Gavin McInnes is living the dream. Well, he has lived the dream – now that he’s 39 and curmudgeonly by his own account, the doting father of hipsterdom now has time to ponder such erudite topics as his own ‘leg’acy. But the man who launched Vice magazine and created the much copied DOs & DON’Ts is still putting in his two cents. His latest book, Street Boners, not only doles out jokes at the expense of the hapless (and probably black-out drunk) members of the hipster sub-culture he helped to create, but also contains his own take on style, fashion, and what is and isn’t appropriate (read: athletic sandals, NEVER). McInnes sat down with FUN Artists to talk about the fall of communism, the Behind the Music of his own career, and his Spider-man sex legs.
FUN Artists: An introduction perhaps?
Gavin McInnes: Hello, my name is Gavin McInnes; I live in Brooklyn, and I recently completed a very serious book called Street Boners: 1,764 Hipster Fashion Jokes. I started Street Carnage with my friend Derrick Beckles. I do these fashion things – these little joke things where we take a picture of someone and talk about their attire, and that’s called Street Boners. My friend Derrick amalgamates hundreds of hours of bad T.V. and those compilations are called TV Carnage. So the name of the site is Street Boners and TV Carnage,but that’s a lone email address so we just call itStreet carnage.
FUN Artists: Why do the book?
Gavin McInnes: I wanted to do it for the kids, and when I say the kids I mean all the orphans and starving children around the world. Because when you see these kids, especially in the third world, they’ll have flies crawling on their face, and that’s cause they’re fucking bored, and they haven’t had a laugh in God knows how long. And this was just a way for children: fatherless children, poor children, the under privileged around the world to just take a timeout from suffering and just have a laugh.
FUN Artists: Why are Street Boners so popular?
Gavin McInnes: Because they are hilarious; I think people like eye candy. Its like Fruits, that Japanese photo book – a bunch of these books – they don’t usually do hilarious quips, but this has got that eye candy factor and it sort of has this one line stand-up comedy thing. So it’s like Twitter meets Pretty Girls, but just funny.
FUN Artists: So tell let me hear the story of howVice’s DOs & DON’Ts came about.
Gavin McInnes: You have to do fashion if you are doing a magazine, but were punks and we didn’t even know about that. So I’d put our advertisers on one page and say “That’s a ‘do,’ get that out of the way,” and I felt bad because that was like advertorial, so I’d have people dress ridiculous. The first one ever I said, “That’s a nice shirt but it makes you look like you have penis-tits” … Some shirts can do that even if your tits are great … I actually like droopers. But I remember she told me, this is Canadians too, “When I saw that I was mad.” Then her boyfriend calls me and he goes “I was upset,” and I’m like, “…Ah yeah”. In Canada that’s considered a big deal; “… I don’t think you know this, I was upset” – “I don’t care; that’s the point. It’s called a razz.” It’s like Nelson from The Simpsonssaid to Bart, “If nobody’s getting mad are you really being bad?” Nelson is surprisingly profound for a cartoon bully; he’s got a lot to say. So anyways, that’s how it started. Montreal is full of freaks. French-Canadians are spoiled and they wear court-jester hats to go to work, and they just love themselves. Imagine if a bunch of trailer park trash won the lottery – that’s Quebec. And then we came to New York where it’s a different but equally interesting story where people all act like they are going to die and, I was just saying to someone else earlier, it’s like in Israel where they max out their credit cards cause they think they might not live ‘til tomorrow. I feel like New Yorkers are just here for a blip so the women have nine-inch high stilettos and face paint on at eight in the morning. They don’t even do the walk of shame, they’re proud, and then they go out that day, to a day club. So that makes for some unique looks.
FUN Artists: How did you go about choosing the celebrities contributors for Street Boners?
