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Anthony Joshua weighs in for the fight of the century Story by Paul Henderson Photographed by Mariano Vivanco



Alastair Campbell Has Corbyn killed Labour?

The 2017 GQ Car Awards

APRIL 2 0 1 7

Why I  romcoms by Dylan Jones

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Editor’s Letter



Discover the global residences of La Réserve; GQ unwinds at Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills.

Be done with digital detoxing – technology is still the most vital connection in a wired world.



43 The Chainsmokers light up; Marvel Details

takes Manhattan; the making of Free Fire; Mass Effect shoots for the stars.


The Principal Manchester; Bombetta is bang on; get your teeth into Prime; Perth, Scotland, steps up to the plate.



129 Style Manual


GQ Car Awards We reveal the finest and fastest machines from a year in motoring.

Jim Chapman weathers April showers; the boldest bags; take a walk in the parkas; plus Style Shrink and this month’s street style.

146 GQ Preview Products and events.

156 The Lab Stream genies of sound and vision.

183 Watches 96



Black is the new black at Rado.

88 Our Stuff From clothes to culture, the personal philosophies of GQ Fashion Assistant Jake Pummintr.


Michael Wolff As New York trembles over the triumph of its most famous son, we consider the complicated relationship between President Trump and his hometown.


My Style

Model and gym trainer Toby Huntington-Whiteley takes GQ through his go-to garments.




Bachelor Pad Stir up your space with elegantly energising coffee machines.

99 Guest Columnist Playwright Lucy Prebble tackles that untamable monster of the modern age: alt-right Twitter trolls.


The Drop Postmodern manors; female cyclists’ uphill battles; Formula One by numbers; Trump’s mad mentor; hit refresh with anthology television; the comeback kings of rock’n’roll. APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 19

230 School’s out; sports luxe is in. Go hell for leather and get patched in to the wild world of Philipp Plein. PHOTOGRAPHS BY STYLING BY

Thomas Schenk

David Lamb

Jacket, £1,560. Jeans, £4,450. Both by Philipp Plein. APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 21

Anthony Joshua

171 Life Twenty-three mental health hacks; see the light with laser eye surgery; give your downstairs a bit of a lift. Plus, Hugo Rifkind on celebrity deaths and Bear Grylls on snake attacks.


George Michael’s death was a lesson on the limits of hedonism for the health generation.

Paul Henderson

Features & Fashion 150

Alastair Campbell on Jeremy Corbyn The man who once guided Labour to power on why its leader has to go before it’s too late.


Tony Parsons


Ahead of the biggest fight in British history, GQ enters the ring with boxing’s new heavyweight superstar.



The love that dare not speak its name True romance is dead. Long live the romcom. BY DYLAN JONES

206 206

Welcome to Brussels: the city of jihad Street-level stories from the district dubbed Europe’s seething heart of terror. BY ROBERT CHALMERS


Why aren’t you following... SoCal siren Zanah Marie steps out of the shade. BY STUART McGURK


Walk a fine line Tread a new path with these statement shoes. PHOTOGRAPHS BY TED HUMBLE-SMITH


Out To Lunch Luke Evans beasts it at “local” London restaurant Trullo.


Tommy Wiseau Enter The Room with the oddball auteur of the world’s worst movie. BY DANNY WALLACE


80 Frank Ocean With Blonde, the enigmatic star of hip hop proves himself to be a uniquely creative force in modern music. BY Jon Savage


APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 23







SENIOR COMMISSIONING EDITORS Stuart McGurk, Charlie Burton ART DIRECTOR Keith Waterfield





GQ.CO.UK EDITOR Conrad Quilty-Harper






FASHION EDITOR Grace Gilfeather






CHIEF SUB-EDITOR George Chesterton




STAFF WRITER Eleanor Halls

GQ.CO.UK INTERNS Kathleen Johnston, Josh Lee

CONTRIBUTING FASHION EDITORS Luke Day, Elgar Johnson, Luke Leitch, Lou Stoppard CONTRIBUTING ART EDITOR Adam Clayton





COMEDY EDITOR James Mullinger




Contributing Editors Mel Agace, Andrew Anthony, Chris Ayres, Jason Barlow, Stephen Bayley, Tara Bernerd, Heston Blumenthal, Debra Bourne, Michael Bracewell, Jennifer Bradly, Charlie Brooks, Ed Caesar, Alastair Campbell, Naomi Campbell, Robert Chalmers, Jim Chapman, Nik Cohn, Giles Coren, Victoria Coren Mitchell, Andy Coulson, Adrian Deevoy, Alan Edwards, Robert Elms, David Furnish, Bear Grylls, Sophie Hastings, David Hicks, Mark Hix, Julia Hobsbawm, Boris Johnson, John Kampfner, Simon Kelner, Rod Liddle, Sascha Lilic, Frank Luntz, Dorian Lynskey, Piers Morgan, John Naughton, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Dermot O’Leary, Ian Osborne, Tom Parker Bowles, Tony Parsons, Oliver  Peyton, Julia Peyton-Jones, Amol Rajan, Hugo Rifkind, David Rosen, Martin Samuel, Darius Sanai, Kenny Schachter, Simon Schama, Alix Sharkey, Ed Smith, Ed Vaizey, Ed Victor, Celia Walden, Danny Wallace, Jim White, Michael Wolff, Peter York, Toby Young

Contributing Photographers Miles Aldridge, Guy Aroch, David Bailey, Coppi Barbieri, Matthew Beedle, Gavin Bond, Richard Burbridge, Richard Cannon, Kenneth Cappello, Matthias Clamer, Dylan Don, Jill Greenberg, Marc Hom, Benny Horne, Norman Jean Roy, Tony Kelly, Steven Klein, David LaChapelle, Brigitte Lacombe, Joshua Lawrence, Sun Lee, Peter Lindbergh, Steve Neaves, Zed Nelson, Mitch Payne, Vincent Peters, Sudhir Pithwa, Rankin, Mick Rock, Mark Seliger, Søren Solkær, Mario Sorrenti, Mario Testino, Ellen von Unwerth, Mariano Vivanco, Matthias Vriens, Nick Wilson, Richard Young DIRECTOR OF EDITORIAL ADMINISTRATION AND RIGHTS Harriet Wilson SYNDICATION





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Who’s afraid of Alastair Campbell?

hen Alastair Campbell was Tony Blair’s press secretary, and then director of communications, he was nothing if not partisan. Like all good political gatekeepers, he would brook no criticism and was immune to discussion. What Alastair was selling was scripture and you either took him at his word or were banished from the court. At the time (19972003) he was vilified by a press corps that found itself unable to manoeuvre around Downing Street or Whitehall without his tacit blessing. If as a journalist you were somehow crazy enough to go against Campbell’s wishes, or you dared to contradict him publicly, his wrath would be enough to convince you never to do it again. After all, one should never forget that Alastair was the original inspiration for Malcolm Tucker, the potty-mouthed director of communications-cum-Darth Vader of Whitehall in Armando Iannucci’s The Thick Of It played by Peter Capaldi. The pair would later claim that the character was also inspired by various Hollywood agents, yet it is Campbell who is most associated with the role. As Alastair says himself, “Tucker – the brutal, foulmouthed, manipulative, psychopathic, war-mongering prime ministerial press secretary – was loosely based on me.”

Ask away: Editor Dylan Jones with interrogator-in-chief Alastair Campbell in 2014, the year he joined GQ

Alastair’s uncompromising attitude was one of the reasons – actually it was the only reason – I hired him to work for GQ three years ago. I had watched him eviscerate the Daily Mail’s then deputy editor Jon Steafel one evening on Newsnight (as a response to Steafel trying to defend his paper’s attempts to slur Ed Miliband’s father) and was immediately convinced that this was the person we needed to hire to interrogate politicians for us. Unsurprisingly, this worked like a dream, and the Alastair Campbell GQ interview has become one of those things that politicians don’t like doing but feel they have to. Now, I had been trying to put Alastair together with Jeremy Corbyn since the leader of the Labour Party took office two years ago, and since Corbyn’s team had repeatedly turned down the offer of a grilling (surprise, surprise) I asked Alastair to write a piece explaining just what he thought about him. Naturally, being a tribal Labour supporter, Alastair felt torn; on the one hand he didn’t want to be disloyal to his party and on the other felt duty bound to point out Corbyn’s extraordinary weaknesses and seemingly all-encompassing inability to convince the electorate that he is the right person to stand up to the Tories. In the end, after my constant badgering, and having been rebuffed by Corbyn once again, Alastair relented and a few weeks ago turned in a 7,000-word piece almost overnight. The article – trimmed and edited for length and legal reasons! – starts on page 150 and is a prime example of why Campbell is still one of the finest political tacticians of his age. He doesn’t pull his punches, but neither is he unnecessarily spiteful. After all, Campbell cares just as much about social equality, socialist principles and

Campbell doesn’t pull any punches, but neither is he spiteful

APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 31

Thatcher rarely read newspapers, which made it easier for her to be so intransigent

this month on

The best menswear items in the world Don’t miss our hugely popular weekly roundup of the coolest new men’s clothes, shoes, scents and accessories on the planet, live every Monday morning and added to each day of the working week. Your style shopping list sorted.

Cooking up a storm with Stormzy on Facebook Live You’ve probably read about Stormzy’s new album (which will be out by the time you read this). What you might not know is he’s also joining GQ Staff Writer Eleanor Halls for a Facebook Live where he will indulge his other passion: baking. Mary Berry, eat your heart out.

Gifts for the most important woman in your life (mum) Yes, she’ll love bouquets, spa days and candles, but why not surprise the person who gave you life with something more original this year? With tips from bestselling writer The Unmumsy Mum, we have all the inspiration you need.

Left: Shorts. Hand wraps. Boots. All by Under Armour.

Dylan Jones, Editor 32 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

Follow us @britishgq @dylanjonesgq

The best cars at Geneva Motor Show 2017 GQ Associate Features Editor Matthew Jones will be in Geneva this year to bring you his pick of the best new cars, from Bentleys to Bugattis. Do they deserve a place on your driveway? Tune into this month to find out.

Photographs Silverhub; Ewen Spencer

the future of the Labour Party as Jeremy Corbyn does. Maybe more. Whatever your political persuasion, and regardless of what you think of Corbyn, Alastair’s piece is a must read. Of course what isn’t always mentioned when discussing the likes of Campbell, Andy Coulson and all the other Lady’s man: Margaret Thatcher with her top-drawer Downing Street press secretary, Bernard Ingham, 1998 gatekeepers and press secretaries is the control that they have over the people they are employed to protect. A few years ago I had lunch with Sir Bernard Ingham, who served as Margaret Thatcher’s éminence grise throughout her time in Downing Street. He told me that she had a very loose relationship with the press and indeed with journalists. She rarely read newspapers, sometimes listened to the Today programme on Radio 4 and tended to get her news from television. In this respect she was almost myopic, which obviously made it easier for her to be so intransigent and so oblivious to criticism. For Thatcher, journalism was all about mathematics and scale, and while the papers and political magazines were obviously full of extremely erudite and well-connected journalists, writing extremely erudite and well-considered pieces about the pros and cons of her radical restructuring of the public sector, she was only ever concerned with what was said on television; that’s what most people saw and that’s what most people would talk about the next day at work (if indeed they happened to be in work). Of course, she read the cuts that were put in front of her every morning, but she was rarely aware of the context in which they appeared. She wasn’t blind to the fact that she had to suck up every now and again to a gold-star journalist or newspaper editor, but in the main she left all this to Ingham. At lunch he told me that once, just to test her, he asked her to pass him a copy of the Daily Express and to find the leader for him (the editorial comment that traditionally sits in the middle of a paper, on the same page every day). “I could see her fumbling around for a while until I realised that she had absolutely no idea where it was.” Jeremy Corbyn knows exactly where the leader is in every paper and I’m also sure that he and Seumas Milne – his own press secretary – won’t take too kindly to Alastair’s piece. But there we are: all is fair in love and war when the future of the Labour Party is at stake.


Mariano VIVANCO On 29 April, Wembley stadium will host the biggest fight in British history as the 21st century’s most dominant heavyweight, Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko, faces our cover star, Britain’s undefeated Anthony Joshua. Photographer Mariano Vivanco, renowned for his nudes, shot Joshua shirtless for the cover. “When I looked at the images of the shoot, what struck me was how good Joshua looked in every single one,” says Vivanco. “That’s a sure sign of a great star.”


Matthew JONES

Legendary music journalist and author Jon Savage first noticed Frank Ocean after seeing a photograph of him at Paris Fashion Week in 2013 and now writes this month’s Icon piece about the multitalented and enigmatic artist. “I loved that Blonde was technological and emotional – and cross-genre,” says Savage about Ocean’s much-delayed second album, a worldwide No1 from last summer. “It could only have been made in the 21st century.”

This month, GQ Associate Features Editor Matthew Jones and Contributing Editor Jason Barlow picked out the 13 best new cars from the past year. In the process, they came across some extraordinary vehicles. “We had cars that could climb mountains, that were their own Wi-Fi hotspots and that could drive themselves,” says Jones, whose favourite was the Volvo V90. “It manages the impossible – it makes fatherhood look good.”


Photographs James Lipman; Aubrey Meyer

Brussels’ Molenbeek district is known as the crucible of European terrorism, so Robert Chalmers went there to meet its benighted residents. “Molenbeek has developed a unique connection with individuals capable of the most appalling acts,” says Chalmers. “But the notion that the area is a more brutal version of south-central LA is vaudeville.”

Thomas SCHENK This month, GQ celebrates the energy and eccentricity of German fashion designer Philipp Plein. Plein’s new collection, shot by fashion photographer Thomas Schenk and styled by former GQ Fashion Editor David Lamb, is a dramatic tour de force: highlights include a black bomber adorned in bright patches and a loud yellow biker jacket.

Danny WALLACE The Room, a cult classic from director Tommy Wiseau, is widely regarded as the (best) worst film ever made. Now, James Franco is directing and starring in The Masterpiece, based on its fraught production. Danny Wallace met Wiseau in a Los Angeles branch of The Cheesecake Factory to talk about the 2003 original, its inspiration and the director’s next projects. “Wiseau is an underground legend; a magnificent secret,” says Wallace. “I just wish he had chosen a different restaurant.” APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 35


Dropped connection: Don’t be tempted to sever the cord that ties you to the world

ME, MYSELF AND iPHONE Under pressure from friends, family and therapist to separate self from screen? Don’t be swayed. For 21st-century men of distinction, a smartphone is the window to your soul STORY BY

ardly a day goes by without someone lamenting the modern obsession with smartphones. Whether it’s a newspaper article about how our children are turning into phone-toting zombies, or an office conversation about the lack of social skills that much-maligned millennials are decried to possess, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the fastest-selling technological advance in history is sending us just as rapidly back to the Dark Ages. As someone who works in the techobsessive world of digital media, it’s sometimes hard to remember it was ever any other way. Phone-shaming? Cell-bashing? Whatever phrase we invent for it, it’s not OK. It’s true that we are in the middle of a cultural shift towards a place where health, wellness and mindfulness are suddenly at the top of everyone’s, well, minds. That’s fine – good probably. But going hand in hand with this movement is the idea that being connected, living

Photograph Sebastian Mader/Trunk Archive


Wil Harris

our lives online, is unhealthy. “Go on a digital detox,” they implore. “Take the stress out of your life.” There is a growing view that this constant connectedness is what’s responsible for everything that’s wrong in our lives. I was musing on this notion as I was waiting outside my therapist’s office but a few evenings ago. After years at it, therapy becomes not only ritualistic itself, but surrounded by other ritual observances – and one of those is the “quick check of the phone before you switch it to silent” as you wait outside to go in. There aren’t a lot of rules that therapists insist on, but turning off your phone before starting a session is definitely one of them – you really don’t want your train of thought (much less flood of tears) interrupted by a stray Snapchat. Standing outside my therapist’s office that week, that final check of my phone yielded a sigh of relief I had been increasingly conscious of in recent days – my iPhone was still on 100 per cent battery. Brilliant.

Happily tucking it into my pocket, I smiled as I walked into her office and parked myself in the oversized armchair in the corner. “How are you?” she asked, in her infuriatingly neutral manner. “Great,” I replied. “This new iPhone case has changed my life.” As I saw her expression turn atypically quizzical, I reflected that this was possibly not a universal human experience. The previous week, I discovered Apple’s chunky case for the iPhone 7 that doubles its longevity by including a battery pack on the back. Not a revolutionary concept – third parties have been making them for years – but this was the first time I noticed Apple had made one, with its trademark Cupertino panache. Sure, it added a little weight and heft to my phone but, heck, double the battery life? As someone who is on their phone from sunrise to sunset – no, scratch that, to the next sunrise – my battery is usually flat as a pancake by 4pm. APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 39

Life each day is a stream of notifications, dings and buzzes as the world around you marches on. And if you have as much going on in life as I do, by the time you’re thinking of who to round up for a quick pint after work, you’ve no battery left to WhatsApp them and suggest it. But now, I mused, thanks to my sparkling new Apple charge case, my phone will keep going long after I have lost my own personal charge and passed out in a heap at the end of the day. As I explained this – and the feeling of lightness and relaxation it gave me – I could see my therapist quietly chuckling to herself in the way that people who aren’t surgically attached to their phone often do when confronted with someone who is completely obsessed. It’s part amusement and, I realised, a good part pity, and as I related this annoyance to my friend over dinner the following night, I was horrified to see the same look start to creep across her face, too. I don’t remember the exact words, but many of you will know the refrain. “Why are you so obsessed with your phone? Why don’t you just switch it off... leave it at home... live in the real world... be more mindful?” Et-flipping-cetera.

obsessed with what is happening in app-land when you are in the rambunctious company of good people who are right here and right now. But the undertone of Coren’s column, the not very sub-subtext, was that being on your phone is fundamentally unhealthy, maybe a bit sad, and definitely bad for society. I couldn’t disagree more. Paying the mortgage, buying groceries, making appointments – these are time-consuming and stressful things, things that annoy me, send me out of my way, force me to deal with people I don’t want to have to deal with. Ordering takeaways, once a bore of digging out a crumpled paper menu, arguing among your friends where to order from, jumping in the car to pick it up, leaping out while the engine idles and praying it’ll be ready: an awful chore. All of these things I can now do on my phone in a matter of seconds, making my life much less stressful and freeing up time for more important things. (Like, um, Netflix. Or Xbox). At a recent media conference I attended, the popular refrain among delegates was that, “Saying mobile internet is like saying colour

s I sunk into the lounge sofa, and prepared to spend the rest of the evening with my pal facing passive-aggressive disapproval, I realised that this backwards attitude to total connectivity actually really bothered me. Looking around, now paranoid, I started to see judgement and opprobrium everywhere. A Netflix binge that evening culminated in a viewing of Zoolander – the classic Ben Stiller comedy about a male model who is as dumb as a box of rocks but, in his defence, is also really, really, really ridiculously good looking. Towards the end of the film, Derek Zoolander takes a call on his comically tiny flip phone (this was 2001, flip phones were still a thing). Begged by his love interest to turn off his phone, Zoolander is incredulous. “Turn off my phone? Turn off my phone? Earth to Matilda, don’t you understand that this phone is a part of me?” Incongruous as it was for the time, the message was clear. Zoolander is stupid. His phone is stupid. Zoolander’s attachment to his phone is stupid. Giles Coren wrote in the Times over the following weekend about going to a restaurant – Sartoria, a GQ favourite, in fact – and complaining that everyone was distracted by glowing screens. “Why was everyone on the phone?” he demanded. “I was so angry, I got up to glare.” Now, yes, there are times when it might be rude or unbecoming of a GQ gentleman to be

My phone is where my loved ones are. Why wouldn’t I be attached to it?


40 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

TV.” Of course TV is colour. Of course the internet is mobile. Mobile browsing now makes up more than 50 per cent of all traffic worldwide. For many people, the internet simply is the phone. Analysts predict that within a few years, tapping away at a laptop will look positively old-fashioned, consigned to the history bin with floppy disks and analogue modems. Because time moves on, and technology moves on even faster. When Zoolander was produced in 2001, the iPhone wasn’t even a spark in Steve Jobs’ imagination (he was busy hyping the original iPod). Text messaging was 160 characters and you had to tap out notes by clicking keys three times in a row. Heck, BlackBerry was the height of cool – remember Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan’s thumbtapping obsession? The world has changed, and so has our relationship to technology. I’m not ashamed to say that my phone is the centre of my existence. It’s where my friends and loved ones are. Whether I see them regularly because they work around the corner from me, or hardly ever because they moved to the other side of the world, my phone keeps me in constant dialogue with the people that

I’m closest to, through text, pictures, videos – and, yes, occasionally even phone calls. It’s never been easier to be in the loop about someone’s life and it means that when we do see each other, we pick up exactly where we left off. How is that not a good thing?

y phone is a vault full of my most treasured memories. I bought my first digital camera when I was at university in 2000 and got an account on Flickr in the same year. As I have moved from camera to camera to phone to phone, all my photos live on Flickr – and now, through the app, I have a library of every cool event I’ve been to, holiday I’ve been on, or stupid night out that I sort-of-don’t regret. Opening that app is a time warp to decades of happy memories. I am a music obsessive and I have every single track, album or mix that I have ever loved on my phone. All the time, all the places. Whatever mood I’m in, whatever need I have for a particular track or memory or feeling, I have the right music at my disposal in the time it takes me to open Spotify and navigate through my library. Oh, and did I mention ubiquitous 4G, meaning that the entire record of all human civilisation (that’s the internet, dummy) is always only one tap away? Knowledge is irrelevant. Signal is everything. My phone is a tiny, magical capsule containing everything that I need and love. Why wouldn’t I be attached to it? So to suggest that my phone obsession is unhealthy, that my attachment to it is unhealthy, that I need a detox – well, you might as well suggest I take a break from my own life. What would it really mean to go on a digital detox? Stand in bank queues? Get photos developed in a pharmacy? Lug a hardback book around in my bag? Christ, buy a magazine? (I read GQ on my iPad. Obviously). No, I don’t think so. You can argue that we’re all too connected now, that we are creating a world of social-media anxiety, that we will never again know what it is to walk up to a girl in a bar and start a chat, without having first swiped right on her picture an hour beforehand. But it’s too late now. It’s an iPhone world and we’re just tapping in it. I wouldn’t have it any other way.


For these related stories, visit

Hooked On Danger (Anthony Loyd, March 2017) The Last Days Of Disco (Eleanor Halls, February 2017) Who Can I Vote For Now? (George Chesterton, January 2017)

Online store Shop +44 (0)207 434 0605 Bespoke +44 (0)207 287 9645




The duo behind The Chainsmokers are bringing virtual reality to electronic music


New York DJ duo Alex Pall and Drew Taggart, better known as The Chainsmokers, were as surprised as anyone by their three Grammy nominations this year, including Best New Artist. “Dance music isn’t very present at a lot of award shows,” Pall points out. “People in the US once questioned how hip hop fitted in and now we’re in the middle of that with dance music.” Recently, the pair have been breaking into other worlds besides. They have created their own VR experience, in which fans don headsets to witness them performing at a blissed-out festival. That kind of innovation, they say, is crucial. “We don’t want to just be doing the same thing every year in bigger rooms.” There’s no Grammy for Best Performance In Virtual Reality yet. Probably just as well – might look greedy. Kevin Perry The Collage EP is out now. Burning bright (from left): The Grammy-nominated Drew Taggart and Alex Pall


secret apps


allison williams


wild style


iron fist



the new rules of dating


APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 43

Hair apparent



SPOT... Jonathan Heaf presents a guide

To make a career of your lunchtime workout, you’ll need hair like Samson. Your audience isn’t men who want to bulk up, it’s women who want to watch you whisk up an omelette with your top off.

to identifying him in the wild


Simply the vest There’s a time and a place for side-boob. As most women know it’s never on a Stairmaster at the local gym. The Fitstagrammer’s saggy, drop-collar T-shirts disagree.

Lean, mean, selling machine Come 2018, James Bond will be brandishing a floret of broccoli rather than a Walther PPK. For Fitstagrammers the bigger the audience, the more blatant the brand tie-ins.

Share price: Fitstagrammers are social media’s cash-flow kings

O - M AT I C

Do something different this month; tune into these new sounds...




















North London singer whose debut record showcases his soulful voice alongside some beautifully produced beats. A true pop star in the making.

Turkish synth-pop provocateurs whose chimerical debut sounds like it could have been the background music in an Eighties Istanbul opium den.

