|BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE: VICE MAGAZINE'S JESSE PEARSON.|
|By A.J. Daulerio||
With its sparkling pictures of retards, skateboarder sensibility and fearless sense of humor, Vice magazine is our kind of shit: Free. Okay, the writing is unhinged, inspired and relentlessly entertaining.
And pretty soon the Vice empire, which has already grown to Tokyo and Australia, will branch off into the world of Televisions and Film, which will either be the best thing since midgets pulled that plane on Fox, or like Nerve.com's flaccid attempt on HBO.
The Black Table hopes for the best.
Vice magazine, though, that's the stuff right there. The double stuff, actually. And this wiry fella named Jesse Pearson is the editor there, dropping the plunger on everything that makes Vice irresistible to anybody with a dirty soul.
The Black Table chatted with him last week. It was not a normal interview. The hum-drum media questions are there, sure, but for the most part, we just played a little game called "Rock and a Hard Place." There's no real object of the game. Just ask a person a very candid, uncomfortable, shocking question, and then make them answer it. It's just a good game to play when you're stoned.
Not surprisingly, Jesse Pearson is embarrisingly good at this game. He even remembers the Boo-Ya Tribe.
Black Table: Is Vice Magazine *really* a magazine or is it just a circular for skateboarders? There seem to be an awful lot of ads. Sometimes the stories seem like ads and vice-versa. What's the thought process there?
Jesse Pearson: First of all, fuck you. We have maybe 5% more ads than Spin and Vibe, but we're free, so stop your whining. If you are implying there is some sort of carefully calculated corporate agenda, you are a fucking moron. We just try to assemble a magazine that we would want to read. We also want to exist and stay profitable. Magazines are not cash cows, so grow up and get over it.
BT: Would you rather fuck a dead baby or smash your own testicle with a hammer until it burst?
JP: When you commit a horrible act, there are two things to deal with. The initial hell of committing the act, and then the emotional scars of remembering it. With the dead baby, all you have after the act is the emotional scars. With the ball you have: The same hell during the act; the emotional scars of remembering said act AND you only have one ball. So I'd rather do the baby. It is literally half as bad as doing the ball thing.
BT: Are you guys a consumer publication? An indie publication? An Artsty Fartsy publication? You seem to fall into a category all your own, but your success makes it almost seem like this enormous corporate empire as well.
JP: Vice is a corporation. It costs about $1,000 to incorporate. VICE TV and VICE Films will be cash cows. If you want to bitch about selling out, after you see our movies and our show, we can discuss it then. As far as classifying the magazine goes, who fucking cares?
BT: How do you feel about this hoopla over Radar magazine in the media industry? Do you guys even follow "media," per se?
JP: It's okay.
BT: Great answer. Real poignant. Thanks. Anyway, would you rather let a poodle shit in your mouth for five days straight or get kicked in the balls twenty times?
JP: As with the baby, the permanent damage of serious testicular abuse would outweigh the gross factor of having a dog shit in my mouth (I'm assuming I don't have to digest it). When you're doing these you have to weigh in the permanence factor. Five years after the fact, the ball kicking may very well still be having side effects.
BT: Jayson Blair. Would Vice have such a stringent editorial policy over such minor malaprops?
JP: First of all, fuck you again. Minor malaprops!? The irony with Vice as a news source is that we are probably a better source of information than most media. Unlike the liberal-fascist media and their blind obsession with equality, we would never hire someone just because they were black. And we would certainly not let some hack get away with murder just because he is black. Race is boring. After warning everyone about liberal bias in the media (see Vice contributor William McGowan's "Coloring the News"), it was a great pleasure to see the Blair thing blow up in everyone's face.
BT: Yeah. Black people. Damn them. How do you feel about Samoans?
JP: I thought the Boo-Yaa Tribe were shit, but The Angry Samoans had that song "Poke Your Eyes Out." That was pretty catchy.
BT: Would you rather have Jayson Blair shit in your mouth for five days straight or get fisted by your dad?
JP: You are a fucking amateur at this game. Ruin my relationship with my father forever? (Actually, not my birth father, but the guy I grew up with.) No thanks. I'll take the black man's shit please. Again you don't get the long term. Are you 18 years old? A lot of these questions have the short-term naiveté of a young kid.
BT: The writing in your magazine is quite good. It can be overlooked because of the (pardon the word) hipster-ish-ness of it, though. Is the writing the most important part of Vice?
JP: I don't know what you're talking about. The whole package
is crucial. Pictures, illustrations, layout, even the ads get screened.
We want to make a good magazine. What is so hard to understand about that?
JP: I love Answer Me! Might, New York Times Magazine, Harper's, The American Conservative, Colors, Permanent Food, Kutt and Cometbus.
Bespectacled Jesse Pearson and Mary Gillen, no relation to Eric Gillin, BT editor.
Which one is your favorite? Which one is Pearson? If you picked "bespectacled Jesse Pearson" then you are absolutely...
We like Might, too.
JP: Might invented the whole idea of talking to the reader like he's a human being. Most magazines are written in this stilted formulaic tone. They're either cold and boring or schmaltzy and sensationalist. Might would either crack you up or just tell you the truth (our whole "Please don't buy a subscription" tone is very Might). Also, they were able to take an incredibly boring and irrelevant topic, like weathermen, and make it fascinating.
BT: Is there anything you wish Vice would do more of?
JP: I wish it would do more money. That would mean higher quality
BT: Any stories that you feel Vice covered particularly well?
JP: Immigration and the merits of hate.
BT: Who is the most obnoxious famous person you've ever met? Who was suprisingly cool?
JP: Lenny Kravitz is the biggest fucking twat I've ever met in my life. He is arrogant and dumb and boring. He even had a guy carrying the back of his extra-long cardigan like he was a fucking bridesmaid. Joe Strummer was surprisingly cool. Really personable and funny and didn't want anyone to leave. He had time for anybody that wanted to talk to him. He even wrote our DOs and DON'Ts one month.
BT: Would you rather have to suck off a horse in private or let Yankees left fielder Hideki Matsui give you a rim job on the 4/5 train during rush hour?
JP: Finally, a halfway decent question. Both of these have no long-term implications. There is simply the hell of the initial act and the emotional scars. No permanent physical damage. I think I'd go with the rim job. It would be a way better story. In the horse scenario, I'm subordinate to an animal. In the Matsui scenario, I'm in the dominant role. I think it would be a fucking laugh and great publicity for Vice. We'd probably get into a fight.
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