Werner Herzog Has a Lot of Time for WrestleMania
It’s only since dropping Grizzly Man and Into the Abyss that Werner Herzog became a staple of conversation between you and your friends. Before that, he was just the award-winning, critically acclaimed father of modern European cinema—the man who lugged a 320-ton boat over a hill in the Peruvian rainforest and cooked and ate his own shoe for a short documentary.
This month, Faber published A Guide for the Perplexed, a compendium of conversations between Herzog and the writer Paul Cronin. As a testament from one of the world’s most prolific filmmakers, it reads almost as self-help. “Get used to the bear behind you,” he tells us, ostensibly referring to the ambition and drive to create, but equally evoking images of Timothy Treadwell, a.k.a. Grizzly Man. I’m putting my neck out and saying it’s the best book I’ve read all year.
I caught up with Herzog on the phone last week, and we spoke about films, football, WrestleMania, and the loathsome trend of children’s yoga classes.
Werner Herzog at his home in Los Angeles
VICE: I’ve just finished reading A Guide for the Perplexed. Have you had a chance to read it?
Werner Herzog: Yes, I did when we were looking through the entire text for corrections. We left no stone unturned.
Is it strange reading yourself back?
I took a professional distance to it because I think it is unwise to stare at your own navel. Now it’s out for the readers. I’m plowing on with a lot of projects, so don’t worry about me.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m finishing Queen of the Desert, I’m preparing three feature films, and I am doing my rogue film school at the end of this week.
Can you explain a bit more about the rogue film school?
I can explain it easily. For 20 to 25 years there has been a steady avalanche of young filmmakers coming at me who wanted to be my assistant, or who wanted to learn from me or be in my team. And this has grown rapidly in numbers. For example, a few years ago, when I did a conversation on stage at the Royal Albert Hall—which has something close to 3,000 seats—it was sold out in minutes. And of these 3,000 people, there were at least 2,000 who would have liked to work with me. So I tried to give a systematic answer to this onslaught. The rogue film school can happen 50 times a year or once a year. I just need a projector. I could feasibly do it in the middle of the desert.
VICE Meets Tom Green
Not everyone has the balls or reckless commitment to absurdity to suckle milk out of cow udders and put it on TV. For Tom Green, it was one of the most unforgettable moments of his unexpected rise to the top. In fact, few comedians have had a crazier pre-YouTube ascension to fame than the 42-year-old native of Pembroke, Ontario.
In the early 90s, he cut his teeth in the entertainment world as MC Face of the award-winning Canadian rap group Organized Rhyme. By the mid 90s, he had transitioned into radio and television, bringing his deliriously weird and offbeat brand of comedy to community-access television in Ottawa.
The show was deliberately lo-fi and antagonistic. Some of the more memorable stunts Tom pulled include painting a comically vulgar image on his parents’ car and dubbing it the “Slutmobile,” attempting to interview anxious, uneasy pedestrians with slabs of beef stuck to his head, and, yes, vigorously humping a dead moose. At the turn of the century, Tom was one of MTV’s most original and biggest stars, and his impact has left a noticeable legacy—you can see his comic imprint on avant-garde, genre-busting shows like Jackass and the Eric Andre Show.
We sat down with Tom over beers for a long discussion of his wild career trajectory, the finer points of suckling milk out of cow udders, and the time Eminem shouted him out in a massive pop song.
Tom Green Looks Back on ‘Freddy Got Fingered,’ the Most Underrated Film of All Time
In 2001, Tom Green was arguably the most popular comic performer in America. He had an MTV show, co-starred in the hit college comedy Road Trip, and somehow crafted a successful song out of the idea of putting your ass on things called “The Bum Bum Song.” He was on top of the world, but as is often the case with these things, it got real messy—like “Rip Torn getting cummed on by an elephant in Pakistan” messy.
Green starred, co-wrote, and directed Freddy Got Fingered, a movie that features Tom licking an exposed broken bone, ripping open a deer and wearing its skin like a coat, and masturbating an elephant to the aforementioned explosive climax. It was not what Hollywood insiders would call a “four-quandrant movie.” It was really the only movie Tom Green could make, because it was the only movie Tom Green wanted to make.
Now, with a new talk show on Axs.tv and a career touring as a stand-up comic, Tom invited me to his home in the Hollywood Hills to discuss the creation of a transgressive masterpiece. We talked over expensive Belgian beers for almost two hours, the results of which have been condensed (all of my belches have been removed) into the below.
VICE: Was there a thing in particular that you said or did that convinced people with money to make a movie that the system would never make?
Tom Green: The hardest part about Freddy Got Fingered is that we got people to go along with it. It was a combination of the success of the TV show, the success of Road Trip, and my stubbornness.
So you just say no, and no is an answer they don’t get often.
