Bottles of cleaning fluid and painter’s caulk usually have their own fair share of fatal warning stickers, which is why I’ve never been to the ER for an eating-related stunt. But that is no feat. It’s normal.
Chris Schewe, or Shoenice, has taken a different approach. The man who will eat anything to end world hunger started at the age of three by eating a pack of cigarettes and being rushed to the hospital. Through grade school he would go on to defeat the dares of his classmates and bullies. Gobbling down cups of salt and baking soda, pieces of metal, glue, grass, and piles of sawdust, he found a way to win their love. Chris was a hellraiser with an iron stomach who grew up with his brother under an alcoholic mother whom he would later discover dead (from alcohol-related issues) on the living room floor.
As an adult, his ability to slug bag everything from car wax to motor oil has turned him into a YouTube star. After watching over a hundred of his videos, I was chomping at the bit to get in contact with him. But Shoenice is a master social media spammer, and it’s hard to cut through the noise. I gave up after countless attempts. But when Motherboard producer Erin Lee Carr was able to trace Chris down via e-mail, I realized I’d soon be meeting him for the latest episode of My Life Online.
Some are unamused by Shoenice’s faults and complete lack of comprehension of online etiquette. I’ve watched my share of friends and acquaintances gag while watching his stunts. They shudder and ask, “Dude, what’s wrong with this guy? Isn’t he going to die? He’s psycho, something isn’t right.”
To me, Chris is a hero. While I agree that there might be something suspect about a guy that gladly chugs a bottle of rubbing alcohol, I also see in him an echo of my 14-year-old self. After spending a brisk weekend up in Lake George, NY with Schewe and his friends, feeding him a bottle of glue, and hearing his life story, from a very tough childhood to his time serving food to Gulf War soldiers–and his many musings on death–I didn’t understand Chris any better, but I like him a whole lot more.
I still don’t fully comprehend the mechanics behind his campaign to end world hunger, and I don’t think he really does either. There is also a stunt-loving, self-promotional aspect to his performance art, but perhaps spreading the hunger gospel through YouTube could actually work. Of course, that’s assuming that his edible escapades don’t get the best of him.
By Daniel Stuckey // Produced by Erin Lee Carr and edited by Zoe Miller.