skinema book

Skinema Review

[ by kawehi haug ]

The foreword to Chris Nieratko’s book Skinema serves as a sort of disclaimer. In it, fellow jackass Johnny Knoxville says more than once that Nieratko is an asshole. In case we didn’t know. We saw the “Egg Nog Challenge” episode of Jackass. We read Nieratko’s column (of the same name, “Skinema”) in Vice and Bizarre magazines. We know this guy. Imagine the surprise then, when the first chapter gets us right in the heart.

The book, like Nieratko’s column, is an autobiography by way of porno reviews. In it, he “reviews” 150 pornographic films, but instead of watching the films and critiquing them, he uses them—sometimes it’s the cover art, other times it’s the titles and rarely, it’s the content—as inspiration for short autobiographical stories. Mary Jane from Lesbian Awakenings inspires a story about high school sex with a coke-addicted girl. Natural Bush 16 is the catalyst for a hairless confession: Nieratko hates hair. Anywhere. He shaves everything but his legs. Even his armpits. Irregular Practice 2: Open Leg Surgery tells us, in one of the more obvious porn-life-story associations, about Nieratko’s addiction to prescription painkillers that he would buy in Tijuana until he was run over by a taxi and was able to secure them legally.

Most of the vignettes are dirty (both morally and hygienically) little bits of latent-humored, free-associative tangents that, if nothing else, incite gratitude that you don’t have to hang out with this guy. How gross would that be?

But between the diarrhea and puke stories, behind the delinquency and addiction, beyond the raw admission of things so vile they must be true (but if we find out next year that he made it all up, it’ll only make the book better), is a guy whose balls-out humanity is—dare we say it?—admirable. Because the same guy who’s going to admit to ogling camel toe on a beach is the same guy who, on the second page of his filthy book, is going to tell us the story of his pre-deviant self, at 18, waiting in a hospital to hear the news that his first son was dead. Honesty. Sometimes it’s repulsive, sometimes its refreshing, and in Nieratko’s case, it’s always entertaining. But mostly repulsive.

c/o Honolulu Weekly

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