When you spend a lot of time in the middle of nowhere with guns going off while people BBM you about getting enough b-roll, you start to heavily rely on inanimate objects. Things that might not seem overly exciting or interesting at home quickly stop you from sitting in the shower crying and throwing your MacBook out the hotel window. These are some of the items that our VICE film crews now have emotional attachments to.
Literally the best heavy metal band from Baghdad. So good, in fact, that we started making feature-length films just so we could go to Iraq during the war and get bombed by the allies while hanging out with these guys. We owed them, so we got them lifetime tickets to the best show on Earth… LIVING IN AMERICA!
Well, you need computers to make films, and you need phones to call people to argue about why a film is spiralling over budget, and neither computers nor phones will work without coltan. Which is why we went to the Congo to find out how it was mined and say, “THANKS COLTAN-MINING SLAVES!”
SIBERIAN EYE DROPS
Heroin in Siberia is insanely cheap, but clearly not cheap enough. When we went to meet the Russian drug addicts making the horrific new drug Krokodil, everywhere we visited the floor was littered with innocuous little bottles of eye drops. Why? Because before they worked out how to make Krokodil out of matches, codeine tablets and petrol, addicts were cutting the smack with eye drops and shooting it up straight.
See KROKODIL TEARS
If you are being marched up a Norwegian mountain in knee-deep snow at night by a man as terrifying as Gaahl from Gorgoroth, then one thing you don’t want on your mind—on top of hanging out with a blackmetal Satanist who was accused of torturing a man for six hours while collecting his blood into a cup and threatening to make him drink it—is your toes falling off. Sadly, we weren’t well prepared, and plastic bags strapped to your feet don’t work.
SQUARE SAUSAGE AKA A SLICE US
Pro-wrestlers have steroids, Glaswegian wrestlers have slice. Slice is sausage meat, but in a handy square slice format. This was the ideal pre-wrestling match snack for Grado, an Insane Championship Wrestling competitor we followed around Glasgow while making The British Wrestler. It’s basically one of those Scottish things that no one else eats because it’d give a tank full of marines a heart attack. According to Grado, it’s the business, especially when it comes from a burger van parked in a dust pit on the side of Scotland’s most miserable motorway.
Liquid Silk is the UK’s go-to lube, so obviously a large percentage of its revenue comes in from the UK porn industry. As we found out when we went to the quaint seaside town of Scarborough to film behind the scenes of Olympics-themed Brit-porn Chariots of Jizz, Liquid Silk also doubles as imitation baby gravy for all those facials that weren’t quite up to spec.
Take them or you’ll get malaria. But if you take them you won’t be able to sleep without having the most evil nightmares. Then when you wake up screaming and sweating you’ll realise you’re actually somewhere terrifying like Liberia and in a few hours you have to go and film in a brothel. Hell.
See pretty much everything except THE CUTE SHOW
AN EMPTY BOTTLE
Oh, the UK police don’t gas you, but they do kettle you for 12 hours in the snow. If you work for the BBC then you use your £50,000,000 press pass to escape, file copy and be home for tea. If you’re us, though, and you look like a student, you’re going to be there for ages and need somewhere to piss. Hence the bottle.
Guess what we found out? You can find weed EVERYWHERE. If you hang out in the rich parts of Islamabad you’re more than likely to hook up with some rich girls who look like they’re in the Pakistani version of The Hills. If you make it to their parents’ giant mansions they’ll put a tennis ball-sized rock of opium-infused hash in your hand quicker than you can say, “I’d fucking love to smoke a joint.” It’s a lot easier to get than a drink anyway, and you’re going to need something to stop you fearing out about being a zillion miles from Hackney.
See all the films
Well, not a literal one, a metaphorical illegal one. When we were rolling around south London with fraudsters, they were excited to hear about the time I put my student debit card behind a bar, ran up a huge bill and then went to the toilets to call my bank to say my card had been stolen and then left without paying. Totally kicked the shit out of their stories about kidnapping accountants. They knew who was boss from then on.
Ever wondered what would happen if you took an Amazonian frog of the species Phyllomedusa bicolor— or the Sapo—then rubbed its highly toxic venom into a small burn in your arm? Of course you have, and so had Hamilton Morris, VICE’s drug correspondent. As part of his Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia series, he went to the Amazon and gave it a whirl. As it turns out, the reputedly morphine or LSD-like effects of the venom mainly made him vomit.
ANTI-BACTERIAL HAND WASH
A massive player not just in Siberia but also when we were shooting Swansea Love Story. If you spend days on end in needle-strewn front rooms that belong to immunosuppressed drug addicts, you start getting very into this stuff. We’ve been through shitloads of it over the last few years.
JAR THAT PROVES THE WORLD IS OVER
Toxic is a series that sends us all around the world to find out that the planet is basically dying. This beaut is full of junk and plastic we picked up from a floating island of rubbish in the Atlantic which is bigger than Texas. If you ever fancy putting the fear of god in yourself, go see the man-made island of death.
Everywhere except England has tear gas. The world map should be England and then just a load of gas clouds and choking protesters. So yeah, if you leave England for anything vaguely political, you’ll need a gas mask. This one was bought in Greece and it sucks, but it’s better than nothing because tear gas is so noxious that even though this mask last got gassed over a year ago, someone put it on at a party recently and it made them cry.
BIT OF NECK
There’s one sure-fire way of knowing you picked the best hotel in Kabul—and that’s finding a bit of neck belonging to the suicide bomber who blew up the other hotel the night before. It’s the Michelin star of combat zone hotelling.
WEAPON FROM THE FUTURE
You want to find out how the most evil men on the planet will be killing you next year and maybe even have a go on the guns yourself?! Of course you do, which is why you should be booking your ticket to next year’s SOFEX arms show in Amman, Jordan. We went last year. It was a laugh.