Calling Me a Terrorist Is Not Flirting
Karaoke night used to be my jam. Back in the day, my best friend and I used go to the only bar in my small hometown in the San Francisco Bay Area and watch the regulars slur along to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “The First Cut Is the Deepest.” One night, after hours of watching an older man named Victor sway and scream into a microphone, we went next door to a late night diner to decompress over grilled cheese. We had just started eating our food when two guys in cowboy hats came over to talk to us. They had a Southern twang, but insisted they were Californians. Thirty seconds into the conversation and I was already over it.
The quieter one started chatting with me and asked where I was originally from. I said Iraq—my parents were born in Baghdad and left in the 70s when things with the Ba’ath Party got really shitty. With his drawl, he said he was an Iraq War veteran and that he saw “so much shit” over there. “I’m sure you did,” I said to him. I wasn’t sure if this was an effort to bond with me, but whatever. Even though I made it clear that I wasn’t interested, he kept going. “You know, when I was in Iraq, the women weren’t attractive at all. That’s why I’m so surprised by you. You’re pretty.”
Moscow’s Real-Life Fight Club Looks Insane
It will surprise approximately zero people that Russia took the film Fight Club really fucking seriously. It is a place that has depressing violence hardwired into its DNA, whether that manifests itself in outbreaks of homophobic abuse, army hazings that lead to young men being castrated, or its president attempting to win hearts by striding around topless in the countryside killing things with a rifle.
In 2008, two former members of an underground bare-knuckle club in Moscow came up with the idea of starting their own IRL fight club. They called it the Ronin Family, and for just $900 any high-powered businessmen can enjoy a week of getting beaten up and humilitated in front of total strangers. According to its founders, the Ronin Family’s goal is to turn educated urbanites into real men by physically and psychologically torturing them.
Maria Turchenkova, a young Russian freelance photographer, spent a week documenting this bizarre boot camp. I spoke to her about what she saw.
VICE: Hi, Maria. First of all, how did you first hear about the Ronin Family?
Maria Turchenkova: I stumbled upon an ad for it on the internet. It read: “You are not what you have—your job, your car, or your bank account. If you want to change your life, find the warrior inside you and fight your inner enemy—come and join the next course!” So I called the organizers and asked to do a story on them.
Easy breezy. And people have to pay to get access to the club?
Yes, all participants have to pay something like $900 for a week-long course. The trainers, however, were members of a real fight club, which I guess was the main attraction for the less battle-hardened. Any wannabe fighter would then have to present the club with a health certificate and go through an interview to be admitted.
Death to the Man Cave
When the aliens arrive, they will marvel not at the Earth’s quantity of fetish pornography or the comments section of WorldStarHipHop videos, but at the American male’s infinite commitment to dedicating new things to his own existence. The aliens will ask the grown men why they have rooms decorated with the hoods of NASCAR cars and deer antlers and posters of Will Ferrell movies and replica football helmets. The men will tell them that these are their man caves, you see; places where only men can go, to do man things, with other men, for hours at a time, because a man’s life is so devoid of pleasure otherwise. And then aliens will incinerate everything in sight, because fucking obviously.
Civilization is worse off because of the existence of man caves. They are the male ethos writ large: no ambitions beyond hiding in a place surrounded by miniscule triumphs and pedestrian hobbies, while females are present only in two dimensions on a television screen with the volume turned down low. Their vision of paradise is microwavable appetizers, a beanbag chair with Dale Earnhardt stitched onto it, watching that Kate Upton .gif again, not being reprimanded for their music being too loud, and avoiding women at all costs, whom they see as diabolical, enigmatic creatures that speak some unintelligible dialect and only exist to tell them they were supposed to be home an hour ago. The existence of man caves almost confirms that, essentially, all a man desires is to reenact his twelfth birthday party. The men depicted in beer commercials exist, scurrying from women like boarding school students around a schoolmarm. They are inattentive to female needs beyond offering to take them to the mall or halfhearted foot rubs given specifically to facilitate three minutes of spastic gorilla sex. The man cave exists as a kind of salvation for suburban dads who resent their families for interfering with their fantasy football drafts.
Tell me about the toughest shoot where you had to find a super obscure and specific kind of model.
I would have to say “Birthday Song” with Kanye and 2 Chainz was the craziest. They wanted exotic big-booty girls, but at the same time we had to have clowns and all types of different people like midgets. I had to go above and beyond for that.
Was it hard to get the right midgets? Was Yeezy really particular on what kind of midgets he wanted?
The director was the one really into the midgets. Kanye was more focused on the big-booty girls.
Was Kanye like inspecting the booties on set to get the most robust asses in the video?
Nah. Because I’ve been doing this for so long, a lot of the artists trust me and know that I’m always bringing new faces to the table. They know I have a big arsenal of females they’re able to pick and choose from.
Can you give any advice to young girls out here trying to be video girls? Like what would you say to a 16-year-old girl who says she wants to be a video girl?
I would tell them to not make it the focal point at that age. She can take it up as a hobby. If you are going to do it, try to take being a video girl to the next level and become a big model or actress, which involves making more money. Being in music videos is for when you’re young and you want have fun and get your face out there and establish a brand.
Can We Please? – Photos by Ben Ritter, Styling by Annette Lamothe-Ramos
My Roommate Is a Male Escort, and It’s Whatever
About a year or so ago I answered a Craigslist ad looking for a roommate and came across a really nice guy with an amazing room open in his apartment. We hit it off and he seemed genuinely nice. After awhile I started to notice that he was always buying things, but never going to work. Originally, I thought drug-dealer or parent funded, but I never noticed any drugs and he didn’t seem to talk to his parents very often, so I asked him what’s up. Turns out he’s an escort, with more than a few interesting stories.
2 hard 2 b a dude