Here at the VICE HQ we have a gigantic sand timer that we reset each week to count down the days until the next week’s HBO show. It takes ten interns all heaving at once to flip it, and the chances of one of them getting pinned underneath or losing a limb is real high. It adds a good deal of suspense to the buildup though, and according to our in-house risk assessment team it’s totally worth it. That is all to say that the sand timer is nearing its end, meaning a new episode of VICE on HBO is nigh. Here is what to expect from tonight’s episode, airing at 11:00 PM.
Indonesians like tobacco a whole lot. So much, in fact, that 67 million of them smoke it. There are no restrictions on advertising in the country, meaning ads targeted at young people abound, and kids often start smoking when they are as young as six years old. To top it off, some Indonesians actually think smoking is good for you and believe it cures all sorts of bad diseases, including cancer. We sent Thomas Morton over there to cut through the smoke and find out what’s really happening. Months later, he’s still coughing up weird yellow stuff.
Underground Heroin Clinic
It’s something of a universally acknowledged truth that a heroin addiction is one of the hardest habits to kick. In the US we offer replacement drugs like Methadone, but unfortunately those drugs are also highly addictive. There are other schools of thought that believe in a different approach, but the drugs they use are often illegal in America, meaning users who want to get clean with their methods have to leave the country. Ibogaine is a drug used to treat addiction in many parts of the world but is labeled a schedule I narcotic in the US. It is rumored to cure physical dependency on opiates without the terrible side effects of withdrawal, and is often used in tandem with a voodoo-like ritual. VICE co-founder Shane Smith traveled to Mexico with an underground heroin clinic based in Harlem to see how well this unconventional addiction cure really works.
I Stayed Up All Night Watching the Boston Bomber Manhunt
I changed the channel during 9/11.
Now, in my defense, I was 14. Also, the moment I switched channels, bleached out tit parade Jillian Barberie and the rest of her gang of early-morning yell-boxes on FOX 11’s Good Day LA had assumed that it was just some prop plane that had accidentally crashed into one of the towers. Tony Hawk was on ESPN2, and that was the type of rad shit 260-pound pubescent me was dying to relate to cool people about. My cereal had barely gotten soggy by the time I flipped back to see that a second plane had already hit, and practically every channel had switched over to live coverage of the attacks. I headed to school, unsure exactly of what the hell was happening on the other side of the country. I think I was still too young to comprehend it, but I remember laying on our football field with some friends, looking up at the planeless, cloudless sky in awe. Since that day, no matter how many times I saw the footage of the planes, no matter how loudly the logical side of my brain screamed, It doesn’t matter. Stop being so self-centered, I’ve always felt like I missed out on something, like I did something wrong. I changed the channel during 9/11.
I wasn’t going to let that happen again.
At 10 PM, I was filming an incredibly silly comedy sketch in Silver Lake, LA, with a few friends. During a break from the dumbness, I checked my Twitter feed to see preliminary reports of more explosions in Boston. I have a soft spot in my heart for that city even though I’ve never set foot in it—despite living in LA my whole life, I have more friends from Boston than I do from my hometown. Part of that is because of the transient nature of LA, but a lot of that is because of the TV production/comedy factory that is Emerson College. My high school ex lives somewhere in Boston too, I think. I don’t remember if she lives in Worcester or Watertown or where either of those cities are or if they’re even cities or just neighborhoods of Boston.
As soon as I got home, I opened a bottle of wine and Twitter. I did not turn on my TV. If we take the senseless loss of human life out of the equation, the biggest loser in this whole catastrophe is cable news, who got nearly every fact about the bombing and the suspects wrong at one time or another. There is, of course, an argument that the New York Post is the most gaping asshole of all the media outlets, but there’s always an argument for that.
