Chris Nieratko Interview
[ by Lesley Arfin ]
Since we’re putting out compilations of both their columns in the next two months, we thought it’d be cute to have Skinema scribe Chris Nieratko and Dear Diary firecracker Lesley Arfin interview each other about each of their books. In this issue we’ve got Lesley giving Chris the business. Next month we’ll give it the ol’ switcheroo and see what’s been up in Arfin’s world. You like how that works? It’s called symmetry.
Lesley Arfin: I’m really bad at interviewing people, just FYI.
Chris Nieratko: That’s OK, I’m really good at being interviewed.
Oh good. So, I’m more than halfway done with your book, but I fucking love it!
I love it! Dude, I’m like, shocked. I mean, I always really liked the column, so I guess I sort of knew I’d like the book. I keep telling everybody that it’s my new bible.
Yeah, I’m kind of like Jesus without a beard.
Do you like your book?
I don’t know if I like it. My mom can’t read it, so it makes me sad.
She can read it, you just don’t want her to! Do you think she will?
No, she can’t read it because she can’t read English.
Oops! Well now that you’re done do you feel really proud of yourself?
Yeah, because I feel like I’ve swindled Vice yet again. All the stuff they’ve already paid me for once, they’re paying me for again. If I had a really thin mustache I’d be twisting the ends of it and laughing.
I think a lot of people are going to read it.
Maybe some frat boy will read it on the toilet. I’m really hoping people at Harvard in the literary department will recognize my amazing grasp of the single-syllable-word genre.
When people ask you what your book is about, which I’m sure they do 20 times a day, what do you say?
I say, “Nothing… What’s yours about?” Then they say, “I don’t have a book out,” and I say, “Haha, you’re a loser!”
I would say it’s thinly disguised porn reviews, but really it’s personal essays about a guy who is a self-proclaimed asshole. But the thing about your little stories is that you constantly say that you’re a dick. Like, you know it and you’re funny about it. It definitely makes me like you a lot. It makes me understand why so many girls want to fuck you.
It’s funny because I thought about it and I can’t make heads or tails of why I ever got laid because just being in the vicinity of a pretty girl makes me a stammering, bumbling fool. But thanks to the healing power of alcohol and drugs I turn into a fantastically charming man. I don’t understand what’s wrong with women and their self-esteem to make them want to bed down with me.
But you’re extremely loyal to your wife now, so those days are over.
Well not necessarily, because they invented something called a ménage à trios, which I know very little about—but I’ve heard things. I’m all for that although she’s not.
Have you ever been in therapy?
I couldn’t afford therapy so I just watched Richard Pryor instead and kind of went that route. It also has to do with me never knowing the right thing to say. I find myself saying just awful things that people interpret as me trying to be funny. My friend had a miscarriage, and the doctor told her that the baby just stopped growing inside her. I told her, “Look, you don’t want that baby anyway—that’s a lazy baby. It doesn’t even want to grow on its own now, it’s never going to want to leave the house. It’s going to be 30 staying at home. Now you can go and make a hardworking baby.”
Do you want to have kids?
Yeah, I’m on some George Foreman shit. I’m going to have a bunch of kids and name them all Chris. And you know my wife’s name is Cris? When we decided to get married I was like, “I don’t know if I want to marry you, but your name’s Cris, which means I can call out my own name during sex, so I’m going to go with it.”
Did you have fun writing the book?
Yeah, it was fun because I was completely blacked out for a majority of the instances in the book—even when I was writing them. So it was like discovering a secret chapter in my life. It was like, “No way. I did what?”
I’m really excited for your book and happy for you. I sort of have a literary crush on you. It’s too bad that you’re married, but it’s probably also a good thing.
Well, like I said, you, me, and my wife, we could meet, talk, have drinks—see where the night goes. We could write stories together. We could get hypodermics and fill them with love and shoot up.
c/o vice magazine
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© 2007 chrisnieratko.com