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What the Memes About the Assaulted United Passenger Say About Us

David Dao may not quite yet be a household name, but his face is everywhere.

Dao, 69, the doctor who was bloodied and dragged off an overbooked United Airlines flight leaving Chicago Sunday, is in the midst of taking legal action against the airline. United has been heavily criticized for its actions and subsequent public relations strategy.

The incident, caught on cell phone cameras by other passengers, shows Dao refusing to give up his seat and saying that he needed to get home to Louisville to see patients. Police then intervened and beat Dao, dragging him off the flight as he said "they'll kill me." He later returned bleeding from the mouth. On the surface, there's nothing funny about this—it's a disturbing example of police brutality and the misuse of force on a racialized person.

But images of Dao's anguished face have become prime meme fodder and are now being paired up with catchphrases like "Drag me ousside, how bow dah?"

I think most people agree that United deserves to get roasted here. But what about Dao? What does it say about us that our instinct is to make jokes at the expense of someone who has just been through a terrible (and public) situation? I reached out to Whitney Phillips, an associate professor at Mercer University who has written a book exploring the ambivalence of online culture, to ask if memes can actually do more damage than we might want to believe.

VICE: Is memeing about something tragic like the United Airlines incident in poor taste?
Whitney Phillips: It's complicated. You have people who are participating with this meme and even when they're calling attention to this issue, obviously a terrible thing, it still ends up sort of flattening this guy into a punch line. He becomes essentially a sort of fetishized snapshot rather than a totality of a human being. People are sharing the meme and they're not really engaging with what are his feelings—does he want to have his image spread across the internet and to have it relived? You can't escape it.

So by memeing it we're dehumanizing what happened to him?
You never really know how people are sharing a meme. People can use that format to show some degree of solidarity affirming the fact that it was terrible. But even when your intentions are really good it doesn't mean they're going to remain good once its on social media. Other people can then use them to make fun of this guy, to minimize his emotional distress. It becomes a vessel for expressing someone's wittiness rather than this is traumatic embodied experience for a human being who may not be comfortable with being a meme du jour.

In a way, we saw the same thing happen with Harambe, where even the Cincinnati Zoo said the memes were preventing them from moving on.
Harambe is really interesting. It actually was kickstarted or further amplified by the fact that the kid who fell in was black. On far right blogs people were really mad that this gorilla died to save this black boy. It was used as a way of shaming these parents look at these bad black parents who can't even watch their kid.

Wow, I didn't even know that.
Most people don't. In the Harambe case you had people who were concerned about animal rights issues, then you had people who were reacting in a racist way, essentially using this as a racist response to Black Lives Matter and then you just had the Weird Twitter camp. You don't know the trace of the story you're actually propagating—someone who was creating Weird Twitter stuff was creating images that could be adopted by a racist. You become potentially an unwitting part of something that's hateful and damaging.

Do you think there's a racial element to David Dao getting memed?
You can't not consider a racial element these days. You can be sure the kinds of memes being circulated on 4chan or certain parts of Reddit those are going to be racist and ugly. Other people might take the meme and go in an opposite direction. You can point to that case and say honestly do you think they would have done that to a white businessman? This is a way of entering into some significant conversations about race.

But even beyond that, does him being an Asian man play into how people are more inclined to meme or dehumanize him?
You can't exactly know what people are thinking but that was my worry too. Some people might be less inclined to care as much except for the extent that it's a funny punchline.

Anything else you wanted to mention?
With the United passenger, his daughter gave a press conference and that was the first time I had seen the family. It's like, we don't immediately ask questions about what people's kids think, instead we just tell the funny jokes we tell on Twitter. And those sorts of experiences especially something that's sort of violent and weird, there's that question of how would you react if this was your dad or mom?

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.

Why a Former Top Indigenous Leader Is Starting Weed Grow-ops on Canadian Reserves

Remote First Nations that might feel pressured to sign onto resource extraction projects for income and employment can now look to a greener solution: growing weed.

A new Indigenous-focused medical pot business is working to franchise grow-ops on reserve land, and it has been flooded with interest from dozens of communities across Canada since it launched late last year.

"Indigenous Roots" was formed by ex-AFN national chief Phil Fontaine in partnership with the licensed weed grower Cronos Group.

Unsurprisingly, it's getting its start in British Columbia, with a training ground and flagship facility outside Kelowna that's slated to open in the next few months. The company will also market its product to Indigenous clients.

VICE caught up with Fontaine and Cronos CEO Mike Gorenstein to learn more about Indigenizing the marijuana industry.

VICE: Phil and Mike, you announced this partnership late last year. Can you tell me about how things have progressed since then?
Phil Fontaine: There's been significant interest in the Indigenous community; in fact since the launch in early December we've been invited to meet with over 70 communities and business interests. Our focus has been on wealth creation, business development, capacity building, training, jobs—and when I say jobs I'm talking about real, significant positions in the business.

You've been travelling across Canada over the last few months to meet with interested communities. What are some of the places you've visited?
Phil: From one end of the country to the other, our first [meeting] was in the Maritimes, we've been to the West Coast, we've been to Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec. So we've covered just about every part of the country. We still have some places that we need to visit.

The idea of growing medical marijuana on reserve land isn't necessarily new, given the rural land space, environmental values, etc. But of course it's a bit controversial to some, too. Can you talk a bit about why you and feel like Indigenizing the marijuana business made sense?
Phil: You're correct when you point that out. This is seen in spiritual terms because it's a natural product and it's held in high value within a number of our communities and cultural groups. Beyond the point I just made, this is an emerging market and this would be the first time in recent history where the Indigenous community generally has an opportunity to get in right from the very beginning of a business that's emerging and will continue to grow in significant terms. We thought it was a good fit, given my own long experience in the First Nations community.

Mike Gorenstein: I know there's been a lot of discussion about launching a brand, or distribution, that's targeting Indigenous people. From our perspective in order to have a real, genuine company we wanted a true partnership. That's actually having equity ownership and Indigenous leaders having control. And that's really what led up to Indigenous Roots and this partnership being so important. To make sure it wasn't just the idea of marketing but actually having a responsible, legal and quality way of producing and distributing cannabis.

In terms of economic development, it's a concern for a lot of communities, how to go about that without jeopardizing the environment. Do you think this model of growing weed on reserve land is something that will catch on more in the coming months and years?
Phil: From my perspective, I haven't witnessed such enthusiasm, such excitement about any economic possibility than what I've seen in this business. I find this very encouraging and it has such exciting and enormous possibilities for our community.

Mike: I think if you want to do business and create economic opportunities within Indigenous communities, it's important that you're basing that on Indigenous values and Indigenous cultures. Ultimately a brand or company needs to stand for something that's going to withstand the test of time. For me it's not about the numbers up front, what's important is the longevity of the business.

Can you tell me more about your long-term vision?
Mike: The initial facility that we're constructing in the Okanagan is really what we see as the starting point. It's the flagship facility, and while the production and capacity will certainly be used for us to distribute to Indigenous communities, the most important thing will be using it as a training ground through Indigenous companies. The important thing is hitting the ground running. While we go to the other communities and set up facilities on Indigenous land, we want to make sure that we're providing training on everything that we know, and that we have teams that have gone through the process of growing and harvesting and of managing inventory. Long term, we'd like to see the majority of the facilities on Indigenous land and being run by Indigenous people.

