Talkin' 'bout Blacks, Mexicans, Cops, and Sad Italian Movies With Little Dogs in 'em

Interview conducted in 1994 by Scott Peterson for STOOL Magazine

Stool: What do you think about the people that just say you two are a "shock duo" out to fuck with people with not much to back it up?
Jim: I don't really care. I mean, we're going to be misinterpreted. The Village Voice saw us as this emblem of white-male paranoia and their shrinking empire. Well, my response to them is, hey, show me where the fuck my empire is and I'll go and live rent-free. It's always going to be misinterpreted. There's an element of shock there because I was born and raised Catholic and my temperament is if someone tells me that I can't do something, then I'm definitely going to do it. You're only going to be alive for so fucking long so you might as well.

So if it wasn't ANSWER Me!, then you'd obviously be venting this in a different way.
We would be doing heroin or something. Thank God I've found something I can do where I'm not destroying myself because I'd much rather destroy others. This is a good way to push myself.

My problem with anyone is consistency and hypocrisy. I don't care where the fuck you're coming from. Like if you're a black Muslim and you're honest and up-front and tell me you hate me, then at least we can find some kind of common ground. But it's to be expected and I'm sure there's gonna be a lot more resentment with the more attention we get. It's inevitable. The fanzine world is a world of shattered, fragile egos.

You get really good reviews in a lot of the music zines, though.
Amazingly positive reviews! I mean, I shouldn't bitch at all because it blows my fucking mind how many good reviews we get. I wonder if people are really actually looking at what we're saying.

Maybe it's respect for your honesty about all this stuff, even if it's shocking or fucked-up to some people.
I think the one thing that differentiates us from almost everybody is that we're not trying to be cool. Maybe we're too old to care, because it's just not a concern of ours. Most people are doing it for some sort of scene credibility or to be thought of as hipper, like knowing about this obscure band and all that shit. None of that concerns us. We have enough self-esteem that impressing somebody else with our knowledge about the underground is completely irrelevant. I think we say things that a lot of people are afraid of saying.

Do you mind being lumped in with the "fanzine" crowd as far as people categorizing the mag?
The only thing is that we're not fannish in is our approach. We're eliminating all interviews for the next issue. I think to be a fan is a necessary stage of development when you're an adolescent or something, and after a while you should spew out your own ideas. If you're stuck in terminal fandom I think it's pathetic. Stupidity is the fucking problem. Two crimes: unoriginality and stupidity. Make them the only two laws, and make them punishable by death. All social problems would be erased. People are afraid to fucking say that with all this overwhelming sensitivity around us and nothing's ever going to change.

You could never have something like a caning type of punishment over here. You take some skin off someone's ass for stealing something and they're probably not gonna do it again if they can't sit down for a couple of weeks. If shit like that happened over here you'd have five hundred different groups protesting because it's violating their rights. Then in the protest they'll fuck someone up over the head if they fuck with them.
Americans have a weird complex. Sure, the indigenous Mexicans or Indians were here first and if it takes a fucking race war to reclaim that, then let ‘em at it. People bitch about how racist Pete Wilson is about immigration, but in any other fucking country you can get killed for running across the border. Europe. Africa. Asia... all over the place. Americans have this guilt trip about it all, and personally I think it's destroying the country. America's a weird social experiment anyway, and I don't think there's ever been a country that's had such a heterogeneous population with so many different ethnic groups. It's never been tried before.

You're pretty much right in the thick of it too, living here in this fucking neighborhood.
Yeah, this is the thick of it.

I heard something about you having trouble getting the last issue printed up because of some pictures.
We had eight places reject it before this place. The eventual printers were Chinese and I guess they don't understand the cultural impact of Hitler or "I Hate Being a Jew."

Hitler's okay, but no naked people.
(pointing to the photo above the couch of a kid with his head blown to bits via shotgun lunch) This was going to be the back cover of the last issue, and in full color....

And they wouldn't do it?
Well, we had a place in Michigan and they said no fucking way. I said okay then, if that's too gory for you then how about if we show Hitler crucified? He said, "Yeah. Hitler's cool, no problem."

