Family4Love Is the Facebook of Incest
The profile for TampaRob could be that of any dad. “I have two sons that are 13 and 10, and a daughter that is 11. We stay pretty busy with soccer, gymnastics, and music lessons.” But then there’s the pitch: “We are active and open-minded and enjoy each other and enjoy meeting others the same.”
Welcome to Family4love.com, the Facebook of incest. In the website’s lingo, an “active family” is one that embraces having sex with one another. “Enjoy meeting others the same” means “come join us.”
With 3,086 members, this is a relatively small community, but one that is part of a larger subculture that uses the internet to get extremely nasty with their relatives—both as role-playing and what appears to be the real thing. Click around and you’ll find groups devoted to “Wisconsin families that love each other,” a wealthy gentleman with far from paternalistic intentions looking for a surrogate to carry his children, and even a page devoted to filthy confessions like “I love the smell of my husband’s cock on my toddler’s face when I kiss her.”
Family4Love isn’t the only site of its kind. Incest forums are all over the web. There’s even asubreddit devoted to it. One competitor, Social-Incest.com, calls itself “The place that connects your family in more ways then [sic] one.” And you thought it was awkward when your mom added you on Facebook.
Family4Love flitted into the news last year, when Stephen Lewis, a marine at Camp Pendleton in Southern California, used the site to seek out sex with a father and his children. But the family’s profile was a set-up by Homeland Security and Lewis was arrested. He reportedly admitted to having sex with minors and owning child pornography on his phone. (Calls to the Department of Homeland Security in San Diego to check up on this case were not returned.)
My Dad the Bodybuilder
The Profiles Issue of VICE
included a portfolio of photographs of NYC-based artist Aneta Bartos’ 69-year-old father, titled simply, Dad
. I have been following the development of Aneta’s work since 2012, when I covered a group show she was included in for TIME
blog. We met in person last year, when I wrote about her show Boys
for the Camera Club of New York’s blog. That show, composed of murky Polaroids of boys masturbating, was installed in the rooms of a somewhat seedy Flatiron district hotel, and it made me realize that Aneta was thinking about her work in a much more comprehensive way that simply creating images to be disseminated—she controls their context as carefully as possible, and is an exacting craftsman in terms of color and print quality. She is sensitive to her subjects, and watches prudently over the ways her images of them are presented.
Early this spring, Aneta showed me photographs of her bodybuilder father she had begun making on a trip home to Poland. Using a Kodak Instamatic camera and long-expired film, her father is rendered in his native landscape, a powerful and imposing figure set against pastoral scenes and glowing sunsets. The aesthetic of the resulting images oscillates between family album and soviet propaganda poster, but the quality of the pictures is always dreamy. ”His presence takes me back to my youth, to what felt like an endless stretch of days in a worry-free world anchored by my powerful and loving father,” Aneta told me. “I reflect on how his commitment to education, fitness, organic food, and the simplicity of basic living has kept him so young and full of vitality.” Since we published these pictures, Aneta has returned to Poland and continued to photograph. When I saw the latest pictures, I couldn’t help but think the Dad series might become her best work yet. But I wanted to know more about the relationship between photographer and subject, because it’s not as if she is photographing just any model. It changes the dynamic to photograph someone who is this close to you. I talked to both Aneta and her father Zbigniew to find out more.
VICE: Zbigniew, what is your health regimen like?
Zbigniew Bartos: Before I turned 60, I ate everything, without any special diets or restrictions. During that time most of the food in Poland was natural and healthy, therefore spending a few hours in the gym three times a week seemed like enough to stay healthy and in shape.
After I turned 60 however, I began to pay more attention to nutrition. First of all, I buy all my food directly from farmers whom I already know. I prepare most of my food myself. I also make my own wine and health tinctures.
