Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Vice Magazine's Chris Nieratko

Chris Nieratko has lived a lifetime of misadventure and outrageous fortune, from his early days getting into scrapes with the crew at seminal skateboard magazine Big Brother (which later formed the basis for Jackass) to stints working for Disney and Larry Flynt. More recently, Nieratko has garnered a fervent following for "Skinema," a column he pens for the beloved/hated hipster bible Vice. Ostensibly a series of porn reviews, "Skinema" is actually a sounding board for Nieratko's hazy memories and scatological rants, filled with some of the most brutally honest, foulest language possible—like the world's best bar stories, told by the world's most unapologetic asshole. Vice recently collected several years' worth of Nieratko's columns into Skinema, a twisted memoir of sorts that traces Nieratko's journey from pill-addled miscreant to—as of last year—happily married man, albeit one constantly in search of a threesome. The A.V. Club recently spoke to Nieratko (out now on a nationwide tour of bookstores and skate shops) about Skinema, his continuing efforts to impregnate his wife, and how he's survived 10 years of "retarded situations."

The A.V. Club: How's the tour going?

Chris Nieratko: The turnout has been swell and everyone has left drunk, so I guess it can be called a success. Tampa was interesting. I did an interview with a porn star for Bizarre while I was down there. The classic porn-star scenario: She's 20 and her husband is 40. They fell in love four years ago. You do the math.


AVC: So was he her agent or her director?

CN: A little bit of everything. She makes it so that she only works with him—well, she tries, anyway. She's still forced to use other penises as the job dictates. But yeah… 16 years old, with a 36-year-old penis inside her.


AVC: What's this show about, exactly?

CN: Every time it's different. In Williamsburg, I just yelled at the people and walked off the stage. In Philadelphia, I did "speed befriending," where I went and sat with each person and told them a story. Chicago and Tampa were slideshows, where I had my wife pick a bunch of random slides and I told fucked-up stories about them.


AVC: How does that go over?

CN: Generally with a lot of laughter, but it might be because of the alcohol. Most of the stories have to do with she-male prostitutes in Brazil and straight-edge Portuguese men getting wasted with me. It's all over the board. A good story that I just got told at the Philly thing—because everybody wants to give me their craziest sex story—was how this guy had taken this older businesswoman home and was having sex with her, and she got a phone call and took it while he was still inside her. She gets into this argument with this person who ends up being her husband—and that's awful, but to make it worse, when she got off the phone, she said, "Don't worry about it. He hasn't had sex with me in three years, not since the accident." [Laughs.] "He's a paraplegic from the waist down." That killed any boner my buddy had left.


AVC: What kind of people turn up at your shows?

CN: People that can't afford their own beer. Tampa had a bunch of 50-year-old hippies. There are a lot of sexy, tattooed, loose women. Lots of skateboarders. And then there's a lot of lost people asking for directions who find out there's free beer and stick around.


AVC: Do you have groupies?

CN: There was one fella in Boston who burned me every Ghostface song ever. He kept trying to get me to do drugs with him, and I was like, "Buddy, I haven't done drugs in years." He was rich and kept trying to buy everything and everyone. He took about 20 dirty skateboarders out to the most expensive restaurant in Boston and put his card down, so of course my friends were ordering six-packs and just putting them in their pocket. They're like, "Can I get a filet mignon to go?" He kept saying we should "spend more time together," and that me and the wife should come to Connecticut. I told him I don't go anywhere near Connecticut—there's too many white people there—and he said, "I'll get you a helicopter from Jersey, so you just have to go over Connecticut." I was like, "Yeah, fantastic. Just e-mail me the details."


AVC: Are you still traveling with your wife?

CN: I actually had to kiss her goodbye yesterday. In two weeks, we get reunited in Hawaii. I'm already losing my mind, because she's the one who keeps order in my life. I've already lost my socks. I left one of my computer batteries on a fucking airplane, and my entire CD book of all my DVDs for this trip. Yesterday I almost left Vice's video camera on the plane—thank God I remembered as I was getting off. I'm really absent-minded without her.


AVC: How did you celebrate your recent one-year anniversary?

CN: We got completely smashed with our family. And you're supposed to save that top layer of the wedding cake to eat a year later, so we did that. It tasted like Styrofoam. All the ketchup in the world couldn't make it any better. She said she has a special anniversary gift waiting for me when I get home. I'm hoping it's a naked woman in our bed, but I'll go out on a limb and say it won't be.



AVC: So you're still looking for a threesome?

CN: I'm always looking, but that's all I ever get to do, because she wants paperwork and documentation of tests and cleanliness, and she probably wants to run some exams herself. She's very picky. What I do is, when we're having sex, I just close my eyes and picture it.


AVC: I'm getting married myself pretty soon. Any tips for me?

