The Daily Planet is by no means prudish, but still, I find myself hard-pressed to describe the contents of News, Nudity & Nonsense—the second volume of highlights from Vice Magazine—in a publication that I know my parents, my aunts, my neighbors, and (of course) my bosses read. Whatever that leaves you imagining might be in the book…yep, it’s in there. [Be warned, or get excited: A somewhat more detailed description of the book’s contents appears after the jump.]
I’ve never actually read the magazine, which was founded in Montreal in 1994; nor did I read the prior volume of highlights. That meant that I was, so to speak, a Vice virgin when I opened News, Nudity & Nonsense and was greeted with the first article: “The Vice Guide to Shit.” That article was an apt choice for an opener, as it turned out to be perfectly representative of a volume that teaches you a hell of a lot about subjects you may not have realized you were curious about.
What’s the day-to-day life of a professional prostitute like? How about the life of a coke dealer in New York? In Mexico? What’s drug rehab like? (“It’s really funny when people ‘run away’…because unless you’re under 18 or mandated to be there by law, you can just leave.”) Is the amount of blood seen in horror movies at all authentic to the acts depicted? What’s it like to be mauled by a bear? To be shot? (“One thing people in movies don’t do when they’re shot is stand up and start screaming, ‘YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE! WHAT THE FUCK HAVE YOU DONE!?’ But I did.”) Do herbal laxatives actually work, and, specifically, what would happen if you put diapers on four adults and had them compete to see who could delay a B.M. longest under the influence of said laxatives? Who’s better at fellatio, straight women or gay men? Which elongated vegetables are best for…well, you get the picture.
Like Playboy, Vice also features interviews with prominent figures in the arts. (Politics, for obvious reasons, not so much.) In an introductory interview, Vice editor Jesse Pearson explains that it’s the more, er, substantive content that keeps him interested in the publication—”If we were going to be a magazine about sex, drugs, and rock & roll exclusively, then I wouldn’t be able to do it because I don’t give a shit about just that stuff anymore”—but it’s also by far the least compelling. Pearson’s fawning interview with Harold Bloom made me much more nauseous than the article about the woman who sells her feces to fetishists.
By this point, you’ve likely decided whether or not you’d like to invite News, Nudity & Nonsense into your home (inevitably, as the back cover notes, it will come to reside atop the toilet tank). All I can add is that I found it to be genuinely informative—in just five pages, “The Vice Guide to Shit” taught me more about the coarser aspects of the digestive system than most people probably learn in a lifetime—and extremely funny. In “The Vice Guide to Partying,” writer Count Chocula III suggests that a host “think of your guests as little chess guys that you have to maneuver into what I call a ‘result encounter,’ which is a drink, a drug, a sex act, a fight, or barfing.” Check, and checkmate.