So people from different Indigenous communities will be trained at the facility in the Okanagan coming up soon, and then it will be a franchise model where grow-ops will be built on reserve and staffed by the communities themselves.
Mike: That's right.

Phil: This is really about the revitalization of First Nations/Indigenous economies. And it will lead, in my view, to the positive transformation of our communities. I'm really talking about moving from dependence to independence, and independence will only be achieved if we can develop sustainable economies within our communities. This particular opportunity lends itself well to creating this kind of situation.

On first glance, a former AFN national chief partnering with a marijuana company might seem like an odd pairing. How did you guys come to meet and form this business together?
Mike: For me the most important thing is people. When we started looking through and understanding the depths of Indigenous culture in Canada, from my perspective it was quite clear that if we could pick any partner in the Indigenous community, it was Phil, so I was quite honoured when we reached out that he accepted the call and we found that he was quite passionate about the industry as well.

Phil: I'm an owner of a small company with a pretty diversified portfolio. We were interested in expanding our business and looked very carefully at the various opportunities out there and we focused on this business and in turn looked at companies that had deep knowledge, good experience and with interests aligned with ours in terms of approach and commitment. This was the best fit for us.

Do you see this business model expanding internationally, or just within Canada?
Mike: We certainly have the option to, but we really want to concentrate on providing really life-changing medicine and healthcare in Canada to Indigenous people first. Once we've achieved that goal I think there's no limit to what we can do. The primary goal of this venture is to serve Indigenous people in Canada and we want to make sure that we're focusing on that.

So the cannabis itself would be marketed towards Indigenous people as well, as a healing product?
Mike: We truly believe that Indigenous people have a right to the best available healthcare regardless of their location or household income, we absolutely are committed to making sure we're setting up a reliable and viable distribution channels to Indigenous people all across Canada.

Phil: Absolutely. We're very focused in that regard. I keep making the point that this is about providing quality care with reliable, safe product to an underserved community, and this community deserves the kind of attention that we're going to be able to offer.

Follow Cara McKenna on Twitter.

I Tried to Find the Worst Bar in Toronto and Learned Everything

All photos by Thomas Skrlj

When my editor asked me to find the worst bar in Toronto (inspired by this VICE US article) the rules were simple: pick a bar that I think is the worst, go to that bar, ask another denizen of the boozy depths what they think the worst bar in Toronto is, go to that bar and repeat the process until I am a feeble, drunken mess, face-to-face with the bleak realities of alcohol's demonic influence upon us all.

Simple enough.

Where to begin though and what does it mean for a bar to be the worst?

There are of course shit bars. Grungy, anonymous holes in the wall occupied by a smattering of the human equivalents of crunched up empty cigarette packs, nursing corporate lagers and grudges against all who have wronged them whether it's their brother or whatever liberal female politician it's trendy to shit on in MRA circles.

To me though these aren't bad bars. They are merely bars, places for the downtrodden to commiserate. They aren't hurting anybody (metaphorically, I'm sure actually a lot of people have been hurt on their premises). And as Toronto's rapid transformation into a fantasy land for the wealthy continues unopposed, I appreciate the continued existence of these shit bars that act like gnarly food stuck in the shiny condo teeth of the city.

So I wanted to stay away from the dives and the Portuguese sports bars and start at a bar that I truly think is bad for humanity. But where? As I would discover in my travels, determining a bad bar is not always easy but as I sat eating some pizza to gird my stomach for the night to come and wracking my brain for horrible bar experiences I looked up at the TV playing CP24 and there in the background, across the street from the newsroom, was my answer, the first stop on my depraved journey aglow with its own garishness:

EL FURNITURE WAREHOUSE

El Furniture Warehouse if you are fortunate enough to be unaware, is a Canadian chain that specializes in cheap eats, overpriced drinks and an extreme sports/first half of Spring Breakers aesthetic that will make you root for the society destroying effects of climate change.

After waiting in a late afternoon lineup (an afternoon lineup!!!) to get in I saddle up to the bar, order myself a beer and a shot called a Mind Fuck (it was either that or one called Red-Headed Slut) and let myself soak in the ambience, soak being the appropriate verb because it felt like I was being held down and pissed on by a bunch of a marauding jocks. The place is loud and bright with cranked music, hard bodies and retro neon-signs pulsing.

The bartenders are the worst part. They are human surfboards dressed like professional wrestlers who, whenever you order a drink, flip the glass into the air in a bid to astound you with how fucking cool they are. Listen man, I just want a glass of water not front row tickets to the X-Games.

Beside me are two women enjoying some of the the cheap eats who I inform about my mission to find the worst bar. One ignores me completely, while the other is shocked at first that I don't like the place before rethinking and agreeing that the service is both bad and hilariously over the top. She is also the first of a pattern I'll run into throughout the night, people repeatedly unable to name a single bar they don't like and claiming they don't waste their time in bad bars. I drink another pint hoping more time will give her some inspiration for my next destination but she does tell me a story about an Uber driver fucking her over in case I want to write a story about why Uber sucks.

I turn my attention to the young couple on my right. He's from Saskatchewan, has grenade stud earrings and is excited for the upcoming John Mayer concert. She's a student who thinks that the worst bar in Toronto is The Imperial. So I finish my drink, watch one more complementary glass air-flip from the staff and head out on the road alight with the knowledge that El Furniture Warehouse is a blight on the earth and every minute you stay in there you will forget one book you have read.

THE IMPERIAL PUB

My heart dropped when I was sent here because I love this place. I can understand why the young woman who sent me her does not like it, she's young and hence has hope and probably believes in the promise of tomorrow and does not yet understand that existence is continual disappointment carved out of the oblivion that surrounds it on both sides and so does not get the appeal of a place like The Imperial which is comfortably fuzzy, brown and gross like your grandfather's nicotine stained teeth.

Tucked behind the Dundas square and open since 1944, The Imperial Pub is divided into two levels. The bottom consists of a wraparound bar, a fish tank that would give Spielberg nightmares and back room with a stage where I've have had some of my bleakest nights as a stand-up. Upstairs is the library, a big room with a pool table that is ringed by dusty bookshelves and where you can get free popcorn. The clientele is a mixture of faded regulars who may be ghosts and older students from nearby Ryerson University.

I head upstairs, with a headache and shot nerves from El Furniture's party or die atmosphere, and am immediately soothed by the grainy yellow lighting and a vibe of casual despair. There is jazz music playing which is appropriate because this is the kind of place where a jazz musician could find a nice corner to curl up and die in obscurity.

I order a beer and a box of poutine hoping for some of that dish's famed curative properties, and begin scoping out for some people to guide me to the next destination. A crew of solidly regular dudes behind turn out to be a bust as two are from LA and the third is another person who for the life of him can't name a bad bar. "Any bar is good as long as you're drinking,"stated the young man, his logic sound and unassailable. I move on to another group who also have a hard time naming a shitty bar ("Why would you go to bar you don't like?") before one woman asks me if clubs are ok. When I answer in the affirmative she says, much to my delight, that, "Croc Rock is pretty shitty." Yes!

