15 Things Big Brother
Words: Dave Carnie, Sean Cliver, Chris Nieratko, Jeff Tremaine and Brian Peech
1. When Earl Parker was editor of Big Brother in the early 1990s, he lived on the floor of the World Industries skatepark. Since he was so poor, he was kind of at the mercy of whatever anyone would give him.
“Every morning when Jeff Tremaine would stop at 7-11 to get coffee, he’d buy Earl the most f**ked up breakfast he could find,” says Dave Carnie. “A package of pink marshmallow snowballs and a blue soda. He lived off these two items for a couple years. Earl was later diagnosed as bi-polar and schizophrenic. We like to blame Jeff and the blue drinks as the cause.” Earl is doing much better these days and is still writing.
2. Sean Cliver was born 20 miles from infamous serial killer Ed Gein’s house in Plainfield, Wisconsin. “But that’s neither here nor there compared to Rick Kosick’s origin,” Cliver says. Kosick was actually conceived and born in mass murderer John Wayne Gacy’s house in Illinois.
Another equally scary thought is that while freelancing for Big Brother during the mid ‘90s, Carnie was also teaching English to elementary school kids in Northern California.
3. The first issue after Steve Rocco sold the magazine to Larry Flynt Publications, Big Brother ran the infamous Woodstock Skateboards ad depicting Rocco getting sodomized by the World Industries Devil Man character. Neither Marc McKee, who created Devil Man, nor Rocco were aware of the ad until it came out. Frank Messman, the general manager of World at the time, flipped out. Under contract of the sale, World was supposed to distribute 7,000 copies of the mag to skateshops and the ad had to be torn out of every copy delivered. Under the terms of the arrangement, Big Brother was forbidden from writing about it.
4. When inline skate pro Arlo Eisenberg came by the building to do the “Rollerblade Hunter” skit for CRAP, Chris Nieratko wouldn’t let him in the building and told him to call from the curb. Also, all the tackles in the skit were meant to be light and careful, but Nieratko thought it would be funny to tackle him for real and wound up breaking Eisenberg’s hand.
5. The burning bible cover was originally supposed to feature Bill Pepper and not Steve Olson. Bill refused on the grounds that he would go to hell for ollieing over a pile of burning bibles.
6. After Tremaine wrote a controversial caption about Sean Sheffey, it was Cliver who felt the wrath.
“He just assumed Cliver did it,” says Tremaine. “Sean ran into him in the warehouse, palmed his face and headslammed him into the table and broke his glasses.”
Cliver recalls the story differently, “Sheffey didn’t slam my head into a table; he took my glasses off, tossed them onto a screenprinting table, then palmed my face and maneuvered it into a horizontal position pressed against a table. There really was no slamming.”
7. Mike Kassak, Heather Roach’s advertising assistant, had a job doing gay phone sex before coming to work for Big Brother.
8. Blunt’s photo editor, Whitey, was the only person in the world to have shot a sequence of Tony Hawk’s first 900 at the X Games. But for some reason instead of giving it to Big Brother, he decided to sell the sequence to TransWorld. After yelling at Whitey for a good couple hours, Carnie convinced him to drive down to TWS and steal the sequence back. Which he did. Right out from under their noses. It ran in the next issue of Big Brother before TWS could go to print. Needless to say, the TWS heads were a little upset.
9. While there were numerous articles that contained material LFP found offensive, there was really only one article they flat out 86’d: “Fun With Animals.” It was an article by Greg Shewchuck on how to f**k animals. Apparently Hustler had run an article with bestiality in it a few years earlier and the entire shipment to Canada was stopped at the border and not allowed into the country on moral grounds. Thus, LFP had zero tolerance for animal sex. “Not wanting to waste Cliver’s cute little drawings of animals,” says Carnie, “we arranged them at the bottom of a page and encouraged the reader to cut them out and put them in his or her mouth.”
10. Like Earl, Nieratko also lived at Big Brother, only Chris camped out in his office in the LFP building. One night a maid opened his door only to find a nude Chris sitting at his computer “working.”
11. When Big Brother started getting heat for the “How to Kill Yourself” article, the local media descended on the office. The crew was prepared.
“It was a Channel 9 news show, so we printed out Channel 7 T-shirts with a picture of Sylvia Lopez on them and the words ‘Media Whore’ underneath,” says Tremaine. “Sal Rocco had printed posters with the same graphics as the shirts, went outside to their unattended van and glued them all over it. It became this huge ordeal about this news van being vandalized.”
12. Every issue of Big Brother from around issue 20 on contains a hidden story, interview or just plain nonsense within the indicia (the little paragraph in tiny type that includes the postal codes and shit in it) on the contents page.
13. Big Brother was kicked out of a number of printing houses for its racy content. One of the more memorable for Tremaine resulted from a mock subscription ad for a slew of offensive made-up magazine titles.
“They were really bad. Just horrifying, even for us.” The printing house refused to print it, then they just decided they didn’t want to print Big Brother all together. “We had to take it to this shitty hardcore porn printer out in the valley,” says Tremaine. “That’s why it looked shitty for so long.”
14. “Besides losing almost all of the tapes of our trip to Disneyland with Slayer, I think one of our greatest blunders was ‘The Ole Floating Wheel’ cover, issue 55,” says Carnie. “It featured a photo of Kris Markovich doing a big frontside ollie on his miniramp. Tremaine didn’t like Kris’ position within the frame, so he cut him out and moved him a couple inches to the left. Unfortunately, he forgot one of the wheels and it remains, to this day, hovering in the bushes just behind Markovich.”
15. Losing tapes was nothing new for Big Brother. While working on the “Jackass” pilot, Nieratko interviewed Dio with Spike Jonze and Tremaine at the House of Blues in Hollywood. Nieratko pissed Dio off something awful by continually calling him Rodney and asking him what it was like to work with Ozzy. At one point Chris called him a short little f**cker with baby muscles. Dio stood up and asked Chris if he wanted to fight. Chris stood up, towering over Dio, and told him to sit down or he’d knock his little teeth out.
“Dio got so scared he screamed for security,” says Nieratko, who escaped with Spike and the footage through a service door while security was tackling Rick Kosick. This is the first time this has been mentioned in print because the interview was lost at MTV by Tremaine, who refuses to look for it.