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Proving beyond a doubt that even really bad publicity is good publicity, the previously little-known nation of Kazakhstan is now eternally grateful that nasty ol' Borat said such horrible things about it.
Two years on from the 2006 hit movie "Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan," tourism projects have taken off, with three huge resorts still going strong despite the global economic crisis. In just the last six months, the number of tourists braving a trip into Kazakhstan has increased by 13 percent.
And while Borat might've portrayed Kazakhstan as a poor country to the American market, the Kazakhs themselves have their own ideas of who they should insult. A deputy chairman in the tourist ministry recently said the "Borat" film "was made in Romania--it's a very poor country." Thereís nothing like passing the buck.
He's baaaaack! Sacha Baron Cohen's character Bruno took advantage of pre-election frenzy this weekend in California and attempted to crash a "Yes on Prop 8" rally in Los Angeles. The actor, who notably played a Kazakh the last time he was ambushing Americans, was in deep cover as gay Austrian fashionista Bruno until, when recognized, he and his camera crew tried to sneak away without being caught.
Bruno's exploits aren't quite as funny in light of the results in from the Proposition 8 vote, which according to current returns demonstrates that the electorate has passed the ban. This would mean that celebs like Ellen DeGeneras and Portia de Rossi, who married in May after the California Supreme Court struck down an earlier marriage-related proposition, would see their new unions invalidated--possibly within the year.
But with some 4 million provisional and absentee ballots yet to be counted, opponents of Prop 8 are still holding out hope.
[Photo: Faded Youth Blog]
When comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's "Borat" exposed the foibles of Americans everywhere, a few people weren't laughing, triggering a wave of lawsuits from people who participated in the film and didn't know they were being mocked. Well, guess what, suckers! You signed the release!
New York judge Loretta Preska, Jaunted hero, threw out lawsuits from the film's eternally patient driving instructor (above) and unnaturally sweet etiquette coaches, citing the agreements they signed to appear in the film.
It's perfect timing for Baron Cohen as he completes shooting on his next "character" film, next year's "Bruno" in which he plays a gay Austrian fashionista. Humor teacher, drunk frat boys and Pam Anderson beware!
· Movie Ambush Travel: Bruno Is The New Borat In Kansas [Jaunted]
· Sacha Baron Cohen Caught Relaxing At Airport [Jaunted]
· Celeb Travel coverage [Jaunted]
[Photo: Evil Beet Gossip]
Wherever there is a publicity-hungry expert, Bruno is there! Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen wreaked havoc earlier this year at a Kansas airport in character as a gay Austrian fashionista, his follow-up to Borat. Recently, an Israeli defense expert was taken in by the comedian's wiles.
Yossi Alpher thought he was conducting an interview on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead, he was interrogated about the terrorist potential of hummus and Brad Pitt's love life. Apparently someone hasn't been to the movies recently!
What we want to know is whether this movie--allegedly titled "Delicious Journeys Through America for the Purpose of Making Heterosexual Males Visibly Uncomfortable in the Presence of a Gay Foreigner in a Mesh T-Shirt"--do for tourism in Austria what "Borat" did for Kazakhstan?
Despite Sacha Baron Cohen's best efforts, news of the filming of his new movie has leaked to the press, er, us. It was common knowledge the Golden Globe winner was going to follow up his sleeper hit "Borat: Cultural Benefits of American To Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan" with a film based on his gay Austrian stylist character Bruno, but apparently Bruno has been spotted in Kansas... without pants.
Cohen had permits for a shoot in the Wichita, Kansas airport, but he probably didn't have license to strip and attempt to kiss random passengers there.
Thank goodness a passerby thought to film the mayhem. Who are these people who have never heard of Cohen or any of his characters? Apparently Ben Affleck was also fooled into being interviewed by Bruno. Oh, we love this country.
Traveling like a celebrity can be hard work, especially when you have to stop to say Jagshemash to all your fans along the way. The comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who instigated a nationwide rise in lawsuits last year as the Kazakh reporter Borat, was recently spotted relaxing with a chair massage at Vancouver International Airport. He no longer sports the bushy mustache of his alter ego, but fans spotted him anyway, according to the New York Daily News.
Of course, if Baron Cohen was handling his own luggage--as he is in the above photo, accompanied by actress-fiancee Isla Fisher--maybe he deserved that massage.
Here's one guidebook we don't recommend using: that roving Kazakh reporter Borat (or rather his creator, Sasha Baron Cohen) has finally signed a deal with Flying Dolphin Press to publish a travel book. It's going to be split into two halves: "Borat: Touristic Guidings to Minor Nation of U.S. and A." and "Borat: Touristic Guidings to Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."
There's only one quote floating around the internet from the publisher, Suzanne Herz:
There is one and only Borat and we are honored to have him join our pantheon of international writers.
Uh...Suzanne? We were expecting you'd say something a little more...funny. Not something that makes Borat sound like...mmm...Salman Rushdie. Unless you're being sarcastic. We hope you're being sarcastic. You know this man's shtick, right?
