I WAS A SUSPECTED SCHOOL SHOOTER
By now, the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting has faded into memory for many people, a horrible event already superseded in the headlines by other horrible events. At the time it shocked me to a degree I thought I could no longer be shocked, a reaction no doubt shared by everyone who heard the news. But it also stirred up some more complicated emotions for me along with the sadness – it reminded me that when I was a teenager, the people around me thought that I was capable of what the Newtown killer did. At one point, I was more of a potential murderer than a potential murder victim.
I grew up in Barre, Vermont, a town with a poverty level on par with an urban slum, a rural pocket of ugliness decorated with halfway houses and abandoned storefronts. The town bred drug addicts, premature deaths and weirdos, but I was still too weird for it. As a kid, I possessed an eccentric streak and was prone to long periods of silence punctuated by bursts of hyperactivity. On top of that, I possessed a dark sense of humour, and was naturally attracted to outlandish outfits. I tried to tame these tendencies and stay under the social radar in middle school and early high school, but it didn’t help. It was like my classmates could smell that I wasn’t quite right. I was bullied mercilessly for years, even by my “best friends”, in the manner of the worst stereotypes of tween girls. My friends would send mixed messages, being affectionate one moment only to commit spontaneous acts of physical and borderline sexual violence and emotional terror the next. What I wore, what I ate and who I talked to were all controlled. Imagine Mean Girls only the girls weren’t as popular or attractive and were much more vicious. We were probably only friends by default – we were bullied together by the more popular kids, thus we stuck it out together, but we never mistook our forced alliance for love.
The summer of 1997, before my sophomore year of high school, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to fit into my current environment regardless of what I did, and was sick of the unhealthy relationship that I was stuck in with my “friends”. I was still shy and withdrawn, so my rebellion was expressed through my clothing instead of my words – excessive amounts of eye makeup, dog collars, offensive t-shirts, the whole avant-garde nine yards. This acting out wasn’t directed against my parents (they didn’t care how I dressed) but toward my friends and the rest of the school. I figured letting my weirdness show regardless of the potential backlash was better than continuing to try desperately to fit in only to be mildly tolerated at best.
A COURT CASE MADE MY CAREER AS A CARTOONIST
Mike Diana may not be the only comic book artist to have been jailed for his work, but he’s the only one I know of who drew his criminal cartoons in the police station where his mum worked. His violent and pornographic themes first turned him into a suspect in the sensational Gainesville Ripper case and then landed him a conviction for obscenity. All because, it turns out, a young prosecutor was looking to make a name for himself. It’s all good now, though – apparently the case kind of helped kickstart Diana’s career.
Mike currently has a show on in London, so I thought it’d be nice to have a chat with him about how growing up in conservative Florida didn’t do much for his desire to produce pretty drawings of horses eating daisies.
VICE: So, I’m assuming it’s quite nice for you to be in the UK? I’d imagine people here might be a little less conservative than in Florida, where you come from?
Mike Diana: Yeah, definitely. Europe is freer – more so than ‘the land of the free’. I moved to Florida from New York when I was eight years old and I noticed a big difference. For example, I had to go to church in New York, too, but in New York it was kind of fun, because I could just sit there and look at the stained glass windows. In Florida, the priest would be screaming about how we would burn in hell and the teachers carried around paddles that they’d hit the kids with.
MEET THE DOMINATRIX STANDING UP FOR CANADA’S PROSTITUTES
Prostitution in Canada is legal. However, most things that make it possible are not. On Monday 26th March, a retired dominatrix and madame named Terri-Jean Bedford went to the Court of Appeals in Ontario to challenge three of the laws that make being a prostitute in Canada so tedious and difficult. She succeeded in overturning two of them, so now it’s legal for men and women of the night to run their businesses out of brothels – or “bawdy houses”, as they’re known in Canadian law – and to hire security guards, chauffeurs and accountants to help those businesses run more easily. However, they’re still not allowed to communicate the fact that those businesses exist, which means that street prostitution in particular is still very risky (and essentially illegal) business in Canada.
Read the full article here
RUBBER UP OR GTFO, LOS ANGELES TELLS ITS PORN STARS
Last month the City Council of Los Angeles passed – and Mayor Antonio Villagaroisa approved – a groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind law that will force male porn actors to wear condoms while shooting movies. This is a big deal.
While estimates vary – and the logistics of tracking such numbers brings out all sorts of scepticism – anywhere from 80 percent to 90 percent of all professionally-made porn (and not, say, the handheld kind with adorable and off-putting puppies staring at the camera in the background) is made in the LA. It’s a whole lot, is the point. It has permeated LA culture to the point where, in my seven years as a resident, I can no longer count the times I’ve had the dreaded internal debate about whether or not I should inform the person I’m with that I recognise that girl/ guy, and that it’s not a “celebrity sighting” per say, but more a “last time I saw him/ her they were banging on my computer screen” kind of thing.
It’s still unclear how a measure like this is going to be mandated – will there be state officers monitoring every Astroglide-stenched set to make sure rubbers never “accidentally” fall off? – but that doesn’t mean the debate isn’t one to be had.
Read the full article here