Dreadlocked singer from Tennessee whose rich voice lends itself to blues, folk and Americana. As strong and intoxicating as moonshine.

Brothers Andy and Edwin White, originally from Florida, emerge from their Brooklyn apartment with a gorgeous collection of soundscapes that seem both infinite and intimate.

DEEP THROAT CHOIR All-female choir from Hackney whose debut features versions of songs by Amy Winehouse and Little Dragon reworked for voices and drums. KP

Sorcerer is out on 24 March.

Be OK is out now.



o one should be this happy, especially not about Tenderstem broccoli and coconut oil. Not even Masterchef’s Gregg Wallace, wielding a spoon the size of a ladle while standing in front of a deconstructed triple chocolate cheesecake with quenelles of salted caramel matcha ice cream, is this happy. The disposition of the Fitstagrammer – or certainly the one he live-feeds on social media to his hundreds of thousands of dedicated digital disciples – is one of unchecked buoyancy. He is a human medicine ball with a lunatic’s smile, a Prozac pill with glutes the size of watermelons. He’s like one of those grinning, gormless punchbags once found at fairgrounds: the harder life hits them the faster they come bouncing back up. Of course, all this happiness comes at a price. First and foremost the Fitstagrammer has to spend his entire life working out. This, I am afraid, turns him into a sartorial bore; someone with all the aesthetic appeal of a manikin in the shop window of JD Sports. The Fitstagrammer’s closet is akin to the weather in LA: there are no seasons, no variables, no differentiation between work, play and a duvet day. He’s essentially taking PE lessons for life, his wardrobe the equivalent of a padded cell, with no sharp edges and nothing that might cause harm if he happened to fall off a stationary rowing machine. Danger for this puffed up pouter isn’t so much a biker jacket and one Negroni too many – like the rest of us – it’s choosing double carbs for his midweek tea. Much like a male stripper, the Fitstagrammer go-to outfit must achieve two crucial things: one, wick away sweat so all that running appears effortless and, two, be so tight that his body resembles vacuum-packed chicken breasts. Tops as tight as tourniquets, short shorts and, if it’s cold, leggings so bright that the outline of his manhood can be seen from space, like a giant, radioactive frankfurter. Still, it’s all very well mocking these hairless himbos, who must live on organic rolled oats and vanity, but the joke is on the rest of us. The real reason for the Fitstagrammer’s cross-eyed cheerfulness? Cold hard cash. Sackfuls of it. Bestselling books, oversubscribed workout plans, television shows, celebrity appearances, ad deals with new health apps – never before has one person made so much money out of being able to do a press-up while dressed as a human traffic light. Envious much? Guil-ty!

Only When We’re Naked is out on 10 March.

44 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

Fantezi Müzik is out now.

The Order Of Time is out now.



WICKR: THE SECRET APP Take it as a given: your boss can probably read your messages. By design, corporate communication services such as Slack and Hipchat allow managers to track subordinates’ private conversations. And although your overlords probably can’t get access


to your encrypted chats


on iMessage or Whatsapp, even these aren’t secure

Live fast: From the people behind Nightjar and Milk & Honey, Swift on Old Compton Street


from advanced snoopers. What to do? Swear off computers like Donald


Trump and rely on hand-delivered notes? Not so fast. A plethora

It was once curiously hard to get a decent drink in Soho outside a members’ club. Now, a crop of come-one-come-all joints are re-routing the ‘hood

of start-ups have moved into the market for secure messaging and politicians, investigative reporters and City workers are flocking to one app in particular: Wickr. This San Franciscobased service provides

Six Storeys On Soho



Company Below

Dirty Harry’s Soho

Best for: A Saturday session

Best for: A late-night livener

Best for: A preprandial

Best for: A first date

Best for: A big Friday night

Inspired by Soho’s bohemian past, developer Camm & Hooper has turned this six-floor townhouse into a resplendent drinking spot. Each level is individually themed, so pick to suit your mood, from the fourth-floor “Study” to the opulent “Decantery”.

The drinks industry heavyweight behind Sovereign Loss has just opened this lavish Orient Express-style space in the same spot as notorious Sixties haunt The Pinstripe Club, which was frequented by the likes of Steve McQueen.

A dream team collaboration from the founders of Nightjar and Milk & Honey, this elegant space is spread across two floors, with an in-and-out style bar up top and a lounge area downstairs with table service.

A subterranean speakeasy-style bar below Balls & Company (aka meatball heaven) on Greek Street. The intimate space, seating only 25, has just undergone a major refurbishment.

The capital’s first ever bar-top dancing saloon, tucked away in the basement beneath Paper (the reincarnation of one of the noughties’ most notorious nightclubs), Dirty Harry’s bills itself as London’s Coyote Ugly.

The drink to order: Colonial Cup (bourbon, Amaro di Angostura, spices, soda, £11).

The drink to order: Scarlet Mimosa (vodka, blood orange, orange sherbet, raspberry brandy, champagne, £11)

The drink to order: Alcatraz (bourbon, pear and bay tree syrup, spearmint, lemon, £10)

The drink to order: Lady Killer (gin, peach liqueur and lemon meringue, £12)

The drink to order: Venison And Summer Truffle Gin Martini (£9.50).

Illustration Jonathan Allardyce

a variety of features that makes it difficult for governments, bosses and

You’re standing next to: A former pro partygoer turned sustainable tech investor.

You’re standing next to: Thirty-something women who couldn’t call it a night after getting moved on from Bob Bob Ricard.

11 Soho Square, London W1.

4 Kingly Court, London W1.

hackers to intercept text

You’re standing next to: Bartenders spying on their competition.

You’re standing next to: The food and drink editor of an east London-based e-zine.

You’re standing next to: Millennials, thousands of ‘em! Brokers by day, craft beer drinkers by night. Kathleen Johnston

12 Old Compton Street, London W1.

58 Greek Street, London W1.

201 Wardour Street, Soho, W1.

and audio messages, whether it’s military secrets or office gossip. As well as end-to-end encryption, every message sent on Wickr self-destructs after a defined period (from a few seconds to a week) and the “secure shredder” feature makes those deleted messages unrecoverable. It’s not perfect, but it should make it less likely that your nattering ends up on Wikileaks or the desk of a corporate investigator. Get the app and you’re in good company. Brian Krebs, the investigative journalist and security expert who was subjected to the largest recorded cyber attack in history uses Wickr to talk to confidential sources; Australia’s tech-savvy prime minister Malcolm Turnbull swears by it; and now you can message GQ on it, too. Got a story tip? Why not send it securely to @conradqh? Conrad Quilty-Harper

APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 45




Music and beer have long been friends with benefits, but now they’ve partnered up. An increasing number of industry heavyweights are launching their own brews (and one beer is launching its own band) – but are they any good? We asked a critic... THE





by alex wickham Nicky Morgan is Theresa May’s sworn Tory enemy after criticising her Brexit plan – and her £995 leather trousers. Interesting that Nicky has been holding a series of private lunches pointedly promoting “mainstream” values of “social justice” and “internationalism”, with guests including Matthew Parris and Nick Robinson. The beginnings of a rival Tory movement? Green energy company Ecotricity has given Labour hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations over the last few years. Good of Labour to return the favour by emailing their 515,000 members asking them to switch suppliers to… Ecotricity. They say it’s not easy being green – it is if you get Labour to advertise to half a million potential new customers. The Tories have hiked the prices for their party conference this year. Students will have to pay a record £30 attendance fee on top of hotels and train tickets to Manchester, meaning many past delegates have decided to stay away. Only a cynic would think they’ve upped costs to deter the scenes of student debauchery that caused scandal in previous years.

The beer: Stray Dog ABV: 4.2 per cent “New Order’s Stray Dog [named after the song] is a modern affair, as you’d expect from a band that brought electronic music into the mainstream,” says Lane. “The hops bring a strong punch of lemons, lychees and cut grass, making it ideal for a pub garden in summer.” Score: 7/10 Buy it: £3.70. At Mitchells & Butlers.


The beer: Jamaica Porter ABV: 6.2 per cent “It can’t have been an easy task to brew a beer that reflects Island Records’ heritage in the music industry,” says Lane. “But they’ve managed it with this juicy little hop bomb full of tropical fruit flavours and a long, dry finish that’ll make you want to glug this beer down fast.” Score: 8/10 Buy it: £2.95. At Ales By Mail.

t Tensner Wi


@ M R T H I R ST R A P

46 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

The beer: Trooper Red ’N’ Black (Limited Edition) ABV: 6.8 per cent “Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson is a fan of traditional real ale and it shows in this collaboration with brewing giants Robinsons,” says Matt Lane, beer expert and co-founder of “It’s a malt-forward, well-balanced bitter, with a hint of lemon and hedgerow fruit.” Score: 6/10 Buy it: £1.76.

@ F * * *J E R RY


The band: The Graveltones’ Garrett Oliver, who found his love for craft beer in English pubs while managing rock bands in the Eighties, has turned this brewery into an incredible operation. It has launched its own record label, and signed London indie band The Graveltones. “The band is a two-pronged force of heavy blues and rock,” says Oliver. “Frontman Jimmy O has riffs pouring out of his fingertips.” EH Score: 7/10 Buy it:

Happy-snap your Instagram feed by following the ’grammers behind three posts we hit ‘like’ on this month

@ B E TC H E S



Allison Williams leaves Girls for a film career, but it shows no sign of being any less provocative

water cooler intel

Photographs Jody Todd; Mark Abrahams/Trunk Archive

now that girls has finished, the new millennial-focused show is channel 4’s search party. it’s a satire of gen-y bundled up with a missingwoman mystery. sounds weird? it is...

Girls power: Allison Williams stars in Jordan Peele’s new film, Get Out

WHEN Allison Williams finished filming the final series of Girls, the HBO smash in which she starred as Marnie, the scripts that came her way were a little predictable. “A lot felt like Girls: The Movie or ‘Marnie – but she’s got a drug problem!’” says the 28-year-old. “None of it felt new.” Well, apart from one: Get Out. Written and directed by Jordan Peele, of Key And Peele, the film is a horror-thriller about a young black man from Brooklyn visiting his girlfriend’s white family in suburban America. “It’s about a group of people who are intellectual, wealthy, engaged and seemingly wellmeaning,” says Williams, “but who lack any greater self-awareness about how they may be coming off to someone who they think they’re being perfectly polite to.” It’s the same charge, curiously, which was levelled at Girls. The show was criticised for blind spots around race and privilege; series one lacked any black characters. “Lena [Dunham, the creator] – this is what she told people at the time, when the criticism began – didn’t want to presume to know someone else’s experience and then do so clumsily. I mean, she was in her early twenties. She could just as easily have been completely taken apart for getting it wrong.” For all its shortcomings on race, however, Williams believes the show’s success in bringing feminist issues into the mainstream shouldn’t be downplayed – even as the US elects an openly misogynistic president. “I think a debt of gratitude is owed to anyone who puts themselves out there and makes art that reflects a point of view that otherwise isn’t visible.” For Williams, Get Out was a chance to put forward a different kind of perspective on race. “Jordan deliberately leaves the specific location of the film unknown. It could be happening in anyone’s town, which makes it much scarier,” she says. “It makes it harder to say, ‘That wouldn’t happen here.’” Kevin Perry Get Out is out on 17 March. The final series of Girls is on Sky Atlantic now. APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 47





R R P £99.99

Build a


Record Library #3 From Gardens Where We Feel Secure



No.28 HOW TO DANCE WITHOUT LOOKING LIKE DAD We asked Pineapple Dance Studios instructor John Graham, a hip hop specialist who has worked with everyone from Beyoncé to Justin Bieber, for an arsenal of go-to moves that you can deploy in any situation...

By Virginia Astley (Happy Valley, 1983)

1 The bounce. Put your feet hip-width apart and soften your knees. Bounce in rhythm to the music, keeping your arms moving. Change it up with a regular bounce, followed by a left-lean, and then another regular. Repeat but with a right-lean, and then loop the whole sequence.

As the vinyl revival goes from strength to strength, Dylan Jones selects an overlooked classic to hunt out next time you’re flicking through the crates...

Illustrations Dave Hopkins; Dale Edwin Murray Photographs Alamy; Getty Images; Light Project Photography

LIKE The Durutti Column’s wonderful “Sketch For Summer” (available on The Return Of The Durutti Column, released on Factory in 1980), Virginia Astley’s 1983 mini-masterpiece From Gardens Where We Feel Secure comes complete with its own natural soundtrack, in the shape of field recordings of birdsong and sheep. There is a little light piano, some woodwind and some ambient vocals, but mainly this is the sound of the countryside, an instrumental accompaniment to a typical British summer’s day. It always reminds me of the painting “The Badminton Game” by David Inshaw (finished in 1973), which was influenced by the houses, gardens and

surrounding landscape of Devizes, Wiltshire. Like the painting, the album is a moment in time. This is mood music at its very best, yet it has an emotional pull as powerful – and as similar – as the classic track by Sandy Denny and Fairport Convention “Who Knows Where The Time Goes?”. So if you fancy a day in the country, and can’t be bothered to fire-up the old MG and drive down the A303, drop the needle on “Morning: Hiding In The Ha-Ha”. The day will take on another dimension completely. All you’ll need when you arrive at your destination is a large glass of rosé and a plate of cucumber sandwiches. Oh, and maybe a small game of badminton.

2 The two-step. Slide your left foot sideways on the first beat; slide the other to meet it on the second. Repeat in the other direction and then loop the sequence. Add extra groove by bouncing with each beat, and incorporating right and left leans.

3 The rocksteady. This is all in the hips: rock your right hip outwards twice, then your left hip twice. Once you’ve got that, add a dip between the first and second rock. Push the hip out once, back in while dipping the knees and then push round and back for the second rock. Repeat on the other side.

4 The glide. This is about always being on the ball of one foot and the heel of the other. Push from the ball of the right foot onto its heel as you slide sideways on the heel of the left foot. Shift up onto the ball of the left and slide the right foot in on its heel, pushing past the left, turning your body and pushing the right up on its toe. At this moment, drop the left foot onto its heel and repeat.

5 A one-off flourish. Soften your knees and kick out your left leg then your right leg, while staying on the spot. Next, jump the left behind the right as the right steps over the left. You’re now standing at 90 degrees with your legs crossed. Spin on the ball of the left foot and heel of the right to bring the right foot around to meet the left again. You’re now facing forwards and getting (approving) looks.

AUGMENT YOUR LIFE: Three substitutions you need to make this month Swap out: Chunky specs

Forget: Japanese

Eat: Taiwanese What began in 2015 with the arrival of street-food steamed bun outlets such as Bao and Yum Bun will be followed this year by the real deal: the world famous Taiwanese dumpling restaurant Din Tai Fung is set to open a London branch. Even Bao are going (sort of) high-end – parties of four or more will finally now be able to book at the Fitzrovia branch rather than queuing in the cold.

Don’t: Bid on European art

Wear: Wire-rim Time was, to top-off your buttoned-down geek-chic look, you’d add a thick pair of NHS-a-like specs – no more! Dalstonites are now donning XXL aviator-style frames with thin wire rims – think Christian Bale’s glasses in American Hustle without the tint; a pair of period windows for your eyes. The ladies started it (check out the Instagram feeds of Emily Ratajkowski or Alexa Chung) and now it’s our turn.

Put up your paddle: For Russian art Russia isn’t just about shady government figures compiling kompromat (allegedly) on something Donald Trump (allegedly) did in a hotel room; it’s about shady art world figures too! This being the centenary of the October Revolution, analysts predict that Russian avant-garde art will sky-rocket. For window shoppers, there’s the Tate Modern’s Red Star Over Russia show in November. Stuart McGurk

APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 51

Trainers by Gucci, £450. At

Personalised handkerchief by Turnbull & Asser, £295.

Scarf by Paul Smith, £125.

Wallet by Thom Brown, £410. At Mr Porter.




Release your inner beast with the best picks from the wild new trend hitting the streets...

Cufflinks by Tateossian, £150. At Harrods.

BLAME Mad Men, blame austerity: for years, mainstream menswear was about simplicity and restraint. Recently, however, men have been dressing more adventurously – a shift literalised in the plethora of wild animal motifs cropping up on everything from shirts to shoes. Our view? It’s a trend with teeth. CB Cap by Café Du Cycliste, £23. At Mr Porter.

Shoes by Louis Vuitton, £630.

Belt by Philipp Plein, £325. At Harrods.

T-shirt by Balmain, £315. At 52 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

Slippers by Dolce & Gabbana, £995. At

T-shirt by Philipp Plein, £240. At Harrods.




NETFLIX’S Iron Fist (out on 17 March) introduces yet another hero to Marvel’s cinematic universe. Martial artist Danny Rand (who’s uniting with Luke Cage, Daredevil and Jessica Jones for this autumn’s The Defenders), joins fellow locals the Avengers, Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four in the Big Apple. Here’s your spotters’ guide... Oliver Franklin-Wallis

X-Men 1407 Graymalkin Lane, North Salem Find them: A short Blackbird flight away.

Nick Fury 219 West 47th Street Secret hideout spot: Nice try, Hydra.

Luke Cage 181 Malcolm X Boulevard, Harlem Night spot: Catching a gig at Harlem’s Paradise.

Punisher Hell’s Kitchen Find him: At any good gun store.

Jessica Jones

Fantastic Four

485 West 46th Street Date spot: Downing shots at Luke’s Bar (East 7th Street and Avenue B).

42nd Street and Madison Avenue Find them: Reeling from Josh Trank’s awful reboot.

Avengers 200 Park Avenue Relationship status: On a break.

Daredevil 11th Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Street Local hangout: Try the local confession box.

Doctor Strange 177A Bleecker Street Alternative address: Mirror Dimension.

Iron Fist Chinatown Find him: Teaching selfdefence at Thunder Dojo.

Spider-Man Aunt May’s House, 20 Ingram Street, Forest Hills, Queens Favourite hangout: Try looking up.

Captain America

Photographs Jody Todd Illustration Christian Tate

Brooklyn Heights Find him: Hanging out with old friends – at the local retirement home.

THE SHOP: REVISITING TURNBULL & IT’S the bespoke shirtmaker which, since 1885, has dressed everyone from Sir Winston Churchill to Charlie Chaplin (and outfitted James Bond on screen). It has a royal warrant thanks to the patronage of its long-standing devotee Prince Charles. Yet formal shirts are not the whole story for Turnbull & Asser. Here are three items from the shop that might surprise you.

Travel tray, £50.

Camo shirt, £155.

Swim shorts, £125. APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 53



BAPTISM OF FREE FIRE Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire, (out on 31 March) starring Sam Riley and Brie Larson, is an extended, Tarantinostyle gunfight set in a single warehouse and played out in real time. In short: a director’s nightmare. Wheatley provided GQ with exclusive plans and photos to explain the challenges...

1. Tracking the action

2. Dealing with damage

“We couldn’t reshuffle the scenes like in a normal film, because here the editing is more tied into the continuity: how ruined their clothes are, their wounds, how much blood is on them,” says Wheatley. “And you’ve got to get all the eye lines matching. When you’ve got 13 people with different eye lines all looking at each other, it’s like a massive dinner party scene, which drives fear into the hearts of directors. That’s hellish, getting that right.”

“Most films, if there’s an explosion in a wall, they plaster the explosives into it, and once you’ve blown that charge, resetting the wall takes ages. We were firing hundreds of rounds a day, blowing up loads of stuff, so the pyrotechnics guys and the art department built panels that could be preset with the explosives. After the explosions went off, they just popped them off and replaced them, so the turnaround was five minutes as opposed to 30.”

3. Withstanding the noise

4. Capturing everything at once “For really complicated sequences it’s worth shooting a long master shot, so you know you’ve got it all. But you can throw away all your time in the morning filming three shots, so by the afternoon you’ve got to work super quick. It’s like Hollywood in the morning, Hollyoaks in the afternoon. We had multiple camera crews, so the action could just go on and on and all the positions would be captured.” Alex Godfrey

THE BOOK TO BUY: FOR THE LOVE OF LONDON Benjamin Disraeli once remarked that “London is a roost for every bird.” And it’s those that call it their roost who drive the city onwards and afford it such character. Conrad Gamble’s new book For The Love Of London (Cassell, £14.99) collates short pieces by a multitude of influential Londoners on what they enjoy most about the capital. Here’s an exclusive extract* from Stephen Fry’s... “Whenever I think of the English language 54 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

I think of London and whenever I think of London I think of the English language. And I love them both with all my heart and soul. And perhaps for the same reasons. You be the judge. We open our mouth to speak English and a stream of varied discourses is released. Commercial, piratical, Shakespearean, jazz, biblical, aristocratic, criminal, Miltonian, convict, gangster, gangsta, Compton and Cambridge... All of them jostle in the same sentence and none takes

priority. And look at London’s architecture: Elizabethan, ecclesiastical, corporate, Victorian, domestic, artisan, retail, Georgian, modernist and medieval, vulgar and refined, all higgledy-piggledy and hugger-mugger. The coexistence in London of the crass, corporate and commercial with the refined, religious and royal makes for a great vibrant and throbbingly, jerkingly, frothingly exciting clash. And it was The Clash after all who wrote ‘London Calling’...” Out now.

Photographs Ben Wheatley *Edited for brevity

“We fired 6,000 rounds over six weeks in that place. Blankfiring guns are louder: the machine-guns were unbelievable. It’s beyond sound, into a realm of physiological pain. It goes through you and makes your organs move, like being punched. So the actors all wore ear protectors, except for Sharlto Copley on one take, he was methoding it up. He felt so ill afterwards. He fired a couple of rounds and went, ‘F*** this!’”



William Shu The co-founder and CEO of Deliveroo, the largest UK-based ‘restaurant-to-home’ delivery service, which operates across 12 countries and is now valued at $1 billion, tells us what he’s learned... Embrace your (stranger) quirks

“When I started, the bank gave me $25 a night for dinner. On the first night I was so excited I ordered 25 burgers to the office from Burger King, as they were 99 cents each. It sounds odd to be so passionate about food delivery, but I never get bored talking about my [current] job.”

Born New

Haven, United States Age 38


1997 - 2001

BA Economics, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois

Shu worked in a restaurant while studying economics at Northwestern University, Chicago

Don’t shy away from small jobs CAREER IN BRIEF

2001 - 2002

Analyst at Salomon Brothers investment bank, New York

“I was a waiter at a restaurant called Frank’s near campus for three years and it taught me how to be professional towards people. It’s not something you learn at school.”

2002 - 2006 William Shu (front) photographed with the Deliveroo team, London 2014

Analyst/associate at Morgan Stanley financial services, London

Ignore baffled friends 2006 - 2007

Analyst at DB Zwirn & Co hedge fund, New York 2007 - 2010

VP at ESO Capital, London 2010 - 2012

MBA at Wharton Business School, Philadelphia 2013

William Shu in London, 2015

Co-founds Deliveroo with Greg Orlowski August 2016

Deliveroo raises £210 million in funding

William Shu (centre) at Wharton Business School in 2012; at ESO Capital, Japan

Right idea, wrong time? Hold fire

“Smartphones and tablets didn’t exist and riders needed them. It wasn’t practical until the tech took off, which coincided with my tenure at business school. I was confident my idea would work eventually – things always change.”

Avoid business for business’ sake Do it yourself

“I was the first Deliveroo rider, seven days a week for eight months. My flatmate thought I’d lost my mind. I still do it now, once or twice a week. It allows me to see what’s going on.” 56 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

“I met this super-smart guy from business school who was about to launch an online marketplace for handmade pet accessories. When I saw him a year later, he said he’d dropped it. Why? He realised he didn’t like dogs. If your start-up has no emotional resonance, it’s problematic. You’re going to get bored.”

The Deliveroo service allows users to have locally available restaurant food delivered

Story Eleanor Halls Photograph Camera Press

“I’d identified this huge gap in the market [for Deliveroo], but the average Londoner thought it made no sense. No one outside New York understood either, but I went ahead anyway.”

gq intel data centres are at the forefront of crowdsourced design. the “open compute project” shares insights between google, facebook, apple and other big players about how to create the most efficient, scalable set-ups.