CROCODILE ROCK

I have been hearing about Toronto's infamous Crocodile Rock since I moved here. Legend has it that Crocodile Rock is where cougars and silver foxes congregate, where the middle aged gather and get freaky, where moms and dads can get away from their kids and grind like there is no tomorrow. I've always been tempted by the appeal of Croc Rock, maybe tonight would be night where I fulfill my destiny to become a kept love-boy for an emotionally aloof divorced mother of one.

When I show up to the Rock though I am appalled to discover tonight this destiny will not prevail because Crocodile Rock is one of the many bars participating in a bar crawl called The Bunny Hop, which is one of Canada's largest bar crawls. I enter Croc Rock (which looks like a combination between a garage and a Batman villain's lair) to find the place teeming with newly legal drinkers dressed in white t-shirts and wearing bunny tails and ears, wasted on cheap shooters and horrific, youthful horniness.

It's a terrifying scene. Sort of "Lord of the Flies" but with a stripper pole instead of a conch. It's the kind of scenario that, if he could have foretold it, would have inspired Al Capone to turn himself in.

At one point while I'm sitting alone at a table taking notes (admittedly a creepy look considering there is more grinding going on around me than in my mouth when I'm asleep) a bouncer comes up to and asks what I'm doing. When I explain my evening he goes, "That makes sense, some people love us and some hate us." Bonus points to Crocodile Rock for having staff that have no illusions about where they work.

I ask the bouncer if he has any suggestions for a worst bar but he's a little busy. I next turn to a middle aged man who is the ringleader of a group of very uncomfortable looking dads. Not my man though, when I ask what the worst bar is in Toronto, he goes, "Life is too short to not have fun. I have a wife and kids at home, tonight I'm having fun," before dragging a miserable looking friend out onto a dancefloor that resembles a club from The Smurf movie universe.

Finally I spot three put upon adults with 'let's get the fuck out of here' printed on their faces. Two are also from out of town ("I've been in Mexico for three months. This is nothing, nobody is naked pouring tequila on themselves.") but the third, a jacked Irishman tells me the worst bar he's been to in Toronto is dbar at the bottom of the Four Seasons in Yorkville. So I say goodbye to Judy Bloom's nightmare and make my way to the tony Yorkville neighbourhood.

DBAR

Dbar is a fancy bar for the rich as hell. Everything in here glitters: the lights, the glass case displays of Prada clothing and jewellery hanging on the wall, the bar and especially the patrons.

I don't belong in here at all. I feel like I'm walking around wearing garbage bags and that at any moment a huge hand will grab me by the collar and best case scenario throw me out onto the curb and worst case scenario toss me in the kitchen and chop up my poor body and serve me up like carpaccio to the hungry-eyed socialites prowling around.

I go to the bathroom to get my head straight. It's the nicest bathroom I've ever been in with high walls and gauzy warm light. It's less a bathroom and more a mausoleum for your body's waste. The paper towels are insane, thick and soft at the same time. I'm tempted to take a stack and see if I can use them to pay off my student loan.

I go upstairs and get a beer and fearfully wander around, not wanting to stay still long enough to be noticed. My drunken paranoia is soothed when I spot a former customer from my coffee shop days. We greet each other and I tell him that I think I'm going to get kicked out, he reassures me not to worry his uncle just bought the place and I can say I'm with him. Yes! Thank you Liberals and your knowledge economy for the hook up.

Feeling less like a mouse caught out in the open, I turn an appraising eye over my surroundings and am struck by one clear fact: rich people suck at having fun. Oh sure people are getting drunk, going to the bathroom in lines and returning sniffing away, but overall this place is lame. There is some dancing going on but it's reserved and awkward. Everyone is too worried about being seen, about who's here and who's not to enjoy themselves. The DJ actually drops a sincere dance remix of the motherfucking Thong Song and everybody cheers. The Thong Song! Between the awkwardness and social stratification, this place is like if someone invested one hundred million dollars into one of my high school dances.

I finish my beer. I delay my exit in the hopes that my coffee shop acquaintance is going to take me on some whirlwind tour of the sweet life but he soon takes his leave off the place and I am off as well. I'm super-drunk and my head is pounding and I just want to go to sleep and what I've learned tonight is Canadians don't like to admit where and when they have had a bad time, El Furniture Warehouse is still the worst place in the city and that alcohol should be illegal. It would probably make the bars better.

Follow Jordan Foisy on Twitter

Canadians Spotted Over 1,000 UFOs Last Year

Did you guys know that there is a group that tracks yearly UFO statistics in Canada?

Because there is and they're goddamn glorious.

The main crew tracking the data is the Winnipeg-based Ufology Research Centre who just released their 2016 findings of UFO sightings in the great white north. The data—which is totally true because, you know, it's data—is produced by the centre working in cooperation with investigators and researchers all across the country. The group releases the information yearly "in an attempt to promote the dissemination of information across the field of ufology. "


So, with that in mind, let's go through these numbers, why don't we?

To start, since 1989 the crew has reported 18,038 Canadian UFO sightings or encounters. In total, there were 1,131 UFO reports officially filed in Canada—"the fifth year in a row above 1,000 cases," excitedly reads the study. The only year that had more sightings was 2015.

"This data clearly contradicts comments by those who would assert that UFOs are a 'passing fad' or that UFO sightings are decreasing in number," reads the study.

Fuck yeah, the truth is out there, fam.

Like all good studies, this one is chock full of weird little statistics and breaks down the sightings by province. Turns out, Quebecers see the most little grey men, followed by Ontario, BC, and Alberta and that summer is the best time to see the extraterrestrials. Montreal had the highest amount of any sightings in a major city with 73—Vancouver took a close second with 70.

Sadly, though, most of these sightings had "insufficient evidence" and "the percentage of UFO cases considered unexplained in 2016 has dropped to four percent, the lowest in 28 years of study," which is a total bummer. The crew writes this off as the "result of more careful scrutiny of raw report information available."

The best part comes at the tail end of the study where they keep the "unusual" reports. In this segment, you can find the short tale of a man who "reported that an alien entity was responsible for stealing his sunglasses, belt and silver possessions."

Further into the study, you can read about a person in Cornwall, PEI who had a close encounter with "a thin, six-foot-tall, long-fingered, white alien in a black suit" that appeared in his bedroom. The person then had a chat with the alien before it took its leave by walking through a wall. Meanwhile in Quebec, on the same night, a person was transported in a flash of white light to a bathtub. Here he encountered "three green, big-eyed humanoid creatures who communicated with him telepathically."

Another is straight-up elegant in its simplicity:

"A report was received which read simply, 'They contacted me!'"

The study ends with a man in northern Quebec who spotted himself a sasquatch—which I don't believe counts as an alien but, frankly, who cares, because sasquatches are awesome. Not all encounters were as wonderful as these, some are kinda, well, boring.

In total, close encounters were less than one percent, the majority of sightings (over 50 percent) were just simple lights in the sky. The study also breaks down the sightings that weren't simple lights and, oddly enough, the "flying saucer" classification only was reported five percent of times, tying it with whatever "fireball" is.