Gavin McInnes: I would like to pretend that I just had a big book of famous people, A Peoplemagazine, and I just randomly chose them with post-it notes, but I just chose every famous person I could possibly get. I met Debbie Harry [Blondie] once. I don’t know her; she was totally out of left field, but the rest of the people I met or am acquainted with, and I just milked it and milked it. That’s a bummer when you know famous people because you want to call in favors but you don’t want to be ‘that guy.’ So my rule is, “I’ll get you in the book, but I’m not gonna nag you to help promote the book.” That’s when you go too far and when you start loosing friends. Or you keep nagging them for a forward or a review – that’s when you become a pain. But, you know, they got some publicity out of it; no, it was just a favor to me. So yeah, I just got the most famous people I could possibly get.
FUN Artists: There’s some pseudos out there trying to jock your style eh?
Gavin McInnes: Look At This Fucking Hipster, and all these books, like the puppy book, they’re just really ripping off my shit. And I used to not care, but I’m starting to care in my old age about that kind of thing. I just started a genre of comedy – I mean it’s a funny way to have a joke; it’s ironic that I’m not being funny as I describe it. I think Look At This Fucking Hipster is a very thin, sort of pamphlet compared to this book. Its been going on forever, I remember The Face was a magazine that tried to rip off the DOs & DON’Ts and it was so bad. I mean, I didn’t think these were so great that it was such a unique talent until I saw other people doing it. There was one, there was a guy with camouflage pants on and he had a cell phone, and they said [spoken with a British accent] “You cannot be an eco warrior and have a fucking cell phone, you might as well have a sandwich board around you that says ‘I am Insane.’” The Face went bankrupt soon after that. But yeah, Blender did them for a while, NME gave it a whirl. So people have been trying to rip this off since it began really, and I go back and forth, sometimes it makes me furious and sometimes I could give a shit. If any of these imitators makes more money than me or gets a bigger book deal then I am going to kill them. Cause it won’t be like a bullet wound; I’ll use razors and I’ll peal their face off, but they’ll be alive and screaming.
FUN Artists: What is good style?
Gavin McInnes: I don’t know. You should maybe smoke a joint and have a hot bath to think about it. I’ve been trying to find that magical answer for 15 years now. But basically I think it’s someone going out on a limb, taking a risk, being brave, respecting the classics, and not wearing Skechers but having Chuck’s, but maybe the Chuck’s are yellow and she’s wearing a dress with it, some sort of spin. It’s like music you know, you gotta know what the rules are before you break them. So to me I would give someone 10 kitties [Gavin’s rating system falls on a 1 through 10 kitties line] if they were doing something that was well respected within the parameters of style, but buzzing!, they zinged it out at the last second with a … scarf.
FUN Artists: Do you have good style?
Gavin McInnes: I’m old; I like Yoda – I don’t have to be sexy, no one masturbates thinking of Yoda, but they do respect his opinion as a Jedi. So with my style I just do what I’m supposed to do which is: grow old gracefully, not have logos or band names on my shirts, not try to hide the fact that I’m balding, or wear big sunglasses or flip flops, or anything too casual, that’s my goal. But your goal as a young person should be participating. You’re only at courting age for 10 to 20 years, that’s a blip in a life so you might as well just go balls out.
FUN Artists: What is the 10 kitties rating system all about?
Gavin McInnes: It’s a very magical, unscientific thing, that’s just sort of happens out of the sky. You know the great Chinese calligraphers, if they did a good character they’d keep going, keep painting them until they’d collapse, but if they did one bad one they’d stop for three days. So that’s what I do with these fashion critiques; I sort of get in touch with the earth – the fashion earth, and feel that energy come into my fingertips, and then I retain the energy like one of the Fantastic Four, get to a key board, make the joke for as long as it’s magic, and then when the glitter starts fading – stand back.
FUN Artists: What else comes with age?
Gavin McInnes: Also when you get older you start caring about construction. Like when you see guys working when you’re young you go “Ahh, what a racket”, when you get to be 39 you go, “What are they doing? Oh that’s that plastic that’s recycled bags … Oh, so they’re drilling that into the cement, but they’re gonna need some kind of a tarp to go beneath that and the wood … Oh they’re using, that’s not plastic though, they’re using polyurethane – that’s interesting, I guess it will be weather proof…” We care about that. And lawns … and what is it about men when they become dads they start wearing bathrobes with their penis hanging out and giving a shit about their lawn? I remember as a kid going “that’s never going to be me” – but cut dew da la do – that’s me; penis out, lawn, slippers, “Fuck, that bald patch is still there!”
