Billie JD Porter's Half-Life Story
Billie JD Porter was ten when VICE started in the UK.
I was ten when VICE started in the UK. I was one year away from secondary school when somewhere in a tiny office in Shoreditch, VICE staff were writing DOs and DON’Ts and booking Roll Deep for fashion parties. Well, we’ve both been through tough times since then. This is what I’ve had to deal with in the second half of my life so far.
YOUTH (AGE 10–12)
I was boring, just like you were. At age 12, going anywhere other than the cinema or, like, a park seemed pretty much unimaginable. I was too up myself to do any non-curricular activities that might encourage me to make friends and I went to a fucking terrible school, EGA, nicknamed “Every Girl Available”. EGA had only just turned single sex in an attempt to try and improve the behaviour, but it hadn’t worked. There were a lot of weaves ripped out at break and lots of boys snuck into lessons. No one went in very much.
By the time I hit 13, I’d gone to enough all-age battle of the bands and day festivals to collect a group of MIXED GENDER friends outside school and my whole Daria jig was up. Plus my period was regular! We were certainly an odd bunch, but we loved each other. We were all about day trips and house parties in Penge. We did lots of walking, drinking White Ace and communicating on MSN. I started dating the son of Pinhead from Hellraiser (cool!!!!) and almost got fingered, but didn’t.
“COUNTER CULTURE” (14)
So, hanging around and drinking Aftershock with emos on Camden Lock during the day may seem like it might have been a step backwards from hanging out with my real old buds, but it wasn’t. It was about moving away from the increasingly claustrophobic “friendship group” or gang that had been the foundation for all of my social interaction thus far. It began to feel incestuous even though we were virgins. Anyway, now I was out and about exaggerating my “identity” (learning guitar, wearing red jeans and dying my hair pink) and “mingling” (at 2 PM with people from MySpace), in a basic attempt to mimic what I thought adult life was like. Look, I have a personality! See my “Who I’d Like to Meet” section. Look, I’m talking about a crap band with someone I’ve never met before! This transient binge drinking with people I barely knew was actually shockingly similar to my current vacuous and hollow social life. Training wheels, I guess. Thanks, MySpace era.
SEX / PURPLE CONTACT LENSES (14–15)
I lost my virginity to a socially inept drum ’n’ bass DJ who brought our pet goldfish to his sets at Fabric. It died, just like our love, when I fucked a more successful DJ and realised old men > boys. Once I ditched the air horn and the pill-popping at squat raves I started getting DJ sets at crap clubs in east London and finally realised what a life of pretence and snobbery could offer me: true sadness and insecurity, or what some might call AN EDGE. I wore red lipstick and began tacking on an extra three years to my already stupidly exaggerated age.
My precocious nature and snaggletooth started to attract lots of older guys. I spent a good year or so rinsing rich men for drinks and drugs with my friend Amy Green. We spent a lot of time in hotel bars hanging out with investment bankers from Dubai, forcing them to take us for rides in their yellow Ferraris and pay for our Champagne Shimmers. Sometimes we wound up smoking weed with Eurotrash and other times we found ourselves at awkward lock-ins at cocktail bars with lawyers. I remember one man wheezing in my ear, “You’re the fire of my loins” (he really said that). But for all the midlife crises we had to pretend to sympathise with and the Old Spice we had to inhale, that was probably my favourite “phase” of life so far. Classy.
BECOMING A WOMAN (16)
Sixteen! I could finally stop lying about my age and worrying about turning everyone I hook up with into a statutory rapist! Hooray! Although, once you’ve started lying about your age, it’s hard to stop while keeping your story straight. My parents were a mess so I moved in with my bi-curious boyfriend in Croydon and began working at a PR company in the basement of the old VICE office after having a prang out at my sixth form induction. The next place I lived in was a £70-a-week damp basement flat on the Murder Mile. I lived with three jerks and it sucked. But at work I was sharing the same nosebag as significant young media types!
After holding down a real job for a few months and getting a few real articles printed in real magazines, I thought I had the real world pretty much understood. This planet was mine for the taking! At least it seemed that way, until I kept finding myself completely broke on tour buses with no one to bail me out, or sleeping in the basement of a deli on my first trip to New York because I lost my phone and had $50 to last three weeks. Whatever. I never got raped. It was character building. And what’s more, I still have a smidgen of that character left!
PRIME OF MY LIFE, M8 (18)
I’d travelled a bit. I had a short-lived television career under my belt and had grown out the orange hair. This was the prime of my life. I no longer had to stay up until five in the morning writing about bands to hit a word count that would cover my pasta and pesto! Life was sweet: less time sofa surfing, more time posing with Steve Aoki for party photographers! Well, no, actually this was me at my lowest: party photos at magazine launches where I looked like a monster made of drugs, and a Twitter account followed by thousands of perverts. Still, it’s nice to reminisce about the time someone started a “Fuckyeah” Tumblr account about you and then deleted it once they realised you were no longer relevant. Still, I have never really got over this phase, mostly because I know I’ll never see a picture of me so meticulously airbrushed by French fashion magazines or Channel 4 web geeks ever again.
My ass started to hurt from shelving pills, and my soul hurt from boasting. I spent months lost in my own joke, dating people I only fancied for the novelty quality. It was time to rein it in, settle down with a long-term boyfriend and start taking the daily slog seriously—even if it meant binge drinking on weekends and regular mental breakdowns. What am I doing this for? What does the future hold? Might as well give up before I turn 20. Might as well delete my Facebook.
PRESENT DAY (20)
I’m 20. FUCK. I cut my hair with a breadknife the other day. I need a new crush.
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