Rad-Fem Out to Sink Ships 

Andrea Coates’ Guerrilla War on Sexism and Misogyny


It’s impossible to spend any amount of time in the alt lit scene without encountering Andrea Coates. I first talked to her several years ago about her then-novel-in-progress, and was intrigued by the work’s scope and her purpose in writing it. Today Andrea discusses her book, current divergent approaches to feminism, VICE magazine, American Apparel, and what it’s like to write fiction as social protest.

Caleb Hildenbrandt:
You’ve been one of alt lit’s most strident voices over the past few years, but lately you’ve seemed to have been under a bit of a hiatus. And then, yesterday, you announced that you’d be serializing your long-in-progress novel, Splendid Insanity. Why the silence of the past few months, and why the re-emergence into the community now?

Andrea Coates:
I had a Kid, and to accommodate that I cut out Facebook. I went from being an Addict to avoiding it, which I think was Good for me, considering how wrapped up in Pointless Alt Lit Dramas I would get. I’ve still been writing a Lot, and posting to my Blog, almost Daily, just not alerting People via Facebook, so that would create the impression I’ve been Less Active, when I think my Literary output has stayed Steady. I’ve decided to begin serializingS.iS:1 because, for Months, All I wrote about was VICE Media, and Shane Smith, and….. whatever. Whatever on that Guy and his Company. I don’t know who Real ‘Shane Smith’ is — the ‘Shane Smith’ on my Blog is ‘Andrea Coates as a Misogynistic Man’ — like, I picked Some Real Dude who resembles who I think I would be if I was a Man, and started writing Stories about how I am in Love with him and we should have Sx, to make a Point about Sxism, how Differently People treat Ambitious Man vs Ambitious Woman, but as Much as I wrote it didn’t seem to go Anywhere, no One at VICE got the Joke, and I was — am — Frustrated by how VICE Media, et Al, just don’t seem to get how unHealthily Biased and Misogynistic NYC, America, Millennial Lit Culture, etc, Really are — like, that I felt I would have More Luck trying to get Laid than trying to write a Novel or get funding for my Media Company. But then it occurred to me that not putting my Novel onLine, waiting for VICE to acknowledge me, Shit to go down, and a Publisher to release it, would be Supremely Hypocritical. So, Hopefully, if Shane Smith acknowledges my Writing about his Penis, and Misogynistic American Media freaks out because, People will take a Look at the Novel Serialized for Free on my Web-Site, and realize that, CEO Penis or no CEO Penis, what I am is a Talented Literary Author.

Caleb Hildenbrandt:
For those readers who haven’t been following the story, who is Shane Smith?

Andrea Coates:
Shane Smith is the CEO of VICE Media. Let me see if I can make this make Sense, because I don’t function so Much on a Linear Time-Frame. In 2011, my Partner jody franklin and I started a Media Company called LLWAM: LotusLand Warrior Art Media. Launching a Successful Media Company is Tough — you need Money, and my Partner and I are Great Artists, but Great Art and Money are at Odds. Case in Point — Superficial, Misogynistic Magazines like VICE make Tons of Money. So, I thought, let’s LLWAM take Fellow Canadian-Founded VICE’s Money — VICE doesn’t deserve it, Half of what VICE puts out is Forgettable and Sxist, whereas I Fully intend EveryThing LLWAM puts out to be Canonical and Feminist. Now, the Conventional Means of getting Money from an Established Media Company is to play Nice, write a Proposal, and see how it goes. But me playing Nice with VICE is not to mine or VICE’s Advantage: if I want VICE to recognize the Value of LLWAM, I need VICE to Really understand the Value of LLWAM. So, instead of writing a “this is what LLWAM is please fund us” Proposal, in Late 2012, I launched a Campaign to get VICE Media to apologize, on the Cover of the Magazine, for its Misogynistic Content. VICE, of Course, ignored this Campaign — VICE doesn’t want to admit to being Misogynistic. VICE underestimates LLWAM. LLWAM needs to prove that LLWAM is the Shit. So I dig in. Instead of going away after my Campaign is ignored and it appears I am blocked from emailing VICE, I start writing Pornographic Short Stories about the CEO, Pornographic Short Stories in which VICE apologizes for its Misogyny, Shane Smith and I have Sx, and VICE supports LLWAM. I email Writers who work for VICE to tell them about these Stories. VICE Employees ignore the Stories. I write More Stories. This has been going on for a Year and a Half. There are Literally Dozens of Stories, published to my Blog(s), about an Imaginary Sxual and Professional Relationship between mySelf, Founder of LLWAM, and Shane Smith, Founder of VICE. At Some Point, given the Nature of his Business — Pornographic Media — Shane Smith is going to have to acknowledge the Xistence of these Pornographic Stories about him, because I’m not going to stop writing them — they amuse me, and Shane Smith has made Millions and Billions off the Naked Bodies of Young Women, so he is Fully Deserving of being the Protagonist of a Young Woman’s Pornographic Blog so she can get Money from him. [ed. note: Smith was recently valued at 400 million, and his company at 1.4 billion.] I think, subConsciously, this is Xactly what Shane Smith wanted: to be turned into a Character in a Graphic Novel written by his Much Younger Lover. But he’s aFraid of the Social Consequences of coming out as a Misogynist, a sadoMasochist, a polyAmorist, etc. I’m trying to convince him that working with LLWAM will be to the Benefit of his Personal Brand, VICE, even if that means Publicly xposing his Sxual Dark Side.