So, kiddos, keep your eyes on the sky and the curiosity in your heart strong because if you're lucky, very lucky, maybe one day you'll end up on this list.

At the very least you might see a sasquatch, which apparently counts.

Lead image via Flickr user maxime raynal

Follow Mack on Twitter.

We Asked People for Their Most Embarrassing Masturbation Stories

When you break down masturbation to its basic elements—privacy, a little bit of inspiration, some elbow grease, and hopefully a modest cleanup routine—there's obviously nothing to be embarrassed about. But for young people who haven't quite figured this out, each attempt has the potential to cause deep shame and/or personal injury.

As something of a public service, VICE asked several self-identified self-pleasurers to share their most embarrassing masturbation stories. Because whether or not you consider yourself skilled in the area of dialing the rotary phone, shakin' the bacon, or whatever euphemism you prefer, you probably didn't start out as a masturbatory pro.

Johnny, 24

I was driving from Calgary to Edmonton, and I'd done a bunch of partying the night before so I was super hungover. I had the window down, the music on blast, and I was doing everything and anything to keep myself awake but I was still, like, pass-out-flip-my-car tired.

I thought, what can I do to keep myself awake? And then I had an idea. I thought, well I'll just rub one out and that will keep me awake, easy peasy. I planned to do it nice and slow so it would take up as much time as possible. And so I started, and it was great because I was pretty good at keeping it hidden from other drivers for a long time. But then at one point I kind of lost track of things—I was giving 'er hard—and this semi drove up beside me, too close, and so I sped up to try and get by him so that he wouldn't see.

Photo via flickr user Rennett Stowe

He sped up too, keeping pace, and so he definitely did see, because next thing I knew he was giving me the big ol' honk honk. After that I put [my penis] away and just had to laugh. But I hadn't finished yet, and so once the semi was gone I took it back out and tried to keep going. But I just couldn't finish. And that was the worst part for me: I gave myself blue balls. Though I did make it to Edmonton alive, so that's good [laughs].

Kendra, 28

So my friend and I, when we were maybe 13 or 14, used to have these elaborate masturbation parties. Not with a bunch of people or anything; it would just be us and we'd tell each other these elaborate, lavish fantasies and then just, you know, do our own thing. We were both really into theatre so one of our favourite fantasies was one where the Phantom of the Opera would swoop down from the battlements and proposition us—in the kindest way possible!—for sex. And then of course he'd rip off his mask to reveal himself as whichever boy we'd been crushing on at the time.

Anyway, this one time we were having one of our "parties" after watching Pride and Prejudice, and we were completely overcome with Mr. Darcy. How could you not be? And so, in my friend's room, we started to touch ourselves. I should also say that both her parents were super religious. To the max. Her mom came home from work early that day and suddenly she was right outside the door, about to come in. We sprung up off the bed just as she came in, but it was super obvious what we'd been doing because we were both super sweaty. We had our clothes on, thank god, but still. We just knew that she knew, but of course it wasn't something anyone was willing to express because her family was so sex-negative.

That incident didn't stop us from continuing our parties. I mean, I've been masturbating since the crib. I used to hump furniture and everything. It's just something I've always needed.

Dom, 25

When I was 10 or 11, my older brother was having a sleepover with a bunch of his buddies. And I guess around that age people start talking about sexy things, sex jokes and stuff, and so I was hovering at the corners of the room, trying to hang out, when I overheard them talking about masturbating. One of them made a joke and was like, "oh are you gonna masturbate later tonight?" and he made the hand gesture that you make for masturbation, which is that closed fist you shake in front of your crotch. And I didn't know how to masturbate, so I saw that gesture and was like, oh my god, that's how you do it.

That night I went to bed—and I didn't have a boner because I was 10 years old and, you know, we don't get many boners at that age—and I got into bed, made a fist and started hitting my flaccid penis with my closed hand. I was like, oh my god that really hurts! So I gave up masturbating for about two years. I thought, well that's not for me.

Photo via flickr user Marc Roberts

Margaret, 24

It was a rainy Sunday and I was making chili. I like my chili nice and hot— muy picante as they say—and so I chopped up all the veggies and things, including many jalapeño peppers, and threw them in a pot. I washed my hands well—at least I thought I did—and sat down to watch a little Project Runway while my chili was boiling away.

During a lull in the show, I thought, well I'm a bit bored and sleepy here in my sweatpants, so why don't I just rub one out? A couple minutes in, I was gearing up, about to roll into O town, and I started to notice that my vagina was burning a bit. I was like, hmm, I wonder what that's all about? And so I ignored it for a while, but then it started to hurt A LOT, like it was lit on fire. I was suddenly very afraid. But then I realized there was likely some jalapeño juice on my fingers, and so naturally I took to google for a remedy. I typed in something like "jalapeño juice on skin burning how stop?"

I didn't want to put in "jalapeño juice in vagina" because it would corrupt my search history. But anyway, Wikihow said to pour cold milk on the "affected area," and so I filled a huge measuring cup with skim milk, sat myself on the toilet, leaned back and doused myself. It was an odd experience, but it did ease my suffering. And so after that I showered and had a nice bowl of chili. Which was delicious.

Anouk, 30

I used to babysit for this really rich family that lived in a mansion where the bathroom had this really amazing shag rug. And so I used to go into the bathroom, lay down on the rug, and masturbate after the kids were asleep. I would leave the door ajar so that if the kids called for help I could hear them. But one time, the dog—whose name was Buddy, ugh—came into the room while I was masturbating. I friggen hated that dog—it was a Bichon Frise, ugliest thing ever. Anyway, maybe Buddy got excited or something when he saw me masturbating on the rug, because he started humping my leg. It was awful. Put me totally out of the mood. And from that day on, every time the dog came to greet me at their house, he'd hump my leg. Didn't matter what I was doing—the dishes, cleaning, whatever—he'd go for me. It was super embarrassing because I felt like the parents knew, you know? Like, they knew I'd used their house as a masturbation station because I'd suddenly become a sex symbol to their dog.

American Pie Sock

Still from American Pie.

Theo, 25

So the idea of jerking off into a sock was really popular when I was growing up. Geometrically, the idea made sense, but I guess I'd never considered what I would do with the sock afterward. I was probably about 14, in my bedroom doing my thing, and I decided to try the sock method out. It made the initial clean up a revelation since there was really nothing to be done. But then I had this sock. I couldn't put it in the laundry because my mom did my laundry and she would find it and know that I was a young man doing young man things. Same went for the garbage, because I guess at the time I imagined my mom to be some kind of suspicious raccoon that combed through all the detritus in the house.

Our house backed onto a forest so I decided the sock best belonged there. I walked to the edge of the yard and hurled it into the woods. But you see, it was winter and all of the trees were bare. The sock wrapped itself around the branch of a particularly tall birch. I'm talking like 30 feet up. It stayed up there, bright white, and waved like a shameful flag for months until summer storms came and blew it off. My mom totally noticed, too. She kept asking everyone in the house, who knows what's going on with that sock? My strategy was deny, deny, deny.

Follow Mica on Twitter.

