It’s weird to watch Borat in 2018. In the decade-plus since its 2006 release, the hit comedy seems to be finally working its way through the journey of all classic mainstream comedies — initial success, irritating overexposure, ironic enjoyment, and finally, critical reevaluation. Let me boldly say, at the risk of facing ridicule: Borat is actually good.
Some of it hasn’t aged well (its gender and racial politics are, uh, whatever the opposite of, “[Borat Voice] Very nice!” is), but I think overall the intentions of Sacha Baron Cohen and his director Larry Charles were in the right place. It exposed the dark heart of America during the height of a dumb, cruel political era. Its influence can currently be seen in a number of contemporary comedies, like Nathan for You and The Eric Andre Show. Looking beyond the film’s catchphrases, there are some truly brilliant scenes — consider the naked fight in the middle of the hotel business conference, or the angry bear roaring at children out the window of an ice cream truck.
With Sacha Baron Cohen set to release his new show, Who Is America? this weekend (it’s already pissed off a Greatest Hits collection of conservative scumbags), and with our country staggering through an even dumber, crueler era, it seems like a good time to check in to see where Borat’s targets have ended up.
Still A Public Speaking Coach
Early in the film, Borat seeks out an expert to learn about American humor. They cover a number of outdated comedy bits, most famously “Not” jokes, which resulted in a popular catchphrase that probably never needs to be repeated again, but for clarity’s sake, it was Theez-ah suit is NOT black. The fact that mocking a hack joke later itself became a hack joke and then later became a double-ironic joke is impressive. Anyway, according to his LinkedIn, Mr. Haggerty is still doing public speaking engagements, and entertaining audiences with updated jokes! (Sample joke from his site: “Did the Trump campaign coordinate or any way collude with Russia in the 2016 election? No one knows for sure. One thing we do know, Hillary's campaign did NOT coordinate or talk with anyone in Ohio, Pennsylvania or Wisconsin.”)
Still On The Road
Even-tempered Michael Psenicksa had the pleasure of teaching Borat how to drive. Thankfully they managed avoid running over any children in the process. Psenicksa is still offering driving lessons, at the Perry Hall Driving School in Perry Hall, MD. For a mere $310, you can learn to “drive smart,” just like Borat!
Now A Columnist for WorldNetDaily
Borat briefly meets with Alan Keyes, a Republican figurehead perhaps best known for his repulsive views on LGBTQ+ issues (and also for constantly losing elections), who explains to our hero that he had what appears to be a pretty exciting homosexual experience. Keyes is still around, offering political commentary for the highly revered WorldNetDaily, including one piece about how the Pope’s anti-global warming stance will bring about genocide (???), but is also against Trump, albeit half-heartedly so. Alan, welcome to #TheResistance.
Now a Retired Rodeo King
One of the darker moments of the film occurs when rodeo producer Bobby Rowe pulls Borat aside and tells him to shave his “dad gum mustache” so that instead of looking Muslim, he might look like “a nice Italian.” He later says, regarding gay people, “take ’em out and hang ’em, that’s what we’re trying to get done here.” Rowe is something of an icon in the rodeo community, having been in the business for decades. Rowe is now in his 80s, still owns Imperial Rodeo Productions, and as of 2017, was still helping run them.
Now Extremely Online
It must be a bummer to be most remembered not as one of the more successful libertarian presidential candidates (0.4% of the vote in 2008, baby!!!), but rather for unknowingly eating breast milk cheese in a hit R-rated comedy. For what it’s worth, Bob Barr seems to have a sense of humor about the whole experience. Bob is currently a lawyer, writer, and speaker in Atlanta, according to his Twitter account, where he regularly calls people “snowflakes,” regurgitates Fox News propaganda, and jokes about the New Coke, a soft drink that was introduced in 1985. His website, bobbarr.org, currently redirects to a hosting site “hugedomains.com.”
Martin tries to teach Borat etiquette in the film, and later hosts a dinner party that ends climatically (spoiler alert?) with a sex worker and a bag of shit. She later attempted to sue the filmmakers, but the lawsuit was thrown out. Martin is still teaching etiquette in Birmingham (“where manners are magnificent”), and was recently featured on local news station WVTM 13, talking about the do’s and don’ts of having a British afternoon teatime. Neither her nor the reporter mention her appearance in Borat.