Caleb Hildenbrandt:
A lot of people would claim that writing such stories, which involve not one but two real-life characters, verges on defamation. How would you respond to that?

Andrea Coates:
I’ve thought about it — the Possibility that I’ve crossed the Line into Legally-punishable Harassment. Then I think — is Dov Charney crossing the Line when he uses Anonymous Young Women’s Crotches to sell Clothes? [ed. note:Charney is the founder of American Apparel.] Is Shane Smith crossing the Line when he publishes a Column called ‘Girl News’ or a Film Series called ‘Every Woman’ to a Media PlatForm that makes Money off Dov Charney’s Photographs of Anonymous Young Women’s Crotches for Clothes-selling? And I think — yes, those Rich and Famous Middle-Aged Men have crossed the Line of Decency, and they deserve what is coming to them, which is a metaforical Punch in the Face from a Young Woman no One knows. If Shane Smith wants to take me to Court for Defamation of Character, he can go Right ahead. I know what would happen if we were in the Same Room, or even talking through Lawyers — and that’s what’s happening on my Blog — an Elaborate sadoMasochistic Fantasy — Charges dropped. I think Shane Smith runs a Magazine for Millennial Sluts because Shane Smith is in Love with a Millennial Writer Slut, and I think that Millennial Writer Slut is me, because I’m in Love with Shane Smith. I do Actually care about him, as a Person, as a Professional, and that’s why I think I can say whatever I feel about him — because I’m coming at VICE from an Aggressive but Ultimately Sympathetic StandPoint. That Shane Smith is a Misogynist and a Hypocrite is why he and his eMployees don’t recognize my Good intenTions, see, rather, a Foaming-at-the-Mouth Rad-Fem out to sink their Ship.

Caleb Hildenbrandt:
So what’s this got to do with LLWAM? What’s your end goal?

