Borat at Borders, November 8, 2007
Borat fans turned out en masse at the Westwood Borders for his sole public appearance promoting his new book, BORAT: Touristic Guidings to Minor Nation of U.S. and A. and Touristic Guidings to Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. For a couple of hours, he signed books, traded high fives and posed for pictures. An eyeball survey of the demographics of the packed room–kids, Europeans, goths, business types, hipsters, nerds, geeks in Borat and Ali G costumes, various media outlets, etc.–demonstrated the impressive reach of the Borat phenomenon. The man is a rock star. Every “high five!” or “Yagshemash!” or “Jenqui!” was met with woos from the crowd.
A surprising number of tweens and even younger were sprinkled about crowd, so many that Borat touched on it in his brief opening remarks. After recounting the untoward events of the previous night of revelry in West Hollywood which “left his anoos loose like the mouth of tired dog”, he tossed out “I am sure you are glad you bring your childrens now”–a little jab at parents, perhaps, but also rare brief flicker of self awareness and a peak at the brain behind Borat. He also used the time to take a deserved shot at Walmart for refusing to stock the book. All in all, good stuff for kids to hear.
In the flesh, Borat radiates a peformer’s energy that one imagines must be similar to that of Chaplin in his day. He has a postively electric hum about him. Once the Borat switch is thrown, he is ON. As good as he is as Borat, at the same time, one sees the finish line for Borat. How far can he take it? Sasha Baron Cohen is probably dying to stretch his artistic wings. In person, one can pick up a trace of tension in his face beneath the signature Borat grin. If no more new product came from the Borat factory, the book would make a nice bookend to the character.