Deluxe magazine was a very fine but short-lived men’s magazine in the UK, circa 1998. I knew its editor, Andrew Harrison, because he had been my successor as music editor at Details. (He provided many amusing moments in the office, including his British bafflement at the Offspring: “What is this ‘self-esteem’? I’ve never heard of it!”) Returning to London, he started a men’s magazine, reasoning that there was room in the market for a smart magazine not as reliant on little-known-but-half-dressed cover girls as FHM or Maxim. As Andrew puts it in his online bio, this “seemed like a good idea at the time but clearly wasn’t.”
The Deluxe cover subjects: Jarvis Cocker (Pulp), Ardal O’Hanlon (Father Ted), Scary Spice, David Duchovny, Matt LeBlanc, Kate Beckinsale, Michael Owen (soccer), and Davinia Murphy (British soap opera Hollyoaks). All notable figures in UK pop culture (except for Murphy, who was notable mostly for being willing to pose in a sheet on the cover, and hence was a sign that the Deluxe master plan was not working out as hoped for).
I wrote two pieces for the magazine the year I lived in London, mostly because I enjoyed having lunch with Andrew. The first one was an essay about being an American going to his first soccer game (or as they insisted on calling it, football match). The second one was a history of ear mutilation, which for some inscrutable reason, had caught my fancy. If I was updating the piece today, I’d have to include The Big Lebowski, which includes a scene where Walter (John Goodman) bites off the ear of one of the nihilists who is pursuing The Dude (Jeff Bridges).
A few years back, I visited Flea’s house. He had a few scripts scattered on a table; he got offered movies on a fairly regular basis, and turned most of them down so as not to distract from making music. Flea told me the reason he had accepted a role in The Big Lebowski as Nihilist #2 was the ear-biting scene, particularly one stage direction in the script by Joel and Ethan Coen, which he still remembered with delight: “He worries the ear.”