we found a gallery of photos that we just couldn’t keep to ourselves. It was just too outrageous. We had a lot of fun making this blog, and then it started rolling over the internet and getting more and more pictures.
When did it become so popular?
Ashbel: Only a few days ago. Before it was just friends of ours who would send it to friends of theirs, and we just got pictures that way. I think someone on Twitter found it. I believe it was related to International Holocaust Day. It’s quite old, though. It’s really old news.
Lewkowicz: When it reached the mainstream media and the backlash came, Grindr changed their stance on the site.
Ashbel: There’s a righteous backlash not only from mainstream sources, but the gay community as well.
Lewkowicz: I think it’s really bullshit. I don’t see it.
Ashbel: I don’t think the pictures are problematic. It’s a prudish approach to assume that anything that has to do with sex is immediately disrespectful or obscene. I just think it’s really sad that people are so old-fashioned.