If there’s one segment of the online video world that’s completely saturated, it’s got to be how-to. And that’s great. No matter what you’re looking to learn how to do, there’s probably a video out there eager to enlighten you. And now betting at the track and shopping for sex toys are no exception.
That’s thanks to Vice101, a new series from LA-based Ecstatic Pictures that (has no affiliation with Vice Magazine’s VBS.TV and) promises to teach you “how to be a playa.” And it delivers. The show seeks to make foreign and often taboo experiences more approachable by being intimidated on our behalf.
Director/producer Haim Silberstein is fascinated by different vices and the subcultures and the economics that accompany them. Inspired by Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs, Silberstein wanted to create a show that “actually takes you through the mud” and answers the practical questions that we’d never think to ask.
“At a whorehouse,” he mused, “how often do they change the sheets? Who does the laundry?”
But the folks who undoubtedly have the most fun are Vice101‘s hosts, Erin Ross and Gilbert (GJ) Echternkamp. Both play their own roll in the show – Erin examines the the operations (how are dildos made?), while GJ teaches us how to confidently approach a new vice (what questions should I ask before deciding on a dildo to buy?).
GJ, who was the lead in IFC’s Getting Away with Murder, spoke with me about the show. It was a conversation in which we covered both midget porn and feces-based Japanese delicacies in the first two minutes.
“I’m not just about defecation and pornography…” He clarified, “I like anything that’s shocking and out of the ordinary. I still subscribe to Ranger Rick.” No stranger to the world of questionable morals, GJ used to run scams with his parents whom he profiled in his documentary, Frank and Cindy.
Suffice it to say, he’s the perfect guy for this job.
GJ’s co-host, Erin, who he describes as “a lot more straight laced,” is an excellent guide to the seedy as well, bringing the occasionally outrageous moments back down to the ground, reminding us that what we’re watching is something that many people take very seriously.
There’s no doubt in my mind that this show can be an extraordinary success online. With episodes covering casinos, pawn shops, and phone sex in the works (and GJ hoping for swinger parties and bathtub gin), the potential audience is huge.
But I’m scared. Scared that the Ecstatic Pictures team aren’t thinking enough like web video producers. They’d like to get picked up for television and have approached Spike TV but have not spoken with any web networks. Nor are they comfortable with making their show available for viewing on video hubs like YouTube or Blip.tv, where viewers can embed episodes elsewhere on the web.
As Brian Shin, the Founder of Visible Measures, said at NATPE’s Digital Day, “Content is king, but distribution is bling.” The sooner they let go of Hollywood conventions and get hep to the web, the sooner they’ll have a hit on their hands.
In the meantime, anyone know what you’re supposed to do during a lap dance? Should I just sit there? Do I make conversation? I’ll just be sure to avoid any strip clups until that episode gets released.