One of Kathie’s tablemates, Cary Speaker, retired as pastor of the Mountain Brook Presbyterian Church in 2015.
The mansion that hosted the dinner party, Magnolia Manor, closed sometime in/after 2016. The home is currently on the market (sale pending), going for a cool $185,900. Act fast and you could own a piece of comedy history!
The appropriately-named car salesman who tried to lock Borat down for a Hummer but ultimately sent him off the lot in an ice cream truck (or so the filmmakers made it seem), passed away in 2012. He seemed to have really enjoyed his moment in the spotlight. A few of the posts on his online obituary included photos of him in the film, talking with Borat. One image features the caption, “Our Borat movie star.”
The WAPT News Team
One of the highlights of the film is “Bora-hat’s” disastrous interview with local TV news station WAPT in Jackson, MI, in which he regularly ruins shots by standing up out of frame, screams into his mic, and offers his sister to the news anchor. Maybe I’m just a sucker for watching people sabotage local news segments, but that genre of humor honestly never gets old. After the film came out, the segment’s producer lost her job and spiraled into depression. Meteorologist Ken Johnson is now at KAUZ in Wichita Falls, Texas. Brad McMullan, the anchor who conducted the interview, left the station in 2010. He is currently the President and CEO of BFAC, a mobile marketing company. McMullan also created and ran Buy From a Christian, a faith-based e-commerce site, from 2006-2010. Here is McMullan’s awesome initial sketch for the service, screengrabbed from the site’s introductory video.
Was always a stand-up comedian
The sex worker who Borat hired was actually comedian Luenell Campbell. She’s still touring, and has a huge Instagram following.
Adolph Rose Antiques
Open most days
The Confederate flag-happy antique store that Borat trashes and then tries to reimburse with bags of pubic hair (“Feel the quality … I can get you 2,000 bags by next Friday”) still exists, though its internet presence is somewhat minimal. The reviews on their Tripadvisor are mostly good, though apparently recently they’re rarely open. At the bottom of their Blogspot site, there’s an image of the shop. “Does this gentleman look familiar?” the caption reads. “Scenes from our store were highlighted in the movie Borat.” They don’t go into further detail.
The Monstrous Frat Boys
Current status unknown
If there’s a true villain of the film, it’s the three frat boys from the University of South Carolina, who give Borat a ride in a big party RV and and very quickly take every Bush-era conservative excess to monstrous extremes. Of the many terrible things they say, one of them drunkenly rants about wishing he could still own slaves. Two of the boys tried (and failed) to sue the filmmakers, while the third seemed content with the experience. Not surprisingly, they’re pretty difficult to track down these days, and don’t appear to have active internet prescenses under their given names. Considering their general litigiousness, I don’t really want to look into it further, but I think it’s safe bet that they’re all Trump supporters.
Still a village in Romania
Although Borat is from Kazakhstan, all the footage of his hometown was shot in Glod, Romania. Like many of the unwitting participants in the film, they sued the filmmakers, asking for $38 million. The lawsuit was dismissed. The village is still there, and looks to be mostly unchanged, according to Google Street View. There’s an hour-long BBC documentary about Glod post-Borat. Based on the footage I scanned through, it seems like they’re still pretty sore about the whole thing. Reactions to the film in Kazakhstan, meanwhile, were (perhaps surprisingly) cautiously positive.
Still Preaching The Good Word
Towards the end of the film, Borat has a spiritual awakening at a United Pentecostal Church (UPC) church. Pastor Greg Godwin guides him to the light, as he begins to speak in tongues. Godwin is on the board of Global Impact Ministries, and continues to travel around the south preaching.
Pamela “Pam” Anderson
Still an Actress/Activist
The film climaxes with an attempted kidnapping of Pamela Anderson, who later admitted to being in on the joke. Interestingly, according to this CBS report, her then-husband Kid Rock became so enraged by her participation in the film that he destroyed their four-month old marriage. It all worked out for Anderson, though, as she very recently got engaged to soccer/football star Adil Rami, and she is still incredibly famous. As for Kid Rock, well, nothing will ever stop him from being Kid Rock.
[Correction: A previous version of this post misidentified WAPT meteorologist Ken Johnson as Eric Huston. We regret the error.]