I eat small amounts a few times a day making sure that the meals contain a good balance of acid and alkaline. I always consume a lot of proteins derived both from meats and vegetables. I eat garlic, onions, tomatoes and radishes daily and my favorite fruit is apples and wild blueberries picked from the forest.
Thanksgivukkah Is Coming and It Will be the Greatest Night of Our Lives
Thanksgivukkah 2013 is just around the corner and no one is more excited for it than me. Okay maybe Rob Reiner. That’s right, Thanksgiving, the national holiday where we give thanks for the previous year’s harvest and the first night of Hanukkah, the Hebrew festival of lights both fall on the same day. This quirk of the calendar has created one giant, starchy, delicious, guilt-riddled holiday for us to enjoy. It’s one of the rare occasions when something secular and something Jewish combines perfectly. It’s basically like if Liev Schrieber and Naomi Watts’ wedding ceremony was made into a national holiday minus the chocolate fountain. It’s also the opposite of watching George W. Bush light a menorah… or struggle to say “mazel tov” in that stupid hillbilly accent.
I don’t know about you but my inner Mandy Patinkin is kvelling! But before we get into all the wondrous things about Thanksgivukkah let’s take a step back and figure out how exactly this “mitzvah” (blessing) happened so that we may adequately thank “Adonai” (God, or as my people call him “G-d”) for allowing us to be alive during this once in a lifetime opportunity.
How to Survive Thanksgiving
Immediately after the big Thanksgiving meal, the scene in my parents’ house usually plays out something like this: I’ve got indigestion, everybody hates the Cowboys, and a baby or animal has thrown up in my brother’s lap. Thanksgiving is more agreeable with the aid of a cocktail.
For most people, the liquor cabinet at one’s parents’ house hasn’t been updated since the DeLorean was considered cool. But if you’re lucky, there’s a good chance that a bottle of America’s oldest spirit, applejack, lurks behind those unopened bottles of cream sherry and Midori. My prayers are with you if you’ve resorted to the family Midori.
Applejack is distilled from hard cider, and has been getting Americans sauced since the 1600s. Boozehound George Washington produced the hooch at Mt. Vernon, Abe Lincoln poured it by the glass inside his Springfield, Illinois, tavern, and that freegan-looking vagabond, John Chapman
, was the spirit’s unofficial spokesman in his lifetime, instructing farmers on how to freeze-distill—a process known as “jacking”—their own cider while he roamed about the countryside, spreading his seeds. Literally.
My Cousin Joe Was a Hitman for the Boston Mob
Above: Members of the Winter Hill Gang, including the notorious James “Whitey” Bulger (bottom right) and the author’s cousin, Joe McDonald (top left).
My cousin killed people.
At least, that’s what I’m told. I never met Joseph McDonald, but word is he preferred using a handgun. He liked to get in real close so that the soon-to-be deceased could figure out what was coming. His intense, bald visage would be the last face they would see on this earth.
He was my grandfather’s first cousin, my first cousin twice removed: a bookmaker, loan shark, thief, World War II vet, drunk, killer. He was a member of the Winter Hill Gang, the most notorious Boston-area outfit of the last half-century. There are Winter Hill guys who have admitted to murdering 20 people, guys who tried to run guns for the IRA, and guys who fixed horse races up and down the East Coast.
Some of the Hill’s associates started grabbing headlines in the early 1960s. Some of them, like James “Whitey” Bulger, continue to do so to this day. Lots of people died. Lots of people were sent to prison. So being related, even distantly, to one of the main players in that gang is, well, strange.
My father’s family—a clan of nurses and engineers—know next to nothing about Joe, who died in 1997. They are not the sort of people who rob warehouses or break out of prison.
The author’s cousin and Winter Hill Gang member, Joe McDonald.
One of my aunts says there was shame, that my grandfather and his siblings were law-abiding folks who couldn’t relate to Joe’s life. Joe’s name was never mentioned. The relatives who did meet Joe only did so once or twice, and memories are slippery things.