THIS year is already proving a golden age for political conspiracy theories. But beyond the headliners (Trump being a Manchurian Candidate, say) there are some intriguing hypotheses bubbling under... 58 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

THE DATA CENTRE The digital age has produced a brand new type of architecture, writes Alice Rawsthorn Fittingly, the design of data centres tends to be inscrutable. Most are located inside huge versions of the generic, windowless sheds you see in industrial estates (and by huge, we’re talking the size of several football pitches). Their contents, however, often look stunning: labyrinthine webs of colour-coded wiring running alongside neatly arranged rows of servers with tiny, flickering lights. Seductive though they are, those arsenals of technology can also seem arcane and enigmatic. Like the tiny digital devices they operate,

such as smartphones, data centres do not conform to the 20th-century design maxim of form following function, because their appearance offers no clues as to what they do. Instead, their distinctive design qualities relate to their environmental impact. The first data centres failed dismally on the ecological front by consuming colossal quantities of energy to cool their servers, but the most sophisticated new ones pride themselves on energy efficiency. Facebook chose chilly Lulea in northern Sweden to build this centre (above), its first outside the US, so that Arctic air can be pumped inside as a natural coolant. Microsoft is considering even more extreme locations for its data centres and testing whether it is possible to submerge them under the sea. In the future, when you upload a file to the cloud, you may actually be storing it in the ocean.

Donald Trump is getting dementia

Fidel Castro is Justin Trudeau’s father

China is waging war on Indonesia

What’s the theory? Arguably, he exhibits symptoms. He’s up late at night feeling paranoid (look at his Twitter); he gets muddled (confusing Ben Carson and Barack Obama during the campaign); he fumbles sentences (“We need brain in this country”) and he forgets things he has previously said (such as supporting the Iraq war). Plus his father had it.

What’s the theory? When the internet read Trudeau’s generous obituary for Castro, it raised an eyebrow, pointing out the startling similarity between the pair. A photo also emerged, showing Trudeau’s mother in Cuba, allowing Castro to hold her other son, Michael. Not convinced? Trudeau is 6ft 2in, his “real” father Pierre is only 5ft 8in – but Castro is 6ft 3in!

What’s the theory? China is exporting chilli seeds to Indonesia laced with a bacteria that can ravage crops. It’s based on a recent incident when authorities confiscated a batch of seeds that did indeed have such a bacteria, found at a farm run by Chinese workers. Given China’s territorial ambitions in the South China Sea, was this a covert attack?

Evidence against: His doctor’s letter said, “If elected... Trump will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

Evidence against: Justin Trudeau was born in 1971. Castro didn’t meet Pierre or Margaret Trudeau until 1976. D’oh!

Evidence against: Chinese officials have denied it. But then they would do, wouldn’t they... CB

Photograph Facebook

More information will travel around the internet in the next hour than in the whole of the year 2000, and this will only become heavier in future, which is why giant technology groups such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google are building colossal data centres to house the computer systems that process and store our emails, social media posts, website content and other digital information. Data centres represent a new architectural typology and have become as indispensable to daily life as power stations and waterworks. Yet most of us have no idea which ones we use, how they operate or what they look like. This is partly because their owners are so secretive. Amazon refuses to disclose the locations of its data centres. Facebook, Apple and Google are less reticent, but only marginally.



A STAR IS REBORN After a disappointing last instalment, Mass Effect wins back its place at the top – by setting the player free

STAR Wars’ prequels were widely pilloried, but that was nothing compared to the consternation that met 2012’s conclusion of Mass Effect, a more sombre take on space opera than George Lucas’ myth-making. Such was the disappointment of some fans that petitions, charity


drives and even a formal legal complaint followed from those who felt let down. Mass Effect: Andromeda, however, is a return to the stars. A new cast, new setting and expanded ambition aim to repair and cement that contested reputation. Here’s why it’s smart...

DATING APP OPENING GAMBITS It’s the most important bit...

“ARE you my Tinderella?” This, my friend, is why you are still single. “Sachini, that’s an interesting name. Where are you from?” Stop. You are not trying to sell them a MyHeritage subscription.

It’s a game for our times

For every action there’s a reaction

At a time when millions of dollars are being spent researching whether humans could flee our wheezing planet, Andromeda’s premise is timely. It’s 2185 and a group of anxious scientists form the Andromeda Initiative, a project to escape the Milky Way and start a new life in the Andromeda galaxy, some 600-years’ journey away. Your group, led by one of two siblings, Scott or Sarah Ryder (you are free to choose whose boots you occupy) are among the first humans to arrive in this galactic New World.

Andromeda forms a vast planetary playpen for your squad. A multitude of planets hidden among the buckshot stars can be landed upon (although not all are inhabitable) and each has its own story. Scott and Sarah are pathfinders, a role that includes soldiering, exploring, sleuthing and, when set upon by the local megafauna, zookeeping. You can make friends or enemies of the frowsy-faced locals, choices that will change the spine of the plot that runs through the game.

Remember to use your “conversations with Americans you don’t know” protocol and avoid the topics of religion and politics. Make sure the bathroom mirror is clean if you’re sending an “intimate” picture. Asking for your match’s weight is the most objectionable opener ever, you appalling bastard. “Haaaay” is for horses. Conversations that begin after midnight will end in the bedroom. Conversations that begin before midday will end down the aisle. You have been warned.

Tailor the team

Love under the stars

Freedom of choice has always been a hallmark of BioWare’s oeuvre, but that seems to have reached a zenith in Andromeda. The scope for customisation extends to the protagonists, who come with skill trees that allow you to emphasise abilities that suit your play-style, favouring stealth or candour, melee or ranged attacks and so on. As each member of your squad can be customised in this way there’s vast scope for tinkering and personalisation.

Romance has always been a key ingredient in the Mass Effect cocktail. As Commander Shepard in the first trilogy of games, you were free to pursue romantic entanglements with just about any species you encountered in the universe – even wining and dining your own subordinates. Romance makes a return in Andromeda and developer BioWare has expanded the dialogue system to allow a much broader range of responses in your quest to win over (or rebuff) those you meet. Simon Parkin

ON THE RADAR: HAVE YOU DISCOVERED MO YET? WHEN Danish electropop singer MO was 13, a stranger came to call. He was a goth who her brother had met online and invited over. “He changed something inside me,” she says. “He made me want to rebel.” And so MO (real name: Karen Marie Aagaard Orsted Andersen) mothballed her Spice Girl clothes, painted her nails black and became fiercely political. Well, for a while at least. Her 2014 debut album No Mythologies To Follow centred on eerie, electronic love songs. “Lean On”, her worldwide hit with Major Lazer (and Spotify’s most streamed song of all time), and “Kamikaze” are more pop princess than radical firebrand. But this is about to change. The 28-year-old promises that her latest offering, out this month, will hark back to her politically charged youth. “It’s about escapism and how we shut our eyes and check our phones rather than engaging in political situations,” she says. “No one wants to smell reality.” Right on. EH “When I Was Young” is out on 10 March.

“Did you check the link in my bio?” does not make you a Tinderpreneur. It makes you a tool. Introducing yourself to a prospective life partner with emoticons is mentioned in Revelation as a sign of the impending apocalypse... ... As is using the words “babe”, “bae”, “sexy” or “dayuum”. “Do you want to hear an interesting fact?” is how I met my wife. No, really. Matt Jones

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SELFIES ARE INVADING ART SHOWS – BUT IS THAT JUSTIFIED? IT’S the newest trick in the book: if you’re a gallery positioning yourself as forward thinking, you put selfies on the walls. From the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (last year’s Facing The World show) to London’s Saatchi Gallery (this month’s From Selfie To SelfExpression) major players are contending that selfies are art. Spurious? Here’s the argument...

The selfie genre may have emerged spontaneously, but it has its own structural tropes Selfies are usually taken at arm’s length, which produces the distinctive angles and crops that characterise the genre. They may be taken in a mirror but, if there’s no camera in shot (as in Juno Calypso’s “The Honeymoon Suite”, above), it’s merely a self-portrait.

Yes, the word ‘selfie’ is unfortunate But be under no illusions: this is a whole new genre of artistic expression – possibly the most popular in history – with its own traditions and valencies.

Even celebrity selfies have meaning They present themselves as spontaneous and disposable, but are actually carefully controlled. They require the subject’s assent and create meaning through performance – even if the meaning of a Kardashian selfie is simply her love of publicity. Well, that’s an inner truth, isn’t it?

Photographs Cinzia Osele Bismarck; TJ Boulting Gallery; Courtauld; Saatchi Gallery


Doesn’t matter if you’re not an artist: selfies are folk art That said, the pictures people used to take on film cameras don’t count. Seflies are taken on phones, allowing the image to be disseminated – that’s essential for being “art”.

There are art-historical precedents The American art critic Jerry Saltz has written that “I discern strong selfie echoes in Van Gogh’s self-portraits – some of the same intensity, immediacy, and need to reveal something inner to the outside world in the most vivid way possible.”


ROOMS TO IMPROVE Brexit has slowed the housing market so, if you’re looking to sell, having an edge is absolutely vital. Add value to your property with these go-to improvements and watch it fly off the market.






The Men Who Can…

The Woman Who Can…

The Woman Who Can…

The Man Who Can…

The Woman Who Can…

Get the best deal on high-end materials. Jo Cowen A favourite among galleies, Cowen can bypass mark-ups on everything from premium wood to marble finishes.

A-list your interior design. Linda Morey-Smith Morey-Smith keeps her celebrity client list private but Sony and Moët-Hennessy have used her for their HQs.

Build you an iceberg basement. Nick Skinner and Richard Gifford If you come across an oligarch-baiting basement in an SW postcode, chances are these guys did it.

Make your garden extraordinary. Sam Martin It’s hard to believe that the man behind Battersea Power Station’s landscape design is still available for private hire, but he is.

Provide one-off talking points.

Gemma Gordon-Duff If she can’t find it, Gordon-Duff & Linton will custom make it. See the recent Marylebone Hotel refurb. APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 61


Knit wit: The Vivienne Westwood show


LONDON FASHION WEEK MEN’S: SEASON 10 It was the tenth edition of the London menswear showcase, yet it was an event full of firsts. The new name (London Fashion Week Men’s) enjoyed its first outing, Vivienne Westwood participated for the first time, Tinie Tempah showed his first collection, Barbour staged its first “see-it, buy-it” show – and the wrap party, jointly hosted by GQ Editor Dylan Jones, was a first-class evening. Here are our highlights from across the four days...

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Photographs; James Mason; Getty Images; Ashley Verse; Beccy Nuthall


Oliver Proudlock, Jim Chapman, Eric Rutherford, Darren Kennedy

The Kent & Curwin presentation

David Furnish

Sadiq Kahn

Richard Biedul

Robert Konjic and Eric Underwood

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Jack Guinness

Caroline Rush and Jonathan Newhouse

The Agi & Sam show

Oliver Cheshire

Photographs Beccy Nuthall; James Mason; Adam Duke; Ashley Verse

The Pheobe English Man show

The Barbour presentation

The Barbour presentation

The Cottweiler show

n’s show

Toby Huntington-Whiteley and Hu Bing

The Fashion East Me

The Topman show

Gary Kemp and Lauren Barber Nicholas Coleridge Name here and David Furnish

The Topman show

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The Lou Dalton presentation

Betty Bachz

Machine Gun Kelly

Photographs James Mason; Kensington Leverne; Ashley Verse

The Fashion East Men’s show

The Liam Hodges show

G FRSH and Tinie Tempah

Lou Dalton

The What We Wear show

The Alex Mullins show

The E Tautz show

Diego Barrel and Joey London

The John Lobb presentation

Dumi Oburota

The What We Wear show

The Ben Sherman show

Conor Maynard

The What We Wear show

Johannes Huebel

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Photographs Kensington Leverne; James Mason; Ashley Verse; Beccy Nuthall; Antonio Salgado

The Xander Zhou show

The Private White VC presentation

Dermot O’Leary

Christopher Raeburn

The Christopher Raeburn show

Tom Daley

The Tourne De Transmission show

The Christopher Raeburn show

Claudia Winkleman

The Harrys Of London presentation

Jhon Burjack

The Asos party

Ozwald Boateng

The Katie Eary show

W W W. F A R A H . C O . U K - E A R L H A M S T R E E T L O N D O N

55 Jermyn Street, London, SW1Y 6LX | 24 Brook Street, London, W1K 5DG

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The KTZ show

Matthew Freud

Dee Koppang O’Leary

The E Tautz show

Photographs Beccy Nuthall; Adam Duke; James Mason; Kensington Leverne

The Christopher Shannon show

The Ben Sherman show

Matt Diwo

Millie Mackintosh

Timothy Renouf

The Casely-Hayford show

Patrick Grant

The YMC presentation

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The Astrid Andersen show

The Charles Jeffrey Loverboy at MAN show

Ryan Barrett

Kyle De’volle


Photographs Kensington Leverne; James Mason; Ashley Verse; Beccy Nuthall; PA Images;

The John Lawrence Sullivan show

Xenia Tchoumitcheva

Jefferson Hack and Dame Natalie Massenet

Gino Da Prato and Alison Ford

The Joseph presentation

The Chester Barrie presentation

Isaac Carew

The Berthold show

Astrid Andersen invitation


#BeAnOriginal |

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The Maharishi show

Doina Ciobanu

Zara Martin

Photographs James Mason; Ashley Verse; Kensington Leverne; Beccy Nuthall; PA Images; Adam Duke;

Thomas Stubbs

Michiko Koshino Show

The JW Anderson show

The MCCVIII presentation

The Oliver Spencer show

Thom Evans

Debbie Hull

The Qasimi show

The Songzio show

The John Lawrence Sullivan show

Sam Way

Deano Bugatti

Nicholas Coleridge

Mercedes Benz at LFWM

The Christian Louboutin presentation

Frank Ocean STORY BY

Jon Savage

Enigmatic, unpredictable and fond of disappearing, Frank Ocean is one of the 21st century’s few unique creative forces. GQ explores the talents of a man who blends hip hop, soul and jazz with an identity as protean as his extraordinary music


t was the photo that first hooked me. A young black American stares to the right of the camera. He is both experienced in the art of the pose yet slightly irritated at the photographer’s demand – an impatience indicated by the hatched cross-lines on his forehead. In his right hand he holds a navy casual jacket – taken off to reveal a simple T-shirt with a hut graphic and colour-fade lettering that states “Psychedelic Life”. The blue in the colour wash is echoed by the Air Jordan trainers that protrude from beneath a pair of simple, tapered camo trousers. The look is smart, minimal, highly considered, far away from clichéd bling. This is clearly someone important, stylish, at the top of his game. He exudes a sense of self-worth and self-containment, emphasised by the space around him. In the background there is European formal architecture. To his left, a family passes, wondering who this object of attention is. Others stand and stare: something is happening. Slightly behind him, to his right, a smartly dressed friend or PR smiles in a semi-official way. It’s a collision of worlds. It’s early March 2013, and Frank Ocean is attending the Valentino autumn/winter ready-to-wear show at Paris Fashion Week: as he must have known, his carefully thoughtout look – topped by the Pam (Perks & Mini) “Psychedelic Life” T-shirt – will shortly be deconstructed by the fashion press. Nine months previously, he has released his first full solo album, Channel Orange, a dizzying fusion of rap, R&B, soul and psychedelia which reached No2 in the US and

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‘There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love, it changed my life’

Photographs Frank Ocean; Pacific Coast News

A clockwork orange: Frank Ocean’s self-portrait, 2016

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in the UK – where it was the first to enter the Top 20 purely on digital sales. Just days before the album’s release, Frank Ocean posted a statement on his Tumblr in which he addressed “all the rumours going round. Four summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Every day almost... By the time I realised I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love. It changed my life.” Speaking to American GQ’s Amy Wallace in November 2012, Ocean said, “The night I posted it, I cried like a f***ing baby. It was like all the frequency just clicked to a change in my head. All the receptors were now receiving a different signal, and I was happy. There’s just some magic in truth and honesty and openness.” In the same interview, however, he took pains to disavow any fixed sexuality. “As a writer, as a creator, I’m giving you my experiences. But just take what I give you. You ain’t got to pry beyond that.”

cean’s post dropped a bomb in the rigid, often macho world of hip hop within which, as a member of the Odd Future collective, he had participated for several years. He received nothing but support from Odd Future members like Tyler, The Creator, but the ensuing media furore only exacerbated his tendency towards seclusion and withdrawal. Like many pop artists, he has refused to explicitly identify himself as homosexual or bisexual or heterosexual – a position entirely in keeping with his precise yet elusive aesthetic. By the time this photo was taken, Ocean was one of the hottest properties in music but he was on the point of disappearance. Thoroughly at home with the possibilities of the third wave technological revolution, he was also familiar with its downside. “The internet made fame wack,” he posted way back in 2011, “and anonymity cool.” Bar a few live dates over the years, he was nearly invisible until 2016, until the release of his second studio album, Blonde. Withdrawal is a time-honoured pop tactic that only favours the very successful and the most alluring. In Ocean’s case, it fit his wish not to play the music industry game: previous difficulties with Def Jam Records have put him on the path to digital self-releasing – a practice he has used with his first mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra and his latest album (it’s written as Blond on the artwork, but has come to be spelled with an “e”). His wish not to be defined or to be pinned down, allied to his profligate talent, is reminiscent of Prince and, like that inspirational figure, he dictates his terms and defines his time.


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Super rich kids (clockwise from top): Frank Ocean with Rihanna, January 2016; at the Met Ball afterparty with André Balazs, Madonna, Riccardo Tisci and Katy Perry, New York 2013; with Swizz Beatz at the Grammy Awards, LA 2013; with Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon at the Time 100 Gala, April 2013; with Ciara and Kim Kardashian, March 2013

Photographs Getty Images; Rex; Wire Image;

FRANK OCEAN The second track of Blonde, “Ivy”, begins with the briefest of tremolo guitar melodies, before the voice comes in crooning, “I thought that I was dreaming when you said you love me.” The rest of the chorus deals with the old duality of love and hate, “I could hate you right now / It’s quite alright to hate me now.” In the verse, Ocean gets down to the heart of it, “We didn’t give a f*** back then / I ain’t a kid no more / We’ll never be those kids again.” “Ivy” is constructed around two contrasting guitar figures: a simple beatless arrangement. The lyric is about memory – of a first love affair, a long-standing friendship now gone – related in a voice that is, at times, sped up to sound younger to fit the theme. “That was my version of collage or bricolage,” Ocean told the New York Times’ Jon Caramanica last November. “How we experience memory sometimes, it’s not linear. We’re not telling the stories to ourselves, we know the story, we’re just seeing it in flashes overlaid.” Like many Ocean songs, “Ivy” is at once direct and ambiguous: it takes you into the feeling but gives little away in terms of situation. The nonlinear approach encourages multiple meanings that reinforce his skill as a lyricist and pop artist. Everything flows into everything else within this oceanic world, yet it all fits together – right down to Christopher Edwin Breaux’s adoption of his nom-de-pop in 2010, five years after the salt water came in on his home town of New Orleans. Blurring is central to Ocean’s iconic albums: the blurring of gender – a topic addressed in “Songs For Women”; the blurring of musical forms, most notably contemporary urban with Eighties rock guitar and classic psychedelia; the fusion of old-skool and cutting-edge technology; and the jamming together of several stories within one song (most notably on the Channel Orange centrepiece “Pyramids”). This is complex stuff, quite apart from all the pop-cultural allusions that hurtle at you in the quickfire raps: ranging from Angela Lansbury in Murder She Wrote to the direct musical quotations from Coldplay, MGMT and The Eagles, to his invocations of iconic performers such as Michael Jackson, John Lennon and Mick Jagger, to the list of dead black Americans in “Nikes”, which culminates with a nod to the murdered 17-year-old Trayvon Martin – “That n**** look just like me.” Like Drake and D’Angelo, Ocean effortlessly fuses rap and R&B, but his work has an experimental edge. On Channel Orange, for instance, modern synth and drum machine tones – provided by Arturia software synthesisers – are run through analogue equipment and then given a dry, yet warm and full sound mix. Blonde uses a new type of audio programme called the Prismizer, which treats the voice somewhat like a vocoder

but which adds harmonies across the audio spectrum like a prism disperses light.


t the same time, Frank Ocean is known to spend months on his vocals, performing outrageous switches of rhyme and meter, slowing down and speeding up, breaking up words. The voice is another way of expressing a character and telling a story: as he sings on “Novocane”, “Every single record, autotunin’/ Zero emotion, muted emotion, pitch corrected, computed emotion.” What he’s after seems like an experimental novelist’s approach: character and situation seen from different angles and points of view, put together with a cinematic eye. The sudden switches are there to make you see things in a new way, to fragment conventional narrative in order to tell the story – despite the apparent alienating effect of the technology – through pure emotion. Just because something’s computerised doesn’t mean it’s not “real”.

Channel Orange announced a star who made himself less available and then invisible This ambition is all over 2011’s Nostalgia, Ultra. Again on “Novocane”, Ocean sings, “I’m feelin’ like Stanley Kubrick, this is some visionary shit.” The opening song takes the yearning guitar figure from Coldplay’s “Strawberry Swing” and turns it, thanks to an unusually passionate vocal reminiscent of “Raspberry Beret”-era Prince, into an aching evocation of long-standing friendships. The artwork for Nostalgia, Ultra features a strikingly orange BMW E30 M3, one of the earliest signs of Ocean’s car obsession that has been exhibited throughout his work: on his Tumblr, in his video for “Nikes”, and throughout his lyrics, where cars are a metaphor for status, situation and life itself – the Lincoln Town Car on “Swim Good”, the family Acura Legend on “Nights”, the BMW X6 on “Ivy”. As he sings on Blonde’s “Skyline To”: “that’s a pretty f***ing fast year flew by / That’s a pretty long third gear in this car.” If Nostalgia, Ultra has all the first-time exuberance of a talent unleashed, then Ocean’s major-label debut, 2012’s Channel Orange, has the pace, variety and depth of a big statement: over an hour’s worth of music that includes songs about love, materialism, spirituality and, ultimately, the transience of life. Sounds like a big call but the warm, crisp and

occasionally hallucinogenic production, the pacing and the quality of the material make the album speed past. The first full song, “Thinkin Bout You”, appears to chart the relationship that Ocean wrote about in his Tumblr post: although the sexuality is never made explicit, the confusion between love, lust and the tricks of memory is perfectly expressed. A brief cover of James Fauntleroy’s “Fertilizer” (“I’ll take bullshit if that’s all you got”) introduces a sequence of songs that tackle the good life, decadence and addiction within the context of poverty: as guest vocalist Rosie Watson states, “It’s the difference between having a home and living on the streets.” An echo of Steely Dan’s “Showbiz Kids”, “Super Rich Kids” begins with a slow jackhammer beat, travels through a rap by Odd Future’s Earl Sweatshirt, and ends in tragedy. “Pilot Jones” meshes drug highs with the ecstasy of love, while “Crack Rock”, with its percussive chorus, is informed by personal experience: his grandfather would take him to NA and AA meetings, which “totally ingrained this fear of addiction and of anything that could cause me to be addicted”. n the album’s last third, Ocean goes deeper. He comes out with some zingers on “Bad Religion”, another soul-searching song about his same-sex first love: “This unrequited love / To me it’s nothing but a one-man cult and cyanide in my styrofoam cup”. More to the point, he states, “If it brings me to my knees, it’s a bad religion”. On “End”, he prophesies, “Darker times / they’re telling boulder heavy lies / Looks like all we’ve got is each other / The truth is obsolete”. Channel Orange announced a major star who, promptly, made himself less available and then invisible. “I question if I’m built for this game. Or if I’m pushing past the limits of my design,” he had written on a Tumblr post and in 2013 he quit the isolation of Los Angeles and moved to London, where he began recording new material in a number of studios, including Abbey Road. At the same time, he bought himself out of his contract with Def Jam and bought back all his master recordings. Control is always the issue for successful pop musicians, and Frank Ocean has proven himself a master of this experiential art. After months of fevered internet speculation, Blonde was previewed by the digital release of Endless, a 45-minute video album that mixes imagery of the singer performing mundane practical tasks in an empty warehouse space with a soundtrack of 18 new songs. A day later came the full album, self-released through Apple Music and iTunes. There was a physical version available for a very limited time, accompanied by a


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FRANK OCEAN magazine called Boy’s Don’t Cry. In its pages pictures of cars vied with tantalising snippets of Ocean’s modus operandi: as one page stated, “In the studio, we adhere to a strict colour code. Developed over decades, the colour code consists of a finite and precise colour palate... The whole world as we experience it comes to us through the mystic realm of colour.” Indeed, Blonde converts visuals into music. Like David Bowie – who handed Nile Rodgers a picture of Little Richard and said that’s what he wanted “Let’s Dance” to sound like – Frank Ocean took inspiration from an image. “Two years ago I found an image of a kid with her hands covering her face. A seatbelt reached across her torso, riding up her neck and a mop of blonde hair stayed swept, for the moment, behind her ears. Her eyes seemed clear and calm but not blank, the road behind her seemed the same. I put myself in her seat then I played it all out in my head.”

of The Beach Boys’ Smile. Like many of Frank Ocean’s lyrics, it shifts from personal memory to strange, apocalyptic visions (“It’s hell on earth and the city’s on fire”). “Self Control” is sung by three different people – Ocean, Slow Hollows’ Austin Feinstein and Swedish rapper Yung Lean – to add extra distance to the metaphor of summer’s swift passing and the transience of human relationships. Blonde dives deep into the well of memory. As his fame grows, Ocean withdraws further, deep into his own psyche and his past. Sometimes this is turbulent: “Pretty Sweet” has a sound picture that begins in the orchestral climax at the end of The Beatles’ “A Day In The Life” – all mad orchestral swirls that segue into hyper speed breakbeats. The album’s centrepiece, “Nights”, veers between a description of “everyday shit” before it’s broken in half by a dissonant guitar solo that leads to his memories of pre-Katrina New Orleans.

