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The Talking Issue

Chris Nieratko

Lots of interviews with people who've had crazy shit happen to them.
October 2, 2008, 12:00am


Photo by Seth Bedell

Vice: You used to be a model?

Sarah Bedell: I've done modeling. There's an agency in Hawaii that I worked for and I've done some small commercials. I did stunts on Baywatch. I had a one-page in Playboy.

So what is your story with the dog attack?

We were living in the Caribbean on St. John and we were invited over to some friends' house for dinner. They were acquaintances, really. We didn't know them well, but there weren't that many people to hang out with there. Plus we were kind of on the fence about going because we didn't like their dog. But they told us the dog wouldn't be there. We didn't like their dog because when our dog was a puppy, theirs tried to rough it up. You could just tell this animal wasn't good. It was a German shepherd. We had heard other people saying that this dog would growl at them. Lots of people were scared of this animal.


So we get there and we see this dog patrolling the house. I said to my husband, "Seth, can you ask them what the fuck the dog is doing here?" Seth gets out of the car and he's like, "I thought you guys said that he was not here." They said, "Oh, he must have gotten out. But he's fine. He recently got fixed and he's not aggressive anymore. Don't worry about it." The guy picked up a stick and started playing fetch with the dog to try and distract him while we got our stuff out of our car. While he's throwing the stick, his girlfriend leads us into this house. I'm walking behind her and Seth is behind me carrying a box of food. We walked through this arched doorway into an unfinished kitchen and as soon as I stepped through the door the dog had come in through a different way. I didn't even see him coming—he came from behind, got on his hind legs, and just latched onto my face.

His one canine went through my cheek and the other one, his top canine, wrapped around the top of my brow bone. He wouldn't let go. He had me pinned up against the wall and the woman was screaming and Seth was kicking the dog in the ribs as hard as he could. Then the dog owner grabbed its hind legs and literally ripped him off my face. That's why the cut kind of horseshoes around my eye.

After they pulled him off of me they gave me a roll of paper towels. Seth and I got in the car and drove to the only little hole-in-the-wall medical center there was near there. This Filipino doctor was on staff. She didn't know what to do with me, so she started giving me morphine.


What was the state of your face at that point?

The horseshoe around my eye had actually come down and flopped over. There was a big gash in my cheek.

How long did the actual attack take?

How long was the dog locked onto my face? It felt quick cause I blanked out. I remember coming through the door and then I remember the fucking asshole whose dog it was giving me a roll of paper towels that was dirty. Then I remember thinking, "Fuck you."As we were driving down the driveway we heard gunshots. They killed the dog.

How many surgeries have you had since?

I'm going in for number four soon. The first surgery took eight hours. The first two actually made it look worse and my doctor explained to me that it was going to be a process he calls "tweaking and fine tuning." He's like, "You're not gonna be happy after the first couple of surgeries because things get swollen and scar tissue builds. But I'm setting everything up like playing pool. I am setting up my shots so I can get the ball in the pocket on the final one." It's definitely amazing what he's done. It's going to be 90 percent better. You can still see some purple scars around my eye and there's a little bit of webbing in the corner where there was that deep cut. But he thinks the webbing will go away after this last time.

Are you over dogs as a result?

I have extreme anxiety around German shepherds, but I still love dogs. I've had big dogs my whole life. But I'm definitely not as trusting now, especially with my kid. I don't ever let him go up and pet a random dog.

Photo by Chris Nieratko



Vice: Didn't you tell me you electrify your pussy?

Lorelei Lee: I've had my pussy electrified many times. And my asshole and my nipples. I've also been cattle-prodded and they pretty much poke you everywhere with that.

What are you hooked up to? A car battery?

There are many different toys that you can use to electrify your vagina, but no, none of them involve car batteries. I'm sure you could and I'm sure someone has done that before but I would not recommend it. It's medical-grade electricity just like when you go to a physical therapist and they use medical currents to stimulate your muscles. I work for a site called and that's where I've done most of my experiences.

Do you use those toothy, heavy-duty clamps? Like jumper cables?

No, but we do have some heavy-duty clamps. They hurt so fucking much. The clamps are the worst part. The electrical current going through the clamps if they're on your labia or your nipple, it's like a sewing needle jabbing right through it. But there are also various other toys that have softer currents.

Has your vagina gotten tougher as a result? Are you able to withstand higher and higher voltage?