I Went to Nathan Fielder’s ‘Holocaust Awareness’ Outdoor Apparel Sale

Nathan Fielder, the Canadian comedian best known for his TV series Nathan for You on Comedy Central, opened a pop-up store in Vancouver this Sunday to promote his clothing company, Summit Ice Apparel. Fielder's business venture functions as equal parts philanthropic effort and performance art piece, or as he describes it, "an outdoor apparel company that openly promotes the true story of the Holocaust."

One look at its website is enough to understand that outdoor clothing and Holocaust awareness education is an absurd mix, and while that contrast is the gag, the nonprofit business is actually legit and all proceeds from the pop-up shop will be donated to the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre. The shop also offered free jackets in exchange for any Taiga jackets, a local Vancouver outdoor apparel company affiliated with Holocaust denier Doug Collins.

Knowing Fielder's panache for awkward stunts at the expense of others and Vancouver's un-ironic love for outdoor gear, the event was bound to be a weird one. I went down to the pop-up shop in East Vancouver to check out Fielder's retail vision for Summit Ice Apparel.

At 11:00 AM roughly 200 people—a mix of in-on-the-joke hipsters and active outdoor lovers—stood on the sidewalk in the pouring rain waiting to step inside the one-day-only store. Casually posted beside the entrance was a disclaimer noting that anyone entering the premises agreed to be filmed. Not many people read the notice as they were too distracted by the window display, which offered a large banner explaining the atrocities that took place at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Directly beside the banner stood a statuesque topless blond dude with a six pack and a man bun, modeling an unzipped Summit Ice jacket.

As people began entering the store, a bouncer standing behind red rope stanchions asked every patron the same question, "Do you have gun or bomb?" His thick accent didn't help matters, but many customers were confused and clearly had no idea this event was partially humorous. Some people explained that they didn't know who Nathan Fielder was or what the event was for, but they simply saw a line, so they thought they should get in it. Others were there to exchange Taiga-branded jackets but seemed largely indifferent to the Holocaust imagery. All of this is part of Fielder's brilliant balance between business and comic performance art, showing that people will blindly support a company without concern for what it stands for.

In a brief interview, Fielder explained how Summit came to be and his personal beef with Taiga, "When I was younger, and until recently, I used to wear a jacket brand called Taiga, which is from a shop just down the street. I discovered recently that they published a tribute to a Holocaust denier in their winter catalogue, but I was wearing their jacket on my TV show. I felt like that was bad because I was giving them publicity. I didn't know what jacket company to trust, so I thought it was easiest to start my own company."

Summit Ice was first announced during an episode in the third season of Nathan for You. In the episode, Nathan worked in partnership with a rabbi in an effort to build a display for Summit Ice that would live as part of a Vancouver clothing shop. Going off the rabbi's suggestions, the in-store display they created came out hilarious and tasteless with swastika flags, concentration camp uniforms, and an oven filled with fake human bones. The owner of the store rejected the pitch and told Fielder to find a new career. I guess he showed them.

I expected to witness some of the above mentioned imagery inside the packed shop but was surprised to see that the store looked largely similar to every other outdoor clothing store in East Vancouver. There were mannequins decked out in Summit Ice fashion, racks of clothing, and even a TV playing a looped skiing video. Interspersed between the clothing displays were more banners featuring Holocaust imagery and information. When asked if the rabbi helped in this store's design this time around Nathan responded, "The rabbi wasn't involved with this. We kind of had creative differences in terms of where we were coming from. He's no longer officially involved with Summit Ice."

Fielder worked the check-out himself, greeting fans of the show and serving customers. Beside him was a bin piled high with old Taiga jackets that toppled onto the floor, right beside one of the Holocaust banners. Intentional or not, one can't help but appreciate the irony of a pile of discarded clothing (made by a brand affiliated with Holocaust denial) beside Nazi iconography. The website says the Taiga gear "will be disposed of in a manner deemed appropriate by Mr. Fielder," and I imagine those plans will be revealed in the next season of Nathan for You.

Aside from exchanging jacket, clothing sales, and accepting donations, the Summit Ice pop-up was also handing out free buttons bearing the company's apt slogan, "Deny Nothing." The catch? You had to listen to an employee tell you facts about the Holocaust. Afterward, the worker asked you a single question, "Do you believe the Holocaust happened?" If you answered "yes," the button was yours.

Despite being founded on a joke, the company found success in its philanthropic efforts to further Holocaust education. Fielder explained, "We didn't expect to get the amount of support we did. We did half a million dollars of sales in the first six months, and it became this bigger thing than we ever thought it would be. We came back recently to give the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre, a check for 150 grand, which were our profits, and we opened up this store as a thank you to Vancouver and to sell more and get more money for VHEC."

However, to take this whole event as a joke would be reductive considering Fielder speaks earnestly about the cause, and all these sizable donations are being made at a time when neo-Nazism and the alt-right are coming out of the woodwork. Maybe selling jackets and Holocaust awareness isn't such a stupid concept. It's all part of the schtick. While Fielder's given plenty of ludicrous business advice on his show over the years, he's adamant that Summit Ice proves he knows what he's doing. "Well, I'm not sure if you saw the line around the block, but we have a lot of people coming through here and a lot of sales, and clearly I know what I'm doing and what I'm talking about when it comes to business. I studied at University of Victoria business school. It is my formal education, and I'm trying to use it as well as I can. The important thing is that you know it is about raising awareness, but the jackets are high quality with a soft-shell inner lining. They are water and wind resistant. So it is a quality jacket."

It's not certain if the quality of the jackets is responsible the company's success, but many celebs have been spotted wearing Summit Ice gear, including Fielder's high school friend Seth Rogen, Jack Black, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, among others. Fielder said, "When you start a good company that stands for something good, it's not a surprise when celebrities come aboard. We embrace it fully and think it's great. When people see it on celebrities, they want to buy it as well."

When I left the shop a few hours later, the line hadn't gotten any shorter. Though short lived, the pop-up nailed Nathan Fielder's particular brand of earnestness and his desire to push comedic boundaries by engaging with the real world. It's performance art with tangible political results. It's a joke that transcends its punchline. I can't wait to see how Nathan for You uses the tape to make me look like a fool.

Follow Lonnie Nadler on Twitter.

Gotta Catch ’em All: Memorable Theme Songs, and the People Who Created Them

A recipe for a great theme song needs to begin with a clear first impression—a sales pitch. Its introduction to the ear, often beginning as a musical hook, or a series of words, blend to create a product that should border on the contagious.

"I want to be the very best," reminds the viewer that Pokémon's Ash Ketchum is about that business. "Every day when you're walking down the street, " implies that whatever happens in an episode of Arthur, it's going to happen on the block. And the pattering of rain with a dash of creepy laughs will always, inevitably, lead to another campfire story in Are You Afraid of The Dark?

During the 80s and 90s, the theme song was at its height; particularly for children, specifically for me. Before the expediency of on-demand content took centre stage, the television was the Twitter feed, encouraging after-school or Saturday morning rituals of episodic glory.

While the tradition is arguably less emphasized for folks like me, its spirit in practice still exists today, particularly for children. Take the pop-punk sound of Paw Patrol, origin-story infused song of Sophia the First or the repeatedly cherry Doc McStuffins themes to name a few; all still catchy by design, but the question of whether they aim to convey genuine moods or provide a soulless injection of air-worms is up for debate.