Where's that picture from?
Some guy from Alabama sent us a color slide. If you saw it in color you could see some of it a little better. Like here, see, that's a little chunk of his brain there on the couch. Here are some lips, a nose‡blew the fucking face right off. This is a rumor but the guy who drew the cover (Jim Blanchard) is from Seattle and he works for Fantagraphics Books. Anyway, Poison Idea and Nirvana played in Seattle sometime last year and he (Jim) went backstage with a stack of magazines, one of which was ANSWER Me!, and he said he saw Kurt sitting there reading the fucking Suicide issue. Now if I could get full credit for that then I could just cash in all my chips and I'd be set. (laughs)

News vans pull up and the big boom mics come up to your windows.
Could you imagine? Yeah, I could only hope so.

What's the craziest shit somebody's sent you in the mail?
We get anonymous death threats.

Was it specific threats or just sort of a "watch out" type thing?
Stuff like, "You'll learn soon enough." One thing I gotta specify is that I find people that do serial-killer trading cards, the campy approach to violence, I find offensive. These are obviously people who have never had any violence in their fucking lives. Like if you're going to write about African-American issues, then you more or less should be black. If you're going to write about violence, then at least have some sort of emotional connection to it. Otherwise it's gonna come off skewed and it's not hitting the mark.

There are even a bunch of pissed-off people that are standing up against all this glorification of serial killers and stuff. You've never gotten any letters from victims' relatives or anything like that?
Nah. It's all been shit like Gacy openings at galleries and that kind of stuff we really don't care about.

Go mingle and eat cheese at the gallery.
Yeah, I mean these people don't realize that we don't go out to begin with. It's nauseating. These people are so fannish about it. If I was a serial killer I'd kill fanboys. I mean, that's who I'd focus on. Like Schwarzenegger, you see 800 people killed and you don't feel anything. I'd much rather see somebody hacked up with an intense close-up and you'd really get the horror of it. It's not a cute thing.

Exactly. You see the real footage or the real photos and it gives you a completely different feeling than any gore flick or cop movie.
Yeah. It's sanitized. I want to convey the actual feeling of it.

What do you think about people who say, "If you don't like it here in America, then get the fuck out"?
The more conflict, the happier we are. Let them argue amongst themselves. You get chuckleheads that are real patriotic and shit and it puzzles me because usually the ones who are that way are the ones getting fucked by the government the most. I mean, trailer park people? They pay taxes and get nothing out of it. I don't know why they're so fucking patriotic. They're people that want to impose their will on your way of thinking. That's my definition of a pure fascist: someone who won't tolerate any other way of thinking. I tolerate other ways of thinking mainly because I've realized I can't change it. It would be too much fucking effort and I don't care about the people enough to want to change it. The biggest attitude we always get is from the far-left liberals. Unless you're completely in line with what they think, they'll tear your throat open. That's intolerance in the purest form. It's reverse discrimination and it's usually as bad or worse than who they're bitching about.

What sort of approach are you using for the 'Rape' issue?
We try to be morally neutral because rape isn't as much a moral issue as it is a biological thing. It's a byproduct of 10 or 20 thousand years ago where these savages had to cross hills and rape people to reproduce. It's a byproduct of breeding.

People who have never been abused ask, "How can you do something like that if you already had all that suffering and saw how horrible it was?" I can understand it. My old man used to beat the piss out of me and he used to kick my sister when she was down on the floor and she'd be bleeding into the toilet. There's a naturally programmed sense that you want revenge. If anybody fucking says a word about you, you want to just stamp them the fuck out no matter what it takes. It's psychological compensation. To me, an abused person turning into an abuser is perfectly understandable.

Why no advertising?
It's like if there was a commercial in the middle of a record. People would say, "What the fuck is this?" It disrupts everything. It's an aesthetic thing, the ads would fuck up the flow of the magazine. It's just the way I set out to do this from the start.

You used to work for some other mags, right?
I wrote for Playboy and I worked for the LA Reader. When he hired me at the Reader he said he wanted to give it an edge, and I don't think he realized what kind of an edge he was going to get. He wound up wanting me to cover City Hall and shit like that. Yeah, like I was really set up for that kind of stuff. I guess they're afraid of fucking over the advertisers. They don't realize though that if they did a Manson interview they'd have the advertisers beating down their door.