Andrea Coates:
Ultimately, I’m making and will continue to make Art that is an Honest Xamination of my Inner Life. In my Efforts to learn about the Media Biz and make Gains for Women in the Media Biz, I wound up with Confused Feelings for the CEO of VICE, whose Career resembles what I hope mine will, whose Media Company inspires me, but whose Attitude towards Women, via this Media Company, I find Hypocritical and Misogynistic. Had, at Any Point since I began writing about him, Shane Smith told me he wasn’t interested in me, or LLWAM, I think I would have packed my Proverbial Bags and headed elsewhere. But he hasn’t Xplicitly turned me down — he’s Only ignored me, which I take to be Moreso an Indication of his Fear of my Power to disrupt his Complacent Hypocritical Capitalist Misogyny than Lack of intereSt in me or my Media Company. Once I realized that my intereSt in VICE, as a Mentor for LLWAM, was a Reflection of my Sxual Attraction to Shane Smith — I mean…. there’s a Conflict of intereSt in Terms of Funding there, so….We’ll see. We’ll see how Things work out. No Matter what: my Art, my Xamination of my Difficult Emotions as relates to VICE and its CEO, that will remain, that will continue to inspire the Female Talents of the Future, Hopefully for Many Generations, and that makes what I do, this Often Disturbing Work of Performance Art, Worthwhile to me. I don’t think it’s a Coincidence that I may have to, and have written about, giving mySelf away, Sxually, in Order to bring my Media Company to Public Consciousness. Look at the North American Business Landscape: can you name a Highly Inovative, Culturally-Significant Media Company of the Level of VICE or Facebook or Google or Apple that was founded by a Woman? I can’t. Now why is that? Why, when a Woman Media Founder does show up, does she wind up Sxually-propositioning a Male Media CEO to get her Foot in the Door? I’m Lucky. I’m Lucky my Partner, the Artist and Shaman jody franklin, is Supportive of the Sxually Xplicit Performance Art that I do. Otherwise, I don’t think there would be Much Hope for LLWAM, not in the Current, Misogynistic Corporate Climate. I think I am doing what I am doing not just because I want to have Sx with Shane Smith, but because the American Business Community, whose Attention and Support I need to make the Cultural Changes I hope to make with LLWAM, will not accept me as a Young, Sxually-Attractive Female unless I have a Large Alpha Male Sxual Partner to validate and protect me.

Caleb Hildenbrandt:
If you do manage to procure funding for LLWAM, what’s your plan for the company? And in the admittedly more likely scenario that VICE
continues to ignore your protest, what then? Can we expect to see
LLWAM operate as a publisher, or promoter, or what?

Andrea Coates:
You think VICE is going to continue to ignore me? That is Virtually imPossible, in the Long Run, which is the Way I plan. Ignoring Andrea Coates is like ignoring Mark Zuckerberg. What do you think Mark Zuckerberg would have done if he’d faced Sxist Stigma towards the Establishment of his Media Company and the Assertion of his Prodigal Genius? — but…. LLWAM: LotusLand Warrior Art Media. LLWAM is a Feminist Anarkist Media Company, which means it operates Differently from Capitalist Patriarchal Media Companies. First off — LLWAM isn’t a Hierarchal Pyramid, like VICE, where Shane Smith is Boss Man, and his Inner Circle of ( Male ) Xecutives are below him, and the Editors are below them, and the Writers are below them, and the Consumers are below them. LLWAM operates on what I call a Free-Association Cluster Dynamic. jody franklin and I are the Founders of LLWAM, so we are the Centre of the LLWAM Cluster, but we don’t employ People –we collaborate with People, and if there is Money to be made at what we do, we’ll find a Way to share that Money apprOpriately depending on Circumstance. Secondly, at a Capitalist Patriarchal Company, there is a Clear Division between Work and Home. The Company is for Work and what you do at Home, as an ‘eMployee’ of that Company, is your Own Deal. With LLWAM, there is no Distinction: jody and I are Domestic Partners and Professional Partners, and LLWAM is as Much about how we make our Home as how we make the Money to support our Home. In the Nxt Two Years, I guesstimate, jody and I will set up ‘LLWAMPad’ — a Home / Gallery / Community Space on the Sunshine Coast, out of which our Art Media Productions will operate. We are hoping to make Feature Films, Music, Visual Art, Pornography, Literature, put on Performances, champion Politikal Causes, sell and serve Home-grown Food and Hand-made Trinkets, support Other Artists, and Generally be a Cultural Hub for Western Canada. LLWAM is the Ultimate ‘Lifestyle Brand’, More of a Family than a Company, Really, and this is the Way in which LLWAM is a rEvolutionary Media Business — because it functions as a Model for a Self-Sustaining Productive Creative Community, or FrECoUtopia. It is a ‘Cold’ Company rather than a ‘Hot’ Company — as in, Once LLWAM reaches the ‘Size’ Necessary to sustain itsSelf, it will not get Larger. This is in Contrast to VICE, for Xample, which continues to add More and More interNational Franchises so as to make More and More Money. LLWAM is concerned with Long-Term Legacy Moreso than Short-Term Profit. While VICE makes a Ton of Money on Forgettable Tid-Bits of ‘News’, LLWAM will make just enough Money to continue to make Canonical Works of Art, the Kind of Art-Works People enjoy for Hundreds of Years, and which define a Geographical Culture.