FUN Artists: What bands are you stoked on right now?
Gavin McInnes: I have young people go out and train me, so they sift through the shit. Um I just made probably the most exciting party mix that has ever been made; and that was having all these youngsters go out and do all the dirty work and then amalgamating it. It starts out with the Cults, and then goes to Yeasayer, then the new LCD Soundsystem – “Drunk Girls”, this new band called Dom that Pitchfork is really excited about, then Cerebral Ballzy a great hardcore band from East New York, Ninjasonik redoing Matt & Kim’s “Daylight”, which is about this street right here [motions to the street behind him], DJ’ing at Savalas down there, I really like BBU, I love Sleigh Bells … I’ve always really liked contemporary music. The new M.I.A., I don’t care about a suicide sample, isn’t that what they all do now? I like Young Money; I like really cheesy mainstream rap like Three 6 Mafia, there’s an office sample mashup with a hip-hop band called Clockwork. I like Gaslight Orchestra, Neon Indian … shit like that – really contemporary music.
At Vice I was opening a new box of CDs everyday, so it was a real kind of gift in that it stopped this instinct we all have to say “When I was 18 that was the best; music sucks now.” Even old people, “There’s no guitarist like Jimi Hendrix, that was the end.” Even my dad; he’s listening to fuckin’ Annie Lennox doing Motown classics, and he goes [in a British/Scottish accent] “See that, that is finished now. No need to make new music, perfection has been achieved so why make a new song?” I’m like, “First of all dad, it’s not a new song, it’s just a cover of fucking 60s music, and second it sucks shit.” So yeah, I’ve always been a fan of ridiculously contemporary music cause I think music is getting better. My friend had a 70s disco party recently and we’re dancing to “Ring My Bell” and I’m just sitting there [shifts his hips side to side in a manner that one would do if he were dancing and bored], this song is like eight minutes long and it’s one big terrible chorus. Compare that to contemporary stuff…
FUN Artists: Do you consider having a legacy, or is that even an issue?
Gavin McInnes: I’ll tell you what I do have, wanna talk about legacy [start un-buckling his pants, drops his pants], look at these legs. I don’t have much of an upper body, but my legs, they look like Spiderman’s. Breathtaking right? But that’s a curse cause when you have skinny arms and no shoulders it looks like Superman’s bottom with Grover’s top. So I guess my greatest legacy would be my legs…
Actually, when you get old and you start caring about things you never cared about before. Penny Rimbaud from the anarcho punk band Crass, that no one who is watching this will have ever heard of [ERIN INSERT SOME SORT OF “FUCK YOU GAVIN” HERE, AND CAUSE FUCK YEAH WEVE HEAD OF CRASS, AND LORD KNOWS WE WERE BUMPIN CRASS WHEN THIS FUCKER WAS JUST STARTED BUMPIN CRASS EVEN THOUGH HES 9 YEARS OUR ELDER], he almost died recently in a motorcycle accident, and all of a sudden he started worrying about the fact that he hadn’t put his name on any of his songs, and I kind of feel the same way. Vice is responsible for Williamsburg, DOs & DON’Ts is responsible for the word “hipster,” we kind of invented this whole phenomenon the same way Paul Weller was the kind of mods, Malcolm McLaren sort of invented punk. So that’s my legacy … Ha ha, what a fuckin’ legacy. My dad ended communism, he built sonar for reading submarines and it was so exact he could tell you how many people were in the sub, how many missiles it had; it was like an x-ray of the submarine. And at that time, back in ‘80s when Regan was really bucking horns with Russia, their trump card was their nuclear subs, and my dad found a way to call them on their bluff and see that there’s nothing there, and that was the thread that unraveled the whole sweater. So his legacy is ending communism; my legacy is a bunch of jokes and a tiny blip in the history of youth sub-culture.