While lead single “Nikes” struggled in the charts, Blonde went to No1 in both the US and the UK: clearly the public prefers to hear Ocean on long form. Indeed he now presents a classic pop artist: one who is not afraid to f*** with the formula or to change his approach with each record, who is totally at home with the latest technology, one who is in control of his own destiny, who has his own highly stylised and effective fashion sense – and one who is both content rich and very popular. Ocean is simultaneously privileged and embattled. He is one of the pop elite, with collaborators like Pharrell Williams, Beyoncé, and James Blake, and his fugitive persona is a valid form of engagement with the voracious demands of the new media. R&B in particular has long been the most advanced in terms of music technology and its use, and he takes that to a new level, constructing startling sound pictures that fit his lyrics. He is

Ocean’s discography (from left): Nostalgia, Ultra (2011); Channel Orange (2012); Endless (2016); Blonde (2016)

He is a restless spirit who refuses to be confined, and that’s exciting: nobody knows what he’s going to do next londe is at once the sound of withdrawal and a deeper engagement – with memory, with psychology, with the state of the world. Unlike the bouncy tunefulness of Nostalgia, Ultra and the widescreen ambition of Channel Orange, the production sounds muted. Many songs are nearly beatless, relying on soft instrumental loops and heavily treated vocals that veer between anguish, anger and tenderness – often within the space of one song. “Sometimes I felt like you weren’t hearing enough versions of me within a song,” he told Jon Caramanica, “Cos there was a lot of hyperactive thinking. Even though the album is not frenetic, the pace of ideas being thrown out is.” The album’s first single, “Nikes”, bears this out: a torrent of words on the topic of hyper materialism delivered in a multiplicity of voices that veer between bizarrely autotuned, wracked, straight ahead and, in the tender finale, devotional. “Solo” is accompanied by a simple, church organ with weird sound effects reminiscent


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The bulk of the songs – “White Ferrari”, “Siegfried”, “Ivy” to name but three – mix gentler music with chaotic, contradictory feelings. “Godspeed” explicitly harks back to his own past: as Ocean has admitted, the songs are “basically a reimagined part of my boyhood. Boys do cry, but I don’t think I shed a tear for a good chunk of my teenage years. It’s surprisingly my favourite part of life so far. Surprising, to me, because the current phase is what I was asking the cosmos for when I was a kid.” Blonde has the feeling of someone coming full circle. It’s a fascinating mix of revelation and withholding, a sprawl of a record caught between order and chaos, freedom and constriction. The original image of the young woman caught in the seatbelt comes to mind: is it protection or a kind of bondage? Will she escape and will she need to? It comes back to the way that Ocean sees the world: “How much of my life has happened inside of a car? I wonder if the odds are that I’ll die in one.”

a restless spirit, who refuses to be confined, and that’s exciting: nobody knows what he’s going to do next. It seems axiomatic that if you’re going to have 21st-century pop music, it should sound like it’s being made in the 21st century. It’s 2017 not 1967, 1977 or 1987 – a fact that seems to elude so many rock groups. When I listen to Ocean – which I have been obsessively over the last few weeks – I hear a consummate contemporary artist in every sense: one who is immersed in new sonic possibilities, one who is deeply committed to artistic exploration in the most profound sense. Frank Ocean is a true pop star of today: his time is now.


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MASERATI GHIBLI. STARTING FROM £49,860 The Maserati Ghibli is powered by a range of advanced 3.0 Litre V6 engines with 8-speed ZF automatic transmission including, a V6 turbodiesel engine.

Official fuel consumption figures for Maserati Ghibli MY17 range in mpg (l/100km): Urban 20.5 (13.8) – 36.7 (7.7), and CO2 figures are based on standard EU tests for comparative purposes and may not reflect real driving results. 20 inch machine polished Urano alloy wheels at £2,205.

Extra Urban 39.8 (7.1) – 57.6 (4.9), Combined 29.4 (9.6) – 47.9 (5.9). CO2 emissions 223 – 158 g/km. Fuel consumption Model shown is a Maserati Ghibli Diesel MY17 at £52,725 On The Road including optional mica paint at £660 and


Jason Alden

GQ’s style scholar brings to light the essentials that keep him on trend, from Slim Aarons to Saint Laurent

This month: JAKE PUMMINTR, Fashion Assistant, GQ GEAR CULTURE Photography: Slim Aarons Art: David Hicks’ geometric prints On the bookshelf: The Picture Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (above); The Line Of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst; Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi; Enduring Love by Ian McEwan Music: The Weeknd (below); Sébastien Tellier; The xx; Major Lazer; Ariana Grande Looking forward to: House Of Cards series five; Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2 (below) Theatre: The Importance Of Being Earnest at the Vaudeville Theatre; Swan Lake at Sadler’s Wells (below) Last show: Kendrick Lamar at BST TV: Planet Earth; Suits; RuPaul’s Drag Race Podcasts: Serial; TEDTalks Boxsets: Will & Grace; The OC; James Bond

Apps: Monzo; Spotify; Heads Up! Gadget: Boostcase for iPhone 7 (right) Computer: MacBook Air Watch: G-Timeless by Gucci (below) Audio: SoundLink Mini by Bose (below) Kitchen gadget: 2-in-1 Grill And Sandwich Maker by Cuisinart (below) Earphones: IE 60 by Sennheiser (above)

Fragrance: Grey Vetiver eau de parfum by Tom Ford (above) Skincare: Facial Fuel Energizing Scrub by Kiehl’s (below) Suit: Noose & Monkey (pictured) Jumper: Sørensen (below) Jeans: Acne Trainers: Adidas by Raf Simons (pictured) Shoes: Christian Louboutin Go-to T-shirt: Sunspel (pictured) Sunglasses: Clubmaster by Ray-Ban (below) Cardholder: Saint Laurent (below) Holdall: Berluti (below) Swim shorts: Orlebar Brown Haircut: Elisa Spitaleri at Fowler35, London

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STIMULATION To drink: Vodka Martini with three olives at Dukes Bar; Negroni at Dishoom To eat: Australasia, Manchester; The Lighterman, London (above); La Société, Paris; Boisdale of Belgravia, London Bar: The Groucho Club To read: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara To read again: Brideshead Revisted by Evelyn Waugh; Money: A Suicide Note by Martin Amis (above) Magazines: Monocle; AnOther Man Museum: The Victoria & Albert Museum Last holiday: Antwerp, Belgium Next holiday: Cocobay, Antigua (above) View: From Oxo Tower Brasserie, London (left) Romantic place: Bunkers del Carmel, Barcelona

Grooming Rose Angus Photographs Alamy; Getty Images With thanks to Bob Bob Ricard


Hayle, an unlined Chukka boot on the new City Sole 0DGHLQ(QJODQGXVLQJWKHÀQHVWTXDOLW\VXHGH













It came from Manhattan! Before he became president, Donald Trump enjoyed years as the embodiment of the Big Apple’s unabashed greed and success, followed by years of ridicule and contempt at the hands of a snobbish media. But now Trump – and his family – is having the last laugh as the creature that New York’s high society created

here is a reason that presidents in the modern age, from the Second World War on, do not come from New York City. New York is a kind of Hong Kong in the US, its wealth, power and influence too disproportionately concentrated. As an act of balance and accommodation, and, ultimately, distrust of centralised power, we like our president to come from somewhere outside the standing establishment. Washington is also a no-no, making it hard for career legislative figures and familiar mandarins to become president (one more Hillary Clinton problem) and so is the Ivy League – George W Bush had to play up his Texas bona fides and play down his Yale days. This is, in other words, a natural separation of powers. And it affords a kind of democratic generosity: most presidents start with a pretty clean slate. An anomaly of the 2016 election, and early indication that the system was not holding, was that the likely Democratic nominee, Clinton, having achieved her “likely” designation through an extra-political route (her husband), and largely without opposition, was going to be able to circumvent political norms and become her party’s nominee even


90 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2016

Michael Wolff


Bobby Doherty

though she was from New York City. It may be that fact alone that allowed Donald Trump, also from New York, to be taken seriously as an outsider candidate: next to her he was. Next to almost any other Democratic candidate, Trump would have seemed like a New York City huckster. But next to Clinton, even Donald Trump seemed less part of the power cabal. A populist even. Hence, by this unusual default, New York, that symbol of ego, self-promotion, elitism, and avarice, and peculiarity to the rest of America, now has one of its own as president – and nobody is more shocked than we New Yorkers. This unnatural outcome is playing out through the various New York communities: finance (Wall Street is delighted by a huckster in chief, even if it’s Donald Trump), real estate (his fellow real-estate billionaires find themselves almost existentially flabbergasted by his rise), government (New York’s current governor, Andrew Cuomo, is now thinking, despite his New York handicap, he can run for president too) and most of all, with maximum confusion and guilt, the media is having to deal with its long relationship with the Donald. The New York media, that concentration of backbiters, gossips and calumniators – and, when it suits, earnest moralisers – knows Donald Trump better than it has ever known any national political figure. Better even than

it knows Hillary Clinton (who, if she had been elected, would be faring at the media’s hands better than Trump, but not all that much better). And, in media terms, to know a person is, of course, the very opposite of loving them. There are few relationships as complicated as the media’s relationship with someone whose success it believes is owed to it, or whose success it believes has been achieved in spite of it. Both conditions are applicable to Trump. Now, the media ultimately comes to “know” each president and that relationship always comes to tears. But the natural arc of it affords a period of accommodation – a honeymoon. (The media’s contentious relationship with the new president has already reduced his favourability rating to 35 per cent – it took Barack Obama three years to go below 50 per cent and George W Bush held above 50 per cent until his second term.) Were Trump a larger-than-life figure out of, say, Houston, he might easily be a character for the media of at least momentary fascination and mystery and humour (the media, after all, has covered many right-wing figures with quite some tolerance and sucking up), a reality-show Ronald Reagan. Instead, having known him – really known him – from the moment of his election (after having denied that his election was possible) the media sees him only with incredulity and horror: this simply can’t be happening. It is a bonfire of the ironies.

Photograph New York Magazine/Getty Images



The city of ego and avarice has one of its own as president – and nobody is more shocked than New Yorkers

Flag party: Donald Trump has had a long and complex relationship with the men who control the New York media APRIL 2016 GQ.CO.UK 91

MICHAEL WOLFF he media long ago rejected Donald Trump as wannabe and lightweight, and wrote him off for that ultimate sin (the ultimate anyway in media terms) of trying to curry favour with the media too much: his fame, such as it was, was actually reverse fame: famous for being infamous. Joke fame. To understand this, and all the many levels of irony, there is no better place than the New York Observer. The New York Observer was, when it launched in the mid-Eighties, a rich man’s fancy, as much failed media often is. It was a bland weekly chronicle of the Upper East Side, New York’s wealthiest neighbourhood. Its conceit was to treat this neighbourhood like a small town. Nobody took any notice. Its frustrated patron, Arthur Carter, who made his money in the first generation of Wall Street consolidations, was introduced to Graydon Carter, no relation, whose magazine, Spy, an imitation of Private Eye, was gasping for financial breath. Spy was part of a set of publications you could call Manhattan, Inc: including a relaunched Vanity Fair and New York Magazine, obsessed with the new rich and what seemed to be a transformational moment in New York. Donald Trump was both a symbol of, and punchline for, this new excess and celebrity and the media’s celebration of those things. Graydon Carter became the editor of the New York Observer in 1991 and not only refocused it on big-money culture, but essentially made it a tip-sheet for the media writing about media culture and for members of the big money culture who wanted to be in the media. There may never have been such a self-conscious and self-referential publication as the New York Observer. As Donald Trump, along with many others of this new rich ilk, sought to be covered by the media – Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post was the effective court publication of this new aristocracy – the New York Observer covered the process of him being covered. The story of Trump was the story of how he tried to make himself a story. He was shameless, campy and instructive: if you were willing to risk humiliation the world could be yours. (Trump himself in fact plays this exact role in Woody Allen’s 1998 film, Celebrity.) Trump became the objective correlative for the rising appetite for fame and notoriety. In this, Trump came to believe he understood everything about the media – who you need to know, what pretence you need to maintain, what information you could profitably trade, what lie you might tell, what


lies the media expected you to tell. And the media came to believe it knew everything about Trump: his vanities, delusions, lies and the levels to which he would stoop for evermore media attention. Graydon Carter shortly used the New York Observer as his stepping stone to Vanity Fair – where, he believed, he might have access to a higher level of celebrity than Donald Trump. In 1994 Carter was succeeded at the Observer, by Peter Kaplan, an editor with a heightened sense of post-modern irony and ennui. Trump suddenly took on a new persona. Where he had before been the symbol of success and mocked for it. Now he became, in a shift much more of zeitgeist than of accomplishments or net worth, a symbol of failure, and mocked for it. This was a complicated reversal. Not just having to do with Trump, but of how the media was now seeing itself. Donald Trump became the media’s prime symbol for self-loathing: our interest in and promotion of Donald Trump was a morality tale about us. Its ultimate end was Kaplan’s pronouncement that Trump should not be covered any more because every story about Donald Trump had become a cliché. We had written him into our own self-ridicule. It is important to note that one aspect of Kaplan’s New York Observer and its ever-more self-conscious inside-media baseball is that the paper became the prime school for a new generation of media reporters flooding every other publication in New York, as journalism became itself evermore self-conscious and self-referential. To everyone working in media in New York, Donald Trump represented the ultimate shame of working in media in New York: you might have to write about Donald Trump. Not writing about him, or certainly not taking him at face value, became a moral stand.

Trump and his sidekick son-in-law were marked for ignominy. They were nothing...

92 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

n 2006, after Kaplan had edited the paper for 12 years, Arthur Carter sold the Observer – which had never made a profit – to a young real estate heir named Jared Kushner, interested in learning about the media and in gaining stature and notoriety in the city. Kaplan was now working for someone 27 years his junior, who was just the kind of arriviste he would have otherwise ironically covered. For Kushner, owning the paper soon paid off, because, with infinite ironies not necessarily apparent to him, it allowed him to meet Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, who he shortly


married. But the paper did not, irksomely for Kushner, pay off financially, which put him into increasing tension with Kaplan. Kaplan, in turn, began telling witty and devastating tales about the pretensions and callowness of his new boss, including the hilarity of his relationship with Donald Trump, which spread, in constant retelling, among his many media protégés. In 2009, Kaplan left the paper, and Kushner, making a mistake that many rich men who have bought media properties before are prone to, tried to make some money out of it. In short order, the media world came to regard Kushner as not only the man who took Peter Kaplan’s paper from him, but who ruined it as well, brutally and incompetently. And worse: Kaplan, at 59, died of cancer in 2013. So, effectively, in the telling, Kushner had killed him too. Media is personal. It is a series of blood scores. The media in its often collective mind decides who is going to rise and who is going to fall, who lives and who dies. If you stay around long enough in the media eye, your fate, like that of a banana republic despot, is invariably an unkind end – a law Hillary Clinton was not able to circumvent. The media has the last word. It is our world if you choose to live in it. Trump and his sidekick son-in-law Kushner had long been marked not just for ignominy, but for slow torture by ridicule, contempt and ever-more amusing persiflage. These people were nothing. Media debris. Melania, for goodness sake... The fabulous, incomprehensible irony that the Trump family has, despite the media, despite everything the media knows and understands and has said about them, risen to a level not only of ultimate consequence but even of immortality is beyond worse-case nightmare and into cosmic joke territory. In truth, everybody who becomes the president of the United States must represent to someone a cosmic joke. But for this president it is not just a trail of former associates and stupefied family members, who look on in stunned absurdity, but the entire press corps. And it is now forced to take seriously and to regard objectively the one person who for two media generations has been only the butt of the joke, the worst of the worse, the silliest of the silly, the most depraved of the depraved. Here we are. And nobody has any idea how this will go. Who will have the last word and the better revenge?


For these related stories, visit

The ‘Truth’ And Why Liberals Don’t Get It (Michael Wolff, March 2017) How Donald Trumped The Media (Michael Wolff, February 2017) Pussy Hound* (Michael Wolff, January 2017)

Impossibly light Impervious to wind Indifferent to water THE NUNDLE JACKET

FROM GQ! INTERACTIVE EDITIONS Available to download from the App Store and Google Play



Fast-moving model and personal trainer Toby HuntingtonWhiteley brings GQ up to speed on his essential kit



Sunglasses “I love the Seventies style of these frames. I can’t wait to wear them on the beach somewhere in the Med, sipping a cold beer.” By Dita, £410.

Record player “I’m looking to upgrade my Marantz system. I love to play Fleetwood Mac, Bob Marley and Nina Simone.” By Project Classic, £899. At Richer Sounds.

Jumper “I like that it’s an unusual colour and a nice change from classic navy or black polo necks. Uniqlo polo necks are also a staple for me.” By Gieves & Hawkes, £350.

Watch “My parents gave me this Omega watch for my 21st birthday. I’d wanted it ever since I was 13 and used to see it in the jewellery shop my mum worked in.” £2,770.



Jacket “This is the ultimate leather jacket – it will never go out of style. It makes me want to get an old-school Triumph bike.” By Saint Laurent, £4,260.

“I love the military style and the fit. Since I’m tall and broad, it’s hard to find coats that fit me properly. I get my jackets from Belstaff and Burberry.” By Coach, £695. WISH LIST

Watch “It’s my ultimate dream to wear one of these. I wear my old Timex to the gym and on weekends switch between my Omega and a vintage Rotary.” By Vacheron Constantin, £19,000.



Story Eleanor Halls Grooming Nina Beckert

“I’d love to upgrade my single-speed bike to this beautiful Condor Classico. I cycle from Chelsea to Knightsbridge for work, but I’d like to cycle more.” £1,000.

Trousers “I was given these by my sister Rosie after her collaboration with Paige. I’ve no rules against black, brown and navy together – it works.” £200. At Harvey Nichols.



Boots “Shoes are the most important thing to get right as I do so much walking in London. I either wear these, Russell & Bromley boots or white Nike trainers.” By RM Williams, £350.

“This would be a smarter option to the ratty gym bag I use, or for visiting my girlfriend’s parents in Bordeaux.” By Coach, £795.

APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 95

Perk up your kitchen with a coffee machine whose design credentials are as strong as your morning cup of joe






4 2



1 Coffee machine by Smeg, £280. 2 Coffee machine by Jura, £795. 3 Coffee siphon by Kitchenaid, £159. 4 Coffee machine by De’Longhi, £220. 5 Coffee machine by Illy, £399. 6 Nespresso machine by Kitchenaid, £309. 7 Espresso glasses by Bodum, £18 for two. At Debenhams.

96 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

Set design Lisa Jahovic



I’ve been taking Wellman since my twenties to support my health and hectic lifestyle.

David Gandy

Made in Britain From Boots, Superdrug, supermarkets, Holland & Barrett, health stores, pharmacies *UK’s No1 men’s supplement brand. Nielsen GB ScanTrack Total Coverage Unit Sales 52 w/e 10th Sept 2016.


Can we save social media from

‘alt-right’ tantrums? Now that the trolls are loose in the corridors of power – bursting Twitter’s bubbles of soft reality – it’s time, says Lucy Prebble, to get tough and escape our cosy echo chambers ike everyone in my generation, I prefer texts to calls because I can respond to them in my own time and add exclamation marks to suggest that I’m fun. It’s a low-effort way to suggest enthusiasm without having to actually, you know, muster any. In this odd slice of history between enforced face-to-face contact and a no doubt entirely virtual reality, it’s easy to split the difference and present a different version of yourself to the world through text, email or status update. We have always done this a bit, of course; there’s language for the pub and language for your nan’s. My Facebook self is totally different from my Twitter self. But that’s normal, right? Or should I say, “Right?!!” I find the idea of a constant self faintly childish. I’m a playwright. I spend my time writing in the voices of other characters. I can inhabit them and move between them easily. I am comfortable being a collection of various thoughts, not all of them “mine”. The internet has so bound and smashed us together technologically that it’s hard to see where my opinion ends and someone else’s retweet begins. When I write, I do so from the


perspective of what would be funny, moving or interesting to say. It doesn’t really occur to me whether “I” am “saying” it. Now, I know there’s something shady about this performance of self. But I also know we’re all doing it. Studies show we are far more likely to lie in a text message, as we can take time to construct our reality and hide anything that might give us away. Now we all communicate so much by text, we are all lying more. Or, rather, living post-truth. When I wrote a bad joke on Twitter – “This engagement ring better have a dessert hidden inside it” – I received a number of charming, deluded DMs from older acquaintances congratulating me on my impending nuptials which, apart from definitely not happening, would have been kind of rude to announce in that way. This literalism both confused me and made me feel guilty. I had assumed everyone operates on the assumption that online’s a game, even art. Any Instagram photo posted without #nofilter is going to be doctored, altered, not real. You have to point out if it’s accurate, not the other way around. Any artistry at all is in the lie. I never considered it

The internet is not where you come for real life

deception, more like theatre, a willing suspension of disbelief. The internet is not where you come for real life. It’s a playground. But now these worlds have collided I can’t defend this anymore. The percentage of people getting their news from social media has risen exponentially, a massive disruption in understanding, presenting and consuming what’s “news”. The American president is a well-known Twitter troll and former reality star. The irresponsible, playful “bad faith” I have always engaged in online is now part of realworld power structures. (Though the amount of time Trump seems to spend staring at his phone screen to slag off the latest Saturday Night Live suggests he’s almost keen to claw his way back through the very screens he’s ruptured.) And the devil has his advocates. Reports about Steve Bannon, Trump’s new chief strategist, whimsically musing on the exclusion of black voters and cynically exploiting the clicks he could get from white nationalism on his site, Breitbart News, suggests someone who’s at least happy to toy with the notion “What would it be like if I were a bigot?” Breitbart news writer and book-deal recipient Milo Yiannopoulos, a troll without so much a personality as a collection of opinions to disguise his pain, features heavily in roundups of the “alt-right”. Saying, “I didn’t like me very much and so I created this comedy character,” Milo seems confused as to whether he’s a person or a piece of bourgeois art about the kind of people who say something deliberately contrarian at a dinner party to upset their spouse. Incredibly sinisterly, the Nazi salutes at the rally hosted by American white nationalist Richard Spencer were dismissed by him as “done in a spirit of irony and exuberance”. Exuberance! Exuberance! I can’t help thinking of exclamation marks and my cool, sideways step away from my own genuine voice. But if they’re going to take the tools and space that I used to think was for play, then maybe we need to pick up some of the responsibility and authenticity I thought the real world had covered. I don’t want to use the fact I don’t believe anything to not believe in anything. Now there’s a crack in the screen, it’s time to be on the right side. Lucy Prebble is author of The Sugar Syndrome, Enron and The Effect. APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 99

Michelin Pilot Sport 4 s Genuine Passion Exceptional Drives

Ranked N°1 for braking on dry surfaces and excellent on wet surfaces, the new MICHELIN Pilot Sport 4 S is engineered for superior safety and performance. Thanks to its Dynamic Response technology and ultra-reactive tread pattern, it delivers revolutionary steering control and instantaneous responsiveness.