Pretty much. There’d be arguments. There’d be fights. They’d call my manager, my manager would call me, but no one wanted to say no to me at every single step of the way. But at that time, people were really excited about the TV show. They really wanted to put the movie out. So I really had some power at that time. I think a lot of people would have rolled over. When fights and arguments got to a certain point, a lot of people in that position, unlike me, had probably grown up in Hollywood and grown up around this “just say yes” mentality. You don’t argue with the studio. You just say yes. We dug our heels in and we did it.
It was the perfect storm of opportunity and desire to make a crazy movie. I was being offered these other movies. I didn’t really want to make them, but I did see the opportunity to make the movie. We would stay after work when we were at MTV in New York, my friend Derek and I. It took us about a month of writing every night. There were 10 scripts sitting on my desk from major studios, and they all wanted me to make them, these piles of paper. And I thought, why don’t we just make a pile of paper, send it to them, and say, “This is the one we want to make.” It was a very unique position to be in. Not many people get that chance to have multiple studios wanting you to make a movie with them.
As you’re sitting there with Derek and you’re going through this late at night, and you come up with ideas that are very out there, was there ever a moment where you thought, “should I jerk off the elephant or not?”
There’s always moments like that. I don’t remember specifically what they are, but I’ve never done anything that I have ethical or moral problems with. We never made fun of people who are less fortunate. We’d rather take on authority. It was more about making fun of movies. The whole point was that we were going to make each scene so over the top.
Peter Marlow’s Incredible Photos of Eerie Crises
Peter Marlow’s career has covered everything from news photography and war reporting to street photography and a much-lauded collection of portraits. However, he is perhaps best known for his own, more personal projects—like his series on the closure of Longbridge’s Rover factory, or Liverpool: Looking Out to Sea, the book focusing on the urban degeneration of Liverpool—often covering the stories with a lack of human subjects, which lends much of his portfolio a sense of eerie stillness even at points of crisis.
I gave Marlow a call to speak about not being cut out for war, spotting the moments and details that bring spaces to life, and the importance of curiosity in photography.
VICE: I spoke to David Hurn for the previous column in this series. He was very open about his motivation for getting into war reporting—that it was the most direct way to become a professional photographer at the time. What were your motives?
Peter Marlow: I am a generation on from David. I left college in 1974, which was an era when you could actually live off your student grant. I led the life of Riley, left school, did some work in the summer, and had never thought about what the hell I was going to do after. We had the luxury of knowing we would probably get jobs easily, because back then people who went to university were much more of an elite than they are now. I’d always wanted to be a photographer. Influenced by color supplements that came out in the 70s, seeing the work of Don McCullin and Larry Burrows. There was an issue of the Telegraph Magazine on war photographers, and I thought, That’s what I want to do.
I got a job as a photographer on a cruise liner. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. The other photographer had to suggest to me that I focus and press the button with different hands in order to save me from moving them. After that I traveled around and spent a few months in Haiti. That was the first experience I had of what we used to call the Third World. It was an amazing eye-opener, the first genuine hardship I had seen. I look back at those pictures and think they’re some of the best work I’ve done—the first thing I did that was a serious piece of work.
I then started talking to some agencies in New York and finally at job as a photographer with Sygma, a French photo news agency, and basically went all over the world for a few years. Got everything from Northern Ireland to the revolution in the Philippines, and war in Angola. You name it.
Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1977. A Republican youth with a gun during the Queen’s Jubilee riots
Speaking of weird shit, did you go to the CBGB bathroom recreation at the Met?
No, I spent enough time in the real one.
Which bathroom was the most rancid?
CBGB’s. Max’s Kansas City was a little better. And the Mud Club was just people doing drugs and having sex, by then. So that was different too. Then there was like, the Anvil. I never really checked out the New York hard-core gay scene. That wasn’t really my thing—but I was glad that it was there.
Does it bother you that the New York underground scene you were involved in has been totally fetishized?
I find it disturbing. But that’s the way it always is in history. They form these little groups after the fact. There was a brief moment in the early 80s where punk rock, graffiti artists, and hip-hop converged together. I loved hanging out at this bar that was in an alley behind the American Thread Building. It was fucking great because, you know, Bambaataa would show up and Jean-Michel [Basquiat] would be there. Arto Lindsay or Mick Jones or Futura 2000—we were all there together. That was fantastic. My point is, it’s always evolving into the next thing. That’s just the way it is. But if you want to freeze it anywhere, that kind of disturbs me.
Has your relationship with New York changed since those days? I mean, there are days when I love it. And then there are times—like on the way here when I was smushed against a stranger’s armpit—when I fucking hate it here.
In my years here, I’ve seen it being sold out, sold out, sold out. To real estate, to corporate stuff. I must say that I don’t like the noise of the city anymore. And I don’t like how a lot of young people are just into money and status. Going out becomes less interesting. But New York is about change and it’s about hustle. It’s about Money-Making Manhattan. I don’t have nostalgia, like, Oh, if only New York was like 1978. But I’m kind of sick of New York.
We interviewed Jim Jarmusch about his new film Only Lovers Left Alive and offered him a puff of our e-cig, which he declined. Read the whole piece
An Interview with North Korea’s UK Spokesman
North Korea has been getting some fairly rank press in recent years. And in times of such deplorable slander from the “monopoly capitalist media of the West,” we must seek to heal these wounds of persecution, these sores of injustice, and hereby mount a unified resistance.