I don't think it's a build up kind of thing. I think there's a fear factor in the beginning that you can overcome but most of the girls I know who have experienced electricity maintain the fear factor. Even if you know it's not going to cause any damage. You can't see it coming and can't prepare for it. It's like this invisible thing all of a sudden attacking you.


What would happen if I pissed on your vagina as it was getting electrocuted?

I don't know for sure but it would probably just electrify your piss. It's not really a dangerous charge, so if it got wet it wouldn't be lethal.

My friend Dave saw somebody get electrocuted and die at work. Have you?

Oh my god. No. That's horrible. I've never seen anyone die and I hope to keep that up. Do you want to know what the worst shoot I ever did was?


I had needles stuck in me all over and then they electrified the needles.

Where were they stuck?

In the pussy, in the thighs, in the boobs, everywhere. It was scary. I tried to be brave.

I could not do that. You're a better woman than I am a man.

Maybe someday we could have a contest.


Drawing by Chris Nieratko

Vice: Didn't you see some guy at work get electrocuted and die?

Dave Hatalla: Yeah. He had a heart attack when he got electrocuted. It was in Alabama at a sawmill. He was working in some switchgear and hit the wrong bus or something, fried himself, and had a heart attack. I was like 15 feet away when it happened.

What did it look like? Like in the movies?

Yeah, kinda. That electric-chair look, when you get zapped. You shake all around and it hurts like hell.

Wasn't there an old guy recently up in Jersey that you saw die?

No, not up here. Not at my job.

Have you ever been electrocuted?

Yeah, enough to get thrown back 12 feet from a 15,000-volt line. I was tying in some switchgear and the static charge built up on the phases, I reached in with a wrench and it jumped from A-Phase to B-Phase and it knocked me back. I blacked out. I had Craftsman engraved in my hand, upside down from the wrench. I wish I could remember what story you were talking about, of the old guy that died.


I think you said it was like a week before he was getting married or some shit.

Oh, that was my friend Brainer. He was on a job and this kid who was his apprentice was just about to get married. He was driving one of those man-lifts high up in the air and he hit a hole and the whole lift fell and the kid came flying out of it and split his head wide open. My friend said the kid's brains were hanging out on the floor and it was pretty sick. It was like three or four days before his wedding. He was hemorrhaging and in convulsions. He died on-site.

Drawing by Chris Nieratko



Vice: So what's your story, Patrick?

Patrick Melcher: Well, I happily live in LA with my girlfriend now but this scenario happened back in Chicago when I was 18 and young and dumb. Because I was punk rock I thought getting my penis pierced would be a cool thing to do. I got the gnarliest one you can get, it's called an ampallang and it goes all the way through your whole entire cock, through your urethra and everything. When you get it you pee blood for a couple days. The pain is unspeakable. I wasn't ready for that kind of pain…

You know, this is actually a three-part story.

OK, let's hear part one.

I was dating this girl and we were doing it and you know how once in a while you'll miss and bend your cock in half and it hurts for a second and then you go back to it? I did that and then I went to change positions a minute or two later and I looked and there was blood all over the white sheets. I thought I was bleeding. I ran to the bathroom to shower the blood off me and I was looking and looking and I realized I wasn't bleeding. It had to be her. So we started looking and yeah, sure enough I sliced her open, right inside her labia. It was about a three-inch gash. I felt so bad.


That's part one.

I hope part two ramps it up.

It does. Part two happened when I was living with my brother and he was dating some chick and he did something really, really evil to piss me off so one day when the girl he was dating was over, I was like, "Well, he's an asshole…" and I let her go down on me. She had a really small mouth and—just so you understand what the ampallang piercing is, it goes horizontally through the head of your dick. So she's going down on me and then she stops and looks up at me with these eyes and then I feel her tugging away at me. Then I realized this piercing was caught in the canal of her throat and it was stuck. I started shaking and panicking and she was tugging and then she opened her mouth as wide as she could and stuck her pinky finger in there and wiggled it. My dick popped loose and all this drool came pouring out and that pretty much ruined the mood. I felt like it was retribution for trying to screw my brother's girlfriend. And that's part two.

Good one. Now make part three even worse.

