— by Larry Carroll, with additional reporting by Jeff Cornell
SANTA MONICA, California — It's rare to walk into an interview and find yourself being kissed on both cheeks; it's even more unusual when said smooches are coming from a fictional character. Such oddities are commonplace, however, when the subject is Sacha Baron Cohen — a new generation of comedian whose recipe is equal parts Peter Sellers' commitment, Andy Kaufman's calculated naiveté and Lenny Bruce's desire to free our minds through laughter.
Forget about its status as the next big fad and its awards-season buzz — Cohen's "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" has already transcended such talk and has viewers instead questioning its place among the greatest comedy films of all time.
If you are offended by satirical presentations of anti-Semitism, inappropriate sexual references, crude references to human anatomy and cruelty to animals, this interview is not for you.
If, however, you are willing to subject yourself to the unique brand of humor that is Borat, read on for an interview with Kazakhstan's English-mangling, Jew-hating reporter — conducted on a Friday afternoon, since observant Jew Cohen won't work on the Sabbath — and try not to make your very own liquid explosion.
MTV: Hi, Borat, how are you?
Borat: [Kissing his interviewer on both cheeks.] You smell nice!
MTV: Thank you; I shower every day.
Borat: What? This is ridiculous!
MTV: Tell us a little bit about where you come from.
Borat: My name is Borat Sagdiyev, I son of Azambala Sagdiyev and Bogtok the Rapist. I am former husband of Oksana Sagdiyev, who was daughter of Marianne Tuliakbi and Bogtok the Raptist. My hobbies is disco dance, table tennis and also taking photographs of ladies doing toilet without their knowledge. Why not? They don't know. ... I have three childrens: Bilak, Biram and Hooeylewis, who is 12 years old; he has two childrens. Bilak, who is 13, have American pen friend called Mr. Foley; he says all the time, "Come, come visit me, I come visit you, arrange, we pay, we meet in hotel room. Why not? It's very nice!" My sister make my family very proud by being the number-four prostitute in all of Kazakhstan, and she recently receive award from Kazakh minister of industry for Best Sex in Mouth.
MTV: Recently, you stormed the White House to try to get a meeting with President Bush (see "Borat Not Amusing Kazakhstan Leaders, White House Secret Service"). What is your opinion of him?
Borat: We in Kazakhstan very much admire your mighty warlord, George Walter Bush. He is a very wise man and also a strong man, but perhaps not as strong as his father, Barbara.
MTV: What are the differences between America's political system and that of Kazakhstan?
Borat: There are small differences between our system of politic. In Kazakh elections, for example, the winner is not the man with the most votes, but the candidate who can carry a woman against her will for the furthest distance. Our present leader can manage 4.3 miles; how long can Premier Bush? There are other differences too. In America, a woman can vote, but a horse cannot — it is unusual! We say in our country, to give a woman a vote is like to let the monkey fly a plane. Very dangerous! Yes? We do not do this anymore, ever since the 2001 Astana Air crash.
MTV: There's a handful of people over here in the U.S. that are familiar with your previous work on "Da Ali G Show." Are you familiar with the concept of cult comedy acts?
Borat: Yes, I like very much the cult comedian Eddie Murphy. We find him very funny in Kazakhstan; we are going into cinemas and we laugh very much about his chocolate face — it is unusual. I also am a huge fanny of "Womanman Doubtfires," "Bringing Down the Houses" and the sex comedy "The Accused."
MTV: There are a lot of people very eager to see you bring your act to the big screen. Do you see yourself as a cult leader?
Borat: No, I am only the fourth most famous person in Kazakhstan. The third most is Lillian Marcon, who is the ex-Soviet Olympic gymnast who is famous now for working in the circus, where she can put one foot in her mouth and the other in vagine. The number two is [Kazakh President] Premier Nazarbayev, and number one is children's favorite Johnny the Monkey; he is animal actor and was the star of "Transibiesky Express" and many, many other pornos. You know his work?
MTV: Yes, I'm a big fan. So, if you were to officially start your own cult over here, which American celebrities would you want to be your followers?
Borat: I would like very much to have famous anti-Jew warrior Melvin Gibsons; he spoke the truth that the Jews started all the wars, and we also have proof in Kazakhstan that they were behind the wiping out of the dinosaurs. Also, I would like sport hero O.J. Simpsons; he recently came to Kazakhstan, where he was judge of the Miss Kazakhstan contest. One of the female fans got so crazy and excite with him, that she break into his hotel room and then she killed herself and wiped the blood all over his hands!
MTV: Do you have movies in Kazakhstan? What are some of the big hits there?
Borat: Yes, we have films such as "Almati Summer" starring Victor Hotelia, you know him. Ladies, I know him! You come visit me, I introduce you to Victor Hotelia, yes! We also have the film "What a Nice Laughter," starring Walter. More popular is the genre of horror films, particularly "Dirty Jew" and "Dirty Jew 2," "Oh No, There Is a Jew in My Room!" and "Who Took This? The Jew."
MTV: If everyone in America loves your movie, most celebrities turn around and quickly release a follow-up. So, what are your future projects?
|Before he started accosting unsuspecting people as Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen accosted unsuspecting people in a few other guises — and stole scenes in big films:
Borat: I not sure exactly when I will next make a movie film, because for the next 18 months my country's camera is fully booked for make other television program. These include programs such as "Kazakhstan's Next Top Prostitute" and a comedy film about a person who left it very late in his life to make sexy time. It is called "The 4-Year-Old Virgin" — he's almost 5, and he never make liquid explosion!
MTV: Were there any women on your film's crew? Has working on a big movie changed your opinion of females?
Borat: There is no womens in Kazakh film industry. We say in our country, to give a woman a camera is like to give a monkey a gun. We have stopped doing that, ever since the 2003 Almaty Zoo massacre.
MTV: Once "Borat" hits theaters this weekend, you might become a celebrity here in America. Will you let success go to your head?
Borat: I like to just stay normal persons, and do what normal guys do. I like relax, I like to shoot dogs, I like to receive a mouth party from my sister. I like to drink fermented horse urine — I just like staying, and being, a regular guy.
MTV: Well, thank you for your time, Borat.
Borat: Thank you! You're very nice [He gives more kisses.] A pleasure! You must stay at my house — you can use my sister.