CN: Don't do it! Or better yet, man, don't listen to anyone. Everybody just wants to stick their dick in the wedding—like it's their day—and tell you how to do things, from the bridesmaids' dresses to the flavor of the cake. Just tell 'em to fuck off. You should have seen our wedding. Nothing was good enough, and every decision was questioned by everyone. We rented a '65 Lincoln convertible just like JFK had and reenacted his assassination. At the end of our wedding video, it cuts to black and Slayer's "Hell Awaits" starts playing, and the assassination footage—Super 8, Zapruder-style—cuts in. We just wanted to do our own thing, but sometimes people get overly excited for your wedding and they do not ease up. Just tell your girl to smile and nod and say, "That's a great idea" and then ignore it. I went the other route and said, "Fuck! I already got it covered!" and people would stop talking and there'd be an argument, and my wife would have to be the voice of reason, like, "Just say yes and move on. We won't do it." That's why I need her, because she's the voice of reason. I want to yell and get into fights, and she just brushes it under the carpet. It's a quality I wish I had.


AVC: Are you two still trying to conceive?

CN: I thought she was pregnant a couple of weeks ago, so I was going to ask her to get an abortion, because we're going to Hawaii and I didn't really want to go with some pregnant chick. Because who am I gonna drink with? Luckily she started bleeding. Our goal is to knock her up in Hawaii. We're getting better. I'm remembering to leave my penis inside her, which was tough for the first couple of months. I'd never left my penis inside anyone ever, for fear of getting them pregnant.


AVC: Aren't you worried that having a kid will make you boring?

CN: Nah. There's a lot of excitement in being domestic. In the next Vice, there's a photo of me in my nephew's kindergarten class. Everyone had to bring in a family member for show-and-tell, and there are policemen, firemen, Wall Street fellas, and then me in my "Uncle Cow" costume. And I'll tell you what, after I left, more kids wanted to be a cow when they grew up than a policeman or fireman. I plan on writing a parenting guide of all terrible advice, and programming these children to take over the world. I'm gonna teach my kids how to kill people.


AVC: If it were up to you, how long would you keep doing "Skinema"?

CN: I could crank this shit out forever. My life is just day after day of misadventures. Take last night. For some reason, when I'm away from my wife and masturbating, I feel like I should take my wedding ring off, like I'm cheating on her or something. Last night, I'm in the gay part of Atlanta. I took it off, did what I had to do, and went to a bar, but forgot to put it back on. I immediately get hit on by every fella in town who thinks I'm straying from my wife, because they can see the tan-line on my finger. I'm constantly in these retarded situations. I'm just hoping that Vice readers are good enough to grow with me. A lot of them are like, "You don't talk about drugs anymore!" I'm fucking 30 years old! That was eight years ago that I was always blacked out.


AVC: Speaking of which, how is it you're still alive and disease-free?

CN: My wife. Disease-free, I don't know. If I were to cheat on my wife, whoever I slept with would probably have everything—AIDS, syphilis, herpes. I've played Russian roulette for so long, I know the bullet is the next one. But still being alive, I attribute all that to my wife, because if I hadn't met her six years ago, I would have been dead for sure. I was at a point where I was doing 50 pills a day. I was so constipated, a bloated mess. Taking pills to fall asleep, taking pills to wake up. I was bound to die on my toilet while my maid made me a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich. If I didn't meet her, I'd be dead. And she didn't ever say, "Get off drugs," but she painted a picture that I never knew existed. I never had any hope for the future, and thought I'd live fast and die fat, but she came along and suddenly I saw picket fences and little Chrises—and a married ménage à trois—and I said, "Wow, maybe there's a life over the rainbow for me."


AVC: But when you do die, what do you want your tombstone to say?

CN: I will not have a tombstone. I'm going with cremation. And I plan on—you ever see Brewster's Millions? You know the old man, Uncle Rupert? Sometime soon—probably on this tour when I get good and drunk—I plan on recording an Uncle Rupert message from the grave. At the funeral, someone will play this footage of me saying awful things like, "I can't believe you're still alive. You should have went before me!" and knocking, like, "I'm not dead, motherfucker!" I want it to be a good time.


Portuguese funerals are really dark. There's a lot of crying, screaming, and fainting. After their husband dies, Portuguese women never wear anything but black again. I don't want it to be that kind of send-off. I want to get some peppy polka band and have beer and people trading stories and talking shit about me. And I want half the ashes to go to my wife, for her to pepper them around the world at all the places we fell in love with—Paris, Portugal, Hawaii. Then I want the other half to be broken up that day and poured into the keg—or whatever people drink in the future—and everybody to fucking drink it. But without telling anybody. [Laughs.] My brother—he owns a restaurant, and hopefully he'll outlive me—he'll come out and be like, "The last joke, Chris wanted me to let you know, was that his ashes have been poured into the drinks you've been drinking." [Laughs.] Fuck yes.

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