ExtaMax is humiliation porn: viciously misogynistic, unforgiving, and bleak. It preys on the desperate in a way that is so blatantly contrived, but also brutally effective and constructed like every other infomercial: Here we are, alone, in the dark, thinking about what’s wrong with us, listening to a confident woman holding a microphone and telling us unequivocally that we are defective and hopeless. They make statements that are dire and absolute; there are magnified images of the spectacular, craterous pores of a person who is not you but who is maybe sort of you.
There is such a shocking, vivid element of the ridiculous in infomercials because they are serving this to the delusional, to the helpless, to the obese, the naive, the damaged, the heathens, the women with psoriasis, the men with shriveled, runty dicks. Infomercials reduce you to nothing so that you will need their products to survive. We’re here with Jennifer, whose face looks like a pastrami sandwich. Jennifer, would you like to not have a face like a pastrami sandwich? If you have watched television after two in the morning then you have been relentlessly reminded that you are wrong. All of you: your bald head, your posture, your breath, your epidermis. Delirious televangelists thundering like Lenin at the podium, telling you your attitude is wrong, too, but that he will save you. It will only take 26 minutes + shipping and handling. Infomercials are their own revolution, wise and inspiring only in that their audience needs them to be.
Sometime in 1987 the talk amongst the lunch tables at my junior high school was, “Who is the cool new-wave chick inStar Trek: The Next Generation?” At the time we had a lot of interesting women to look up to in music, but this one was living in a future where a woman could be the head of security on a starship. The character was named Tasha Yar, and her backstory was even more inspiring. She was an orphan who had to scavenge for the bare necessities of life, escaped rape gangs, overcame a drug addiction, and through her bravery and determination made her way into a high-profile job aboard the Starship Enterprise. For a bunch of teenage girls facing an uncertain future ourselves, she was the ultimate heroine. Until she was killed by Armus, a malevolent life form made from the byproduct of human negativity and evil. Tragically, our heroine had becomea memory contained in a hologram.
But Denise Crosby, the actor who made Tasha Yar legendary, lives on and continues to appear in films and on television as heroines in all sorts of universes. I met her recently at a Star Trek convention, where I saw her walking down the hallway with a small group of admirers. My opening line was one of pure fandom: “You’re awesome!” Surprisingly, we hit it off like old friends, discovering we grew up in the same neighborhood and had a deep affection for anything Fiorucci. As we spoke, the fandom subsided, and I became very much inspired by her legacy. A month later I found myself in her backyard discussing her career over coffee and cookies.
VICE: Being the granddaughter of Bing Crosby and the daughter of Dennis, you were born into the entertainment industry. Was there ever a time when you thought you would not go into showbiz? Denise: Absolutely. In my youth I had that rebel spirit in me that didn’t want to do anything people assumed I would do. Instead I would purposefully go out and do the opposite. I moved away from home and out of Los Angeles as soon as I could. I loved journalism and wanted to be like Christiane Amanpour or Diane Sawyer. I knew I wanted to be on camera, but I wanted to do investigative reporting or work in the field, so I studied journalism and drama at a college in Santa Cruz. On a fluke I auditioned and got the part in the spring production of the school play, which put me in touch with a part of myself that I enjoyed but wasn’t ready to embrace. I took a year off and bummed around the world, scored a few modeling jobs in London and Paris. Eventually I came back home to my parents’ place in Los Angeles, and it was there that I was contacted by a casting agent who had seen some pictures of me in Playboy.
I’ve seen the Playboy photographs! They are incredible. I don’t think I have ever seen a Playboy model with a punk-rock hairstyle! It’s true, and no one has looked like that since. What happened was I originally did some test shots with a photographer who had me dressed up like Little Bo Peep. I had ruffles and bows and I thought to myself, This is a mistake—this is not me, and I never want to be this. On an off day I went down to Vidal Sassoon on Rodeo Drive and said, “Cut all of my hair off.” I had shoulder length hair at the time, so the stylist said, “Are you sure?” And I said, “Just give me a short, short cut. Buzz it off.”