Did he get pinched in a New York City train station while dressed as a nun with a machine gun under his habit? No, says another one of my aunts, the machine gun was in a hockey bag. There was no habit. It was all over the news, she says.
A Day in the Life of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver
My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s about three years ago. After an extended stay at the hospital and stints in two different rest homes, my mom brought him home to care for him herself. She did this despite warnings that it would be too much for her to handle—even with regular assistance—because the conditions in the homes were too depressing to bear. There is an unseen routine in the lives of most home caregivers that makes Michael Haneke’s Amour look like Sesame Street. I wanted to find out what the day-to-day life of someone tasked with keeping another adult alive is like, so I talked to my mom about it.
VICE: How does your average day begin?
BB: Usually I wake up before LD and get dressed, and I try to get the coffee made and the cereal stuff out. But if he wakes up first, I just get him cleaned and dressed and then do the other stuff.
What time does he get up?
He’s gotten so he goes to bed between 8 and 9 PM and sometimes sleeps until noon. One day I was so tired and exhausted that I didn’t hear him and he got up and went into the den at seven in the morning. He ended up somehow falling, and I found him on the floor tangled up in the chair. But usually I wake up before him and get dressed real quick, because if I don’t he watches me do every single thing, and it drives me crazy.
Why does he watch you?
Because he doesn’t have anything else to do. He just stares. And he wants to see what food I’m making.
I know he usually wets the bed at night, even through the disposable underwear. Do you change the sheets after you wake him up?
I take the sheets and the pajamas and the shirt and socks and just wrap them up in that plastic liner that keeps the mattress pad dry. Sometimes if he wakes up before I do he’ll have already taken his underpants off. I get him to the bathroom and have him sit on the toilet so I can get his wet clothes off and wipe him off with Handi Wipes.
Prisons Punish Families Too
When I read articles like this one in the New York Times about how prison makes people poor and destroys families, I have mixed emotions. I think it’s admirable that this high-and-mighty mainstream paper is examining the effects of the nation’s prison population explosion over the past 40 years. The author, John Tierney, tells the story of Carl Harris, a guy from DC who used to sell crack until he beat up some of his customers who robbed him and got 20 years on a trumped-up charge because the cops thought he was some big-time drug dealer. Sounds like Carl is doing better now, and I’m real happy he’s gotten to the point where he can enjoy life. Sadly, I ain’t exactly there yet—the drug statutes of New York State are continuing to butt pump my unlucky rump, even though I’m out of prison.
I could repeatedly point out injustices I believe I’ve incurred over the past eight years, however, I’m trying to stop that train of thought and get back to basics. I’ve been beating off to my old Susan Powter videos like it’s ’94 again and thanking whatever there is to thank up there that I didn’t get 20 years for beating up crackheads. As that Times article demonstrates through Carl and his family’s story, some prison terms are WAY too long, and excessive sentences unnecessarily handicap communities already in dire straits. Basically, prison is responsible for more chaos than anything else. But if it took the Times writing about it for you to get that, you’re probably a simpleton who needs some help eating solid food.
I didn’t go to Harvard or Yale and by many peoples’ accounts I’m dumber than dookie-dipped dewdrops drying on a dildo, yet I know prisons better than the front of my dick. While the clink-clink blows balls on a number of levels, the one aspect of doing time that, at least in my experience, isn’t that bad is the one the media plays up the most, and that’s the actual physical doing-time part. Movies and shows depict prisons as full of bloody dicks and shivs, and no doubt, dirt gets done in prison. But actually, most motherfuzzies in jail deal with a lot iller shit in the streets. The prisons I’ve been to were all pretty much chillin’. It’s basically summer camp minus the baby beavers. Lots of us bitch and moan, but we play cards and sports, watch TV, eat free food, have people clean up after us, lift weights, listen to music all day, take profucive naps, read and write a lot, and get money (masturbate) till the cows come home. The best part is you taxpayers pay for it all!