Acclaimed by most performance car makers, it’s for those who love driving. For more information and to find out just how good a sports tyre can be, visit


Let’s be clear: there are no rules here. Unlike most of these things, GQ’s motoring awards are done on instinct. Or maybe from the heart. What we haven’t done is measure rear knee room or spent much time looking at fuel economy figures. So what have we done? Only gathered together in one space – a gigantic hangar in a former RAF air base – 13 of the most singular and magnificent motorcars to appear in the past 12 months. We’d argue that every one of them is the best at something, yes, unusual things, but what they all have in common is an ability to massively excite us. Favours were called in, strings pulled and a handful of these cars really should have been elsewhere when we had the keys. We think it was worth it. We hope you agree. Welcome to The GQ Car Awards 2017. Jason Barlow and Matthew Jones 102 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017



Matthew Jones


Mark Fagelson


Awards2017 Welcome to the most glamorous ceremony of the year, so outrageously extravagant that we needed an entire aircraft hangar to house the winners. Which one came out on top? At the GQ Car Awards, everyone wins...

The wild bunch: (this page, clockwise from top left) GQ Car Awards 2017 winners the Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge, Land Rover Discovery and Aston Martin AM-RB 001; (opposite, clockwise from top left) Mercedes G-Class Squared, Alfa Romeo Giulia QV and the Jaguar XKSS APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 103

Fast road cars Vehicles that make you want to go for a drive just for the sake of it


BLUETOOTH controls the volume of the M2’s sports exhaust system.

ONLY 214 of the ultimate Eighties short wheelbase quattro Sport were made. You need about £300,000 for one now.


specialist, Sparco, co-developed the QV’s carbon-fibre shelled seats.



Audi TT RS


Alfa Romeo Giulia QV

As much as we love over-powered, mid-engined supercars, sometimes you have to get real. When Audi rolled out the first quattro 37 years ago, four-wheel drive in a fast road car was revolutionary. Today’s TT RS is the quickest pointto-point car on sale, and its pace even in the worst weather is outrageous. It’s powered by an all-new 2.5-litre, 394bhp five-cylinder engine that features lightweight internals, and is capable of rocketing the RS to 62mph in under four seconds. Factor in the Audi’s size and agility, and you have a car that could take most exotic heavyweights to the cleaners. From £50,615.

In which BMW remembers that it’s the progenitor of the whole ultimate driving machine thing. The essence of that – engine, chassis, steering – can get lost in distracting marketing guff, especially in a world obsessed with digitalisation. In terms of simple, analogue thrills, the M2 is the current king: by sticking a 3.0-litre, 365bhp twin-turbo straight-six in a chunky but compact 2-Series body – check out those wheel arches and the fat tyres – the M-car template has reached its zenith. The idea of driving for the sake of it is one that’s beset on all sides with traumatic challenges. Until you have a go in this. From £22,940.

After years of neglect, parent group FCA is spending big to turn what was once Italy’s coolest car brand into a proper contender again. It’s working: the Giulia QV handles the weight of expectation as effortlessly as it blasts itself down the trickiest road you care to aim it at. Some of Ferrari’s best people developed the engine and platform, and the 2.9-litre, twin-turbo V6 is as soulful as it is effective. Refined on a long motorway haul, its calibrated chassis electronics turn it into a weapons-grade performance machine when the mood takes you. A beautiful, brilliant car. £59,000.

104 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017


1,340 fibre-optics are handwoven to make each starlight headliner. You can specify any constellation, which will be verified by a local observatory.

CHAMPAGNE flute bases in the Mulsanne match the car’s alloy wheel design.

Super luxury cars There’s no such thing as too luxurious, but if you’re looking for something that gets close... THE COOLEST ROLLS-ROYCE EVER


Rolls-Royce Wraith Black Badge

Bentley Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase

For decades, Rolls-Royces were best driven from the comfort of your imagination – average cars hiding behind a badge cloaked in association. Then came the Phantom in 2003, fresh from an injection of BMW’s cash and the first car to back up the “best car in the world” schtick since, well, the 1906 Silver Ghost. The brand was then faced with making it relevant to the young elite. You’re looking at the result – a faster, lower, more caddish Wraith that embodies the British dynamic of rebellion and tradition. Little wonder the average age of a Rolls owner has plummeted from 58 to 41. £276,168.

OK, so it’s not autonomous in the same way as a Tesla, but if you’ve got a Bentley there’s a good chance that you’ll have a driver on staff. And the stretched rear cabin of the already vast Mulsanne is the single best way to travel in a car without driving. The extra ten inches of legroom is packed with sybaritic minutiae: passengers can deploy a massaging sleep seat with a champagne cooler between them, removable Android tablets emerge from the backs of both front seat and it’s its own 4G Wi-Fi hotspot. One of few cars with the largesse – and scale – to truly call itself a flagship. £275,000.

APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 105


PER MONTH EXCL. VAT * The Fiat Professional Fullback isn’t just a pretty face. With a best in class 5.9m turning circle, up to 1 ton load capacity, full leather seats and a 6.1” touchscreen DAB radio with Bluetooth and SatNav, the only thing that’s more impressive is the £199 per month finance offer.



Fuel consumption figures for the Fiat Professional Fullback EU5 in mpg (l/100km): Combined from 42.8 (6.6). CO2 emissions 173g/km. Fuel consumption and CO based on standard EU tests for comparative purposes and may not reflect 2

real driving results. *BUSINESS CONTRACT HIRE. Above rental based on Fullback 2.4 180 HP Double Cab LX 6 Speed Manual Euro 5+ (incl. metallic paint at £400 excl. VAT) with an initial rental of £1,791 followed by 23 monthly rentals of £199. All Rentals exclude VAT and maintenance, based on 8,000 miles per annum. Excess mileage charges apply. Offer valid for vehicles ordered from 5th January 2017 and registered by 31st March 2017. Subject to status. A guarantee or indemnity may be required. Ts&Cs apply. Fiat Professional Contract Hire, SL1 0WU.

#GQCA2017 #GQCA2017

GRAN TURISMO was where Adrian Newey and Aston design boss Marek Reichman got their eye in by designing virtual cars for PlayStation’s long-running driving sim.

FIGHTER JETS were the inspiration for the F12 TDF’s chassis electronics.

ONLY 991 911 Rs are being made, and demand is so strong that this £136,901 car is currently changing hands for seven times that amount on the collector’s market.

rs a c r Hype

y ibilit poss f o ges eed e ed sh th of sp u p n e t t a m h e t rs refin e ca the Thre ody b m e and




Aston Martin AM-RB 001

Ferrari F12 TDF

Porsche 911 R

Its codename is Nebula, but Aston Martin’s hypercar really should be called “Adrian”. As in Newey, architect of ten world championshipwinning Formula One cars, now creating the highest performance road car ever made. It’ll have  the body to match the stats: a power-to-weight ratio of 1,000bhp per tonne, aerodynamic downforce numbers on a par with an LMP1 car and active suspension and hybridisation for its V12 engine. It’s not out until 2018, but this we know: only 150 are being made, it costs £2.5 million and they’ve all been sold. Even the concept shot here exclusively by GQ. Damn.

GQ spoke to current Ferrari F1 driver and quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel about the F12 TDF, and even he admitted it was a handful. Then we watched chief test driver Raffaele di Simone wrestle it around the test track until his temples throbbed. Yep, the F12 TDF is not a car you step into without bringing your ‘A’ game. This is one of the reasons we love it: Ferrari hasn’t just pushed the engineering on this car to the edge of what’s possible – it has twice the downforce of the regular F12, a 770bhp V12 and four-wheel steering – it’s also pushing its entire ethos to the limit. £338,876.

Porsche’s genius seems limitless, but its ability to wring more out of the 911 – a car whose engine is in the wrong place, a basic flaw that has remained spectacularly unchanged for 53 years – beggars belief. The R is the 911 in excelsis: a GT3 with a new manual gearbox, powered by a naturally aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six engine, producing 493bhp at 8,250rpm, weighing just 1,250kg dry, with carbon-fibre front wings and carbon ceramic brakes. Everything that makes a 911 a 911 – the traction out of corners, the engine’s rev-hungriness, the machined feel – is honed to perfection. £136,901. APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 107




lag is all but eliminated using a feature called Power  Pulse, which expels compressed air into the engine from low revs.

a trailer? The Discovery features “towing assist”, so it can reverse park a trailer autonomously.

Cotswolds cars They’re tailored to the countryside elite but still cut a dash in town THE ONLY CAR YOU’LL EVER NEED

108 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017


Land Rover Discovery

Volvo V90

The new Discovery features 172 litres of storage space spread between door bins, glove box and underfloor areas, with room in the central console for four iPads or a pair of two-litre water bottles. It comes with four 12V sockets, nine USB points, and in-car 4G Wi-Fi is also available. This is the new usability frontier and the Disco nails it. But it can also wade through 900mm of water, while still being comfortable on the motorway. 2017’s most imaginative and ingeniously engineered new car, even if you don’t know who Bear Grylls is. £43,495.

Scandinavian estate cars are as much a part of fatherhood as sleep deprivation and effluence, but thanks to the careful hand of Volvo’s new chief stylist they’ve evolved into parent paraphernalia that’s actually stylish. As per protocol there’s an Ikea-swallowing boot and a suite of near-autonomous anti-crash features, but the interior’s combination of nine-inch touchscreen, blonde woods and thick leather is as soothing as it is singular. Also, this was, unanimously, the car everyone wanted to drive home. Really. £34,350.


Oddball cars They didn’t fit anywhere else, but they’re all the better for it


450mm of fresh air stands between the ground and the axles, giving the 4x4 Squared more than double the clearance of a standard  G-Class.

cars were digitally scanned and all discrepancies in symmetry were removed before work started on the new cars’ panels.


Jaguar XKSS Two years ago a Le Mans-winning D-Type sold for more than $20 million at Pebble Beach, elevating fast, classic Jaguars to the highest levels of investment classes. To sate the thirst of buyers with (slightly) more constrained means, the brand dusted off the old tooling and re-created the most venerated car in its history – the XKSS, a road-going version of the D-Type and unquestionably one of the most beautiful objects ever created. The “new” versions cost less than a tenth of an original, but don’t bother forming an orderly queue: all nine have already been sold.


Mercedes G-Class Squared First there was the Mercedes G-Class, 34 years later there was the £370,000 AMG-tuned sixwheeled version, now, Mercedes has given us the sky-scraping £400,000 4x4 Squared, a hyper-SUV that uses the six-wheeler’s deep-wading portal axles, the same twinturbocharged 4.0-litre V8 that powers the Teutonic AMG GT and enough locking differentials for it to reach places where 450mm of ground clearance matters. This isn’t so much a go-anywhere car, but an access all areas pass to planet earth. £129,655.

ARMS and heavy goods were a huge part of Skoda’s business in the Austro-Hungarian empire


Skoda Superb 280 Never mess with a silver Skoda: undercover cops and MI6 operatives rate these as the ultimate stealth cars (the mini-cabs are usually white). Never more so than in 280 guise, where its 2.0-litre engine is hooked up to a fastchanging dual-shift gearbox and its 276bhp is transmitted to the road via all four wheels for, at times, other-worldly levels of grip. It also has razor-sharp styling, it’s beautifully made and has an almost comically cavernous cabin. The joking stopped long ago, but nothing flies under-the-radar with the authority or commitment as one of these. Even if it’s painted red. From £31,020.

Thanks to Kevin Watters, Raphaele Loheac-Derboulle and John Burrin at Aston Martin for letting us use its new St Athan facility in South Wales. Watch this space – and it’s a big one – for news of the DBX, the company’s all-new SUV, which will be manufactured in St Athan and go on sale in 2019. Once they’ve cleaned the tyre marks we left on the floor.

110 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

Prices from


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Small but perfectly formed, La Réserve’s clutch of European properties exude relaxed luxury

Comfort break: La Réserve Paris’ pool (top) and Reception (above)

IF AMAN has its “junkies”, what to call adherents of the no-less-loved La Réserve group of hotels? “Reservists”? Sounds a bit noncommittal; and anyway, for anyone entering its flagship city-resort in GENEVA, “reserved” isn’t the word that springs to mind. Not that it’s particularly OTT (unless you count some of designer Jacques Garcia’s colonial touches, which bring another of its owner’s major interests, the first-growth Bordeaux Clos D’Estournel, into view with the playful recreation of the chateau’s famous elephant insignia). Just that compared to any other Genevoise abode, it feels like a vibrant private country club, albeit one that benefits from a lakeside setting offering water-borne access to the city centre. Unsurprisingly, the 102-room La Réserve Geneva has long been a favourite of visiting plutocrats, drawn by its discreet location, five restaurants (including the city’s finest Cantonese, Tse Fung) and 2,000 sq ft spa... Hence the recent addition of a sister property in PARIS, a Haussmann-style mansion originally built for the Duc de Morny and, until its renovation (again under the auspices of Jacques Garcia), the headquarters of the renowned designer Pierre Cardin. Here, the accents are more traditional-opulent, but still with the emphasis on “livable luxury”. Which means, in place of generic styling and serene yet uninviting service there’s counter-free check-in and the option to stay in one of its ten private apartments. In addition to the city’s first Nescens spa, there’s also a residents-only “lending library” (complete with monthly “salons”) and a brace of fine-dining restaurants, the two-Michelin starred Le Gabriel, and La Pagode De Cos, celebrating the owner’s estimable wine.

Still waters (above, from top): The outside and indoor pool spaces of La Réserve Geneva

But for those in search of a more remote version of La Réserve’s relaxed (though never laid-back) approach, there’s a third property on the French Riviera at RAMATUELLE. Set in natural parkland overlooking the Mediterranean a few miles west of St Tropez, this was once the holiday home of a particularly successful entrepreneur. Now it serves as the ultimate hideaway for a new generation of lotus-eater drawn to the uncommonly beautiful setting – and a secure coastal compound that boasts 14 private villas, its own Nescens spa and a gastronomic restaurant with easily the best views on the Cote d’Azur. Reservation required. Superior rooms at La Réserve Geneva from £365. BA flies to Geneva from £35 each way. Prestige rooms at La Réserve Paris from £959. Eurostar travels to Paris from £29 each way. Superior rooms at La Réserve Ramatuelle from £436. BA flies to Nice from £35 each way.

Private lives (left): The suite terrace and exterior of La Réserve Ramatuelle

APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 115

TRAVEL Sunset dip (from top): L’Ermitage’s rooftop pool; Viceroy Double room; the Avec Nous lounge; (inset) the Avec Nous bar

The Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills is a welcome escape from the LA bustle

The reason you feel so at home when you’re staying at the Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills is probably because the hotel used to be a condominium block, so when you walk into your suite you already feel as though you’ve been here before. Which in GQ’s case is true, because it is one of our favourite places to stay in Los Angeles, a home from home that offers the stores and restaurants of Rodeo Drive only a short walk away, and the Hollywood Hills and the Valley only a short drive away. There is no forecourt, and you just pull over from the road, casual as you like, ready to be welcomed with open arms. Competition at this end of the luxury market is fierce in LA, so hotel staff go out of their way to take care of you, and that’s certainly true at the Viceroy. Whether you’re staying for business or pleasure, and whether your trip is long or short, you will no doubt experience jet lag for the first few days, and trust us, there is no better place to gaze out of the window and watch the sun come up. Excuse the noise, we’re probably next door, watching The Grand Tour on our iPad. Double rooms from £443. Viceroy L’Hermitage Beverly Hills, 9291 Burton Way, Beverly Hills, California, USA. 116 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

British Airways flies from London Heathrow to Los Angeles daily from £477.

Meet Milaidhoo, a new chapter in luxury Welcome to Milaidhoo Maldives. Our boutique island retreat in the heart of a UNESCO world biosphere reserve where luxury and nature live side by side. Here youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll step into your own small island story, discovering the true Maldives, natural beauty, harmonious luxury, adventure and complete relaxation. Book your Milaidhoo story at

OPEN NOVEMBER 2016 @Milaidhoo

Enjoy responsibly -



True north Become a man of Principal at the Manchester landmark that promises substantial style from bar to bed E D I T E D BY



The Principal, Manchester “THE thing about British hospitality,” says US industry titan Barry Sternlicht, “is that people are more proud to work in a hotel in the UK than they are in the States.” And Sternlicht should know, having previously founded Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, which encompasses W Hotels, St Regis, Design Hotels and Sheraton (yep, he’s kind of a big deal). Previously involved in bringing the Ace brand to Shoreditch, in his new role as CEO of the Starwood Capital Group, Sternlicht is now going the full monty with a UK chain of regional hotels he’s branded Principal. A flagship property opened late last year in Manchester and Principal London, formerly the Russell Hotel, is due to open in Bloomsbury in July. The good news is that all Principal hotels will be five-star, with a strong emphasis on their local character and heritage. The even better news is that in London, Tara Bernerd and Russell Sage are responsible for the design of the hotel and restaurant respectively. On his approach to dining in the capital, Sternlicht is clear: “You don’t want to bring New York to the UK. We made mistakes with the Ace in Shoreditch. We went a little too fancy and English, which had very little appeal to American travellers, who are the most important part of the business. I like local flavour and style, but you need something that Americans want to eat.” BP OOxford Street, Manchester M60 7HA. 0161 288 1111.

Lancashire hot spot: The Victorian Grade-II listed Principal; (above) Refuge, the hotel’s bar

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Little bang: The interior of Bombetta; (right) grilled watermelon with onion and oregano


Bombetta Expect fireworks at the east London trattoria that brings subtlety and style to traditional Italian street food EATING mousse made from the cheese of a goat so rare there are only 300 left on a hill in Sicily is a bittersweet experience. Very sweet for you, but you can’t help feeling for the goat. If natural selection is left to its own devices, we may soon see the last of the Girgentana. However, if Bombetta has anything to do with it, these endangered beasts may yet have a future. Opened last August on an inauspicious slip road next to Snaresbrook Underground station, Bombetta sits with The Chef’s Deli, an importer of superb Italian and Spanish cheese and meat, which supplies, among others, Polpo and Soho House. Co-owner of both, Ben Milne, has a licence to “mature, portion and reallocate”, which, as licences go, gives James Bond a run for his money. Bombetta has the easy-going warmth of a trattoria with a menu based around the bombette, a street food from Puglia for which various meat combinations are rolled together, often with cheese or other fillings. GQ’s favourite was the pork, prosciutto San Daniele with truffle pecorino and porcini paste, but these mighty pigs in blankets are merely the gateway drug for the small plates and grills. Early highlights were some horribly moreish pasta, including the ciccatelli with Sicilian cherry tomato sauce and pork fillets followed by the orecchiette with wild mushrooms and truffle butter. Other standouts were the warming chick pea broth with crispy prosciutto and the mozzarella with burnt Sicilian blood oranges and honey, one of the simplest, most exquisite little bites you will find north of the Alps. Best of all was the sirloin marinated in espresso, an original and startling way to enhance what would have been a fine piece of meat to begin with. The desserts follow the theme of bolshie flavours prepared with surprising delicacy and subtlety. It was again the simplest idea that provided the biggest thrills, namely the yoghurt with rhubarb, jelly, mint and candied pecans. And then that Girgentana cheese mousse. The message is clear: visit Bombetta, eat rare cheese, save goats, feel good. George Chesterton O1-5 Station Approach, Snaresbrook, London E11. 020 3871 0890.


The flame game: A trio of sizzling smokehouses




Rök Smokehouse

35 Sclater Street, E1

25 Broadwick Street, W1

26 Curtain Road, EC2

The setup: The first permanent restaurant for festival mainstay David Carter feels like the dark heart of the smoker itself with charred concrete walls, unpolished steel panelling and old workshop furnishings. Eat this: The gristly “pigtails” (£4.50) are not for the faint-hearted, but the chilli-dotted barbecued beef brisket (£9.50) and the rarebit baked potato (£5) are surefire crowd pleasers. Drink that: The Quince + Thyme (burnt butter bourbon, caramelised quince and thyme) is an inspired aperitif before the cavalcade of sticky meat (£8.50).

The setup: Neil Rankin, the chef behind Pitt Cue and Bad Egg shows what happens when you marry fire with nose-to-tail meat and flatbreads. Eat this: Pick your protein by animal breed in cuts of 100g; pair with your choice of sides. GQ loved the 65-day British White beef (from £9.50) with green sauce (£1) and sweetcorn in lamb-fat butter (£4). Save room for the soft chocolate cookie, fire-baked and served hot in its pan (£6). Drink that: The fennel in On The Nose (gin, mescal, blackberry, £10) gives this softly sweet drink just enough of an aniseed kick.

The setup: This Shoreditch smokehouse is influenced by Scandinavian techniques (“rök” is Swedish for smoke). Don’t overlook the veggie side dishes – they hold their own against the delicious blackened protein and rainbow of pickles and preserves. Eat this: Pair your cucumber and gin pickles (£3) with some venison meatballs and pear jelly (£6), and follow with the crispy mallard (£17) and charred squash with kale (£6). Drink this: They’ve even smoked the gin in the Rök Negroni (£9.50). Jennifer Bradly


Mission, Leeds Clubland’s new cornerstone causes a big noise up North by following its own beat

Photographs Gavin Bond; Joe Brook

In 2016, Leeds ranked number one in the UK for best quality of life, beating London, Manchester and Edinburgh. With prices that make Londoners blink, great bars galore and enough culinary gems to satisfy the most discerning diners, no wonder. Oh, and did we mention the nightlife? Newly renovated Mission nightclub is one of the North’s hottest haunts, here’s why... It’s the self-proclaimed “home of house”... And we dare you to doubt it. The Monday Night House Project delivers quality house and techno tunes, old and new, blasted out of a KV2 Audio soundsystem from resident DJs including Jamie Duggan.

Hennessy VS Limited Edition by Scott Campbell

On track: Mission sits below six railway arches

weekend’s garage and grime. As the host imparted to us as GQ entered, “People come here to skank.” Indeed, they do. How much? VIP booths with a bottle of spirit and unlimited soft drinks come in at a trifling £99 for six people, including entry. Yes, Londoners, that is only two digits. No, it’s not a typo. If that’s too unnerving, upgrade your Smirnoff to a bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal for £250.

The big names come flocking... Past DJs have included David Guetta, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso. Upcoming? Maximum, Frisco, Majestic and Artful Dodger.

And it’s all spruced up... Two arches have just been rebuilt to open as Tunnel, a new secondary venue, which hosts deep house and techno afterparties from 4am till 8am on Saturday nights/Sunday mornings. Good luck. Eleanor Halls

It lies beneath six railway arches... It’s an impressive aesthetic which creates the perfect gritty, urban environment for Monday’s deep house and the

OOpen Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11pm-5am. 8 Heaton’s Court, Leeds LS1 4LJ. 0870 122 0114.

STILL wowed by a Martini trolley in your favourite cocktail boîte? Move on, my friend, to the soon-to-open Curtain Hotel (45 Curtain Road, London EC2., where the lobby extends to a tattoo parlour – proof that where the needle falls, the cool kids will gather. Now Hennessy has seen fit to harness this mood for selfdecoration by making its VS available in a limited edition bottle designed by tattoo artist Scott Campbell (above). His cursive style makes a bold statement that’s a world away from bland brand-speak. Spokesperson Giles Woodyer explains, “Scott’s style is a perfect visual metaphor for how we honour our craft. That talent, passion and commitment reflect what Hennessy has pursued for 250 years.” BP O£40. At Selfridges.

APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 121

small bites


has been eating this month...

JAMAVAR The first Jamavar restaurant to open outside India offers plenty of pomp. standout dish

Southern spiced wild prawns, peanut and curry leaf chutney (part of the nonvegetarian tasting menu, £60).


The Ginger Pig A coastal stroll westwards from Brighton to Hove can either deliver a wish-you-were-here seaside glow, or prove a battle against some aggressive elements. Regardless of your meteorological luck, be safe in the knowledge that waiting on the other side is a bastion of Englishness – a darn good pub. The Ginger Pig has equally popular siblings around the Brighton area, all carrying the red-headed gene – The Gingerman, The Ginger Fox and The Ginger Dog also incur high local praise. As you swing through the revolving door, you’d be forgiven for believing you’d taken a wrong turn at the Channel, such is the air of Parisian brasserie evoked by the slick, dark wood trim. An instantly warm atmosphere and comfortingly carpeted bar stools, however, quickly betray The Ginger Pig’s publican credentials. The menu is a celebration of English pub classics, with the occasional deft nod over La Manche. The Ginger Pig does meat well. The first whiff comes courtesy of the Bloody Mary, which features their deliciously umami roasted bone marrow vodka. A Sunday offering of roast sirloin glistens a deep red with a suitably silky taste to match. Vegetarians are looked after too, with some splendid meat-free affairs – the leek, potato and Duddleswell (a fragrant, creamy local sheep’s cheese)

Hove and above: Monkfish, saffron potatoes, parsnip purée and Tenderstem

pie is feather-light and velvety. The perfect liquid accompaniment is always on hand, as The Ginger Pig tailors its extensive wine list to its menu, with pairing suggestions offered with educated enthusiasm and a selection of Coravin-extracted wines available for finer occasions. Hop enthusiasts need not fret, with a plentiful array of beers behind the bar celebrating Sussex success stories, including local favourites Bedlam Brewery and Dark Star Brewing Co. Can’t bear to leave? Eleven ensuite bedrooms will open upstairs just in time for summer. Ailis Brennan O3 Hove Street, Hove BN3 2TR. 01273 736123.