Oh worthy warrior of Mt Paekdu
leading the stout hearted partisans of
the mighty KPRA to shatter the chains
of Japanese imperialism, shock brigade of
world fascism, to dispatch
the murderous Japs to their doom
Or so Dermot Hudson might think, the UK’s delegate for the DPRK’s cultural-liaison wing, the Korean Friendship Association (KFA). Hudson is also the poet of the subtle words you just read (but probably didn’t). Now, it’s pretty hard to imagine such dubious sermonizing to come from a white guy brought up in England, and you’d be forgiven for thinking these words are lifted directly from an early Kim Il-sung essay, or even a revered piece of Kim Jong-un cinema. But Hudson is truly impassioned by the unity of the people, the enrichment of the “Juché idea,” and the resistance to “Jap” and US imperialist aggressors. He is equally enamored of the Eternal President Kim Il-sung; of Dear Leader, Respected Leader, Great Leader, Wise Leader, Unique Leader, Great Marshal, Amazing Politician, Savior, Invincible and Ever-Triumphant General Kim Jong-il; and of Marshal, Dear Leader Kim Jong-un (he’s young, and the titles come with time).
In other words, this guy is up shit creek. Naturally, I decided to contact him. He told me about the times he saw Kim Jong-il, the famine, Western media, and the attitude toward weed. I learned, among other things, that Kim Jong-il moved with a “very fast, dignified bearing,” that North Korea is strictly not like Ethiopia in the 70s, and that the Pyongyang metro only costs three cents!
VICE: How did you acquire your position as UK spokesman for the KFA?
Dermot Hudson: I had been the chairman of Juche Idea Study Group of England and the vice president of the old Society for Friendship with Korea. I joined KFA in 2001, about six months after it was formed, and was appointed official delegate for the UK by the KFA International Organization Committee.
Have you met either Kim Jong-il or Kim Jong-un?
I did not meet them in person but saw them in the distance. I was within a couple 100 feet of Dear Respected Marshal Kim Jong-un, and I saw great comrade Kim Jong-il at a national meeting in April 2002. He looked younger than he was and moved very fast, with a dignified bearing. I have seen Marshal Kim Jong-un in the distance about four or five times. In April 2012, at a military parade, he waved at the crowd. He looked like a very happy person.
VICE Meets Glenn Greenwald
We traveled to Rio de Janeiro to meet the man who broke the biggest news story of 2013. Glenn Greenwald is an American journalist and author who’s best known for reporting on the leaks of classified National Security Agency documents by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Before he was a journalist, Greenwald was a constitutional law and civil rights litigator, and until 2012 he was a contributing writer at Salon. He has authored four books: How Would a Patriot Act, Tragic Legacy, Great American Hypocrites, and With Liberty and Justice for Some. For 14 months Greenwald was a columnist at the Guardian, where he broke the first NSA story in June of 2013. He has since left the newspaper to team up with filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Jeremy Scahill to start a new media venture, First Look Media, backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
Watch the interview
An Interview with the World’s Favorite Porn Star
A couple of days ago, PornHub released what basically amounts to a chart of the planet’s porn-viewing habits. In the US, two of the top three search terms were “teen” and “MILF,” which are obviously the only two acceptable age groups for sexual fantasies. The majority of British viewers spend an entire minute longer—about 9:42 compared to 8:56—than the world’s average, but they have nothing on American viewers, who keep going all the way up to the 11-minute mark. Almost everyone on the planet wants to jerk off to someone from their own country, but the one thing that united all the world was Lisa Ann. Turns out that “Lisa Ann” was the second-most popular search in Britain and the most popular in the world. She is the most desirable adult actress on the internet.
The star made her name in Who’s Nailin’ Paylin?, where she played a sexpot version of Alaskan bombshell/former politician Sarah Palin. She also has a signature Fleshlight model, voiced a prostitute in Grand Theft Auto V and was called one of the most powerful people in the adult film industry by no less an authority than Fox News.
I gave Lisa Ann a call to chat about what all that success felt like.
Results of top searches on Pornhub from various countries. You can see how much the British like Lisa Ann.
VICE: Hey Lisa, congrats. So I’m guessing you already knew you were the most popular porn star in the world, right? You didn’t need some stats to tell you that.
Lisa Ann: It’s interesting. I’m surprised at my staying power, and I’m impressed by the consistency from me. When you get in an upswing in a career you’re always looking at it like, OK, this could also downswing. But the momentum has been so consistent and so fun. People often walk up to me and ask for photos, but I think, It’s just me!
What is it about your work, do you think, that literally everyone in the world loves so much?
I don’t know! I look at other girls when they’re doing scenes and think, Wow, you’re so much better at this than me. I don’t know why people like me so much. I’m not that wild, compared to what I see other girls do. I look at myself and think, Wow, you’re kinda boring.