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Dos and Don'ts: Vice's Scourge Of Unfortunate Dress
John Calvert , October 14th, 2011 14:11

John Calvert speaks to Vice editor Andy Capper about the magazine's new book of its 'Dos and Don'ts' series

Readers! Post your own Do (or more likely Don't) about that hippy there in the comments below

So, you're walking around in your parachute-silk hot pants, matching salmon-pink tobacco satchel and beard-of-goat colonial waistcoat, minding your own business. Everything is right in the world. Peter and the guys at the vegan brunch group concur... 'early Bill Cosby' is totally an unprecedented fashion statement. Your super-cute g/f so just got the inside track on 'Gay Indian' (it's next season's 'Gay Cowboy'). And you're almost positive the post-collegiate pretzel stand guy rocking Magnum-era Burt Reynolds isn't anywhere near as edgy as you. You're cheeky, you're dynamic, you're effortless - hell, you're brilliant. And you're pretty sure 'the world's most hip underground zine' just took a massive shit on your fragile sense of self. Suddenly, that Nappy'n'Nike's ensemble you were keeping for the Dan Deacon gig seems a bit much.

Well, if you feel the need to talk it over, in the complaints department at Vice UK sits a smartass as comfortable with daredevil gonzo reportage as he is instructing an incorrigible try-hard where to insert his red leather shirt. If, God forbid, your unwitting kisser turns up in Andy Capper's inbox, chances are it's going to be a bad week for your self-esteem. Editor of Vice UK and scourge of the fashion-earnest, along with reporting from some of the most dangerous territories on the planet as part of the mag's 'Immersionist' strike force it's Capper's job to coordinate a world of hurt against the terminally self-deluded, in the form of Vice's guilty, infamous and much loved feature, 'Dos and Don'ts'.

In case you aren't up on the skinny, the format goes as follows. Two photos, one allocated to the 'Do' column and one to the 'Don't' column, are assigned a small blurb which, depending on the pic's category, either toasts to the subject's all-round idiotic awesomeness or proffers a sardonic tongue-lashing on the grounds of fashion, overt dickheadness or sheer bravura self-reverence. Since its debut in 1994, and subsequent graduation to being a daily concern online, the micro-column has proved instrumental in the magazine's phenomenal rise from tattered zine to youth brand mega-empire.

So 17 years of bad behaviour later, and (maybe) a lawsuit or two, Vice are set to release their latest compendium of D&D's finest moments, compiling no less than 400 well-mounted offensives on the sublimely offensive. The guy on the bus in the bear-fur cape - the one you hate on while your crumpled Next suit sticks to a fart-smelling woman with kindred static electricity - it's this guy who gets it square on the jaw from Vice's scalpel-sharp observational gags; mercilessly, concisely, and hilariously. The Quietus catches up with Andy Capper to find out what it takes to head up street fashion's most ruthless band of G-men.

How crucial has the 'Dos and Don'ts' feature been to the success of Vice?

Andy Capper: Pretty big but not 100 per cent crucial. I think what made people like us at the start was the fact that we made them laugh and said things that normal people say in real life.

How do you come by the photos? Do the readers send them in?

AC: We get them from all over the place. We are in 34 countries now. Mostly it's our staff.

Has anyone ever tried to sue Vice over the photos?

AC: Can't remember.

If you were going to do a celebrity special, is there anyone you'd take pleasure in taking to task?

AC: I think the celebrity magazines already takes care of that so it's not something we need to get involved in.

Has the feature ever resulted in hate mail?

AC: We get internet hate mail all the time. It's usually from people who we've turned down for writing jobs.

Is the average Vice reader a do or a don't?

AC: Hard to say.

Do you have a personal favourite?

AC: Not really. There's too many. The best ones are short and to the point I think.

Do you ever worry that the feature is too cruel?

AC: Sometimes, yeah. But the point of the Don'ts is to point out that people are trying too hard to be cool / posers. The Dos are usually people who look natural and effortless.

What upcoming 'immersionist journalism' trips are in the pipeline for you (Vice's lauded brand of investigative journalism, similar to travelogues in war-torn / extreme territories)?

AC: Just came back from Siberia where I did a thing on a new drug called Krokodil, where people synthesise heroin by mixing up codeine tablets, eyedrops and petrol and end up having their legs drop off within six months. That was a fucking laugh riot.

How do you balance Vice's corporate status with Vice's 'edge'. Are you ever asked to tone it down slightly? Putting a photo of naked Siamese trannies next to a mobile phone advert must pose a conflict of interests.

AC: It's a constant struggle. Luckily we have genius ad sales people.

The 'Video' tab comes first in your navigation banner's order. Is video the future for culture sites, do you feel?

AC: Predicting the future is for Mystic Meg but yeah, probably. Worked out pretty well for YouTube, although now they're trying to actually make money by putting those crazy long ads in front of things. It's getting annoying.

How has the nature of your job changed as Vice has expanded from a mag to a multi-platform empire?

AC: Traumatic impact on family life / health.

How would you assess London's music scene at the moment?

AC: Pretty terrible. I love The Horrors but mostly it's posey and terrible. New bands-wise I have a lot of time for people like Daniel Devine and Sammy Seven, although they are yet to make their best record. My favourite new thing is a rapper from Harlem called A.S.A.P Rocky. I'm making his next video and it will be one of the best things you've ever seen. Here's a screengrab:

Can you 'Do and Don't' me? Here's a photo:

AC: Too many haircuts on one head.

Vice: Dos and Don'ts is available now in all good book stores. Price £9.99. Courtesy of Canongate Books.