[ by Scott Ross ]
SAYREVILLE, N.J. - For the last ten years Chris Nieratko has written "Skinema", a hilarious faux-porn review column for Vice magazine that rarely, if ever, mentions the subject of the review. Instead, Nieratko uses adult entertainment as a departure point to discuss his own life experiences – especially those that involve large quantities of drugs and alcohol.
Now Nieratko's drug-infused rants under the guise of porn reviews are being offered in one collection that takes its name from the column where many of the reviews first appeared. 'Skinema', the debut offering from Vice Books, hits bookstores on May 7.
Fans of the "Skinema" column, which "reviews" only one movie a month, are in for a treat because most of the reviews included in the book have never been published before in the United States. "Most of it first appeared in a lads magazine in the U.K called Bizarre," Nieratko told AVN.com in a recent phone interview.
"The editor of Bizarre at the time was a fan of my column for Vice and he called me and gave me liberty to do four or five reviews a month. I actually have enough to do another book. And most of these have never been seen in the United States."
Often the only reference Nieratko makes to the movie being "reviewed" is the title. For instance, the review for Liquid Gold #2 begins, "My mom could single-handedly save my town from flooding if ever the occasion arose. She once worked at the United States' largest producer of maxi-pads and before being laid off, stockpiled truckloads of the stuff." The review mentions neither the director (Jim Powers) nor any of the cast (which includes Bridgette Kerkove) – in fact, it doesn't mention the movie in question at all.
Sometime Nierakto is more generous with his plugs. In his review of fetish company Starr Productions' Russ Meyer-inspired Faster Pussycat! Fuck! Fuck!, he relates an anecdote about the pleasure his then 4-year-old nephew experienced when coloring his penis green with a marker, then notes that Starr Productions "makes a ton of great campy porn, one of which, Porn Stars From Mars! has all the chicks painted green, and when they get humped the green wears off and the guy gets green paint all over him."
Nierakto developed his gonzo writing style while working as an editor at the seminal skateboarding magazine Big Brother, a now defunct publication of LFP where Nierakto was part of the crew that developed MTV's stunt show "Jackass."
"That was our shtick at Big Brother. We'd just kind of rant about whatever came into our heads," Nierakto told AVN.com.
That style is exactly what Vice magazine was looking for to revive their porn column. "Vice had a pseudo-porn review column going for years before I took it over, but whoever was doing it at the time was reviewing Japanese animation porn and really critiquing the hell out of it.
"So Gavin McInnis, one of the founders of Vice, gave me a call and asked me to give it try… I said, 'Well, I'm not going to critique each scene.' He said, 'I just want you continue doing what you do.' And I've been doing it for ten years now."
Despite the lack of details offered in his reviews, Nierakto actually does watch the movies he ostensibly writes about. While occasionally he selects which movie to review out of the hundreds he receives every month based on an "ungodly, unnatural sex act" depicted on the cover, more often than not it is the title that inspires his choice.
"It's usually the title that hooks me in," Nieratko said. "If it relates to some fantastic drug- or alcohol-induced story that I can remember from my past, I'll usually pop that in and see if I can somehow tie it together."
Now 31 and married, Nierakto credits his wife with turning his life around from the young drug- crazed man depicted in his column. He now swears off drugs, and while he still drinks, he no longer drinks to point of blacking out. In fact, he doesn't have a favorite "review" because he finds reading them so painful.
"The whole book is therapy for me. I'm learning things about myself that I've suppressed. I've only read the book once over. After I was done with it, it gave me chills. A lot of those instances, I wrote about them immediately after it happening. That period of my life is so dark that I don't have a lot of recollection about it. So when I read about some girl almost dying when I was ass-fucking her, it all comes back to me and it makes me sick to my stomach.
"I hope my readers can put the book down and think, 'my life isn't really that bad.' I've always gotten a kick out of making fun of people and laughing at other people's mistakes, and I think now the tables are turned and everybody will get a good laugh at everything I've done wrong over the last ten years."
All of this is not to say that Nierakto doesn't enjoy porn. "Now that I'm married, I watch it less but the first couple of years my relationship I was living in Los Angeles and my wife was at the time living in New Jersey. So thank god for porn. I was traveling all over the world doing skate tours, and if it wasn't for that stuff, I probably would have hung myself in the bathroom or cheated on my wife."
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© 2007 chrisnieratko.com