You know when someone says something so down-to-the-nitty-gritty rude that your brain short-circuits your heart's reaction and there's a moment of total awe, a kind of perverse admiration? That's the place I went almost every time Vice magazine cofounder Gavin McInnes opened his mouth last weekend.
McInnes was the unofficial guest of honor at a party thrown by Vice's Chicago-based PR agency, Biz 3, at Sonotheque on Friday. Chicago doesn't get much attention on the national glamour front, so I was afraid of what jackasses we'd all make of ourselves in front of this out-of-towner who's successfully appointed himself the cool police. McInnes writes Vice's Dos & Don'ts column, where no one is exempt from his outrageously racist, sexist, homophobic, and often hilarious barbs.
To my relief (and OK, slight disappointment) it was pretty much just a regular party. Mahjongg computer wizard Hunter Husar booty-humped publicist Kate Urcioli while she chewed on a corner of her skirt. Local designer Cat Chow appeared to be taking a nap on the couch. I kind of grabbed my editor's boob, twice, and had a conversation with McInnes during which I forgot Costa Rica was a separate country. But anyone listening might've thought McInnes embarrassed himself worse.
Earlier that evening an attractive young Asian lady had caught his eye. She noticed, and struck up a little tete-a-tete with him. McInnes told me, "I wanted to fuck the shit out of [her] until she started talking." He went on to posit that since Asians' eyes don't work so good in terms of facial expressions they have no choice but to emote with their mouths.
I'm sure at least one person will accuse me of being an apologist for racism tomorrow, but if you filter McInnes's comments through the Vice agenda, his sense of humor seems more Lenny Bruce than David Duke. Some might argue that Vice's hipster toilet reading exists to distract the reader from its neoconservative heart. Hey, if Bill O'Reilly wore a pinstriped blazer, pit-stained metal T-shirt, gold chains, hot sneakers, and a trucker hat, I bet I would like him a lot more. But though it's full of newfangled fashions and up-and-coming artists, Vice is actually about complacency. Hey, the magazine seems to say, we're not all the same, and we never will be--so how 'bout we crack some dirty jokes and fuck?
Likewise, McInnes's column has nothing to do with fashion. It's about what a horny, perverted misanthrope Gavin McInnes is. This periodically went over the 50 or so heads at Quimby's the following night, when McInnes gave a free PowerPoint presentation on Vice's new Dos & Don'ts best-of book. By way of introduction, he ran up the basement stairs and onto the little stage in just his BVDs, tripping and then whining about getting the wind knocked out of him. A concerned employee offered him an ice pack from the freezer.
McInnes limped back down into the basement, and then ran back up to the stage, this time sporting a yellow foam turd swirl on top of his head and a black T-shirt with a portrait of Osama bin Laden that was obviously meant to be flattering. Keep in mind this was September 11.
"Look at these things!" he exclaimed, pointing to bin Laden's puffy pink lips. Then he scrunched up his shirt and turned the lips sideways. "Don't you just want to fuck 'em?" About half the room enjoyed a hearty laugh. Then he referred to my Polish-Korean friend Ed Marszewski as a "half slope," and most people quietly groaned. Biz 3 honcho Kathryn Frazier, sitting in the front row, looked like she was going to have a heart attack.
For a little over an hour McInnes showed photos and riffed on his own previously published one-liners. Midway through the presentation, he pulled his balls out through his fly and asked how on earth a man could be gay and prefer such a revolting thing as a nutsack to a sweet set of tits. Though that bit met with roaring laughter, all his other gay jokes silenced the room.
In the Dos & Don'ts book McInnes writes that people easily offended by such humor are either puritans or "academics and rich kids that like to patronize people. They pretend they're offended--but what they really mean is, 'I'm sophisticated and you're not.'" A new Dos & Don'ts issue of Vice accompanied the book release. According to the magazine, "white people can say 'nigger.' The trick is how they say it. Black people have a special frequency oscilloscope in their ears that can decipher whether the 'nigger' that was uttered was a racial slur or just a rude comedy term."
I have no clue if that's true. The special frequency oscilloscope in my ear interprets McInnes's epithets as a calculated manner of speaking designed to blow a listener's mind. But I can see how other people might not feel the same. After all, if it looks like shit, and smells like shit, and wears a shit-shaped hat . . .
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Andrea Beno.