Caleb Hildenbrandt:
Can you give us an example of a “canonical” artwork?

Andrea Coates:
My Novel Series, Splendid inSanity, which I conceptualized as the ‘Great Canadian Novel(s) of the Millennial Generation’. In the First Book, we meet Hap’e Blue, Young Woman Wannabe rEvolutionary. In the Second Book, Hap’e Blue journeys to confront the CEOs of the Most innOvative Media Companies in North America, to convert them to Feminist Utopian Anarkism through Sx Majik. Whether Wannabe rEvolutionary Andrea Coates succeeds at this in Real Life, in researching her Novel, is Less impOrtant than creating a Novel in which my Alter-Ego succeeds in Every Way I hope to: that will be the Legacy I leave. Meanwhile, my Partner, jody franklin, has been working on what I think will be the Great Canadian Film of the Millennial Generation, an Xamination, among Other Themes, of how rEvolutionary Causes can become corrupted by Selfish Individuals. One Thing about being Canadian: Big Fish, Small Pond — the Brain-Drain to the States means, if you stick it out in Canada, it’s that Much Easier to….’take over’ the Country by writing Stories about taking over the Country. There’s a Big Ol Power Vacuum in Canada I want to step into, though, as Often as I declare the Stupendousness of my Art, it remains to Others to decide if I am as Significant an Artist as I claim I am. I’m a Delusional Megalomaniac: my Personality consists of Masturbatory Fantasies of my Own Greatness.

Caleb Hildenbrandt:
On that note—that it remains for others to decide if you’re as significant as you say you are—have you managed to attract any positive critical attention at this point? Or is that critical notice something you’re even striving for at this point?

