Sacha Baron Cohen is hot. This we should take as fact; it hardly merits discussion. Earlier today, though, upon learning of the Borat sequel — premiering, for some reason, on Amazon Prime in late October — the Cut staff discussed his hotness at length. More interesting to debate is this: Is Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat hot? Is Borat, in fact, totally kind of hot? And is there deep queer theory that may help us unpack our horniness for him?
Matthew Schneier, features writer: I have a confession: Borat (on mute) is hot.
Callie Beusman, news editor: Very nice.
Andrew Nguyen, fashion news writer: Hate to admit that Borat in the neon-green bikini was part of my gay sexual awakening in the seventh grade. So revealing! So hairy! The mustache!
Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz, senior writer: You guys need to do Sacha as a Totally Kind of Hot, because I don’t understand. He seems so annoying.
Melissa Dahl, deputy editor: He’s not kind of hot, he legit IS HOT. It’s just that he’s always wearing a costume.
Anna Silman, senior writer: Sacha Baron Cohen is so hot. Tall. Brave. Went to Cambridge. Wrote his thesis on civil rights. Went to clown school with my Uncle Ricardo.
MD: I’m sorry?
AS: Yes, he is a clown in Brazil. So is my aunt. They are great. Anyway, love Sacha.
CB: This makes so much sense. If someone were like, “Quick, name one person you know who probably has an aunt and uncle who went to clown school and know Sacha Baron Cohen,” I would be like, “Well, Anna, of course.”
AS: Thank you, Callie.
AN: All this Borat talk has unlocked deeply buried memories! Like praying to Jesus after youth group that he would help me not find Borat hot anymore.
MS: The whole shtick of Borat is parodying the ’70s gay-clone look (hairy, mustache) but then undercutting it by making it super-femme, which is the opposite of clone-ism and, in fact, I think is mildly homophobic. And even the as-is ’70s clone is sort of seen as a joke at this point because it’s such a stock character. But what recent years (the revival of the gay mustache, etc.) have shown us is, in fact, this look is predicated on (one nonexclusive kind of) hotness, which I think is what resonates with gay men and other MSMs on an instinctual level. Homophobic in the sense of “Look, these butch queens are playing masc, but in fact they’re girly under it all.” Not that there is anything incorrect or unsexy about femmeness! The joke that’s being attempted, I think, is the “exposure” of the femme underneath the butch posturing, which is intended as a kind of public outing!
Stella Bugbee, editor-in-chief: Professor Schneier will be teaching a course this fall in “Totally Kind of Hotness,” at Yale.
Kerensa Cadenas, senior editor: Matthew is my fave gender-theory professor.
MS: Okay, sorry, I need to stop. This is 2005 headed-to-grad-school Matthew, a person I thought was no longer with us.
KC: Quar is bringing up all our old selves.
AN: And Borat.