To understand this distinction, I decided to track down a few composers and producers of my own childhood; the names that lived and breathed the craft, and can claim responsibility for brands of sound that have already earned pop-culture immortality.

John Segler, Composer ( Pokémon, YuGiOh)

Starting out as a talented bass player, John Segler decided he no longer wanted to tour with bands in the late 80s. A New York City jingle house became his home, where he wrote and produced countless commercials. Through his partner and songwriter, John Loeffler, he established a relationship with Norman J. Grossfield, head of the production for 4Kids Entertainment. From there, his involvement with one of the most recognizable TV franchises began.

On the Pokémon theme, "I wanna be the very best."

"Well it's amazing and it's great and it's a little odd. The interesting thing to me about this is that I wrote a new theme song for Pokémon, every year, for eight years. That song, 'I wanna be the very best,' that song that everybody knows, only appeared in the first season of Pokémon. If you ask anyone about the Pokémon theme, that's the one they're going to sing. They don't know the other ones, it's an interesting phenomenon."

The legacy

"I'm very satisfied with a lot of different things that I've done. Do I think that having written the Pokémon theme, that it's the thing I'm most proud of in my career? Absolutely not. I'm most proud of two things, my body of work as a bassist and my body of work as a music director at 4Kids Entertainment where I supervised, wrote, begged, borrowed, and pleaded with musicians, composers, and music editors for 10 years."

The anonymity

"I don't care. It may bother other people, but at this stage of my life, me personally, I don't need that (fame). I've had that for 45 years. Honestly, I'm winding down. I'm older, I'm a grandparent. But I have every intention of continuing to play and write for as long as I am physically able."

Jeff Zhan, Producer, Composer ( Arthur, Are You Afraid of The Dark?, Caillou, Madeline)

Originally a New Yorker, Jeff Zhan started his career as a classical cellist and played in the Broadway show Cats for 20 years. His first love had always been for writing, guided by his mentor, Joe Raposo, former songwriter for Sesame Street who tragically passed away from lymphoma in 1989. As his right-hand man, Zhan was left with several of his contracts which gave him his first major opportunity, leading him towards his involvement with the PBS classic, Arthur, Are You Afraid of The Dark? and Caillou among others.

On the Arthur theme song

"Arthur was a tough project that came out wonderful. I didn't write it, to be fair, I produced it. We couldn't have a Canadian singer do this, we wanted someone legendary and it was suggested, Ziggy Marley. My challenge was going down to Kingston, Jamaica. Here I am, a white guy going down to reggae country. There wasn't a lot of trust there for cultural reasons and I had like eight hours to produce this theme song."

"Ziggy Marley came in, didn't prepare. He had no interest in singing what we wanted, the demo that we fell in love with. He was more involved with finishing a soccer game. I had to quietly take aside his manager and say, 'Unless you sing something close to the theme song, we're going to go home on the next plane.' At the last second, he came in, nailed it and it became a legendary theme song. A lot of medicinal drugs going around that room that bulked up the effort but that song became a legend."

The process: Are You Afraid of the Dark?

"The very best part of my job, where I'm having the most fun is to having the idea and starting to build it up. I knew how it was going to sound but the journey started as an idea in Are You Afraid of the Dark? I had it on the piano, a simple melody. For me personally, there was such a joy in taking this little seed, this acorn and making it into a full meal, into a flower garden and adding drums, and adding strings etc., and then they're singing the demo. I suck, I have a terrible voice but I know how it sounds in my head. When the singers come in and you start hearing the finished thing come together, my god, that's like orgasmic. It's unbelievable. You gave birth."

On EDM remixes

"My daughter, 27 years old says, 'Dad, you know your [Caillou] theme song's a big hit?' I go, 'Yeah maybe with four-year-old girls.' She says, 'no dad, a bunch of remixers have discovered this song you wrote. One is at 18 million [views], another is at 15 million and the third is at 13 million, you probably have 50-70 million hits on that theme song.

"The notoriety is kind of fun. You affected kids. Yeah it makes you feel a little old sometimes but kids remembered, they love it, it's memorable. Puts a smile on your face."

Steve Rucker, Composer ( Dexter's Laboratory, Powerpuff Girls)

As a young kid, Steve Rucker was a regular movie goer and music often grabbed his attention. As a teen, he'd buy vinyl compilations of film scores that included How the West Was Won, Spartacus, and Ben Hur among others. He began working with a few partners in substituting themes to cartoon shows, many which never aired in North America. His big break began in the 80s involving Hanna-Barbera's cartoon series Mr. T. From there, a new relationship with animated works was born.

Dexter's Laboratory

"My son, he's 24 and he tells people that his dad composes for Dexter, and it's like, 'whoa!' Dexter is the show I'm most proud of, not because it's the most popular, but because it's the one I liked the most working on. Working with Genndy Tartakovsky [creator] is always a pleasure because he was a producer that had really good instincts about what worked.

What makes a theme song work?

"It's artistic sensibility. When the Beatles did A Hard Day's Night, they must of known that this is cool. It's always about the hook. That's the bottom line, you gotta have something that grabs in five notes. If they're in the other room, they know that the show is on. It's an ID. It all comes down to: does it emotionally connect with the audience? If you look at film and TV, certain shows that have just one composer, because that's all they need. Silicon Valley did not need an orchestra to score. But then Game of Thrones, that show needs an organic, real sound. And the audience knows the difference."

The reward

"Well there's always the financial incentive. I love it. I'm lucky, I was always a musician, I didn't pick music, music picked me."

Follow Noel on Twitter.

All the Strange Things People Have Done With Their Relatives’ Cremated Remains

These days, there are a whole lot of ways to be dead.

You can be planted as a tree, or turned into jewelry. You can have your likeness cast as one of these incredibly creepy 3D busts. If you created something people actually give a shit about, you could choose to be made into your own product, like Frisbee creator Walter Morrison or Fred Bauer, inventor of the Pringles can. You can be put into a helium balloon and sent into the atmosphere. You can even be shot into space, FFS.

Driven by factors like cost, religious affiliation, and desire for personalization, more and more people are moving away from traditional burial and toward cremation (in North America, cremation rates have doubled since 2000, and by 2019, 75 percent of Canadians are expected to make use of the option), and as a result, the range of post-cremation options has become broader than it's ever been before.

But don't take our word for it. Collected below are stories from people who have chosen to say goodbye in a multitude of interesting ways, having their ashes placed in everything from teddy bears to shotgun shells, to what sounds like the world's least appetizing cup of tea.

Because while there's no debating it's an interesting time to be alive, it's actually a pretty interesting time to be dead, too.

'I just wanted to get rid of the thing'

My grandmother passed away when I was around 14 or 15, and she'd made her own arrangements beforehand. She wanted to be cremated, and she'd chosen an urn, but when my family received it, it looked like this hideous, marble toaster. And we thought: "Oh, God. What do we do with this?"

