Although Chris Nieratko has gotten softer in his age, he’s still one of our favorite dudes because he writes about the shit we care about: skateboarding and porn. He’s the only writer in skateboarding who can get away with asking Eric Koston where he puts his boogers after he picks his nose or a young Corey Duffel why he looks like a girl. In the 90′s, Chris was the editor of Big Brother, a beloved skate mag owned by Larry Flynt with no rules and very little censorship. It’s been talked about to death already, but fuck it, the stories are top notch and anything involving skateboarding and Larry Flynt you probably want to hear about.
As editor of Big Brother, you had access to ridiculous amounts of porn. I heard you used to trade it for tattoos, drugs and other shit.
Yeah, I would trade porn DVD’s for boxes of booze, cases of beer, anything you can think of. When we used to go on skate tours I would send boxes ahead to each stop. Like I’d call the skateshop and find out, who’s the pill dealer, who’s the guy that can take me fishing, and I’d just send boxes ahead of myself so by the time I got there it was already sorted out. I had my interns call ahead, handle it for me.
You gotta understand the internet wasn’t like it was now where everything is free and accessible. People then, at least in porn, thought they could charge. Some VHS tapes were going for like $50, $60. It’s hard to believe, but this is 10+ years ago. I’ve seen a Jenna Jameson VHS go for like $80. So if I’m sending you 10 videotapes, I just sent you like $600 worth of videos and if I’m sending them to you in somewhere like Utah, where they can’t even get videos that have penetration in them, now I just sent you a priceless gift.
Now, I think of porn DVD’s as useless.. it’s like $1… $2..
I tried offering it to some guys the other day, the Etnies tour passed and I asked if they needed any DVD’s for the road. But with like, Redtube and Youjizz, there’s all the free sites in the world and you don’t have to carry a DVD around. It’s obsolete. But, I still got a guy in the liquor store that trades me liquor for DVD’s. Truckers buy that stuff, cause they don’t have WIFI in their trucks. But everyone just has a smart phone now man, you can be watching porno anywhere.
I’ve seen you dress up as Hitler before. How come you like Hitler so much?
Oh, I hate Hitler, he’s a piece of shit. But just like a banana peel or a rubber chicken, Hitler is a great comedic device. He’s a complete piece of shit but you look at him and ask, how did anyone take this guy seriously? He just looks so goofy. I bet if I showed my kid one of his videos, he would just start giggling, that would be your natural reaction.
In Cali you used to live in a house in the ghetto right?
Yeah, 31st and Crenshaw. Full house, really dope. My roommates were shit scared, so they were hardly around. The first day I moved in I made sure the neighbors knew I had guns, they were cool after that.
What, you had some plastic guns?
No, no. I have a lot of guns. The first day, I was given some crazy looks. I also had a red El Camino at the time. I guess I was on a Crips block, because the first day I pull up with this red car, and they are mad dogging me. Like, what’s up with the car? I was like I don’t understand the question. And they were like, “yo your car is red,” and I was like, “yes, my car is red.” He then tugs on his blue whatever, thinking I belong to the rival gang cause of the color of my car. I was just like, dude it’s just a red car.
There was a fried chicken place right around the corner from my house. Later on, a new fried chicken place was opening across the street. The day before the new one opens, the old one “mysteriously” just burnt down. It was a pretty great neighborhood.
After that you slept on the floor of the Big Brother office?
Yeah for more then a year I slept in my office. It got to a point where my roommates were too scared to live in the hood anymore, so I just put all my stuff in storage. Got a pillow and a blanket and slept on the office floor. Big Brother had its own suite. I used to be so callous with it, I’d just walk down the hallway in boxer shorts with a towel around my neck and brush my teeth in the bathroom we shared with all the offices on the floor. It was absurd. I was questioned a few times why I would sign in at 11:00 and not be signing out.
What is some other cool shit you got to get away with as editor of Big Brother magazine?
I used to pull this scam because I was homesick while I was living in California. I would get some record label to fly me home to Jersey for the weekend, just to interview one of their artists. I could have fully interviewed them over the telephone from Cali, but Big Brother had such limited space for music, and the labels wanted to be in there so badly. So I was just strong arming record labels, I was just like, “there’s only 2 pages for music… so everybody’s fighting for it.” (nobody was fighting for it) So I’d get this label to fly me home to Jersey, interview the band and then I’d party with my friends all weekend.
Any specific bands you remember flying in to interview?
Yeah this one shitty band, they had like a half hit wonder, not even a full hit. I remember the title because it was so stupid. “Heaven is a Halfpipe”. The show was supposed to be in NYC, and I was going to interview them but it got canceled and moved to the next location, New Paltz. I nearly killed my buddy that night driving.
How’d you kill your buddy?
This is when I’m at my absolute worst with drugs and alcohol. After the show we were driving back to his house and I was just black out, I shouldn’t have been behind the wheel. It was really dumb. I was on this dark country road. It went to the right, and I just went straight and launched up this hill and Dukes of Hazzard jumped a car. I came down on the nose, airbags popped open, I didn’t even have a seatbelt on. It was probably my saving grace because I had leather interior so I kind of slid to the back like a wet noodle. My friend was stuck there, I had to rip his seatbelt off. I don’t know how murderers do it, because I nearly killed my friend and it’s going on near 10 years and still eats me alive.
Has anyone recently refused to do an interview with you?
I don’t think now a days anyone is too scared of Chris Nieratko. I’ve mellowed out in my age because magazines won’t allow the advertiser to get their feathers ruffled, so the things I can ask have been limited. Although in the new issue of Skateboard Mag, Omar Salazar and I were talking about child labor at the Nike factories and how many Dunks you can make out of dead baby flesh. Those little things I can get in make me happy. I can get maybe like get one question that makes my heart sing.
Will skate mags ever let you print more of that type of shit?
For print, it will remain vanilla until the death of print. It’s gotten to the point because we are in a recession and money is hard to come by, people have to bow to the advertisers. I think that’s why Thrasher is doing so well, the voice of the magazine has always been the voice of the magazine. The internet is the wild wild west though. Anything goes. I love the Slap message boards, it’s just honest opinions, you don’t get a whole lot of that in the written word in skateboarding. Those dudes, they talk like me and my friends at the skateshop.
What about all the money from these big brand companies?
A lot of these big dollar sponsors, that aren’t seeing a lot of recouping on their dollar, are eventually gonna pull out. They have to, I can tell you just on sales in my store some of these big shoe brands are not making their stockholders happy, so they will be tired of not hitting quota in skateboarding and eventually pull the plug. What scares me is how many of our core brands that have stood to this point, some 15, 20 year footwear brands, how many of those are we going to lose along the way? That’s the scary part.. we see eS is already done, I could probably name 3 or 4 that are barely holding on. How many more are gonna have to go?
I heard a rumor that you don’t even skateboard.
Come to my house, I’ll give you my address. I got ledges in my driveway we can have a good time.