Work basically stopped for everyone I follow on Twitter yesterday when the Guardian published an account of the new Sacha Baron Cohen movie, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, which will premiere on Amazon Prime Friday. Catherine Shoard, the Guardian‘s film editor, wrote about a scene where Baron Cohen and co-star Maria Bakalova prank Rudy Giuliani, where the former New York mayor and current attorney to President Trump “is seen reaching into his trousers and apparently touching his genitals while reclining on a bed in the presence of the actor playing Borat’s daughter, Tutar, who is posing as a TV journalist.”
Last night I watched a preview copy of the film that Amazon Studios provided through a publicist. In it, Giuliani does appear to hit on the much younger woman. He does follow her into a hotel suite’s bedroom for a “drink.” He does lie down on the bed. And though I’d dearly love to believe what the Guardian reported about his self-exploration were true, I gotta say it really does look like Rudy Giuliani is just tucking his shirt in after Bakalova appears to remove his microphone.
This is Giuliani’s position, as well: “I was tucking in my shirt after taking off the recording equipment,” he wrote on Twitter Wednesday evening.
That said, the scene is almost as bad for Giuliani as everyone says it is. Warning: spoilers follow.
The setup is that after trying and failing to make a gift of his daughter to Vice President Mike Pence at CPAC while dressed like Trump—an incident that, despite the historically high number of reporters deployed to the annual freak-show event in National Harbor, Maryland, each year, I could find only one account of—Kazakh reporter Borat decides to give her to Giuliani instead.
He has a change of heart but it’s too late: Tutar has already scored an interview with Giuliani by identifying herself as a reporter for a news outlet called Patriots Report: Freedom for Facts. In the New York hotel suite where the interview is to take place, she inserts balloons in her dress, downs a miniature bottle of some liquor, and interviews Giuliani, who arrives wearing a mask, then sits down. He’s wearing a large ring and a green rubber wristband.
Tutar presents him with what she identifies earlier in the film is a Kazakh owners manual for fathers of daughters, a present he appears grateful for until he sees an illustration from a story about a woman who caught the “disease of curiosity” being devoured by her own “vagine.”
Giuliani offers Tutar a conspiracy theory about the coronavirus: “China manufactured the virus and let it out, and they deliberately spread it all around the world” (a theory echoed later, hilariously, in the film) and says Trump “saved a million lives. It’d have been a million more had he waited the many months that the Democrats would have done. But he acted swiftly, he acted before–even his own advisers, some of them advised him not to do it.”
Tutar says she’s nervous about doing the interview and Giuliani repeatedly assures her “You’re gonna look pretty good.” Borat enters, disguised as a soundperson, and checks Giuliani’s microphone while trying to convince him to end the interview and leave his daughter alone. “She’d make a very nagging wife,” he says. “If I were you I would stick to marrying your cousins.”
After the interview apparently ends, Tutar asks Giuliani, “Shall we have a drink in the bedroom?” In that room, which was apparently equipped with hidden cameras, he takes something off her back, says, “There you go, my dear,” and sits down on the bed. “You can give me your phone number and your address,” he says, and touches her lower back. She does something that appears to be taking off his mic and untucks his shirt. He lies down, and starts to tuck it back in.
This is the what the Guardian article describes as “apparently touching his genitals,” but unless Giuliani has an anatomical exceptionalism we’ve never heard about before—and really, what are the chances of that?—his hand never appears to go far enough south for that account to be accurate, and he really does appear to be tucking his shirt back in.
At this point, Borat bursts in, shouting, “Put down your chrem!” and tries to offer himself instead, citing his experience in prison. He’s wearing a sort of lingerie thing over his white briefs. As Giuliani hustles out of the room and down the hotel corridor, Borat shouts,“Trump will be disappoint! You are leaving hotel without golden shower!”
Beyond the claim that Giuliani was fondling himself, the Guardian article also says Giuliani “also agrees – in theory at least – to eat a bat with his interviewer.” This is clearly a joke in the film, when Giuliani and Tutar are discussing how the coronavirus spread. “I don’t think anyone was eating bats. Did you ever have a bat?” Giuliani says, laughing. “Oh no,” Tutar replies, as Giuliani continues to laugh. “I don’t think I’ll ever eat a bat. If you eat a bat with me?” Giuliani replies, still yukking it up, “Okay, I will, I’ll eat a bat with you,” to which she says, “So funny!”