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The Demise of Larry Flynt's Big Brother Skateboarding Magazine

Big Brother skateboard magazine cover

I LOVED Big Brother magazine. They were my big brother!
Sure, I read Thrasher and the myriad of other mags on the news stand, but Big Brother always went the distance to make me laugh out loud at their depravity. After all they were published by the renown (and AMAZING) publisher of Hustler Magazine, Larry Flynt.

Upon hearing that, I asked myself, "How could a pronography empire lose money!"
I thought porn was license to print money! But who knows? Not me. I guess the porn is doing OK, its just the lackluster sk8 industry that causes this sort problem.


Below is the letter Dave Carnie, the former editor, posted on the Big Brother website in January 2004:

It's too late to think of what you want on your tombstone once you're dead. Which is where we've found ourselves. Dead. On Thursday, January 16, Martin Luther King Day, after 14 years of publication, LFP pulled the plug on Big Brother magazine. MLK day was a very black day indeed.

"Why?" You're all clamoring to find out. LFP has been downsizing the last couple of months. Before us they killed MX Machine, Busty, Hometown Girls and Taboo. And due to the soft economy and how sketchy the skateboard industry is right now, we were just barely making it. Mr. Flynt is a businessman and he just decided to kill the title rather than wait for the industry to rebound. There's also been a rumor that they're converting our floor into apartments or something. Not sure. But if you want to blame someone, blame the industry. Everyone always said they loved the mag, but they never supported it.

There was no warning. We had talked about the state of the mag with the executives last year and we knew we were in trouble, but we were under the impression we had 2004 to turn things around. So when Heather and I were called up to the executive offices, we had no idea why we had to close the door for the meeting.

"Uh oh," Heather said, "this doesn't look good."

"We hate to do this," they began.

What's fucked is that I was just beginning to look at buying a house. In fact that day was going to be my first day out with my realtors. "Uh, hey Jim," I said to my realtor later that day, "I'm going to have to cancel today." He then told me to get drunk. Which I did.

So we're done. At least for now. There are, however, at least four investors interested in the title. We'll see if any bite. If the deal is right, we just might carry on. If not, you'll still see us around. Heather is interested in marketing and has extensive experience in the skateboard industry. She's looking for a job, so hire her. I'm already doing work for The Skateboard Mag. I guess they were kind of excited that Big Brother died, because then they could steal me. If they go in the direction they say they're going to go in, I'll be proud to be a part of that mag. Other than that I'm working on a book and some scripts and TV show treatments, shit like that. Might do some work on Dave England's new Comedy Central show, Do-Able. Also going to work on some documentaries, one of which is a black metal documentary I'm working on with Nieratko. It's all filmed, we just need to edit it. Chris already freelances for a bunch of mags, like Vice, and he's been shopping a script he wrote around and it's been receiving some attention. Plus he's got that goddamn NJ skateshop to keep himself busy. So there's no need to worry about IF we're going to be doing anything, it's more a question of WHAT are we going to be doing?

It's been fun. Believe me, we've had more fun doing this than you have had reading about it. Even cleaning out my office has been kind of fun. I've been finding the most fucked up shit in here. And unfortunately there won't be a last issue. Imagine how fucked up that would be? There would not only be tits in it, there'd be penises. It would have been off the hook. I begged, but they weren't having it. But there is one more issue left. The March issue, number 106. It's not a bad issue to go out on.

Aaron Meza from Skateboarder asked, "Isn't there any part of you that's relieved?" Frankly, no. I've been doing this for 12 years or whatever, and to suddenly not be doing it is kind of weird. I keep waking up thinking I have to write this article, or that article, and then, "Oh yeah, I don't have to do it anymore·" I know everyone else on staff feels the same way.

I will admit, though, that the magazine was really starting to cut into my drinking time. So I got that going for me. Which is nice.

Thanks for everything. May Big Brother rest in peace.
-Dave Carnie 1/23/04


Big Brother's History

Even Wikipedia had something to say about prornographers who buy sk8 mags.

Big Brother was a skateboarding magazine founded by Steve Rocco, which was notable for jumpstarting the careers of the well-known Jackass crew. They also released a few videos with a few Jackass-esque stunts and pranks, but the videos were mostly skateboarding-oriented.

It contained mostly articles about skateboarding, as well as nudity, stunts, and random ramblings from its staff. Most notably, the magazine's website contained a flash module of the infamous "Donald Wilson Tapes" that dealt with a rather angry gentleman who had a phone number one digit away from that of the cable company and taped the subsequent conversations with dead-beat customers.

The magazine was purchased by Larry Flynt (publisher of several porn magazines, most notably; Hustler) in 1997. After Flynt began publishing the magazine, the nudity was toned down or scrapped altogether, though the vulgarity remained.

The Taboo / Big Brother mix-up

Lary Flynt's Taboo Magazine covers

In one of the most bizarre episodes of the magazine's history, the subscriber list for Big Brother got mixed up with one of Larry Flynt's hardcore magazines - Taboo. Subscribers were sent pornography, and those who subscribed to Taboo got a skate magazine. This incident was parodied on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in which one of the band members was delivered an issue of Big Brother live on stage, suggesting that he subscribed to Taboo and received it in error.


Lary Flynt's Taboo Magazine covers

For those who don't know... Taboo was a hardcore fetish magazine featuring bondage layouts with plenty or rope, chain and leather... and hot chicks.

The magazine was unexpectedly dropped by Larry Flynt publications in February 2004.

The Big Brother Videos

Each of the titles in Big Brother's videos dealt in some way with feces .

Shit - Released: 1996, 48 minutes

Big Brother skateboard video - Shit

Review:
Big Brother's first video, as the title may suggest, is a random compilation of footage from the first few years of the publications existence. Rocco's brainchild was so raunchy that newscasts across the country bashed it calling it filthy, inappropriate and pornographic. Witness the foundation being laid for Jackass and a long list of recognizable names being stupid, not to mention, some legitimate skating and a few commercials thrown in here and there.


Number Two - Released: 1998, 44 minutes

Big Brother skateboard video - Number Two

Review:
It's easy to guess that this is the second Big Brother video, but it's even easier to remember that it's the first video appearance of Johnny Knoxville. Some of the crazy stuff in this video includes: the Poo-cano, Carnie drinking his own urine, a guy breaking his arm in slow-mo, a dude from Compton in a yellow Devo jumpsuit doing street slides in his driveway, Clyde Singleton being extremely stoned, and much, much more. The skating in the video mainly consists of street and is divided into sections by location. There's all sorts of footage from tours to skate parks and you also get to see a lot of lesser-known skaters rip it up.


Boob - Released: 1999, 45 minutes

Big Brother skateboard video - Boob

Review:
Boob is the third Big Brother video, coming after Shit and sandwiched between Number Two and Crap. This video serves as one of the predecessors to the skateboarding world of hi-jinx we are all too familiar with now. If you've followed Big Brother since its conception, this video can also be reminiscent of the late and great vulgar, grotesque, insulting yet hilarious Big Brother from the days of yore.


Crap - Released: 2001, 69 minutes

Big Brother skateboard video - Crap

Review:
Crap is an installation from Big Brother Magazine who keeps representing a less-than parent-friendly side of skateboarding. Similar to a Boy Scout Jamboree, Crap features strippers, diapers, beer, cattle prods, fighting, and colorful language. This video also features a huge cast of skateboarders pulling mostly single tricks or short lines on a huge variety of terrain, including street, ledges, vert, mini-ramp, handrails, and parks. It will take you about 45 minutes to push out Crap and before you dig through it, expect to find roughly 1/3 skateboarding and about 2/3 pranks.


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