Andrea Coates:
Well, you’re giving me Positive Attention. So I’ll take that to the Bank. Criticism is Healthy. If I am being Hypocritical, or unConsciously Self-Defeating, at Any Place in my Art, I would like People to point it out, to have a Conversation, because though I take Risks, though I delve into unComfortable Territory, though I push mySelf to the Edge of Reason, I am trying to make the World a Better Place, and to Really make Changes I have to get my Hands Dirty, and if I am in Some Way Blinded to my Own misTakes in this Effort, I want to be made aware of how so, so that I can improve as an Artist and Activist, and One Thing I Really appreciate jody franklin for is he catches me when my Privilege or Gung-ho-tude obscures, for me, what is Truly the Honorable Path. For Xample, I feel Bad about how what I’ve written about Shane Smith may affect his Wife. I think she’s a Casualty in my ‘Fiction’, and I don’t want her to be. At the Same Time, I worry about the Anonymous Young Women Shane xploits so that he can keep a Financially-Dependent Wife, about how he refers to her, in interViews, Only in her Reproductive and Wifely Aspects, about how he shows More Physical Affection for his Male Buddies, in Public, than he does to her, about how he Clearly has a Much Younger sadoMasochistic Writer Girl Fetish that he is in Denial about, and how All of this Behavior on Shane’s Part points to him being a Passive-Aggressive Hypocritical Misogynist using his Wife as a Narcissistic Barrier against Criticism of his Business Practices as Regards Young Women from the Conservative American Business Community and from the People he employs. I think it’s More impOrtant that I, as a Feminist, point this out — Shane’s Passive-Aggressive Misogynistic Narcissistic Xploitation of his Wife– than that I keep my Mouth Shut out of Fear of treading on SomeOne else’s Private Relationship. When Shane became a Media Figure, he offered himSelf up to Criticism, including insofaras how he does and does not bring his Family into his Work, and when Tamyka Smith married the CEO of VICE and accepted his Financial Support, she became Complicit in his Xploitation of Young Women. How I deal with and portray Shane’s Wife in my Philosophical Fiction is SomeThing I question mySelf about, Every Time it comes up, because it’s Dangerous Water I’m swimming in. After Much Consideration, I have decided that I would rather speak the Truth as I see it and face the Consequences of that than adhere to a Code of Phony Politeness that I think will Only do Shane Smith, his Wife, mySelf, and the Young Women who work for VICE, in the Long Run, a disService. I am prepared to take the Fall for what I have written about Shane’s Marriage: that is a Choice I made Consciously and I stand by, even though criticizing me for touching on Shane’s Marriage, in my Art, would be Easy. Or, I Recently read a VICE Article in which a Young Female Canadian Artist, Petra Collins, spoke about a TShirt featuring a Drawing of a Menstruating Vulva that she designed for American Apparel, and how the Mainstream Media freaked out, and she defended her Decision to print the TShirt on Feminist Grounds — that we, as a Culture, need to get Less Squeamish about Female Sxuality — and while this is True, I think American Apparel’s Decision to print that TShirt has a Lot More to do with Canadian CEO Dov Charney’s unHealthy Fixation on Anonymous Female Genitalia than it says about Feminist emPowerment, so I’m going to tell Petra Collins this, even if I wind up alienating yet anOther Potential Ally, because I think she is Well-intenTioned but Naïve, like Shane Smith’s Wife. Point of these Xamples: while I would LOVE Positive Attention for my Art, and I boo-hoo, on the Net, about the Lack of Positive Attention I get and about how Small-Fry I Really am, compared to my Subjective Opinion of mySelf as Super-Genius, I am, Ultimately, Less concerned with receiving Positive Feedback for what I do than I am concerned with doing what I think is Right, in Face of my unPopularity as an Artist and Person as a Consequence. I think my unPopularity is a Reflection of a Sxist Double Standard in the Arts — that People don’t like me because I’m not a ‘Nice’ Girl keeping my ‘Feminism’ within Patriarchally-Acceptable Boundaries of Capitalist Self-Xploitation, while that he be ‘Nice’ even as he offers himSelf up Sxually is the Last Thing AnyOne xpects of a Male Artist. I think I’m unPopular because what I’m doing is Truly Controversial, as opposed to Superficially Controversial, like Petra’s TShirt, or, say, Marie Calloway’s Short Stories, which suffered from the Same Feminist Naiveté working to the Advantage of Leering Sxually-enTitled Capitalist Patriarchy. And while I understand that being a Controversial Artist Often means accepting Obscurity, I’m not going to roll over and take it. I’m going to fight for Recognition, because I think my Message is Hugely impOrtant — and that Message is: you want Patriarchal Men to respect you, Ladies? Then fight them with EveryThing you’ve got. Because while Petra may get a T-Shirt printed by AA, and an interView published in VICE, while Andrea Coates, who is in so Many Ways Similar to her, appears to get noThing, this is an Illusion, because I will bet you the Money for LLWAMPad that within 10 Years, I get Dov Charney and Shane Smith to do Porn for LLWAM, that I get them to state, on Film, that they are doing Porn for LLWAM to make up for the Decades they spent xploiting the Sxualities of Young Women for their $ Profit. AnOther VICE Article — Bret Easton Ellis was talking about Gen Y’s inAbility to take Criticism, and I 100% get what he is talking about: that has been my Xperience — that when I criticize my Peers, instead of bouncing back with Humor and reNewed Commitment, they slink away and blame me for being a Crazy Bitch. And VICE remains Hypocritical because while it can publish Bret saying these Things, when I criticize it with the Aim to help the Company out, it slinks away and blames me for being a Crazy Bitch. The Positive Attention for my Art will come, in Time, when it is supposed to, and until then I can howl like an Alley Cat about why doesn’t AnyOne recognize my Talent, bla bla bla, because xpressing my Frustration is what allows me to cope with it, to bounce back with Humor and renewed Commitment, to do what I think is Right in Face of Others’ Fear and misTrust of me as a Controversial, emPowered Feminist Artist.