8 Mount Street, London W1. 020 7499 1800. A glass darkly: The underground bar interior; (right) a Rio Cross, made with coconut rum

RED DOG SALOON This chain of “Kansas City”-style BBQ joints delivers finger-lickin’ favourites. standout dish

Brisket and pulled pork combo, with sides of French fries and meaty beans (£17.50).

20 Berwick Street, London W1. 020 3457 6930.

ORMER MAYFAIR Shaun Rankin brings the flavours of his three-starred St Helier flagship to Fleming’s Hotel. standout dish

Roast rabbit in pancetta with spring peas, morels and herb gnocchi (£16).

7-12 Half Moon Street, London W1. 020 7499 0000.

122 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017


Ray’s Bar A menu of mixologist’s delights give a whole new meaning to dinner in Dalston THE evening meal can be such a cumbersome commitment. There you are, trying to have a quick drink (or two) after work, when suddenly someone chirrups with infuriating predictability: “But what about dinner?” No longer faced with the sweet tranquility of simply ordering a bottle of beer, a glass of wine or a Martini, now you have to think about the logistics of nutrition, of weighing up reviews, of price, of cuisine. Because, realistically, how many great bars serve great food? And how many top restaurants deliver a decent Old Fashioned? Well, forget dinner. Because Ray’s Bar, the new cocktail hub lurking in the basement beneath the well-established Voodoo Ray’s pizza joint in London’s Dalston, serves drinks that require no sustenance. They are sustenance. Categorised

into aperitifs, mains and desserts, these drinks offer as much excitement as going out for a three-course meal, and can be just as hearty. Start with the ever-so-light Gentleman Cooler (Cocchi Americano, lychee, grapefruit), before tucking merrily into a main of Crazy Talk (tequila, balsamic vinegar, orange bitters, agave), before finishing up with a Sensational Sherry (sherry, dark rum, dark cacao, cream). Sensational is no hyperbole – the desserts are so good you might need to have two. We suggest the indulgent Spice World (bourbon, chai, cream, nutmeg), which will send you straight to the dancefloor, where DJs spin only vinyl until 3am on weekends. And then maybe you can just go on for breakfast... EH O95 Kingsland High Street, London E8. 020 7249 7865.

TASTE Beef up: Cured fillet steak with red cabbage; (below right) Richard H Turner; (below left) chopped steak tartare and toast


Onion and lime ravioli Two-time Michelinstarred French master Claude Bosi is bringing his skills to west London restaurant Bibendum. This is the kind of food you can expect... Ingredients (serves 8) For the ravioli O1 kg finely sliced

grelot onions O333ml fresh


Photographs Paul Winch-Furness

Prime: The Beef Cookbook by Richard H Turner VEGETARIANS, livestock and Morrissey, look away now. Because if meat is murder, Richard Turner might just be Ted Bundy, Jack The Ripper and Jeffrey Dahmer rolled into one. Not only does he truly love meat, he also knows how to cook it (he trained under Pierre Koffman and Marco Pierre White), how to prepare it (he is one half of butchers Turner & George) and how to celebrate it (having launched the Meatopia festival). Meat is Turner’s business, and business is very good. It wasn’t such good news for pigs, however, when Turner released Hog: Proper Pork Recipes From The Snout To The Squeak last year. And the future looks even worse for bovines with the forthcoming Prime. Covering everything from breeds and butchering, through to beef in all its braised, baked, boiled, broiled, barbecued and burgered glory, it is drool-inducingly good. A word of warning: in among this collection of hardcore carnivore porn, there is a recipe for fried beets. Don’t worry, though... they’re cooked in beef dripping. PH OPrime: The Beef Cookbook by Richard H Turner (Mitchell Beazley, £25) is out on 9 March.

O20g fresh

mint leaves For the lime butter emulsion O100ml fresh

lime juice

lime juice

O100g diced butter

O16 sheets of

For the fricassee of broad beans

fresh pasta For the broad bean and mint purée O200g fresh small

broad beans

O40g fresh small

broad beans OChopped mixed

herbs (tarragon, parsley and chives)

Method OPlace the onion and lime juice into a pan

and slowly cook until the onions are soft (but with no colour). Pour onto a tray to cool down. When cooled, drain slightly and mix well, then chill in the fridge for a couple of hours. OCut the pasta sheets into 6.5cm squares.

Place 25g of lime/onion mix on the pasta and fold to create a half-moon shape and trim with a pasta cutter to seal. OPlace the finished raviolis on greaseproof

paper and store in the fridge. OF  or the purée, cook the broad beans

and then blitz for 2 minutes in a Thermomix with the fresh mint. Then chill in the fridge. OFor the emulsion, warm the lime juice

in a small pan and whisk in the butter a cube at a time. Add half to a tray (reserve the other half). OFor the fricassee, add the broad beans

to the remaining emulsion in a pan and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the herbs. OWhen ready, place 2 raviolis per portion

into simmering water for 31⁄2 minutes or until the pasta is soft. Place onto the tray with the seasoned lime butter emulsion. OTo serve, spoon room-temperature broad

bean and mint purée on the base of a shallow bowl, then add two ravioli and a little of the fricassee of raw broad beans. Porterhouse rules: Prime divulges the secrets to perfect grilled steaks

OGarnish with Moroccan mint, broad bean

flowers and pea shoots. OMichelin House, 81 Fulham Road, London SW3. 020 7581 5817.

APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 123


t th

e N o r th Por t R



Plane: London Gatwick to Edinburgh, from £40.


Time: One hour 20 minutes

Drive from Edinburgh: One hour




a on

n ra


Perth, Scottish Highlands

To stand on Queen’s Bridge and look out across Perth, is to know urban Scotland at its prettiest. This is the gateway to the Highlands, Sir Walter Scott’s Fair City on the banks of the River Tay, where a heartening food scene is in bud.

(1) The North Port Restaurant (8 North

Top: The North Port Restaurant; (right) beetroot carpaccio; (below) the bread oven at Cafe Breizh


124 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

(Foss Road, PH16 5ND. 01796 470140. is a modern fairytale, all turrets and towers, extended with a glass wing. The view from the brasserie is outdone only by the kitchen, which sends out plates of small miracles (pillows of pumpkin agnolotti, roe deer on hazelnut mash, two dozen Shetland mussels) as though


From top: Roe deer at Fonab Castle; the glass bar wing; the original exterior


(3) Fonab Castle Hotel & Spa


Port, PH1 5LU. 01738 580867. heralds the region’s newfound confidence. The walnut-clad, candlelit backdrop adds an element of drama to proceedings, which centre on Caledonian classics, such as a peppery haggis and Perthshire partridge. This is chef Andrew Moss’ love letter to the surrounding land and sea, with every morsel of the menu sourced from north of the border. Around the cobblestone corner, a portrait of Brigitte Bardot looks down over the tables of (2) Cafe Breizh (28-30 High Street, PH1 5TQ. 01738 444427. and waiters in Breton shirts bring out dishes as though they were a gift to the goddess herself. That said, the wood-fired pizzas wear the French influence lightly and the starters achieve the culinary equivalent of the Auld Alliance – with a particularly special rabbit roulade on offer. Where Perth still stumbles is hotels, but no bother – it’s a lovely excuse to explore the nearby countryside. Hidden from the main road by a veil of pine trees, the lochside

they were the simplest thing in the world to achieve. Back in town there is Perth’s old-time tea room, where a warren of Wonderland-worthy tables heave with secret-recipe scones and sweets. At (4) Small Talk (202 High Street, PH1 5PA. 01738 634770), the mismatched china and berry-trimmed treats belie a clever operation which – despite appearances to the contrary – is anything but old-fashioned thanks to a directional lunch menu. Traditions are evolving too at (5) The Bothy (33 Kinnoull Street, PH1 5EN. 01738 449792. From the cock-a-leekie terrine (a hat-tip to Burns) to the whisky flight, it balances heritage with ambition to memorable effect. From top: Roast salmon at The Be wise and order from the Bothy; its smoked bar’s cabinet of locally salmon; The Post Box’s pigeon with brewed curiosities, a Fair apple and beetroot Maid (named for Scott’s Perthshire heroine) being the insider’s favourite. Meanwhile, behind the scarlet doors of (6) The Post Box (80 George Street, PH1 5LB. 01738 248971., bathed in the glow of dimmed chandeliers, waits a graceful RTH, SCOTTI restaurant which takes dining PE SH seriously but not stuffily. Celeriac soup perfumed with st Atholl St We ge 3 truffles should be followed Brid St by wild pigeon with 1 6 poached pear. Downstairs is the Cellar Bar, where 5 River gin cocktails flow and High St Tay 2 4 jazz musicians play late into the night. It is a York Pl promise that Perth is South St ready to become an Canal St epicurean destination; a ripple that will turn into a tide. Holly Bruce 5m m 6 ile s

Moments from the waterfront,

Above: Scones at Small Talk; (below) the tea room’s exterior


THE MOST WANTED: It’s a jungle out there so don’t accept anything less than the best blouson, such as this tropical-print jacket by Moncler – perfect for the rainforest or a typical British spring day.

Grooming Jess Whitbread at S:Management Model Callum Ward at Premier



Photograph by Luc Coiffait. Jacket by Moncler, £505. T-shirt by Sunspel, £60.

APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 129

HOW TO: Wear

leather jackets

Whatever the occasion, this outerwear essential will never let you down. Here are four fresh ways to wear one right now. By Carlotta Constant





The bomber

The most versatile jacket to invest in looks great over long layers. Where to wear: Midweek date night. Jacket by Dior Homme, £3,000. Jumper by Givenchy, £475. At Browns. Shirt by Ami, £130. At Jeans by AG Jeans, £190. At Selfridges.

The officer The best way to wear casual leather will never go out of fashion. Where to wear: On weekend wanders. Jacket by Belstaff, £1,290. At Jacket by Private White VC, £350. Jumper by Topman Premium, £38. topman. com. Jeans by King & Tuckfield, £189.

130 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

GET K N OT T E D Neckerchiefs are trending hard in Paris. To Frenchify your jacket, tie on and tuck under a T-shirt. By Neighborhood, £30. At Browns.

The varsity Make a splash with bright colours in a classic cut. Keep it simple underneath – the matelot top picks up the cuffs perfectly. Where to wear: To party on down. Jacket by Gucci, £2,420. Jumper by Michael Kors, £240. Jeans by Levi’s, £90.

The biker Channel Marlon Brando in The Wild One for an edgy work uniform. Where to wear: To beef up office credibility. Jacket by Acne, £1,290. At Harvey Nichols. Shirt by Burberry, £195. Tie by Drake’s, £105. Trousers by Boss, £159.

JIM CHAPMAN: When wet weather strikes, take the world (and your wardrobe) in your stride with fail proof investments for a rainy day.

Jacket by Loro Piana, £4,335.

elcome to the rainy season – here to relieve itself on your chips without a moment’s notice. So, like a good Scout, you have to be prepared at all times. Perhaps I am strange, but I’m not a massive fan of an umbrella. What do you do with it when it’s Umbrella by Mr Stanford, £165. not raining – just hold onto it? I forget to take it home with me almost every time I use one, plus, being a tall guy, walking through central TO P T I P London on a rainy day is a minefield of spikes Always dry shoes by stuffing them with at exactly eye-level. If you too struggle with the Trench coat by Burberry, newspaper with the umbrella, if you’re forgetful and have lost too £1,395. sole facing up. many to try again, or if you’re so disorganised that you don’t remember to take one with you in the first place, I am here to solve all your problems. Firstly, the basics: treat yourself to a rainproof jacket or coat that’s practical for the season, but cool enough to wear regardless of moisture. The Boots by Grenson, £215. silhouette of a well-fitted trench coat is often a good bet as it can be worn with jeans just as well as with a suit. Also, as trenches tend to be longer in the body, they will usually keep your thighs dry, which for me is vital when it properly in between wears and keep them comes to damp chaffing. in good nick to maintain their water One of the most important Unexpected resistance, a solid pair of waterproof factors to consider at this time of year cloudbursts can boots should last you for years. is appropriate footwear. I am not ruin your footwear. Should the heavens suggesting you wear Wellingtons to Technical fabrics have come on open, avoid water work (unless you’re a farmer, in leaps and bounds over the past few damaged shoes which case I am) but I usually opt for years and are no longer synthetic with a great a boot that covers my ankles, just sweat-traps. In fact, you will be spoilt protector. By Liquiproof, £10. in case that puddle is deeper than for choice, with pretty much any you thought, or that lorry drives past garment you can think of created in too fast and drenches you. Say a lightweight, waterproof material goodbye to your canvas trainers for that lets your skin breathe while keeping the now and look for good quality leather elements at bay. Really, a few well-considered pieces are all you need numbers – ideally with a rubber sole. to keep crisp, dry and fresh-looking this spring. Enjoy rubbing it in Provided you allow them to dry rather than having to rub yourself down.

W •

Photographs Mitch Payne; Getty Images

ARMANI: Giorgio Armani’s Private Bag collection was launched late Briefcase by Giorgio Armani, £1,300.

last year and this spring the line has been expanded to include a travel bag and a backpack. The name references the fact that the modern metropolitan man tends to carry his life around with him and requires certain levels of performance from his bag – and Mr Armani is determined not to let him down.

Bag by Giorgio Armani, £1,550.

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LUXURY: Ermenegildo Zegna’s New Bond Street store remains as essential as ever, 30 years after first landing in London. BY

Bella Italia: The second floor of the Zegna store in New Bond Street; (below) a look from the brand’s SS17 collection

Nick Foulkes

ack in 1987 Britain was a very different country. In fact, it was so long ago that there was no British GQ. To use fragrances openly, as I did, was to imperil one’s masculinity and beyond yuppie, street or Sloane, men’s style barely existed. To Italian fashion houses, British menswear must have looked pretty much like Britain looked to that Italian visitor of an earlier generation Julius Caesar – a land of poorly dressed savages. But like Caesar before him, Ermenegildo Zegna decided to come and have a go at conquering, arriving on New Bond Street in 1987. Just to show us how such things have changed in the last three decades, a Peter Marino-designed, glittering new palace of male elegance has now risen where only a ground floor and basement store used to be. American architect Marino has a near monopoly when it comes to the creation of a luxury retail environment and part of his genius is to make something that is at once his work and simultaneously identifiable with the brand. Thus, the door handles are fashioned to resemble rolls of fabric; metal strands in the glass apparently represent the warp and weft of fabric weaving; and the sheep’s head keystones reinforce the message (if you did not know it already) that this is a brand built on wool. Just for good measure, the dominating art work in store is a huge tapestry depicting the brand’s eponymous founder; it is handwoven with the winning yarn of the Zegna Mohair Awards trophy. There is a sense of occasion, as you slump into the rich leather of Scarpa furniture, you are treated like a guest as much a customer: the


Harrods x Balmain:

Hoodie by Balmain Exclusively For Harrods, £2,565.

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Olivier Rousteing is the bling king of fashion, but for this tracksuit from his exclusive capsule collection for Harrods, he has toned it down and taken inspiration from sunsets rather than stones. The kingfishercoloured suede hoodie comes with matching trackpants – or plain navy for the fainter-hearted.

espresso machine is put to work, the miniature bottles of San Pellegrino get an outing, as do the Gianduja... and then you settle into the experience and want to explore. It feels like visiting the home of a very rich friend. What places like this achieve is, ironically, a decommoditisation of clothing. Jaded and cynical though I am, crossing the threshold I got a little frisson; a frisson that, for all their convenience, a keyboard and screen are powerless to deliver. The thing about big stores like this is that you need to have the merchandise to fill it and Zegna does – all the variety of the collections laid out over four floors. Given that today our view is increasingly myopic, edited and “curated” it is a real pleasure to roam around and get a sense of the world as seen from Biella, Zegna’s historic HQ, through the eyes of Alessandro Sartori, the creative director who used to work here, was lured away to launch Berluti as an apparel brand and then lured back. On the second floor there is a room devoted to footwear. Here Sartori has put his time at Berluti to good use, offering bespoke shoes in a house style that is at once understated and sculptural, except for the socking great metal escutcheon fixed to the fiddleback waist between sole and heel. And in this instance, bespoke means bespoke as the shoes are made by the leading British artisan shoemakers Gaziano & Girling, albeit in a less acute style than its own. Indeed, as far as I can tell Zegna seems be on a mission. A custom jean service is coming soon and on the top floor is the made-to-measure room with its bay window looking down on Bond Street, a view worth the climb, and almost as impressive as the library of Zegna cloth.

Under the watchful eye of David Beckham, the historic British name Kent & Curwen is reinventing itself as a global fashion brand. With an unrivalled heritage to draw on – after all, this is the label that invented the cricket jumper – and the sure-footed fashion know-how of Britain’s most famous footballer, it promises to score in the 21st-century style stakes.

Shirt by Kent & Curwen, £175.

T-shirt by Kent & Curwen, £150.

Tote by Coach, £695.

Backpack by Givenchy, £895. At Mr Porter.


The big fashion houses are really livening up their accessories with bold designs inspired by everything from bucking broncos to beach huts on totes, backpacks, wallets and pouches.

Wallet by Prada, £280.

Photographs Jody Todd

Pouch by Lanvin, £485.

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Kick-start your waking hours with a colourful and affordable take on timekeeping that will guarantee all eyes are on your wrist.



134 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017 Inox Professional Diver by Victorinox, £449.

Unisex Sync by Gucci, £330. At John Lewis.

LIGHTEN UP: Chronograph by Armani Exchange, £79. At

Time Teller by Nixon, £85.

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Gulliver Sport Watch by Tateossian, £225.

Crazy Sky by Swatch, £48.

Westport Chronograph by Lacoste, £129. At

Versus Tokyo Rubber by Versus Versace, £80.


Lydia Whitmore

Parka by PS by Paul Smith, £400.

TREND: Whether it’s lightweight or padded, fur-lined or floral, invest in a parka, the coolest look in the hood and a coat for all seasons.

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Parka by Pal Zileri, £4,620.

Pal Zileri is spearheading a casual approach to Italian tailoring and at the spring/summer 2017 show layered technical parkas over classic suits.

Check out the Penfield collection at 18 Montrose, which has recently opened its latest concept store in London’s King Cross, after branches in Glasgow and Nottingham.

David Beckham

Jared Leto

Parka by Burberry, £1,295.

Parka by Prada, £1,575. Parka by Penfield, £130.

Parka by CP Company, £435. Parka by Dior Homme, £2,800.

The original parka was invented by the Inuit hunters of the Canadian Arctic. Usually made form caribou or seal skin the name comes from a word meaning “animal skin”.

Lewis Hamilton

Photographs Alpha; GC Images; Getty Images; Light Project Photography;

Bruno Mars

For spring/ summer 2017 Miuccia Prada was inspired by travel and specifically hiking. The show featured digital-print parkas in technical fabrics.

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G Partnership

Shirt, £85. T-Shirt, £35. Chinos, £89. Left: Jacket, £265. Shirt, £69. Trousers, £114. All by Jaeger.

ARE YOU IN OR OUT? Inside meets outside in the new Jaeger collection. Drawing influences from modern architectural design and the natural world, it has created a style to suit both WE live in a world of contrasts, and the new Spring/Summer 2017 collection from Jaeger is designed to reflect that. It’s a versatile collection full of pieces that are adaptable and relevant for the modern man, whether he wants something casual or formal, indoors or outdoors, classic or contemporary. It brings the outside in, an idea Jaeger has taken literally with reversible outerwear. For tailoring this season, expect designs you can mix and match, dress up or down with suits and shirts in Regular and Slim fits taking you from the board to the bar. Jaeger also plays on its strengths when interpreting casual styles. Everything from waterproof fabrics to chainmail stitching and a new vintage wash make its super-soft casual shirts feel like old favourites from the moment you put them on. A great example is its denim shirt (main picture), which is made from durable cotton with gun-metal snaps, giving it an extra shade of cool. It’s that piece that can be worn on any off-duty occasion. If you’re intrigued by Jaeger’s vision, we have some good news. Throughout the whole of March, it is offering GQ readers an exclusive 20% off all full-price menswear, in store by presenting this page when making a purchase, or online by entering the code GQ2017 when you check out


Jacket, £265. Shirt, £69. Tie, £49. Trousers, £114. All by Jaeger.

20% off all full-priced Jaeger menswear (clothing & accessories) from 1 to 31 March 2017. Offer is valid in all Jaeger stores and online at only. This offer is not valid in conjunction with Jaeger Loyalty Reward vouchers and any other offers or promotions. Photocopies are not accepted. For full terms and conditions, please visit


Carlotta Constant

From casual hero pieces to the heritage pattern of choice, GQ checks in with what you are wearing this month.

Aaron Lesta, 22 Luke Laichena, 24

Occupation: Model Favourite item of clothing: “I walked in the Givenchy show this year, which was amazing. I really like their graphic jumpers.” Get the look: Tie by Thom Sweeney, £120. At Mr Porter.

Occupation: Local government worker Favourite item of clothing: “My vintage suede bomber.” Get the look: Scarf by Johnstons Of Elgin, £99.

Benji Colson, 20 Occupation: Model Favourite item of clothing: “It’s so hard to buy anything from Gosha Rubchinskiy as everybody wants it, but I love my T-shirt from there.” Get the look: T-shirt by Gosha Rubchinskiy, £50. At Dover Street Market.

Sam Wagstaff, 19

Ernesto D’Amico, 60

Abdul Ali, 22

Occupation: Model Favourite item of clothing: “Anything from Stone Island – Drake loves it too.” Get the look: Sweatshirt by Stone Island, £71. At Selfridges.

Occupation: Stylist Favourite item of clothing: “I have a red camouflage Saint Laurent shirt. It’s my favourite thing to wear.” Get the look: Coat by Boss, £530.

Occupation: Student Favourite item of clothing: “I love a bright hat – it’s also very useful as a peacocking device.” Get the look: Hat by Topman, £8.

Photographs by Dom Fleming

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New direction: Francesco Risso; (left and below) looks from Marni AW17 Right: Trousers, £370. Jacket, £690. Both by Marni. At

As GQ Contributing Editor Luke Leitch says, “Marni is one of the few houses producing menswear that seems simultaneously mature and unconventionally progressive. It never screams that it’s Marni, but if you know, you know.” The classic Marni look could be described as geek chic – it never takes itself too seriously and will often boast an exaggerated silhouette and cropped trousers twinned with clever geometric prints and block primary colours. Fashion critic Alexander Fury said approvingly of the current collection, “How Dorky. How Marni.” Fans include Andrew Garfield, Ewan McGregor and Paul Rudd. The future: In 2013 Diesel boss Renzo Rosso’s holding

MARNI: The label that glamorised geek chic is undergoing another transformation, as new designer Francesco Risso shows he’s cut from the same cloth as his pioneering predecessor. Beginnings: Marni was founded in 1994 by part-Chilean Consuelo

Photographs Getty Images; Marni

Castiglioni and her husband, Gianni, whose family business was a Milanese furrier. Although she had no formal fashion training, Castiglioni revolutionised the whole approach to fur, treating it as a normal fabric to create modern clothes. Marni, named after her sister, was originally started to create clothes that customers could wear under their furs. Her long-time collaborator has been fashion director of British Vogue, Lucinda Chambers. The look: The menswear line was first launched in early 2007 and was an immediate hit, being both fresh and innovative. In its first collection it introduced leggings for men – now seen as a standard – and won a host of acolytes around the world, particularly among cool creatives who aren’t afraid to be a little unconventional. To the trained eye, the look is unmistakable. In 2012 Marni gained a whole new audience thanks to its collaboration with H&M – a collection that sold out in less than four hours.

company OTB Group bought a majority holding in Marni, increasing this share to 100 per cent last year. Castiglioni announced her retirement last summer. Her successor, who was hired from Prada, is 33-year-old Francesco Risso, who studied at London’s Central Saint Martins. The decision surprised many as he is a relative unknown, but then Gucci also opted for an under-the-radar designer when it promoted Alessandro Michele and that turned out pretty well. Risso is also highly considered among his peers in the Italian fashion industry. His first menswear collection for Marni was revealed in Milan in January to positive reviews. The season was lauded as evolution rather than revolution, Risso having well understood Castiglioni’s naive-but-knowing, elegant eccentricity. RJ Marni is available now on, with prices from £360.