It's like those fucking Geraldo shows where if they would just let some of those idiots on the show brawl it out on stage, they'd get amazing ratings.
Geraldo's like a lizard. They're the type of people who come on and go, "Charlie, you scum, you filth‡but Charlie, gimme the fucking ratings, Charlie!!" They're playing both ends of it. I'm trying to understand where rage comes from and what impels people to act that extreme. Maybe one day I'll find out and I'll just drop the fucking magazine because I'll be psychically healed. They're acting like they're outraged by having a false pretense of morality. "Oh, I'm outraged, but tell me how you ripped out her vagina with razor blades."

And then the "expert" comes out and tells you how to solve your problem in the last 5 minutes of the show.
I thought being a victim was a bad thing, but it's the only way you can get any slack these days.

That was sort of part of another question I had. What do you think about how all these "victims" are blaming their wrongdoings on all the fucked-up things that happened to them? You already touched on it a little when you were talking about child abuse, but it seems like nobody can take responsibility for anything they do anymore. It's all excuses before reasons.
If psychiatry worked then psychiatrists would be out of business. It's not set up to work at $50 a week. Debbie wrote this thing in Your Flesh about Riot Grrrls and somebody wrote a letter and she ended the letter with, "You've never suffered." Like suffering is a fucking badge that makes them something else. Suffering's a bad thing. If you're gonna be stuck being a victim it's like jerking off and never graduating to fucking. It's an arrested state of development. Yeah, it was bad what happened to you but learn how to lash out at people who fuck you over. Learn how to stand up for yourself, that's the lesson you should learn from being a victim. These screaming feminists sound like they just want to be stuck being victims. They wouldn't know how to handle being a perpetrator. If they're going to label every man as being bad, then they're saying the sexes have inherent qualities, which is a sexist notion. "Being born a man means you're going to act this way," that's sexist. If you're anti-sexism, don't talk that way. Like I said earlier, consistency. If Andrea Dworkin, that fat fucking cow, came up to me and said, "Oh, the reason I hate men isn't all these theoretical things, it's because when I was 14 at the high school dance I was fat and ugly and all these guys pulled the other girls out of the line," then I'd realize why she hates men and she'd have her reason to hate men. Say you fucking hate men instead of all this theoretical shit, ‘cause it's just hiding the real emotional problems. I could talk to Farrakhan if he said, "I hate your white fucking ass" instead of that "400 years" bullshit. I didn't do anything to oppress anybody, I don't have the fucking power to oppress anybody. If I did, I would (laughs), but don't fucking blame me for something I didn't do.

What do you think about Farrakhan?
I think that fundamentally just telling blacks to keep money in their own community and get educated and off drugs without killing each other is good for blacks and they should listen to that. Where he loses me is where he talks about whites being the union of dogs and blacks on some island six thousand years ago. That shit never gets played in the media. They'll take a Nazi and bring out all their loony fucking theories and Farrakhan is as loony as any of them. The Nation of Islam actually fucking preaches that white people were created by some evil scientist as an experiment. And after six thousand years of this,, some avenging black god is going to come and kill them all. It's a fucking double standard. Why can't somebody come along without all the evil-scientist shit and just say it's a power struggle? Maybe if the blacks had developed the technology to get on boats and go oppress somebody then they would have. Hannibal tried it but was beaten back by the Romans. Genghis Khan tried it, too. And men rape women because they're stronger. That's all. It's a biological fact and people get away with what they can. The only thing that beats them back is superior force. Take all the fucking morality out of it. Blacks got fucked over. If you wanna fuck back, fuck back as strong as you fucking can.

The Aryans and the KKK dig on the whole Nation of Islam thing because they're all separatists and they're all working towards the same end result. It's mutual respect.
Yeah. LeRoi Jones, who now goes by some unpronounceable fucking name, is in my mind one of the greatest writers to grace the planet, especially in America. He was doing all of this grass-roots shit in Newark (N.J.) in the 60's and he got along with this real racist white-separatist Italian guy because they were both acting along with their own self-interest. They realized that the people in the government didn't care about either one of them.

What do you think the riots in L.A. accomplished?
I think maybe people got a little more racist. I can't say that I blame them, because they were directly threatened. My friend Nick, who taped like 40 hours of stuff, I mean there were direct racist threats to whites.

