Photos by Matt Swinsky
The world has always been a terrifying place, but few have the bravery to stick their head into the vilest and most dead-end aspects of the human condition and document it. As far as we can tell, this is the thesis of Vrille, a twisted-ass video series directed by Matt Swinsky. We found out about Vrille by way of our favorite stripper-banging, double-penetrating duo, the ATL Twins. They helped Matt put the inaugural “episode” together, which features their childhood friends Adam and Andrew Gates—who also happen to be twins and go by the collective “Suave” and “Cutesy,” aka the Li’l Twins.
The ATL Twins and Matt first met the Li’l Twins at a young age, via the skateboarding scene in Atlanta. But over the years, the Gates boys went off in a peculiar and depressing direction, devolving into boozing hermits who spend their days watching obscure films on a near-broken TV, smoking cigs, and, on the rare occasion when they were feeling social, hanging out with the dregs of society. You can tell after the first few moments of this clip, which is shot on gritty VHS tape inside the Li’l Twins’ dilapidated home, that the two boys have seen some really fucked-up shit in their day.
We won’t completely spoil the story in the video for you, but we will say that it involves an allegedly murderous KKK member who has skinned a few folks (whether they were alive or dead at the time of the skinning has been lost to the sands of time). We also want to make it clear that the gnarly-ass tale told by the Gates Twins is believed to be gospel by both the ATL Twins and the director, Matt. The ATL Twins and Matt also want everyone to know that this documentary is not meant to be exploitative in any way, and the Li’l Twins gave them full approval to shoot it—in other words, it’s “just real shit.”
VICE: How’d you guys meet the Li’l Twins?
The ATL Twins: When we first moved to ATL, we moved to this neighborhood, and we met them. They were skaters, and they were twins. The whole crew was little kids, we were young too, but they were younger—like 16 or some shit—but we got with them and started skating and became really good friends with them. Eventually we became roommates with them and worked with them and shit. Actually, they used to be really amazing skateboarders.
In the interview Chris Nieratko did with you a couple of years ago that sort of introduced you to the world, you guys said something like “fuck other twins.” So I’m surprised you were so close with these two.
Yeah, well, we never really ever met any other twins to be honest with you. Other than the Li’l Twins, we haven’t kicked it with any twins. We can relate to them in a lot of always; they were different, they would fight, they were close, but they would also get into fights. One of them knocked the other one’s tooth out. They were bad. They were also really close. We really clicked with them—skateboarding, movies, and shit. We always saw eye to eye on everything, they were really cool.
So what happened to them? They seem to be sort of living in squalor, and from the looks of things, they’re in a pretty dark place. Is that their reality, or was it played up for the video?
I don’t know, man, we used to skate and the whole crew we had just fell apart, but they went and did their own things. The other guys just started fucking drinking and never stopped. I think the first time they partied was probably with us.
You corrupted them?
They probably would drink two beers and be fucked up, you know? They’re just something else, man. For years they just got deeper and deeper into hermitry; they don’t leave the house. They used to come kick it, come out and go party with us and shit, somewhat. I think one of them had a serious girlfriend, and she broke him. Now they don’t even really leave the house or anything. Gotta be miserable.
What sort of neighborhood were they living in when you shot the video?
They were living in this crazy-ass Mexican-black ghetto, a shitty apartment complex. That’s where that video was filmed. But they actually ended up just moving out of there and in with their grandmother.
How often do you see them these days?
We always keep in contact with them. They’ll fall off for a couple of months, and we’ll talk to them on the phone and shit, and we’re like damn, so if we’re in their area we’ll stop by and say what’s up. I heard about this spot they were moving in, and when we were in the area, we’d go by and stop by for 10 or 15 minutes and smoke a cigarette, talk to them, catch up real quick. We saw how they were living; it was so crazy. We were like, “What the fuck?” They wouldn’t throw their trash or beer cans away. All they do is drink. They don’t ever eat, and if they have to eat, they’ll order a pizza and eat like two bites of a slice and be like, “Ughhh,” you know? All they want to do is drink and watch movies.
Where do they get money for beers and smokes and the occasional pizza?
They used to work in this Mexican sweatshop that their uncle owned. That’s where we met them because we had been working there too, years ago. It’s a place where you process junk mail, like shit you get in the mail from workout places—LA Fitness bullshit or a Gold’s Gym membership. They’d pump that bullshit out all day. It was really nasty, shitty work. They’d work like 15 hours a week, enough to get beer and cigarettes.
Why’d you shoot this video? How’d it come about.
We just saw how they were living. It was nuts. It was like, “What the fuck are you guys doing? You’re going off the deep end, like you just don’t give a fuck anymore.” They were just gone, they’re like, “Nah, we don’t give a fuck, we don’t give a shit.” I’m like, “You guys gotta quit drinking, you know?” We’re trying to help them. I mean, they’re really in bad shape. And we were shooting the shit with them, and they started telling us these crazy stories. The craziest story was this one about this dude, and these murders—this guy “Dr. Giggles” who was in the KKK and skinned these three black dudes, and he was giggling the entire time—and I was like, “What the fuck?” The dude was so fucking faded, the next day he didn’t remember, we’re like, “What, that’s creepy.” Anyway, they were telling this story, and I was weirded out by it. We have this good friend, Matt Swinsky, who’s a fucking dope cinematographer. I think he’s a genius. We’ve always fucked with him. He used to come skateboarding before he moved on to bigger things. We start talking to him, like, “It’d be sick to document this in some way,” and he was like “I wanna film it with a VHS camera.” So we went over there, and we were like, “Can we come over here and fucking film you?” And, of course, they didn’t give a fuck. They were like, “C’mon over!” So we go over there, and they know we like Gwar, so they had Gwar playing on their shitty TV. So, yeah, we just went over there and fucking filmed it, and just the video that you see, I think it’s fucking dope. Kinda creepy.
No shit, it’s creepy.
We showed it to Harmony Korine. He said it was very haunting.
When did you shoot it?
Maybe, like, six months ago. But they’re still doing the same shit. They need to come out of the house. They just won’t do it, they just get enough money for beer and drink box wine, the cheapest fucking alcohol you can possibly get.
What’s up with the fire-extinguisher scene at the end?
I don’t know. They just started fucking spraying it; like I said, they just don’t give a shit. I had to, like, get out of the room. Do you know how shitty it is to breathe that shit in? It was fucking crazy—they’re like dancing in it, smoking cigarettes in it. They don’t care about anything.
So, do you think the story is true? Do you think this guy actually skinned people alive?
I think it’s creepy, and I think it’s fucked up and real. They didn’t make this shit up. I just think it’s like they say: There was just this guy who blacked out and told them all this shit, and the next day he was like, “I don’t remember shit. I was wasted.” They like just kind of looked at each other like, “Uhhh, fuck.”
The second installment of Matt Swinsky's (@MattSwinsky) Vrille is already live on YouTube. Although it was produced without assistance from the ATL Twins, it's no less disturbing than Part One and involves bloody fetuses and smoking crack. Check it out here at your own risk.