OK. Part three was a few weeks later with this other girl going down on me and the same fucking thing happened. I felt the tug and I was like, "Oh no. Not again." I told her to put her finger in there and pop it loose. I kind of laughed because I'd already been through this once. I said, "It's stuck, isn't it?" and she was looking at me with these huge watery eyes. She was trying to wiggle it off but it was not working and the more she tried the more it was yanking and pulling on my dick. Fifteen seconds went by and she started getting shaky and weird. We were stuck together, lying on the bed. I couldn't even move to get up to reach for anything, but I don't know what I would have grabbed anyway. A pencil to stick in there to pop it loose, maybe? So she started to really panic and I could tell it was poking and ripping at her throat. Every move she made was pulling harder at the head of my cock. She was dripping with sweat and crying and snot was pouring out of her nose. It must have been 45 seconds of this and then she couldn't breathe and there was so much snot coming out her nose and she was really scared and every time she moved it hit her gag reflex. And then I was thinking, "Fuck. She's gonna vomit and it's not gonna come out and it's gonna go back in her windpipe and she's gonna drown on her own vomit while sucking my cock." It was getting scarier and scarier. I was screaming, "You gotta do something! Just rip it out!" I was about to just pull it out and tear the head of my dick off because if she died, which is totally what I was thinking, I was going to have this dead girl attached to my cock. What was the fire department going to do? Cut her head off? Break her jaw? All this weird shit was going through my head. I couldn't even make it to the phone to call 911. It felt like five full minutes had passed, but it must have only been 30 seconds. Finally I went limp and she was able to pull her body around so we were in a 69 position and then something popped loose. She picked her head up and all this blood poured out of her mouth. It had been ripping her throat apart. Half the blood was mine because it tore my cock all up. She was so unbelievably close to dying. I was like, "Fuck. Give me some pliers. I'm taking this piercing out right now. I'm done with it. It was a stupid idea in the first place." She said, "No, don't take it out. Just warn people from now on."


That's a great story, Patrick.

Thanks. It finally got to the point where I was dating two girls simultaneously and never removing it or cleaning it and crust was going in between the three of us and it was a bad scene. One night I woke up in the middle of the night and it hurt so bad that it felt like someone was sawing my dick off. My whole dickhead was red and swollen. When it went away I said, "Fuck this." I finally took it out but that was a whole year after that first blood incident. I wouldn't suggest to anyone that they get that piercing. Any genital piercing, for that matter, is stupid. It's really not worth it.

I feel bad for your penis.

No shit. Now I have scars on my cock.

Photo by Chris Nieratko


Vice: So what happened?

Devon: In 1996, while driving back from California, the Jeep that I was in flipped 10 to 15 times. My seatbelt broke and the Jeep rolled over my hand and arm.

Were you on drugs?

I wasn't, but there was a possibility that my friend's boyfriend who was driving was drinking or smoking pot. His toxicology report came back positive but he was in a coma for about six months afterward and he had very little recollection of the evening when he woke up. I don't remember seeing him drinking, and we were all underage. It's hard to say. Everyone who was in the accident either has brain damage or died so there's no real definitive witness on what happened.


Did your finger get ripped clean off or was it dangling?

Actually three of my fingers were cut off from the outermost edge of my hand to the middle knuckle of my middle finger. They reattached all three but because I was in some crackhead hospital in the desert they didn't think to put my hand in ice. I was helicoptered from California to Arizona and didn't have surgery until late that evening. By that point my finger had just kind of died due to lack of blood. They reattached it but they ended up amputating it a few days later.

So you didn't have to wander around looking for your torn-off fingers?

No. They were kind of dangling by skin. I was in shock and just got up and started walking down the road and somebody stopped. I remember a guy taking off his shirt and wrapping my hand. It was all kind of flopping around. I didn't feel any pain. I wasn't aware of anything. I cut up my feet walking on glass, my knees were jacked from getting thrown out of the car, my hands, arms, and face had injuries, I partially collapsed one of my lungs, and I bruised my liver. But I didn't feel anything. It didn't start to hurt until I was in the hospital for a few days and then I was in excruciating pain for a year and half.

Do you get phantom-pinkie feelings?

I always feel phantom pinkie. I don't remember that it's gone until I see it's not there. I miss wearing gloves. I'm tired of cutting the finger off and sewing them. I lived in Chicago for four years and mittens aren't really high fashion. I can't do the metal horns, and I miss that too. I mean, I can do one but sometimes the moment calls for double metal horns and I just can't do it. It's a bummer. But it makes my pinkie swears worth way more than anyone else's since I only have one.

Photo by Chris Nieratko



Vice: How is it that the best burritos in America are in New Brunswick, New Jersey?