Caleb Hildenbrandt:
Let’s talk about the art then. I remember you once told me SiS (or at least, an early draft of it) was a ‘giant philosophical novel’ and as
Skins with anal sex.’ Now that it’s in a form you’ve decided to release, is this still an accurate description?

Andrea Coates:
Haha. Yeah. That’s it. It’s the Story of how there Came to be Global Utopias, beginning with Anarkist Kore Stoner Orgy Cult LLWAM, in the Forests of Northern BC, among Drunk TeenAge Pirates.

Caleb Hildenbrandt:
Speaking of anarchist stoner orgiasts, you’ve taken a pretty far-out and vocal stance in the past on sex and drugs (simplifying broadly, I remember you being in favor of promiscuity and psychedelics). Not to stoop to the level of typically gender-bound interviewing practice, but has any of that changed now that you have a kid?

Andrea Coates:
That’s a Really Great Question and I’m Glad you brought it up, because I think the Most impOrtant Message of my Art S.iS we need to adjust, as a Global Culture, our Understanding of Gender and Family if we’re going to stave off Environmental Disaster. As Long as Men are xploiting Women Sxually and Domestically, oppressing and xploiting Natural Female Promiscuous Power so Wives remains Faithful so Patriarchal Lineage is Clear, while Men can gallivant off with Socially-ostracized Sx Workers and it remains their Patriarchal Secret, Men will mirror this Dynamic in their Relationship to Planet Earth, and will xploit and oppress the Natural World in a Way that leaves Mother Gaia broken and raped. Look at the Alberta Tar Sands. That is the Rape of Gaia, and it is the Rape of the Women I knew in Northern Canada, Specially the Indigenous Girls, who are being killed along our HighWays and the Law is doing noThing. Our Culture of Patriarchal Nuclear Monogamy isn’t working — it creates Hypocrisy and oppression between Men and Women, and if my Efforts to seduce Shane Smith have Deep, Psycho-Social Purpose, it’s to bring the impeRative of making Open Relationships Socially Acceptable to the Mainstream Media. Women are oppressed and Men are Hypocrites in a Nuclear Patriarchal Monogamous Hegemony. Women are trapped in a Limiting whore/Madonna Dichotomy while an Xception to the Rule of Monogamy is made for entItled Patriarchal Rich-Bois, if they can manage to keep their Mistresses and Gay Events a Secret between themSelves. As a Man in the Position of Power he is at the Kind of Business he is at, Shane Smith’s Fall from Nuclear Monogamy was ineVitable. The Difference between him and the Big Men who came before him is that he has found himSelf in a Position where Both Xploitative Superficial Relationships with Many Women a la Hugh Hefner or a Kept-Secret Mistress would be Ruinous to his Public Image: so he wound up with Andrea Coates, Canada’s Openly polyAmorous Media Magnate, on this Tail, satirizing his Inner Battle with his Socially-inapprOpriate polyAmorous Side. Now that LLWAM — Feminist Orgiastic Cult as Media Company — has arrived, VICE has to move towards Open, Honest Feminist polyAmory if it wants to stave off Cultural irRelevance, if it wants to avoid become like Playboy, which is so Far from how I want Men and Women to think of Sx. I don’t want my Child to grow up in a Community like I did in Northern Canada — a Community of Emotionally and Economically Detached Nuclear Monogamous Households: it was that this Format no Longer worked for us, was not meeting our Emotional and Social Needs, that mySelf and my Teenage Friends came together in Adolescence to share Polyamorous Xperiences, and we have drifted apart as Adults trying to find our Individual Selves, but I believe thatS.iS the Story of our Shared rEvolutionary Breakthrough as an Orgiatic Cult will bring us together, to be the Xtended Family we were meant to be, and that we created in our Formative Years. That’s the Family I want my Child to grow up with: a Community of Committed Parents, Free Love, and Open, Respectful Use of Medicinal and reCreational Drugs. That is my Utopia, and I want to help Others bring their Subjective Utopian Families into being as Well.

Caleb Hildenbrandt:
Countercultural, to say the least.

Andrea Coates:
I think it’s a Movement whose Time has come.