The next day I showed up to continue the photo shoot, and the photographer flipped out! He pulled me into the photo editor’s office to show her what I had done. They just thought Hefner would never go for it. But another photographer named Phillip Dixon was in the office and interrupted: “I like the way she looks, it’s very modern. Let me do some test shots.” So they gave him a chance, and it was the tests with Phillip that wound up going to print. Playboy is kind of what started my acting career. Thankfully I did it on my own terms, not Little Bo Peep with her boobs showing.
Kaufman on Kaufman: An Interview with Andy’s Brother Michael
When I was a kid I used to love Taxi. It had been cancelled for a number of years by the time I got into it, but I watched the syndicated episodes whenever they came on Nick at Nite. Thinking back on it now, most of the characters—even the ones who went on to be megastars—are blurry and ill-defined in my memory. Andy Kaufman’s portrayal of the bizarre immigrant cab mechanic Latka, however, is crystal clear. That’s not surprising. As with everything Kaufman did, Latka was memorable because he was so damn unique. He was miles away from any other character on television—on Taxi, he sometimes seemed to be on a different, more surreal show—and Kaufman was just as far away from any other human in real life. Whether he was standing alone on stage nervously playing the Mighty Mouse theme song and lip-syncing only the chorus, orwrestling women and declaring himself the World Intergender Wrestling Champion, or fucking with Letterman decades before Joaquin Phoenix, he was one of a kind, which is why he is still so widely respected today. Oh, and he was also Elvis’s favorite Elvis impersonator.
On Saturday, an exhibition presented by Jonathan Berger, titled On Creating Reality, opens at Maccarone gallery in the West Village. The show will feature a boatload of Andy’s personal effects, as well as a rotating cast of his close friends and family members, at least one of whom will be at the gallery at all times. These people—who are part of the exhibition themselves—will be available to chat with visitors and offer a unique look into the life of one of contemporary culture’s most enigmatic figures. In preparation of the show, and because I am a gigantic Kaufman fanboy, I called up Michael Kaufman, Andy’s brother, to talk about the show and his brother’s life.
VICE: Hi, Michael. I just wanted to ask a little bit about the show. Do you know what sort of artifacts are going to be there? Michael Kaufman:I know some of them. His most recognized Elvis jacket will be there, as well as his famous pink Foreign Man jacket that he would take off to become Elvis, and also the mock shirt he tore away. Andy was an author and we published three books for him after he died. Not only will the books be there—that’s not a big deal—but you’ll be able to see handwriting of Andy’s. The World Intergender Wrestling Belt will be there. His 11th grade report card, which has a lot of red on it.
How did he do? One of his 11th grade teachers said to my mother, “The only reason I’m passing your son is I don’t want to take a gamble at having him in my class again next year.” Also in the collection is a wonderful series of communications where Andy went to visit a girl who was dying. She was a fan of his, and when his plane was delayed in Chicago on its way to Washington, he drove out to Demotte, Indiana, to visit her. Word got out at the hospital and Andy wrestled three people. I have pictures. They were supposedly nurses and maybe one patient’s mother. It’s the only time he ever lost a match. He let them beat him. And then there’s a letter from the mother, thanking Andy for doing that. Seven weeks after his visit, she died. That whole correspondence will be there. Andy never told anyone about that. I only knew about it because I went through the stuff.
What was it like being Andy’s brother? Were there times when you saw a bit he was doing on TV and didn’t know if it was real or not? Yes. One time I told him not to let me know what was really going on, because when people asked me questions I didn’t want to lie to them.
Can you tell me about one of his gags that duped you? A couple of months after I told him not to tell me anything anymore, he was on the TV show Fridays.
Growing up in New York City, I knew about Jemima Kirke long before we ever met. We both went to art-centric private schools in Manhattan, and Jemima was a myth you heard about during Monday-morning homeroom. Her dad was a rock drummer, and her mom owned a vintage boutique that supplied dresses toSex and the City, so it was ridiculously unfair that Jemima was also stunningly gorgeous. Normally, this breed of legendary cool chick meets some tragic fate after graduation, or moves away and is never heard from again until she appears in a Japanese perfume ad under a different name.