Caesar of Tijuana Burrito: Well, we make them the best because it's all homemade. We put all the effort into making everything fresh every day. We are glad that the people like it.

Do you know what burrito I've been getting from you for the past year and a half?

Grilled chicken burrito, no sour cream, add guacamole instead with extra hot sauce. That's the only thing you eat.

Does it piss you off that that's the only thing I ever get?

Nah, I'm glad you like the grilled chicken. I'm not mad but I wish you would try something else too.

Like what?

You should try the steak burrito, it's really good. Or the chicken ranchero, it's the best. It's like a chicken stew. That's really good.

What's your favorite?

My favorite is the steak burrito. That's the one that I like. It's fresh. We cut it every day. We don't use regular steak, we use hanger steak, which is really tender.

That's what I'm going to try next time then.

No you won't. You will still get the grilled chicken. I know.

Photo by Chris Nieratko


Vice: So you only have nine toes, huh?

Joe: Yeah.

That's cool.


Photos by (surprise) Chris Nieratko.


Vice: Jerry, I'm eating a salad. Is it OK if I eat while we talk?

Jerry Hsu: Of course. If it makes this easier for you and makes it go by quicker for me then go ahead and eat.


Why? Do you not want to talk to me?

No, I want to talk to you, Chris. Am I being interviewed right now?

We are recording. Do you feel interviewed?

A little bit. I feel that feeling. My stomach feels uncomfortable.

What if I said I turned the recorder off?

That is much better. Chris, what is up? Man, nice to talk to you.

This moment is so real. Let me ask you, when did you realize you were Jerry Hsu?

I think as soon as I started getting paid and the checks said Jerry Hsu, that's when I knew I was Jerry Hsu.

But I'm not talking about Jerry Hsu the Asian. Or Jerry Hsu the skateboarder. I'm talking about the Jerry Hsu that Vice has made you into: an art celebrity without peer.

Oh. I don't know if I can pinpoint a moment really. Boy. I think we need to stretch and do some jumping jacks before we jump into this.

Are there days when Vice being so on your dick is so overwhelming that you just have to say, "Guys, love me a little less today."

Yeah. Basically every day. Every day it's like that. Missed calls, unopened emails. But it feels nice to be able to dismiss those kinds of things and just go on with my life.

What are some of the traits that you like about Vice that keeps you keeping them around?

It's nice to open up a Vice and see the new Colt 45 ad campaigns and keep in touch with what youth culture is doing. You know, to see what kind of pro skater is endorsing what kind of headphone company these days. And it's nice to know when the Polyphonic Spree has a new album coming out.


What are some of the personality traits that you don't like about Vice?

It would be nicer to be put on a higher pedestal than I am now. It would be nice if Vice honored me a little bit more. Maybe if I was mentioned in more issues. Every issue would be nice.

Aren't you mentioned in every issue?

I don't think so. It would be nice to be the Employee of the Month, every month. You know what I would like? I'd like to be a founder. That would be nice.

Are you aware that Vice credits you with the cardigan?

They credit me? For the existence of the cardigan? That's pretty good. Thanks, Vice.

They also say you invented the camera.

That's accurate. They checked their facts.

They went so far as to burn any book that has mention of an Asian prior to you.


You are the first Asian.

What about Ben Cho?

Never heard of it. Is that a sex maneuver?

I don't know, Chris. You would know.

Actually you would know. Don't you have a sister who is a porn star named Jade Hsu?

We were actually married once. She kept my name. It was a little weird, it was arranged by my parents. Unbeknownst to them she has kind of a crazy streak. Things didn't really work out so they unarranged it.

Were her feet bound?

No, they're huge. She had gigantic feet. It was disgusting.

Anyone in your family responsible for Pearl Harbor?

Well, me being the first Asian I guess I would be responsible, right?


See. You got to warm me up. You can't just shove it in, Chris. You gotta wine and dine me, some kisses on the neck, and then I'll get going.


Who loves you more? Patrick O'Dell or me?

That's not a question I can answer. You guys have to discuss that between yourselves. You've probably made me more money. But I don't want to say. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, especially yours, Chris.

Ouch. That leads me to believe you're leaning toward Patrick.

Not necessarily. Maybe that didn't come out right. What I meant to say was, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, especially not Patrick O'Dell's.

In this issue I have interviewed people who have had their faces ripped off by dogs, lost fingers and toes, watched people die, and electrified their vaginas. So, what have you got?