If King had sent me through a high-speed chase I probably would've been a lot worse. If l was a fucking cop I'd be clubbing people for asking directions. I used to hate cops. Nobody believes me, but the LAPD are the nicest fucking cops I've ever seen. Philly cops will beat the fuck out of you for just looking at them wrong. It's sort of the same reason we don't do reviews, I'm not a musician. I can't criticize cops because if I was a fucking cop I couldn't take people lying to me 40 hours a week, threatening me, nobody's ever guilty, spitting on me. You would develop a siege mentality. I can understand how a gang member feels. I can't understand people that understand cops but not gang members and vice-versa. I can understand where both are coming from.

I think I agree with part of that but it's still the cop's fault for getting into it in the first place.
What, with Rodney King?

No, being a cop. You go sign up to be a cop you already know what's going on out there. Why subject yourself and then complain about it?
Especially in this city. We have as many cops as Philly does, the only problem is that we have three times as many people. If you're gonna go off and say the government's corrupt and the cops are corrupt, go up to the fucking government. The cops are just the Dobermans. If you have a problem and you're going to go kill somebody, don't kill the fucking guard dog, kill the owner. Cops are dopes who couldn't get other jobs and they're just the hired thugs. You know I was a real fucking liberal guy and I was writing for the Reader. I did this article on "Stoner Gangs" in East L.A. who basically listen to metal and have tattoos and in a strange way, act sort of like white guys. Not your typical Mexican gang members. I fucking went through hell and I said that these people are just as smart as anyone here at the Reader and they just haven't been given the right breaks. They're decent people and society has fucked them over. Well, I got fired for doing that fucking article. I went back to buy some weed from these guys and they were ready to kick my ass because they thought I'd misrepresented them. I got in my car, drove away....

Did the Reader print the article like you wrote it?
Yeah. There was some squabble with the gangsters about the guy saying, "Don't call us Mexicans, call us Stoners." I thought that was interesting because it seemed like they were trying to disavow their cultural heritage for whatever reason, and they were pissed off about that. I said to them, "Well it's what you said, what are you pissed off about?" So I'm driving away thinking that if these guys had the power they'd be as corrupt as the guy at the Reader, they'd be as corrupt as any government official, it's just that they haven't had the chance yet. That's the day I ceased being a liberal. People act in their own self-interest. Any moral glaze they attach to it is bullshit. They're acting for survival.

Do you think there's going to be a big thing between the blacks and the Mexicans here in L.A. soon?
I think white people get blamed a little too much for racism. Blacks against Mexicans is an example of how it's more of a tribal, territorial thing. We're like animals, it's not all this black/white/Asian shit. These people feel like their interests are threatened and they'll do their best to protect themselves.

Any special methods you use when you do the research on the stuff in ANSWER Me!? Like the serial killers and the do you find so much shit on that stuff?
(pointing to tall stacks of books all over the floor) Well, we've got rape right there, a little more over there... Being raised Catholic or being beaten... I just have this drive that's untouchable. It's an unhealthy motivation. Like if I read a bad review or something I don't think these people realize how much power they've given me by putting me down, because that's what keeps me going. It's a bad motivation but it ultimately comes out good.

At least it's an honest motivation.
My brother was murdered in Paris in 1969, brutally stabbed like 100 times and then thrown in a ditch. I've been beaten. We have some vested interest in what we do. It's not like I'm at a club wearing a Manson shirt saying, "Look how kooky I am." That to me is offensive.

What about the trading cards?
Well, it just seems distant from it all. I guess it's postmodern and that's cool for a minute or so. You have to really wonder what it does to some of these lunkheads out there. Is one of these idiots going to go out and kill someone because they didn't get their JuJu-Bee's on time at 7-11? If anything. I'm trying to sensitize people to this stuff. If they find it repellent they should, because it's emotionally powerful subject matter. To portray them like they're John Wayne, Gene Kelly, and Fred Astaire on a card, well it's not going to do the murderer or the victim much justice.