Fine details: A look from Marni AW17; (left) a new take on the pinstripe

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From left: Tie by Turnbull & Asser, £125. Tie by Eton, £115. Tie by Turnbull & Asser, £125. All at Harrods.

I have a big family birthday coming up and want to look smart. I was wondering if I could wear dark brown shoes and a dark brown belt with a charcoal suit. I think it looks fine, but to be honest I’m colour blind so lack confidence. Greg, via email



Is it ever acceptable to tuck the end of your tie into your waistband? And can you buy ties in different lengths? Frank, via email

In my humble opinion, tucking your tie into your waistband is the equivalent of tucking your jumper in, in other words a dire sartorial sin (unless you are in an A-ha tribute band). After all, the only reason you would have to tuck your tie in is if you have tied it all wrong – or you have an unusually hobbit-like torso. Ideally the front of the tie should be just a little bit shorter than the back end, so you can’t see it below the bottom of the fat end – this can be experimented with according to the individual. If you are 18in around the neck your tie is going to look shorter than on a man who has a 15in neck. The point of the tie should be just brushing the waistband of your trousers. Too long, and it looks a little, well, sad and too short makes you look like a fat kid.

Sorry, but it does. There is an element of trial and error with ties as the British tend to wear their neckwear slightly longer than their continental cousins and the vast majority of ties will be between 53in and 58in long – if you are very tall you can buy extra long ties. Harrods, for example, has just opened new Eton and Turnbull & Asser concessions and both can do madeto-measure neckwear. Otherwise, get used to how long your favourite ties are so you can work out how best to tie them. Another way to make sure your neckwear is the perfect length is to experiment with different knots – as the extra loops required by a Windsor knot, for example, will affect the final length of the tie – though do be aware you will have to bear the collar shape of your shirts in mind.

Traditionally it has always been a rule that you can’t wear brown with black. This, frankly, is a rule that was made to be broken. Like so many of these sartorial shibboleths, the origin is shrouded in the mists of time – but I suspect it is an early 20thcentury thing when “gentlemen” would wear brown (in other words tweeds) in the country and black (or navy) when they were working in the City. This is the origin of the famous comment by Sir Hardy Amies on meeting an inappropriately, in his view, attired journalist in Savile Row: “Brown in town, how amusing.” Indeed, it was once considered infra dig to twin brown with dark blue; the Duke of Windsor, who popularised wearing brown suede shoes with navy suits in the late Twenties, was considered quite beyond the pale by many of his contemporaries for it. So I am confident that you can absolutely get away with dark brown shoes and belt with a charcoal suit. However, I will add this caveat: black always looks that little bit more formal than brown, so if Greg is really going for the sober scion look then he should choose accordingly. If the final decision is to go with the dark brown, however, I would advise pulling the whole thing together by choosing a deep burgundy-coloured tie. Above: Belt by Hugo Boss Black, £95. Below: Shoes by Church’s, £315. Both at Harvey Nichols.

Interestingly this was a question I have been asking myself recently. To be fair, the super-tailored moment that made the pocket square a fashion item a few years ago has now passed. But as long as you don’t go too froufrou with your silk there is no reason why you shouldn’t carry on sporting one. It would be best, however, to avoid the style favoured by a dandy friend of mine who refers to it as the “Mayfair peony”. At the recent London Fashion Week for Men in January we met a lady who had set up a company called YHIM (pronounced “why him”) marketing a double-sided pocket square, which is eight designs in one and offers a multitude of possibilities. Finally, I do think that a plain linen (I’m thinking baby blue) square twinned with jeans, a white T-shirt and a blue blazer is a style that still works as well in Croydon as it does in Capri. Pocket squares by YHIM, £60. At

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Photographs Light Project Photography

Are pocket squares still a thing? And can you twin them with a T-shirt and jeans or do they have to be worn with a suit? Richard, via email


Carlotta Constant


Recharge your tired, weary skin so it’s in perfect condition for summer and ready to take a tan. Josh Caudwell


Grooming Laura Dexter using Tom Ford For Men Model Jamie Kendrick at The Squad



1 FINE LINES Chloro Plasma, from the world’s leading dermatologist, is an exfoliator with detoxifying chlorophyll microcapsules. Use two to three times a week. By Perricone MD, £69.

2 TIRED EYES This eye treatment will lift and firm your skin instantly. Its metal-tipped applicator decreases puffiness by boosting the circulation in the small blood vessels. By Tom Ford, £55. At Selfridges.

3 CLEANSE AND SHAVE Kiehl’s Sky Flyin’ Foaming Multi-Gel preps skin for an even shave while the bamboo, lemon and orange formula removes oil and minimises redness. £14.50. Razor by Aesop, £57.


4 DIRTY PORES Activated charcoal in this Rescue Masque draws out deep dirt in pores. Lightly massage with wet hands, leave for seven to ten minutes and rinse. By Dermalogica, £38.

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National Fragrance Day Tuesday 21st March 2017 A week long celebration of fragrance

#ScentMemories Your stories through scentâ&#x20AC;¦






1 St Germain by Ralph Lauren, £60. 2 Spicy Accord by Acqua Di Parma, £70. 3 Travel by Land, £14. At J Crew. 4 Grapefruit by L:A Bruket, £45. At Liberty. 7

5 Blue Denim by Berluti, £130. 6 Materialism Oil by Tom Dixon, £65. 7 Safran by Byredo, £50. 8 Pin 12 by Le Labo, £44. At Liberty.



8 2




THE ‘MANDLE’: The male candle trend is burning brightly, and there’s nothing unmasculine in bringing a little scent support to your bathroom or bedroom (if you choose judiciously). We recommend putting a match to one of these... PHOTOGRAPH BY


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The G Preview:April E D I T E D BY


Bringing you the very latest in fashion, grooming, watches, news and exclusive events


Drambuie 70cl bottle, £28.95. 2 Sunglasses by Oliver Peoples x Berluti, £288. 3 Jumper by Z Zegna, £240. 4 Bag by Versace, £1,990. 5 Khaki X-Wind GMT Watch by Hamilton, £795. 6 Swimshorts by ASOS, £18. 7 Jacket by Ben Sherman, £115. 8 Shoes by Ted Baker, £150. 9 Savoy Steam 100ml Eau De Parfum by Penhaligons, £134.

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Photograph Mitch Payne Edited by Holly Roberts Junior Retail Editor Michiel Steur


We love Luxurious essentials by BOSS Spring dressing is all about light layering, allowing you to step out in comfort and style as the temperature rises. This season, BOSS Menswear executes this perfectly with a selection of essentials – the ultimate capsule for the modern man. Every item can be seamlessly layered, offering an effortless way to build the foundation of your wardrobe. Stick to a soft palette – sartorial grey, navy, khaki, white – and if it’s outerwear your want, look no further than this buttery soft olive green leather coat. The perfect spring investment. Coat, £2,000. Jumper, £149. T-shirt, £55. Trousers, £189. Trainers, £230. Backpack, £750. All by BOSS.


Artist Residence, 52 Cambridge Street, Pimlico, London SW1

Shirt by Kent & Curwen, £195.

Jumper by Oliver Spencer, £130. Trainmaster Worldtime Chronograph by Ball, £3,440.

Jeans by Diesel, £200.

How to Pack for a weekend away

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Holdall by Smythson, £1,395.

Boots by RM Williams, £385.

Eau de toillete, by Joop! £39 for 60ml.

Edited by Holly Roberts

Eclectic but homely, luxurious but personal, the Artist Residence in central London is one of the most unique boutique hotels in the city. Located in Pimlico, the small ten-bedroom boutique hotel opened in September 2014 and is the third property in the Artist Residence Group – they already run hotels in Brighton and Penzance – by young British hoteliers Justin and Charlotte Salisbury. With only two suites and eight rooms, all individually designed in rustic-luxe style, it is an intimate creative place to stay for the modern day traveller. As its name suggests, art is of high importance to Artist Residence and that is exactly which makes this place stand out from many other boutique hotels, with work gathered from a variety of independent galleries and art fairs. Such a design-led creative space asks for a holdall packed with carefully selected items. This graphic patterned sweatshirt from Oliver Spencer makes an excellent starting point. Team it with a white a Kent & Curwen shirt and navy Diesel jeans and add strong brown suede leather boots from RM Williams for a look perfectly suitable for a day in the city as well as an evening in the hotel’s Cambridge Street Kitchen restaurant. Pack it all in Smython’s navy soft deerskin Burlington holdall, and you’re good to go. Artist Residence, 52 Cambridge Street, Pimlico, London, SW1. 02079 318946.

The Speedster II Collection. The Sentry Chrono Leather, The Rollo, The Sentry 38 Leather & The C39 Leather




Britain has no effective opposition party, giving a free hand to the hard-Brexit policies of Theresa May’s Conservatives. So, with a divided Labour collapsing in the polls and ignored as an irrelevancy by the media, the man who once guided them to government asks if the leader’s unshakable conviction has become as harmful as it is futile


André Carrilho

I am writing this partly to keep busy and avoid the temptation to turn on the TV, where there would be no escape from the two things most doing my head in right now – Donald Trump and Theresa May’s hard Brexit plan. Our prime minister – appointed without a vote being cast, now interpreting 33,551,983 EU referendum votes in a way few outside the Farage extremes ever intended – hand in hand with the narcissist-inchief who lost the popular vote but conducts himself as though his global mandate is as huge as his gargantuan ego, signing executive orders like he used to sign autographs. Abortion – who needs it, hey guys? Muslims? Ban ’em if they come from, you know, those countries I never do business with. Refugees? Tough shit, they’re probably terrorists anyway. Attorney General? Sack her. UN? Waste of money. Climate change? We need the oil and jobs, sorry. As for the big issues that really worry “the leader of the free world”? Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The New Celebrity Apprentice ratings are way down on mine, Fox News is great, the rest are fake news liars because they said Barack Obama drew bigger crowds for his inauguration (reality check – he did). At least I am not dreaming about Theresa May. Yet. But Trump... hell, I have slipped from the Trumpression which followed his election to full-on Trumpsomnia since we passed the point of no return and he entered the White House. One of the most beautiful buildings in the world, inside and out. Some of my most memorable moments have been there, as a journalist in the 150 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

Reagan and George HW Bush eras. Then as an advisor with Tony Blair during the Clinton and George W Bush years. The latter was no Abraham Lincoln and would be the first to admit it. But Trump? Oh my God. He really can go and lie on the Lincoln bed. That really is him on every news bulletin making decisions that affect every single one of us. So, into my dream he drifts, asks me to stop playing my bagpipes and, as I awake, I see it is 3:25am. I tell myself I must not reach for my phone. But the will is weak and I check to see what he has tweeted since I went to bed. This is not healthy. Then again we are not in a healthy world. And it’s doing a lot of heads in. The tweeter-in-chief is inside mine too much. But there is a third person doing my head in. I doubt Jeremy Corbyn’s name came up

ALASTAIR CAMPBELL Falling fast: Jeremy Corbyn has found it tough to convince voters outside Labourâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s membership bubble

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You can download the GQ iPhone edition at no extra cost If you have purchased the tablet edition or are a print subscriber, simply search for â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;GQâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; in the App Store and download for free

ALASTAIR CAMPBELL much in the Trump-May talks. If he was doing his job well, it almost certainly would have done, because part of the role of the leader of the opposition is to be in and around the head of the prime minister all the time. That’s our system. The government does its stuff. The opposition watches like a hawk, tries to suggest a better way, and if the government makes a mistake, the hawk pounces. A good opposition should be respected, feared, vying every day for attention in the national debate, not just responding to government events but shaping them. He makes his way into May’s mind on a Wednesday morning, as she prepares for Prime Minister’s Questions. Sometimes he has done fairly well, as when challenging her on the NHS. But does he, on a regular basis, unsettle May as John Smith unsettled John Major or William Hague troubled Tony Blair? No. Does anyone watch their exchanges and see a strategy unfolding that will worry her all the way to the election? Can I, having been involved in hundreds of PMQs preparations in opposition and government, discern all the hard work, challenging thinking and research required for planning these exchanges? And do I sense his team care that much? No. In that sense, May is blessed. n my life, Corbyn comes up time and again, though I haven’t seen him to talk to since the day we shared a radio studio as the news broke that Ed Miliband was resigning in the wake of defeat to David Cameron. How mad would listeners have considered us to be if either of us had suggested that Corbyn would be the next leader of the Labour Party? Yet here we are, Cameron been and gone, Corbyn still there, leader, the man I have to look to for hope that this awful government can be ejected and something better put in its place. That is his job, you see. Get inside the prime minister’s mind and get inside the minds of the people. He should have them thinking he could do a better job. As to whether he is, here are a few of my Corbyncomes-up-a-lot snapshots from the week May headed to Washington to hold hands with the misogynist-sexist-in-chief. Monday: zebra crossing outside the National Portrait Gallery in London. A man approaches carrying a Pret takeaway cup. Mid-thirties. I’m guessing he works in academia or advertising. Friendly enough but stern. “What the hell are we going to do?” I establish by “we” he means Labour. He sets off on the kind of rant I hear most days... May is embarrassing. The cabinet is hopeless. Brexit is an act of national self-harm and nobody is doing anything to try to stop it. The pound is falling off a cliff and the economy will follow once we are out. The country is divided every which way you

Photograph Getty Images


look. The NHS is in meltdown and will collapse without immigration. “How on earth are the Tories so far ahead of Labour?” he asks. “You have to get rid of him.” It is touching, if frustrating, how much power some people seem to think I have, but note how the “we” has become “you”. “He just can’t do it. He has to go.” But how, I ask him? The party elected him again in the summer, big time. “I don’t know – but you have to do something.” This “something must be dunnery” has millions of British and American arms flailing right now, and we all think someone else must have the answer to the questions keeping us awake at night, but Trump is in power, doing lots of

Allied effort: Theresa May and Donald Trump at a press conference in Washington, 27 January 2017

The notion that Corbyn is a leftwing version of populist Trump is a nonstarter heads in, and Brexit is happening, also doing lots of heads in. The power of the few dwarfs the powerlessness, and political homelessness, of the millions. Tuesday: a therapeutic cup of tea with a shadow minister. Corbyn doesn’t so much chair shadow cabinet meetings, he says, as listen with a pained quarter-smile on his face. Someone talks about a policy area. Others chip in with anecdotes. If the conversation veers towards anything too tricky – like, say, where the hell are we going and do we have anything resembling a strategy in place? – John McDonnell or Diane Abbott step in. Nothing to see here. Corbyn thanks everyone for coming. “Then off we go, telling each other how crap this is.” For smaller meetings, Corbyn will make the tea. Nice touch, but probably not the best

use of his time. Even some of Corbyn’s more ardent supporters are starting to see, and openly admit they can see, why their predecessors found they could no longer serve in the shadow cabinet – because he can’t do the things you need to do to fulfil the prime task of the leader of the opposition, which is to lead the development of an alternative government capable of becoming the actual government. “However bad you think it is from the outside, it is a lot worse on the inside. Please don’t tell me we have to do a better job of getting him and his team to do a better job; it can’t be done.” Also, he said, “He talks collegiate, but he can’t do collegiate.” In the February issue of GQ, I interviewed Tom Watson, Corbyn’s deputy. He couldn’t recall the last time he had a discussion on strategy with his leader. He assumed there was a strategy committee, but if there was, he was not on it, nor aware who else might be. Reading between the lines, I sensed there might not be a strategy team at all. There certainly isn’t a clearly discernible strategy that the party’s foot soldiers feel they understand and can take out to persuade people in their communities. ednesday: I am speaking to an audience of travel industry executives. I am talking about economic policy. I say the words, “So if Jeremy Corbyn was prime minister...” and the audience laughs. I was not playing it for laughs. This is not a good sign. It is not healthy. Thursday: another speech, this time to pension fund trustees. A man asks, “Given that Trump’s victory and Brexit happened when most people thought they wouldn’t, might Corbyn win a general election?” Again, there is chuckling and I point out in the questioner’s defence that a few months ago putting the words Trump and president in the same sentence was also a guaranteed giggle raiser. But this notion of Corbyn as a leftwing version of populist Trump strikes me as a nonstarter, an act of desperation even, from those who briefed it out as part of his “new approach” which would include – revolutionary! – doing more TV interviews. I didn’t like Trump’s strategy or message – minimum requirements for a campaign – but at least he had them. Making the weather is another requirement and he did that with almost $2 billion worth of free TV coverage from the main US channels. I throw the “Can Corbyn be prime minister?” question back to the audience – “Never mind what I think... if someone from space landed now and asked, ‘What is Labour’s strategy to win the election?’ what would you say?” A hall of blank faces, shrugged shoulders, gently


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Photograph Getty Images

ALASTAIR CAMPBELL shaking heads. This is the opposite of making the weather. It is an opposition becalmed. That spells irrelevance. As a veteran focus group moderator put it, “It’s not that they dislike Corbyn, it’s that they don’t think he matters. Nobody thinks he can win and when he is on TV he acts to confirm that view. They’ve made up their minds like they did with [Iain] Duncan Smith and [Ed] Miliband. But this is worse than that, much worse.” Friday: another random encounter, this time while waiting to change trains at Westbury station. Thankfully I have an all-day meeting with a sports organisation that means I can avoid the Trump-May hype. A woman. Maybe ten years younger than I am. I’m guessing Lib Dem. Surprised to see me. Apologising for bothering me. She wants to know if it is true Tony Blair is “coming back”. I say if you mean as an MP, no, but he is going to get more involved in the policy debate because he is worried progressive politics and liberal democracy are in real peril, and the left appear to have no answers to the rise of the nastiness of the populist right. She says – and I hear this more than the Blair-hating media might imagine – “But he did seem to know what he was doing. Surely we need people like that, what with his experience and everything.” She suggests – hard to disagree given what is happening in the US – that people have “gone mad”. “What about David Miliband?” This one comes up a lot. I explain, well, his brother beat him and then when Ed Miliband lost to Cameron, Corbyn won the race to succeed him and now that he has been elected again it is not exactly clear that, even if he wanted to, David Miliband would get a way in, or get elected if he did. “Why don’t you go for it? Or that Chuka [Umunna] chap? Or [Alan] Johnson?” Again, I explain all the hurdles. I’m not an MP. “Become one.” I’m not sure I want to and I’m not sure the party leadership would have me. “Chuka?” He didn’t run. Johnson was clear he never would. “What about a new party then?” That comes up a lot too. Again, I found it easier to see the barriers than the opportunities. The SDP was founded by four giants compared with the PLP today, and ultimately they failed. Added to that, the firstpast-the-post system – remember that other referendum, on PR? – means it is virtually impossible to imagine a new party becoming a party of government any time soon. As for the progressive alliance people talk about, let’s not imagine that the shared hatred of the Tories is enough to drive out the deep-rooted enmities between Labour and SNP, and Labour and Lib Dems. “So at a time we need a strong opposition we are stuck with this?” she asked. “It’s not very good, is it?” Indeed no. 154 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

When I get home, I get a call from an old friend in Scotland who saw Corbyn when he visited there late January. “He didn’t have a clue about Scotland. He was asking why we didn’t get better coverage in the Guardian? Hardly anybody up here reads the f***ing Guardian. We were trying to get from him and his people some sense of where they thought we were heading and it was all these half sentences about ending austerity and saving the NHS and giving people life opportunities, and they could see we were sceptical so one of them steps in and she says, ‘You have to understand... we are building a movement here.’ And I’m thinking, ‘Great, but where the hell is it moving to?’”

The second coming: Corbyn is announced – again – as the leader of Labour, 25 September 2016

A good opposition should be fighting every day for attention in the national debate ow, occasionally, I do meet people who tell me that if only we could all unite and work together, Corbyn could win. But the question is, unite behind what? Also I will meet people, such as the pension fund event questioner, who think that precisely because we are living in such unpredictable times, Labour may get in on the back of a Tory and post-Brexit economic meltdown. But these people are in a minority so small that it is surely time for those who harangue me on Twitter every time I suggest I am dissuaded of the leader’s powers of persuasion to face up to the possibility, born of virtually every political conversation any of us have, that Britain is never going to elect Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister.


I am aware he can still pack a hall and that some see him as a kind of messiah. I am aware too that he has attracted huge numbers to join the party, though it seems to be the older members who do the grind of campaigning and the role of Momentum has been, overall, divisive and damaging. But I have noticed a shift since his second leadership election win, even among some of those who voted for him twice. The zeal seems to be waning. Worse, I meet people, all pre-Corbyn members, who say they will remain in the party, but won’t vote Labour if it means him becoming prime minister. This really, really is not healthy. When he was playing for Manchester United, Gary Neville used to retreat into a toilet cubicle in the dressing room before a match, visualise the players he was up against and ask himself, “Who wants it more?” Does Corbyn really want to win? Like, really want it. Anyone can “want” to win. Will to win is doing all the things you need to do to win. He is certainly capable of winning inside the party. But all that energy, organisation and conviction seems to vanish when faced with the bigger task of winning over the people of this country or playing a leadership role in the EU referendum. If he was to face another challenge, I doubt he would win with the same margin, but he might well win again. “Operation Becalm” means we are unlikely to find out anyway. It remains the case that most MPs have no confidence in his leadership. But given what happened last time, it is unlikely anyone will make a move. Remember what Tom Watson said? AC: Is it settled he will lead the party at the next election? TW: Yes. AC: Is that a good thing or a bad thing? TW: It doesn’t matter, that is the situation. When that is the most enthusiasm the deputy leader can summon about the leader of his own party, how are the rest of us expected to generate more? I am actually not convinced there was a coup attempt in the real sense of the word. People in the shadow cabinet, who had tried their best to make it work, concluded it couldn’t. But “coup” is an overstatement, in that it suggests there was a clear goal, a plan, organisation. Shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn resigned, others followed. Assuming Corbyn would go misunderstands the nature of largely oppositionist figures; people for whom power within the party is more important than actually getting your hands on the power that enables you to make a real difference to people’s lives, for good, or as May and even more so Trump are doing right now, for bad. Continued on page 242

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HI-FI GETS CONNECTED While you’ve been focusing your attention on portable speakers, the hi-fi industry has been evolving. The latest mini systems are fully equipped for streaming (over Wi-Fi, say, or Bluetooth) and, with the vinyl resurgence spurring demand for high-end audio, they’re now in the spotlight. Here are our favourites...


M-one by Audiolab Since Audiolab launched its first M-DAC six years ago, its line of digital-analogue converters has garnered a variety of awards. The latest, the M-one, which has Bluetooth compatibility, fits Audiolab’s feted amplification circuitry, a sophisticated DAC and also a host of connections into a single, compact box. £799. Reva-1 speakers by Wharfedale, £450. Both at Richer Sounds.


Moon Neo Ace by Simaudio There’s no two ways about it: this internet-connected system is the most expensive in the group by some distance. As the 11kg weight and industrial styling imply, it’s aimed at committed audiophiles. For those who find themselves newly part of that market thanks to vinyl, it also includes a moving-magnet phono stage for turntables. £3,300. At Renaissance Audio. Silver 1 speakers by Monitor Audio, £495. At Richer Sounds.

156 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017


X-HM76D by Pioneer There are two things we especially love about Pioneer’s connected, high-res-ready system. The first is the colour display, which shows album artwork for what’s playing; the second is Pioneer’s emphasis on updates. Google Cast (for greater mobile connectivity) and FireConnect (for multi-room) are all due to be added. £500. At Superfi.


SC-PMX100BEB by Panasonic It might be the most traditional-looking of the group, but not only does it have all of the high-res and connectivity features you’d expect, it also slots readily into Panasonic’s ALL multi-room set-up. That means it can behave like a server and push music (such as that playing from a CD) out to other ALL-equipped devices around your home. £550.