I'm boring. Nothing ever happens to me. I can calculate a tip after a meal pretty well.

What percentage do you use?

Well, that depends on how good the service was and how delicious my meal was. It ranges usually from 15 to 20 percent.

Do you ever go over 20 percent?

I did last night at the Olive Garden because the guy who waited on me and my girlfriend was a skater and he was extra nice.

Did you leave him an autograph?

Of course I left him an autograph. I paid with my credit card. I also left him a 25-percent tip. He was just so nice and excited. The service was just excellent.

Did you send him back for breadsticks?


And salad?

Twice. And he boxed up my Tour of Italy all nice. Everything was separated.

What is the Tour of Italy?

The Tour of Italy is what I get every time I'm at the Olive Garden. It would be lasagna, chicken parmesan, and fettuccine alfredo. Endless pasta bowls. Yeah. That's a lot. Have you ever been to the Olive Garden?


I have. And I know that I really enjoy their breadsticks and salad.

Yeah. That's what I do, Chris. I fill up on the salad and the breadsticks and then I just take the meal home and eat it later.

Sometimes I get an entire bowl of salad and I just dump it on the floor because I know they'll bring more.


That wasn't a question.

Yeah, that wasn't really an answer.

Where else does the Jerry Hsu that we read about in Vice magazine like to eat?

You can find me at 7-11 getting nachos.

So very urban.

You can find me at Chinese restaurants with my parents.

Are you Chinese?


I thought you were Filipino.

Who told you that? Wikipedia?

What are you doing right now? What are you wearing?

Nothing. I'm just sitting in my chair.

You're doing nothing or you're wearing nothing?


What do you think all the Vice kids are wearing right now?

American Apparel?

I was gonna say top hats.

Steve Martin and Steve Martin. Photo courtesy of Steve Martin.


Vice: Are you the Steve Martin that used to be funny in the 70s in movies like The Jerk?

Steve Martin: No, I am not. Although many people have made funny jokes in reference to that and have inadvertently given me upgrades at hotels and on flights and then expressed great disappointment when I showed up. But they were too embarrassed by their own star-fucking blunders to reverse it. I once had a really nice private-floor suite at South by Southwest.


Does that make you feel disappointed in who you really are?

No, not at all. Like you, I have my own little fiefdom where I'm famous, where the perks of being the Steve Martin that I am are arguably better than the perks he has.

Which Steve Martin are you?

I'm the publicist guy.

What happened to the other guy?

You know there's more than one other. There's the guy who made the theremin documentary, who once got served with a US Marshall's notice that he ran up all these insane credit-card charges making that movie and they were coming after my shit. It was really weird because my office number was off by one number from his, my home address at the time was East 12th and he lived on East 12th. I met him. I'd seen him around and he couldn't look less like me. He was like six-and-a-half-feet tall, salt-and-pepper red hair. I had to call the marshalls and be like, "I don't want to rat this guy out but I also don't want to give you my money, so here's where he lives."

Weren't you at a party where you got introduced to the other Steve Martin?

Yeah, that's true. It was a Saturday Night Live party.

Wasn't the other Steve Martin a total dick?

I wouldn't go that far. He was just awkward.

Can I go that far and call him a dick?

As long as you don't say that I said it. It was weird. We've all heard stories about different celebrities' idiosyncrasies whether it's Danny Thomas wanting people to shit on a glass table over his face or that little midget from Fantasy Island. I was pretty aware that he was a private guy and a Mensa genius and doesn't like to be bothered and keeps to himself. This was a pretty crazy party and he was just keeping to himself in the corner. So Adam Horovitz from the Beastie Boys insisted that we meet and he said, "Give me your driver's license." So I did, and he walked over to him and Steve Martin took out these grandpa glasses, saw what it was, looked around, saw me, walked over, and said, "Nice name." I was like, "Man, I've gone through 30 years of ribbing and that's the best you can do?" And he was like, "Do you want to take a picture or something?" Not in a mean way but just that he didn't know what else to say. I called my wife over and said, "Hey, Steve Martin wants to take a picture." That was it.

Have you ever worn one of those wild and crazy comedic fake arrows on your head for Halloween?

No, never did that. Never wore a white suit. Nothing. I guess I've squandered a lot of chances. I guess when I was starting up I could have marketed my company as a wild and crazy PR firm.

Have you ever made any crappy movies with Queen Latifah?

No, never done that. I played guitar for a living but never played banjo.

Well, that's something I suppose.