What other kind of stuff encourages you or motivates you?
There's this fucking jerkoff that does this zine called Feminist Baseball, ever seen that? Well apparently it's this fanzine from Seattle and it's about 9 billion reviews and they brag about how they even have more reviews than Option. That's something to fucking brag about? Out of nowhere I get a card in the mail and the guy writes, "Oooh. Scary." Through other avenues I've heard that he's talking shit about me. It's like what the fuck's up his ass, you know? I never did anything to this fucking guy. I sit at this fucking keyboard and I go to the library and I think about that jerkoff. That's what keeps me going. Issue #2 was a million times better than issue #1 and you can thank Darby {of Ben Is Dead} for that. That's the fucking drive right there.

Have you ever met her?
No. I talked to her on the phone because the issue before the last one they had something about that Blue Persuasion mag and they said it included a "scathing review of L.A.'s ANSWER Me! and the pathetic white trash" far I have no problems, call me pathetic, call me white trash... "upper middle class couple that puts it out." Upper middle class?

(as we gaze around the apartment) This is upper middle class?
Yeah, this is fucking upper middle class. You think this place is bad, take a fucking look at our car. It's a '68 Cougar. You say that about somebody and.... I could've fucking gone to Harvard with my SATs but instead I'm stuck typesetting business cards in Century City for some jerkoff. You say upper middle class to somebody like that and they're gonna get pretty fucking defensive. So I called her up at her personal number and....

Did she write the review?
No, but she encouraged some drag queen fuck to write for her for this one issue. She says (in a snotty, whining voice), "Well, you know, I like your magazine.'s just that some people on the staff have a problem with it." I'm like, "Look, call us whatever the fuck you want, you know the upper middle class shit is a lie." She goes, "Well, if you want him to call you, you know, I could..." So I go, "Okay, here's my work number." And of course nobody ever fucking calls.

It's that whole clique thing that everybody's so damned anxious to be a part of. Fuck it.
Let them have it. Let them burn in hell with it. Maybe if we've done anything original it's that we've turned the fucking camera around and said look at all you geeks. You're so fucking pure that you can criticize other people? You're more corrupt than any of the fucking politicians‡It's the whole group mentality thing we're going against. We like the lone psychos, no matter how much they disagree with us. We respect anybody who's striking out on their own and doing their own thing. That's where you're gonna find any inroads to innovation.

Have you two watched any movie that made you cry?
Yeah, some Italian movie called Umberto D. from the 50's. It was this pathetic old man and his dog and it's this heart-wrenching thing where he's kicked out of his house?This was like a couple years ago when Debbie had a cancer scare and I was just thinking a lot about how if she was gone then pretty much everything would be gone. I think I cried then.

When you move to Oregon are you still gonna do the magazine?
Oh yeah.

Do you think it's going to change at all?
Could be. I mean if we're not fucking angry we won't do it anymore. I'm sure there will be frustration up there. Somebody else asked me that when we were thinking of moving to Boise. I told them like if we couldn't get logs for our fireplace we'd be pissed off. Portland's an interesting town because there's a real hardcore leftwing contingent up there with tree-savers and armpit-hair lesbians and shit, and there's also the skinhead thing, too. That creates a tension,

What do you think about legalizing dope?
Well, you wouldn't have crack wars, but I think you'd have nine-thousand auto fatalities. If it was legalized I think it should be regulated to where if you wanted to do crack you'd have to go somewhere and do it there and not be allowed to leave until you came down. I believe in personal responsibility, but I'm responsible and the other guy isn't, that's what the problem is. I would trust myself in a free-market society but not all the other idiots out there. Libertarianism only goes so far. It's based on a theory that people are trustworthy when left to their own devices, but it doesn't work like that.

What about the so-called War on Drugs?
War on Drugs? That's not the real problem, it's a smokescreen. It all comes back to stupidity. David Duke said we should give welfare money to high-IQ white couples. I'd take the "white" from that and subsidize the smart people. What the government is doing is subsidizing stupid people. All the money's being thrown to the weak, the unemployable, and the illiterate. If you want a better society, invest in the intelligent people. Retards get a lot more money from the government than I do.

Do you think AIDS was invented by the government?
Could have been. If I was in the government I would have invented it, sure. Take care of the dissidents, sure. I know a lot of people that are railing about the government are secretly jealous because they don't have that kind of power.