The Big Brother Book

A magazine about the peripheries of skate culture, Big Brother emerged in the 1990s and was the predecessor to Jackass

Featuring images of nudity, stunts, pranks, and ramblings on topics such as drug use, sex, how to commit suicide, and someone’s lunch, Big Brother magazine spoke to skaters who weren’t trying to become pros, but rather aiming to live out their teenage years for a little longer than society would otherwise allow.

Founded by the skateboarder and co-owner of World Industries Steve Rocco in 1992, the magazine captured the peripheries of skateboarding for the first time. It eventually became so popular that, in 1997, it was bought by Hustler's Larry Flynt. It laid the foundation for the now internationally-known Jackass universe, with many of the television show's original crew members featuring regularly in its pages.

Released through DC Shoes and authored by the magazine’s former editors Sean Cliver and Dave Carnie, Shit: The Big Brother Book is a 224-page hardback that covers the 1992-2004 run of Big Brother. It features words from eight of the principal editors, and consists of two-page spreads for each of the journal's 106 issues. The book captures both the history of the magazine and the resurgence of popularity of skateboarding in the 1990s. To tie-in with its release, DC Shoes has also collaborated with Big Brother on a full collection of clothing and footwear.

The contents of Big Brother’s editorial was a constant cause for controversy, to the point that it was criticised on American news channels. In an article in issue 23, released in 1996, contributor and Jackass star Chris Pontius recalls teaching a little boy to cut up and sniff Pixy Stick powder off a skateboard: “Brandon felt more alive than he had in years”.

In another issue, Pontius interviewed the now-famous skater Omar Salazar, aged 14 at the time, and asked him, “would you fuck your mum to be as good as the [Chad] Muska?”

In his preface to Shit, Cliver writes about how the magazine polarised opinions: “... people either loved it or they hated it. No one was left on the fence, and few, if any, were able to regard it with an air of ambivalence or find it possible to ignore. Heck, rumour once even had it that if any copies of Big Brother were discovered within the confines of the Thrasher [a rival magazine] office they were immediately confiscated and torn in half by [Thrasher editor] Jake Phelps, the very idea of which tickles me to no end.”

And in Shit’s introduction, Carnie writes about Big Brother’s design: “While we were known for our writing, the words were buried amid a visual clusterfuck of depraved and schizophrenic imagery that usually involved at least one staff member because Big Brother was as much about the shitheads that made the magazine as it was about skateboarding. The magazine was in a lot of ways a magazine about itself.”