We respected our Grandmother and loved her, but she was a very difficult woman. We weren't going to put it up on the mantelpiece or something. We sprinkled her ashes on the rose bushes in the back garden (those bushes promptly died the following spring), and then this ugly urn that none of us liked got put in the garage. And then Christmastime rolled around, and I had to go to this party where you play that stupid game where you can steal people's gifts for a few rounds. And then you get stuck with whatever at the end. Money was always tight when I was a teenager, and having a morbid sense of humour, I thought: "Oh, dude. I'll totally bring this."

People spent the entire evening trying to figure out what it was. "Oh, maybe it's a doorstop." And I didn't say a word. I knew no one was going to touch it if they knew the truth. But I just wanted to get rid of the thing. And of course, at the end, when somebody finally ended up with it, then I told them what it was, and they were—justifiably—totally appalled.
And that's how we got rid of Grandma's urn.

— Sylvia, 29*

Photo via Flickr user [email protected]

Tea for two

When I was younger, my grandfather passed away, and in accordance with his wishes, we undertook a Buddhist ritual where we soaked his ashes in blessed water, and chanted prayers in Sanskrit. After soaking his ashes we all made a promise to be better humans and drank the tea. It tasted about how you would expect: musky and chalky, kind of like someone had put cigarette ashes in your water.

—Chanthy, 26

'She wasn't really an urn type of person'

My Mom passed away three months ago from ovarian cancer. I was six weeks pregnant when we found out, and three months later, she was gone. She wasn't really an urn type person—it wasn't her to be stuck in a stuffy, old thing like that—and I was searching on the internet, just to see what's out there, and I came across CamiBear [a site that puts the ashes into a personalized teddy bear], and I thought: "Oh, that's Mom all over." She'd always loved cute little things. Teddies and stuff like that. I'm 41, and my Mom still used to buy me teddies all the time—basically right up until she got sick. So it was just perfect.

He sits at the top of my bed right now (I don't know why, but I refer to him as a he), but when the baby gets here, I'll probably put him in the crib. She wanted a grandbaby so much. And so being able to keep the baby close to the teddy—it's huge. Sometimes you just need your Mum, and now you have a teddy to cuddle with when you need it.

—Gillian, 41

Shots fired

Last November, a bunch of us loaded a good friend's ashes into shotgun shells and shot them over the range at the local gun club. He had always been a very avid shooter, and on weekends, he participated in Cowboy Action Shooting [competitions involving rifles and handguns, where competitors dress in old-time cowboy attire]. He mentored a lot of shooters, too—probably for 30 or 40 years.

Photo via Flickr user formatc1

And when he passed away, we had a celebration of life at the Silverton Trap and Skeet Club, and there were about 30 of us there with shotguns. And somebody had loaded his ashes into the shotgun shells. We each got two shells, and stood in a line, and progressed from one end to the other, each of us firing a shot, and then when we get to the end, we went back the other way. We each fired two shells filled with his ashes, and that way, we were able to spread him over the range.

I'm not exactly sure whose idea it was, but I suspect he had something to do with it.

—Bob, 71

Road trip

I took my Mom's ashes from Vancouver to Quebec in a Louis Vuitton tote bag.

I'd learned a few years before that human cremains are considered a biohazard (we'd been stopped by security while transporting a friend's mother in her carry-on bag), and so rather than go through all the paperwork, I decided to rent a car and drive there. I packed the large red wooden box containing Mom's ashes into her bag, put the bag in the passenger seat, and off I went. In some ways, it was very cathartic. I picked up a friend of mine in Regina, and after a few days, he finally asked what was in the box I was hauling to and from the car each day (at this point she was riding in the back seat).

When I said "Oh, that's Mom," he looked pale. When I asked if he'd prefer I put her in the trunk, he looked even paler. "I don't think she'll mind either way," I told him. "She's travelling in Louis, and she seems happy." I put her into the trunk at the next rest stop. My friend and I parted ways in Toronto, and Mom and I continued on to Quebec. I think she was glad to get her seat back.

—Tara, 32

Lebowski'd

When I was a kid, a pretty standard ash-spreading ceremony went sideways when my grandmother poured my grandfather all over my brother.

She was emptying the ashes off the back of a boat, and my brother was helping her stand back there without falling in. It might have been that she lacked the motor skills to actually aim her pour, or it might have been that the boat turned into the wind which was now blowing directly back into the boat (likely it was both), but either way, my brother was covered from head to toe with a third of the ashes and was a uniform tone of beige. It was like that moment in The Big Lebowski. I'm sure I fabricated the memory of my brother coughing out a big cloud of grandpa, like in a cartoon or movie, but it amuses me nonetheless. The whole thing took an uncomfortably long time to unfold, and everybody on the boat except grandma was well aware of what was happening and we were all laughing and crying equally.

Afterward, I asked the boat captain if I could use the hose to wash the rest of grandpa off the deck. I guess it wasn't intentional, but all over a living person is still a pretty weird place to put a dead person.

—Brendan, 31

*Some names have been changed.

Lead image via Flikr user justthismoment

Jesse Donaldson is a Vancouver writer.

We Talked to Instagram’s Most Popular Slimers

Just like Kylie Jenner's ass and Salt Bae memes, I can't get away from slime videos on Instagram.

Everytime I open my Explore page I'm met with videos of teens unwrapping, poking, squishing, pulling and prodding homemade slime. It took only one look at blue cotton candy goo to get me hooked and the next thing I knew I was following every account I could find, feeling the tension exit my body as I watched people pull apart foam-filled crackling slime.

The trend started over the summer in Thailand, when teens began posting video tutorials on how to make the stuff by mixing water, food colouring, glue and borax powder (a chemical used to kill cockroaches). The result, reminiscent of 90s toys like Creepy Crawlers and Nickelodeon Gak was then played with on camera, often adding extra ingredients like foam and glitter to give it a satisfying crunch. The results are strangely euphoric to watch, and the best slime videos feature sounds and visuals that can trigger Autonomous Sensory Meridian Responses (ASMR), a tingling sensation that starts on the scalp and moves down the spine.

Today, some of the more "slime famous" accounts have followers in the hundreds of thousands. Kids as young as 13 sell their products through e-commerce websites like Etsy and Mercari, receiving dozens of daily orders and raking in hundreds of dollars a week. People's love of goo is helping young entrepreneurs across the world pay for gas, contact lenses and college tuition. I love social media.

Thankfully, for the sake of our entertainment, the slime community isn't without it's weirdos and overzealous fans. The average comment on a slime or foam video ranges from "living for the crunch" and "imma fkn BUST A NUT." Nice nails and hands are one of the most important features of a good slime video and can cause fans to beg for "face reveals." Accounts dedicated to calling out drama and flaws within the slime community recently sprung up, and users have been known to beef over the names and credits of certain slimes. There's still a debate as to whether or not slime has a sexual connotation—some people I showed videos to expressed arousal, not relaxation.

I wanted to find out why we love to watch people touch goo, so I reached out to some of Instagram's most popular slime accounts.

Alyssa J., @craftyslimecreator, 157K followers

VICE: Where are you from and how old are you?
Alyssa: I am from Ontario, Canada and I am in high school.