Somehow, Jemima has avoided both fates, and she’s being talked about now more than ever, mostly because of her role as a fun-loving party gal on HBO’s Girls, which revolves around the stories of four young women who keep trying and failing at relationships, work, and life (it also makes dorks on the internet very angry for some reason). In real life, Jemima is a wife, the mother of a young daughter (with another baby on the way, obviously), and a visual artist, so when Richard Kern and I drove out to her family home in East Hampton to photograph her (at eight months pregnant), I was curious as to whether she had been wholly domesticated by this point. I also wanted to see if she’s still pretty. She is, and she’s got her shit together so much that it’s somewhat upsetting.
VICE: I ran into you when you were 18 and back home for the holidays from the Rhode Island School of Design. It was at an afterparty for our friend’s band Dopo Yume. From the moment I met you I’ve always seen you as this beautiful, glamorous— Jemima Kirke: Wait, what happened at the afterparty? Now I want to know. Do you remember?
Well, I can tell you and it can be off the record if you want… No, it’s fine.
We were at Black and White, the bar, and obviously neither of us was old enough to be there. We were introduced by a mutual friend, hit it off, and then you asked me to go into the bathroom with you. Oh yeah! I do remember that, and that you seemed somewhat impressionable at the time. So I thought, “I could probably get this girl to do drugs with me.” But I don’t think there was anyone else at the bar…
You offered me bumps off your keys while you were peeing on the toilet. And I recall thinking, Who the hell is this girl? Then when I saw the show and watched you doing the same thing, minus the drugs, it brought it all back. The character I play is not so far from me. I mean, fundamentally she is, and some of her behavior might have been taken from things I’ve done, but—
But now you’re 27 years old and about to be the mother of two. How did this happen? Most people our age who grew up in the city are still kind of fucking around—living at home and not pursuing any of their passions, if they even had any to begin with. I think that way of life stopped working for me really quickly. Some people know how to balance things, at least enough to be able to continue messing around, but I didn’t. I was very all-or-nothing about it, and you burn out really quickly if you keep going that way. It really fucked me.
How did you get into acting? My friend Lena [Dunham] asked me to be in a movie that she was making with her parents’ money calledTiny Furniture. She didn’t have enough to pay anyone, and I guess it was slim pickings, so she asked me to be part of it and it was a success. Afterward she was offered the TV show and invited me to work on it. I never thought it’d go as far as it has.
Well, the votes are in, and the count’s findings are conclusive: Britain loves ecstasy. The party drug was the real winner last night onDrugs Live, a UK game show where a soldier named Phil, a lady priest named Hayley, and stern-faced We Need to Talk About Kevin writer Lionel Shriver (she’s a woman) competed to see who could get the most wasted on MDMA in the name of “making TV history.”
In an experience that will resonate with anyone who’s spent six hours wandering around a Bushwick warehouse with a bleeding tongue searching for their pals first-thing on Sunday morning, our contestants were placed inside a big clunking MRI machine, while Jon Snow read out statistics and broke the bad news that, one day, they might not be able to do Sudoku puzzles.
The priestess reported that the MDMA had disconnected her from God. God had hung up the phone. Hence, we can conclude that there is an interference pattern between God and ecstasy, or maybe just that it’s as difficult to get reception in an MRI machine as it is inside a Bushwick dead-zone covered by an asbestos-filled warehouse.
The soldier reported that he was having a rather fucked up time. Hence, we can conclude that maybe the man leading the experiment—one Dr. Nutt—was wrong with his initial theory that E might be good for helping people overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Lionel Shriver reported that she wished she was having more fun. Hence we can conclude that Lionel Shriver is a slightly dull person to be around on E.