Interview: Borat the Cultural Ambassador

He comes from the land that has produced great artists, scientists, poets and scholars. Jay Richardson meets the most famous Kazakhstani in the world.

Borat Sagdiyev strides into the room, leans down and kisses me on both cheeks. His suit is unwashed and has been since he left his job as a spermatozoa extractor of camel. And it smells like it too.

'What? You are from Scotland?' He beams and takes his stance for hurling rocks at a gypsy, which he can hit from 15 metres, or 10 if they are unchained. 'I like a drink, I like a drink, I like a fight! I am angry Scottish!'

'You are like Braveheart? Played by anti-Jew warrior Melvin Gibbons?'

He has come to the UK to promote his new film, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan and to try to meet 'Welsh prostitute Charlotte Church. I hear she has the voice of an angel and the vagin [sic] of a horse! I like!'

His documentary on America has attracted critical acclaim, even if the Kazakhstan government were initially wary of its release.

'At first my government was worried about the level of anti-Semitism in my movie film,' he concedes. 'But they decided there was enough and allowed it to go ahead. It has been great success, released in all three cinemas in our nation, taking top spot from movie film King Kong, which has been number one movie in our country since it was released in 1933. Travelling across the US obviously left an indelible impression.

'My experiences have made me like America very much! We like now very much their music. I am a huge fan of the singer Madonna. It is a credit to US and A that a transvestite can become so popular. In my country he would be in circus.

'I was very surprised to see women drive cars. This could never happen in Kazakhstan - it is too dangerous. We say "to let woman drive car is like to let monkey fly plane". We do not allow this anymore since 2003 Astana air crash.

'But since Tulyakev reforms, now women is allowed to travel on inside of bus, homosexuals no longer have to wear blue hats and the age of consent has been raised to 12 years old.'

He offers advice on following in his footsteps.

'To be a good journalist you must have experience of other jobs. My advice is you must get a good education. I was studying at university English and plague research. I created three new ones that we used in Uzbekistan to kill five million goats. I previously worked as an icemaker and gypsy catcher. Also I was in computer maintenance. I was the one who would paint outside and remove dead birds from the pipes.

'Is this sufficient for you? I will have party in my hotel room afterwards where we will wrestle with no clothes, drink vodka and shoot dogs from the window, yes? You come please. And please you can come my house, eat my food and use my sister. Show me your finger. She is tight like this! Enjoy!'


  • 4 stars
  • 2006
  • US
  • 1h 22min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Larry Charles
  • Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Ken Davitian, Luenell, Pamela Anderson
  • UK release: 2 November 2006

Borat (Baron Cohen) and his producer Azamat (Davitian) travel through Kazakhstan and the US, insulting everyone along the way and meeting countless really confused real Americans. The format of fake interviews as a series of road movie vignettes works, sharp editing and brilliant performances eliciting constant belly…