What is it about these accounts that people find so satisfying?
There are many reasons why I believe that people find these videos satisfying, one of them being "autonomous sensory meridian response" or ASMR. I am not an expert, but these videos help to calm people and help with anxiety. Crunchy floam, bubbly slime, glossy slime, all different slimes have different sounds that people enjoy. Also, a lot of videos can be visually appealing, for me nothing is more satisfying than mixing colouring or pigments into slime. I love seeing the final product and I think other people do as well.

What's the weirdest comment you can remember receiving on one of your videos?
One thing I find strange is when people comment on my breathing because I have to breathe. Another thing that I find strange is when people make inappropriate, sexual, non-PG rated comments about the sound of slime.

Prim, @sparklygoo, 75.7K followers

VICE: Where are you from and how old are you?
Prim: I'm from Vancouver, Canada. I'm 22.

When did you notice the trend beginning?
I came across a slime video that's owned by a Thai slime account. I was fascinated by the way they look, I wanted to make purchases but I couldn't find them in the store anywhere not even online so I decided to try to make them as an art project over the summer. Thailand started this trend long before people of North America, they're the true trendsetter there's no doubt about that. I started to see the trend in North America since an art account @lovewatts started reposting these thai slime videos.

Where do you see your slime account going?
I am a huge supporter of any form of creativity, I have little kids messaging me they started making slime because they were inspired by my videos, knowing this is absolutely makes me happy. For this reason, I'm in the process of setting up a website dedicated to slime related things and my products along with tutorial videos to provide a platform for those who eager to make their own.

Theresa Nguyen, @rad.slime, 144K followers

VICE: How old are you?
Theresa: I'm 13.

How much slime do you have at your house right now?
I have about 50 different kinds.

What is the average price of your slime and how many orders do you receive?
A 4 oz is roughly $6.50 and an 8 oz is roughly $13. I normally restock on Saturdays with about 30-50 slimes and I make about $300-400 each time.

Are your parents aware of your account and what do they think of it?
Yes, my parents are highly aware of it. They think is a good thing that I sell slime. This money is going to help me pay for college.

Have you ever been in an argument with another slime creator?
Yes, but it was private and lowkey. There is an account called @slimeconfessions or something like that, that disrupts the community and creates lots of drama.

Desire Colio, @slimeclouds, 48.2K followers

VICE: Where are you from and how old are you?
Desire: I am from San Diego, California and I'm 23 years old.

What is it about slime accounts that people find so satisfying?
For me, at least, it is the sounds and the softness of the material that makes it so satisfying. It is like a much better version of a stress ball. It helps you with nerves, anxiety, stress, etc., and it is so calming and relaxing as well.

Do you think there's real money in slime?
I wouldn't call this a stable job, it's just a way to bring more money in especially
for me since I am a broke college student and this really does help me out with bills and
necessities at the moment.

What exactly do your slime sales cover in your budget?
Mainly my car insurance, gas, and car repairs. Basically I mostly use it for my car. But I also use it to pay off my contact lenses and then of course little things like food, entertainment, etc. But very little at a time, I don't make that much a week so I have to keep track of it.

Casey Duke, @fruityslimefactory, 18.3K followers

VICE: Where are you from and how old are you?
Casey: I'm from Florida and I'm 14-years-old.

You call yourself the "creator of pop rocks slime", what is that?
Pop rocks slime is clear slime with little blue fish pebbles inside to make a pop rocks sort of crunch.

Do you get any sort of extra recognition for inventing a slime?
If you start a trend in slime, such as 'fishbowl' created by @anathemaslime, you will get a lot more followers. She became slime famous over that.

Is it weird to be known for making slime?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Some people think it's really cool, but other times when I say I have a slime account, it's kind of embarrassing. I mean I am playing with glue and borax hahah.

Aristotle K, @spiffyslimes, 74.4K followers

VICE: Where are you from and how old are you?
Aristotle: I'm from a small town in Wisconsin and I'm 18 years old.

Why did you start making slime?
I began making slime as a way to relieve stress. I was in a really rough place with school, money, housing situations, family stuff, and for some reason out of all the things to latch onto for coping, I chose slime.

I noticed "slime review" and "slime fan pages", do you have any crazy fans?
No crazy fans. Although, I do get a ton of compliments about my hands and there is an overwhelming amount of people pressuring me to do a face reveal.

Will you do it?
I do have a private personal account where I post very few pictures of my face. I let people know what that username is and moderate who I let follow me. As of now I'm a bit uncomfortable with sharing my face directly to 85,000+ followers. Perhaps someday in the future I will do a more proper face reveal, but for the months ahead of me, I don't see myself doing that.

Do you think there's a sexual element or one of physical attraction in slime?
I think the vast majority of the compliments I receive don't come from a place of sexual attraction. Although, I have received blatantly sexual direct messages from one anonymous user recently. But I'm pretty certain they were just a troll. Either way, I take them as compliments and don't mind too much.

Conor McKeirnan, @theslimeyshop, 158K follower

VICE: Where are you from and how old are you?
Conor: I am from Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania and I just turned 15 years old.

Describe the slime community.
The slime community is a pretty chill and low key super popular trend that is constantly growing. It's such a big community in fact, there are "slime drama" accounts or "slime confession" accounts that post drama about slime accounts. Most of the slime community is chill though.

What's the weirdest thing you've seen go down within the community?
I think the weirdest thing that I've ever seen go down with the slime community is when there are arguments over who made up this type of slime first or if the person should give credits to the "creator" or not. I personally don't really care because it's slime but it happens all the time.

Ryan Joseph, @SlimeCaptain, 75K followers

VICE: Where are you from and how old are you?
Ryan: I am from a small town in New Jersey and I'm 16.

Why did you start making slime?
I started making slime because I wanted to provide people with the same excitement and interest that I felt when I first fell in love with slime videos. As you watch slime videos, you become more relaxed and a lot of stress is released through the satisfying auditory sounds. Slime serves as a calming method that aids many in coping with the stresses of life, even if you only get to see a 60 second video.

Do you think there's real money in slime?
Absolutely. I've made a large amount of profit in a short period of time that sprouted from selling my slime. Each month I donate half of my profits to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, as Cancer has been present in my family. With an abundance of money, it is my responsibility to spread some good in the world and set an example for many.

Kaitlinh Nguyen, @SlimeSherbet, 69.2K followers

VICE: Where are you from and how old are you?
Kaitlinh: I'm originally from Texas, but now live in the East Coast. I am 13.

How much money have you made so far?
I'm not sure the exact amount but it's somewhere over $1,000.

Do you have any crazy fans?
Yep. There are definitely some out there that beg me for my phone number and ask for my address.

Bella, @theslimenation, 92.6K followers

VICE: Where are you from and how old are you?
Bella: I'm 14 and I'm from the US.

How much slime do you have right now?
I currently have around 600 ounces of slime made that I'm getting ready to sell.

What is the average price of your slime and how many orders do you receive?
My average prices for slime depend on the number of ounces. The biggest size of slime I offer is eight ounce which I would normally sell for around $10. The number of orders I receive would depend on how many and how often I Restock my slime, but if i were to guess I'd say anywhere from 100-300 orders monthly.

What's the weirdest thing you've seen go down in the slime community?
There are a lot of weird things that go down in the slime community. A few examples would be people poking slime with their toes, adding food or grass to slime, or making drama pages "exposing" slime creators.