Actually, we hope you don't. And we look forward to the photo of you and Borat bungee jumping naked on the inside cover.
Borat / Parties / Movies / → All Tags
The time has come to celebrate the Kazakhstan tourism boom. Tonight in NYC, head to Cake Shop for a free screening of the newly-released Borat DVD. We love Cake Shop's free parties, and tonight's $0 screening co-hosted by the Village Voice should be no exception. Should you get bored waiting for the film to start, you can grab a drink at the full bar downstairs, or head upstairs to shop for records.
Say you're going alone and looking to chat up a Kazakhstan-loving partygoer. What could be your pick-up line? We wouldn't be surprised if "jagshemash" works on the superfans. But we hear travel buffs melt when you ask them if they think Kazkahstan is the next Macau. And when they can already name the two cities which Kazakhstan is hoping to turn into gambling tourism meccas, you'll know it's true love.
Doors at 5 p.m. / Movie at 6 p.m.
[Photo: Rotten Tomatoes]
· Borat Begets Kazakhstan Tourism Boom [Jaunted]
Looks like Borat is having quite an effect on Kazakhstan tourism:
Post Borat Occurrences:
·Air Astana, the national airline, has added a third weekly flight from the UK.
·Major international chains, including Radisson SAS, have opened slick new hotels in Almaty and Astana.
·There is even talk from recent Kazakhstan visitors, that the country does indeed have the kind of scenery tipsters told Jaunted about way back when.
Oh, and of course, you travelers to Kazakhstan are treated to the kind of quirkiness they are looking for:
At a traditional Kazakh dinner party, the highest-ranking guest is always served a sheep's head -- the least important gets one of the creature's cervical vertebra.
We so called this. Not the sheep's head thing, but they whole Kazakhstan tourism blowing up thing.
Maybe now the country can re-open borat.kz.
[Photo: irina slutsky]
Casinos / Gambling / Kazakhstan Tourism / Borat / → All Tags
It's official: President Nursultan Nazarbayev, no longer busy vogueing for his country's tourism commercials, has passed a law requiring all casinos to be located in one of two approved cities: Kapchagai or Shchuchinsk. Kazakhstan is gambling crazed, and though the move reads like a negative blow at first, it could draw in some major dough. Kazakh officials hope to turn the cities into tourist draws, and major investments have been proposed by Chinese companies. Kapchagai could well turn into the Las Vegas of Kazakhstan (that's where the largest Chinese-proposed complex would be based) and Shchuchinsk its Atlantic City--not a bad deal, considering we feel far more comfortable at least trying to pronounce Kapchagai.
Kapchagai is close to Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city and former capital. We've never really felt compelled to visit Macau, but should Kapchagai turn into something better, you might be surprised to learn that you'd be able to reach it fairly easily. Almaty airport is served by several international airlines, including Turkish, KLM, and Asiana and Lufthansa, in addition to those with more highly questionable safety. Start saving those tenge!
[Photo: NYT via IHT]
· Kazakhstan gambles on casinos [IHT]
Another easy one. Perfect travel fashion should combine comfort and practicality with sass and class. A good banana slingshot, upside down Star Trek symbol bathing suit gets the job done. This year Borat, the mightiest Kazakh journalist of all time, epitomized travel fashion.
Yes, we were obsessed with him this year as we counted down to the release of Cultural Learnings. Somewhere in the press onslaught, we read that his famous suit, his gray suit that is, has never been washed. Talk about consistent and authentic style. And with so little to pack, he can definitely go carry-on-only for life, even when flying in the tiniest Soviet turboprops.
Despite knowing that there's more to the world than the fluffy-moustached alter-egos of British comics, we seem to get a nervous twitch when we go too long without mentioning Borat or Kazakhstan. Luckily for us, Lonely Planeteer John Noble goes inside the real Kazakhstan this week. He's currently working on LP's fourth-generation Central Asia guide.
While Noble reminds us all that nothing in Kazakhstan is exactly like Borat tells it--that Cohen probably chose the country simply because most Westerners knew little about it, that ethnic Kazakhs look nothing like Borat, and that women do ride on the insides of buses there--he also, perhaps unintentionally, does a bit to rub in Borat's stereotypes as well:
Families trace their lineages back to the scions of Ghenghis Khan, and Kazakhs play the wild sport kokpar, a kind of free-for-all football on horseback with an animal carcass instead of a ball.He also urges visitors to get out into the wilderness, where the people are friendly, the surroundings nearly untouched, and "excellent ecotourism programmes" are popping up all over. You can visit the world's northernmost flamingo habitat, snowy mountains, and the "desert-like" Ustyurt Plateau, all in Kazakhstan. Just watch out for the cops, because they will make your tenge magically disappear.
· The Real Kazakhstan: Where Borat Never Was [LP]
· The Real Borat? [Gadling]
· Borat coverage [Jaunted]
· Kazakhstan coverage [Jaunted]
· Lonely Planet: Tiraspol Is Creepy [Jaunted]