I admit to knowing almost nothing about the magazine Vice before reading The Vice Guide to Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll. But based on the evidence of this corrosive, hilarious and bizarre anthology of pieces culled from the magazine, the publication is something special. Many of the works featured in the book can’t be mentioned by name here, but suffice it to say that several of them are how-to’s about performing various sexual acts.
Other topics include not only the eponymous drugs and rock and roll, but also such subjects as crime (witness the caustic but curiously instructive “The Vice Guide to Survival in Prison”), “special people” (which encompasses everything from people with disabilities to racial minorities to those who have moved from Los Angeles to New York) and education.
The stories are often funny, sometimes enlightening and almost always sure to cause a knot in your stomach. The style of the stories is unapologetically abrasive, throwing around various forms of profanity with alarming speed and describing things that most “polite” publications wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole.
Yet, it’s done in such a way that it doesn’t seem crude or mean-spirited. Clearly, the people behind the magazine view it as simply good-natured vulgarity. Whether or not you agree is up to you. There were some pieces I could have done without – namely one with the self-explanatory title “Corn in Your Poo.”
But in most of the pieces, the sheer grossness is overshadowed by hilarity. The sex pieces in particular are a laugh riot and, as the same time, oddly helpful. Perhaps my favorite piece was a story on “gay slobs,” gay men who leave their underwear on the floor, dress badly and wouldn’t get the time of day from the cast of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
The Vice Guide is not for the easily offended, but, if you take it the right spirit, it is a lot of fun.