M-CR611 by Marantz This latest incarnation of the all-in-one from hi-fi big-hitter Marantz is replete with connectivity – including Wi-Fi, AirPlay and internet radio – and is notable for its CD drawer. Its chunky styling won’t be for everyone but, teamed with Mission speakers, it is a formidable package at this price. As a bundle with LX-2 speakers by Mission, £525. At Harrow Audio.


DRA-100 by Denon Denon is the brand most closely associated with mini systems. The DRA-100 has shed all concessions to old media (farewell, CD drawer) and pared back the whole offering into a “network amplifier”. This streams music via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, AirPlay, Spotify Connect and internet radio, and is equipped for high-res audio. As a bundle with Zensor 1 speakers by Dali, £829. At

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Best for catch-up TV

LAB Best for casual viewers



Fire TV

Google Chromecast Ultra

Amazon’s new 4K box is a curious beast: powerful enough for effortless 4K, with the best menu, and a beautiful, minimal remote. Yet it doesn’t boast HDR (high-dynamic range, for deeper blacks and richer colours) support, particularly ironic as there’s a healthy amount of HDR content on Amazon Prime Video. The bundled Alexa voice-search is great, but doesn’t work within third party apps like iPlayer or All 4. A missed opportunity.

The only streamer on test that only works via a corresponding smartphone/ tablet/laptop – you begin playing your video on your device, and most apps will let you “cast” it to your TV via the dongle by pressing a button – this is as simple to use as it’s limited. Granted, there’s minimal set-up, and it does boast HDR support, but on our test the tech didn’t feel like it really made the most of it, meaning this remains a device for occasional users on a budget.

£80. 7/10

£69. 6/10

Also this month:

The stream team Best for power users

Your new TV may be 4K and HDR ready, but with no channels yet broadcasting in either, the only way is to stream them from Netflix and Amazon Prime using one of these 4K boxes

Best for techies



The WeTek sure ain’t a looker – an ugly cube with attached screw-in antenna, it almost feels home-brew compared to its sleeker rivals. Like most others, it runs an android operating system, so can download all the usual apps. It’s also the only one that runs open-source app Kodi right out of the box, though this does require more set up than the rest. And, at almost £100, while it may run 4K effortlessly, it doesn’t boast HDR support. £93.95. 6/10


WeTek Hub

Nvidia Shield TV The Nvidia comes bundled with a game controller, and doubles as a decent console (its game streaming service, GeForce Now, costs £7.49 a month). As such, it’s by far the most powerful, has built-in Chromecast support for “casting” from your phone/tablet, and is the only one that does HDR content justice. The voice search, which uses Google Assistant, will even work your smart-home gadgets. The downside? It’s twice the price of the Fire TV. £190, 9/10

Fire TV



HDR support





Voice control





71 x 71 x 20

115 x 115 x 17.5

98 x 159 x 26

58.2 x 58 x 0.53











Size (mm)

158 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

Photographs Matthew Beedle

WeTek Hub



Navigating the New Silk Routes THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CONFERENCE FOR THE INDUSTRY Hosted and curated by Suzy Menkes, International Vogue Editor, the Condé Nast International Luxury Conference is the premier event for business and creative leaders from the fashion and luxury industry. 500 attendees from over 30 countries will gather in Muscat, Oman for two days of learning, networking and discovery.

SPEAKERS INCLUDE: H.E. Sayyid Badr bin Hamad bin Hamoud Al Busaidi Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman

Stefan Siegel

Raffaello Napoleone

Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz

Manish Arora

Founder, Not Just a Label

CEO, Pitti Immagine; Chairman, YOOX NET-A-PORTER GROUP

Editor in Chief, Vogue Arabia


Bandana Tewari

Alessandro Sartori

José Neves

Editor at Large, Vogue India

Artistic Director, Ermenegildo Zegna

Lapo Elkann

Elie Saab Designer

Alber Elbaz

Chairman and Founder, Italia Independent Group and Garage Italia Customs

Founder and CEO, Farfetch

Frédéric Malle


Paul Andrew

Amal Al Raisi

Perfume Publisher, Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle


Creative Director, Women’s Footwear, Salvatore Ferragamo


Founder and Creative Director, Amal Al Raisi

Guram Gvasalia

David Crickmore

Chief Executive Officer, Vetements

CEO, Amouage

Pascal Mouawad

Roberto Vedovotto

Co-Guardian, Retail Division, Mouawad

President and CEO, Kering Eyewear

Noor Fares

Tarang Arora

Founder, Noor Fares

Creative Director and CEO, Amrapali Jewels

Dalia Daou Designer, Daou Jewellery

Solange Azagury Partridge

Caterina Occhio

Jewellery Designer

Founder and CEO, SeeMe

Pierre Denis

Yasmin Sewell

CEO, Jimmy Choo

Fashion Director,

Philippa Malmgren

Angelica Cheung Editorial Director, Vogue China

Rhea Saran

Edgardo Osorio

Author of “Signals”

Editor in Chief, Condé Nast Traveller Middle East

James Lima

Sophie Hackford

Rania Masri

Hollywood Film Director

Future Thinker

General Manager, Level Shoes

Founder, Aquazzura

Matteo Marzotto

Matthew Rubinger

Goga Ashkenazi

Vice President, Italian Exhibition Group

SVP, International Director, Handbags & Accessories, EMERI & Asia, Christie’s

Chairwoman and Creative Director, Vionnet

Giambattista Valli

Chief Executive Officer, Boyner Holding

Tarang Arora Creative Director and CEO, Amrapali Jewels

Cem Boyner







Image: @joergzuber





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What: Queer British Art at Tate Britain When: From 5 April until 1 October. Why: Tate Britain explores a time of seismic shifts in gender and sexuality that found expression in the arts. Erotic drawings and paintings of the private lives of artists provide material for a show that marks the 50th anniversary of the part-decriminalisation of male homosexuality in England and Wales. The exhibition will feature works by Francis Bacon and Cecil Beaton alongside material from the trials of Oscar Wilde and Radclyffe Hall.

Turn of the century: Sir James Stirling’s Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart

PoMo: so bad it’s good (again) How architecture’s least fashionable movement rebuilt its reputation

Art, Music, Sport, Politics, Films, Books + the best opinion for the month ahead

Bi ll Pr in ce Y B ED IT

In 1984, James Stirling put everything into this building, writes Edwin Heathcote. Ancient Egypt, Schinkel’s Berlin, Rome, Pompeii, high-tech steel and wavy windows, as well as pastel-painted railings like huge sausages. It was a dream of architecture with its memories all mixed up, a surreal walk through 4,000 years of history. Probably his most inventive and richest building, it was a high point for PoMo and became a global star when it became a popular setting for commercials and films. It was a predecessor of Frank Gehry’s Bilbao Guggenheim and the idea that a single building could transform the fortunes of an entire city.


Photographs Getty Images

Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany

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Safety in numbers

30, 000

Number of Ikea’s flat-pack refugee shelters currently in use around the world. A collaboration between a coterie of designers, the Ikea Foundation and UNHCR, the Better Shelter was awarded the 2016 Beazley Design Of The Year award.


The beautiful and the damned Now icons of a vintage style, it’s time to take another look at the buildings that survived postmodernism’s monumental fall from grace STORY BY Edwin


Heathcote 3

ostmodern or PoMo architecture emerged in the late Sixties in Italy and the US, a reaction to the boredom of late modernism and a yearning for meaning, ornament and a more familiar language. Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown’s books Complexity And Contradiction In Architecture (1966) and Learning From Las Vegas (1972) revived interest in the classical and the popular respectively, looking for inspiration in everything from the Renaissance to roadside diners. But, as a style, it wasn’t picked up in a big way until the Eighties, when an architectural equivalent to the financial Big Bang led to an explosion of classical pediments, Venetian windows and stuck-on columns.


Architects looked for inspiration in everything from the Renaissance to roadside diners There were massive US malls decorated in bits of Greek and Egyptian and there were second-rate suburban business parks attempting to look like epic film sets. There were inauspicious landmarks like Battersea’s Marco Polo House (one-time HQ of the Observer) and there were better, eccentric efforts like an Egyptian-style Homebase in Earl’s Court. But most of it was trashy, garish and badly made and got demolished after barely 20 years. And that leaves us with an odd situation, as some of that Eighties PoMo architecture has now begun to look quite cool again, at least to a younger generation capable of seeing it anew. Those stick-on classical details, pediments and columns, the bands of pink and the 162 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

oversized decorative elements now look like fun compared with the dour, muddy bricks of contemporary cool. The listing late last year (at Grade II*) of Sir James Stirling’s Number One Poultry concretised PoMo’s place in the heritage canon. The stripy structure which looks like a fat wedge of Ancient Egyptian birthday cake was one of Stirling’s less good works (his Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart is stonking) and it was completed in 1997, five years after Stirling’s death and at a time when PoMo had already become deeply unfashionable. Now, surrounded by the glass megaliths of the new City skyline, it looks rather quaint, a compressed epic of architectural quotations from Ben Hur to Cleopatra via Vegas. The remaining landmarks of PoMo are going to rely for their survival on quick-thinking by conservationists and city bodies ready to recognise the value of keeping the best bits of a brief flowering of decorative architecture that can still look pretty ropey but which looks as though at least it was trying. The PoMo revival is also leading to a new generation of architects resurrecting some of its ideas and motifs. The “House For Essex” designed by Charles Holland and artist Grayson Perry is an enjoyable blast of gingerbread house ornament, architects AOC are joyfully reviving many PoMo tropes, and Adam Nathaniel Furman’s colourful classicism is pure, indulgent and an enjoyable throwback. There are others too, from Italy to Idaho, but the best of the PoMo designers seem still to be based in London.


Number of dwarfs serving as giant caryatids (pillars) on the façade of the gleefully PoMo Michael Graves-designed Team Disney Building in Burbank California, the company’s HQ since 1991.


The pillars of PoMo What are the other landmarks of this much-maligned moment in architecture?


AT&T Building New York, United States Philip Johnson was the architect who brought modernism to the US when he curated the show Modern Architecture at New York’s MoMa in 1932. His Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut (1949) was so minimal it was almost an end point, a fish tank. What more could you remove? By the Seventies, when he designed the AT&T building at 550 Madison Avenue even he’d clearly had enough of modernism. With its Chippendale top and attenuated arcades at ground level, this was a radical blockbuster – the return of architectural ornamentation. It still stands out and is currently being restored, rather ironically, by one-time minimalist Brit, Sir David Chipperfield.



Vanna Venturi House Philadelphia, United States “Less,” said Mies van der Rohe, “is more.” Robert Venturi responded, “Less is a bore.” The house he designed for his mother in 1964, the year Beatlemania arrived in the US, caused a ruckus. It had a pitched roof, a split pediment, an arched window and “decoration”. Venturi and Denise Scott Brown wrote Complexity And Contradiction In Architecture and Learning From Las Vegas, which shook architecture to its core. This was his attempt to blend classical aesthetics with pop irreverence. He later designed the disappointingly dry classical extension to The National Gallery in London.


SIS Building London, England

Photographs Getty Images; Propertyshark

The MI6 HQ must surely be one of the most brutalised buildings in film history. A perennial target of film terrorists, something about it seems to attract explosions. Yet, in real life at least, it is still there. A mountain of art deco, Mayan and Wurlitzer organ fragments, it has a certain film-set presence, like the neglected backlot of a B-movie epic. Designed by one of the great postmodernists, Sir Terry Farrell, and completed in 1994, there’s something ludicrous about this looming and intensely visible building being the home of the Secret Intelligence Service. The architect claims it was commissioned as a generic government building and he never knew the identity of its ultimate use. It has now been made to look like a bit of a masterpiece by its Vauxhall surroundings, which include some of the very ugliest buildings in the world.


Pumping Station, London, England One of the three new pumping stations in London’s Docklands (the other two were designed by Richard Rogers and Nicholas Grimshaw), John Outram’s Egyptian fantasy stood out. This was 1988, the high water of PoMo, yet this strange temple to sewage was remarkable even for its time. Looking half-submerged and adorned with a fan from a jet engine this was high-tech retro, a strange cocktail of antiquity and futurism. Outram is one of the relatively unsung stars of PoMo and this was one of his most charismatic works. He deserves a revival.


Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac advances to Mayfair When the Viennese gallerist Thaddaeus Ropac inaugurates his first London space this month, he will open the doors of Mayfair’s exquisite Grade-I listed Ely House, its interior reconfigured for him by the architect Annabelle Selldorf. The five-storey townhouse rivals the hotels particuliers of Paris, where Ropac already owns two galleries. “Ely House is a stunning building, very grand, but with a domestic feel,” he says, “The most important question was whether our artists liked it. We flew in a fair few and they loved it.” Ropac will open with four simultaneous shows. Gilbert & George: Drinking Pieces & Video Sculptures, 1972-1973 features photographs of the pair in various states of inebriation. Highlights from the Marzona Collection, recently acquired by Ropac, including works by Dan Flavin and Richard Tuttle will be displayed. Another floor is filled with rarely seen early drawings by Joseph Beuys and British artist Oliver Beer will present a series of films from his six-month residency at Ely House. Owning a vast, starchitect-designed space in London’s most elegant quarter has been de rigueur for leading foreign galleries since 2012, when New York blue-chips David Zwirner, Pace, Michael Werner and Marian Goodman all crossed the pond. With some premonition, Larry Gagosian opened here in 2000, but his third London space, launched in 2015, underlines the art market’s obsession with the capital, Mayfair in particular. “London is the quintessential art city,” says Ropac. “It seems like a natural part of our development.” Meanwhile, artists are priced out, setting up studios in Glasgow, on the Kent coast or abroad. What happens to a city that loses its artists but boasts the world’s most expensive commercial galleries and is a magnet for super-rich collectors? Has London lost its soul? Ropac thinks not. “I remember this city 20 or 30 years ago, a dreary place with only a handful of galleries. Then, a generation of great artists and contemporary art institutions reinvented London and now you can host the critical mass of international galleries.” Sophie Hastings Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac London will open early May.

DON’T MISS What: The Place Is Here at Nottingham Contemporary When: Until 30 April Why: This display of over 100 works from the Eighties forms the largest survey to date of a powerful conversation that took place between black artists, filmmakers, thinkers and institutions in a highly divisive political period. What: 2017 by Wolfgang Tillmans at Tate Modern When: Until 11 June Why: The first photographer to receive the Turner Prize, German Tillmans’ work extends to video, slide projections, music and publications. Tillmans is political, often addressing a destabilised world, but equally able to depict the delicacy, fragility and beauty of the human body. What: Maria Lassnig: A Painting Survey 1950-2007 at Hauser & Wirth Gallery When: Until 29 April Why: Known for her “body awareness” paintings which captured the physical sensation as felt from inside oneself, Lassnig believed that “truth resides in the emotions produced within the physical shell”.

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Haye vs Joshua – round one!


On 4 March, former heavyweight champion David Haye takes on Tony Bellew at the O2 Arena, but the Bermondsey fighter is already taking pot shots at GQ cover star Anthony Joshua:

“He hasn’t had to do things the hard way at all. Everything has been laid out for him. That all changes against me and I will knock him out.”


Are Britain’s female cycling stars being taken for a ride? Equality remains a distant goal, but for Team GB’s golden-girl racers, sexism is an especially sore subject STORY BY Martin


s an artist, Branwell Brontë wasn’t up to much. He was a mediocre painter, as his portrait of his more talented sisters shows, and a lousy poet whose work in his lifetime did not reach beyond the pages of the local newspaper. The brilliance of his siblings, you may know. Emily wrote Wuthering Heights, Charlotte Jane Eyre and while Anne Brontë’s The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall is not as fondly remembered, she is at a disadvantage having snuffed it at 29, so might really have nailed one later in life. Anyway, the point is that this year the Arts Council will be spending a significant proportion of a £97,702 grant so that we “get to know Branwell” on the 200th anniversary of


‘I had gone through my whole career not realising you didn’t have to be in pain when you raced your bike’ his birth. The rest will go towards commemorating Emily’s birthday next year but even so. Fifty grand on Branwell Brontë? Put it like this. Let’s say the literary Brontës were three brothers, giants of the written word, with a less gifted sister, who spent most of her life drunk or on opium, as Branwell did, before pegging it through tuberculosis at the age of 31. Do you think the Arts Council would now be setting fire to a wheelbarrow of cash so we could “get to know” Doris? You see? It’s different for girls. This brings us, seamlessly some might say, to the issue of Laura Trott’s lady parts. This is not a subject that should, under normal

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Laura Trott (right) took her third and fourth Olympic golds at last year’s Games in Brazil.

circumstances, concern any journalist, particularly a male one, but all I can say is: she brought it up. In her autobiography with husband Jason Kenny – The Inside Track – Trott writes with admirable frankness about the effects of competitive cycling on the female form. Bruises, laceration – the friction, impact and G-force felt in training and competition made such menial exercises as having a wash in the shower impossible. “We’d be so cut by the saddle, it was horrendous,” Trott detailed. “The pain was all the time and we just didn’t speak about it. I’d finish every omnium in absolute agony and you’re also spending six hours in a skinsuit. It’s like a friction burn. There would be days when we simply couldn’t train.” So here’s what British Cycling did for women initially. They developed an app so female riders could notify the coach when they were too sore to train. Not much, is it? Don’t worry; a hero is coming. Phil Burt, head physiotherapist, then assembled a team of specialists, including experts in friction burns, a consultant in vulval health and a reconstructive surgeon, who talked to the cyclists and discovered failings in the protective chamois and the concept of standardissue suits for women. It turned out that all women are not the same down there. Who knew? Now, each rider has protection custom-made. “I had gone through my whole career not realising that you didn’t have to be in pain when you raced your bike,” said Trott. “I said

to the doctor, ‘You have literally changed my cycling career.’ In the six months before Rio, not a single rider had a saddle sore.” It appears such a simple remedy. Yet it would seem equally straightforward to concede that Branwell Brontë lacked artistic ability comparable to his sisters, only the patriarchy won’t let go. So it’s different for girls. British Cycling spent much of last year embroiled in a sexism controversy because former technical director Shane Sutton was said to have been crudely dismissive of one of his riders, Jess Varnish. Yet the issue runs far deeper than an isolated outburst. Many coaches speak bluntly or crudely. What Sutton said to Varnish might not vary greatly from his directness with other cyclists, male or female. There are as many queueing up to support him as seeking to condemn. But there’s more. One of the most puzzling elements of the controversy around Sir Bradley Wiggins and his mysterious Jiffy bag of decongestant concerns the role of a gentleman called Simon Cope. We now know that Cope spent several days in transit to deliver a product that could have been purchased cheaply over the counter at eight pharmacies within 5km of Wiggins’ location. Cope flew from Manchester to Geneva and then drove two hours to the French resort of La Toussuire, where he handed a package to Team Sky doctor Richard Freeman. Yet, in 2011, when this happened, Cope was coaching the women’s road race team for British Cycling. Nicole Cook recalls that, around this time, she was trying to persuade Cope to run a training camp for the women prior to the World Championships in Copenhagen. Cope eventually acquiesced but Sutton overruled him. Maybe Cope’s services as a courier were more important than coaching his women riders. So is British Cycling sexist? Of course it is. Not because of Sutton’s sharp tongue, but because of continued relegation to the margins and the fact that, until last year, nobody thought to consider that women do not come as standard. Cycling, or sport, won’t be alone in their anachronous attitudes; but the Brontës would have written beautifully about it. Three of them, anyway.

Photograph Getty Images Illustration Alan McNamara


Formula One pace notes


Lap times, they are a changin’ From faster cars to fitter drivers, we wave the green flag on F1 2017 and chart the length and breadth of its explosive new rules STORY BY Adam


ormula One has swapped its slim-fast diet for fat-and-faster, with proper muscle cars that pack a tonne of downforce. In 2016 we said goodbye to Jenson Button, but there are a couple of new faces in 2017. They’ll be downing raw egg yolks and hitting the gym to cope with the increased cornering speeds in time for the first grand prix in Melbourne on 26 March. The cars are expected to be up to five seconds a lap quicker, which is the same as swapping a Sauber for a Mercedes.


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The driving force: Trump’s mentor, Roy Cohn, behind the wheel of his Chevrolet, 1961


Meet the maniac who made the president A revival of an Eighties-set classic reveals the inspiration behind Donald Trump’s brutal style of leadership STORY BY Matthew


his year’s hot ticket is the National Theatre’s revival of Angels In America, Tony Kushner’s extraordinary twopart saga exploring the Aids epidemic in the Eighties. Many will flock to see Andrew Garfield in the lead role. But – strange as it is to say – anyone who wants to understand Donald Trump’s presidency should get hold of a ticket, too. One of the play’s most absorbing characters is Roy Cohn, a real-life attorney who died of Aids in 1986 after a career of notoriety, public influence and swagger. Prominent in the Fifties for his prosecution of the Soviet spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and his ferocity as chief counsel to the McCarthyite anti-communist hearings, Cohn was an immensely powerful – and feared – Manhattan attorney. He loved publicity almost as much as he loved victory.


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In 1973, a chance meeting at the East 55th Street private disco Le Club launched an alliance whose ramifications the United States is still feeling today. At the time, Trump was finding his feet as a property tycoon, fizzing with ambition but buckling under the pressure of a government suit that alleged racial discrimination at his housing developments. Cohn advised Trump that night to “tell them to go to hell” – and promptly launched a countersuit on his behalf for $100 million. In the end, Trump was forced to settle. But he

Cohn schooled Trump in the absolute centrality of the media. It was essential both to scare and to woo

Combined Emmys and Golden Globes won by the 2003 HBO mini-series of Angels In America, which starred Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson and Al Pacino as Ray Cohn

was intoxicated by Cohn’s brutal style: a brew of personal panache and unalloyed menace. In their book, Trump Revealed: An American Journey Of Ambition, Ego, Money and Power, Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher plot the evolution of a personal bond in which Cohn acted not only as attorney but “informal advisor, publicist and intermediary with the city’s powerful”. As the two men became closer, the lawyer’s advice to his new protégé was that the only acceptable form of defence was counterattack. Thirty years after Cohn’s death, Trump was still deploying precisely this tactic in the 2016 Republican primaries and presidential campaign. Jeb Bush was “low energy”. Ted Cruz was “the single biggest liar”. Hillary Clinton was “crooked”. Even the moderators – notably Megyn Kelly, formerly of Fox – were fair game for Trump’s invective. Cohn himself could not have choreographed it better. What he understood – and what Trump grasped – was the importance of brand. It was essential, Cohn believed, to seek publicity with sleepless aggression, conscious that much of it would be hostile. What mattered was to matter. What counted was clout. In Kushner’s play, Cohn tells his doctor that this is why he will not admit his homosexuality. “Homosexuals are not men who sleep with other men. Homosexuals are men who, in 15 years of trying, can’t get a piss-ant antidiscrimination bill through City Council. They are men who know nobody and who nobody knows. Now... does that sound like me?” So Cohn schooled Trump in the absolute centrality of the media to his prospects. Not old-fashioned public relations – story management – but the nurturing of modern mythology. It was essential both to scare and to woo reporters, to ensure that his name was in the gossip columns as well as the business section. And facts? Well, they were nice. But Trump developed an early taste for what he termed “truthful hyperbole” – a distant ancestor of what we now call “post-truth politics”. Cohn died a lonely man, disbarred and concealing his true illness to the end. But, three decades later, his most ambitious apprentice is the most powerful man in the world. As Cohn puts it to another young acolyte in Angels In America: “You want to be nice or you want to be effective? You want to make the law, or be subject to it? Choose!” Of the choice that Trump made, there can be no doubt. Angels In America opens at the National Theatre on 11 April. South Bank, London SE1. 020 7452 3000.

The Lost City Of Z



Out on 21 April A film of the book of the New Yorker article of the expedition that traced the first expedition, The Lost City Of Z is, thankfully, less meta than its origin. It traces the life of explorers Colonel Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) and his deputy (Robert Pattinson), who disappeared 92 years ago in the Amazon rainforest, in search of a fabled lost civilisation.


The (welcome) return of alternative fiction After all, in a post-truth world, who wants dirty realism?


Why the best TV is the same, only different From Fargo to True Detective, anthology dramas are keeping the small screen’s golden age alive STORY BY Stuart


hen Fargo returns this month, it will mark the return of not just one of the best dramas on TV, but provide proof that the best new dramas are those that reinvent themselves entirely with each series. It’s called an anthology series, and means each series can start a brand new story based on a shared world (Fargo), a common theme (such as American Crime Story’s The People Vs OJ Simpson) or a genre populated by a recurring cast (as with American Horror Story). In some ways, it’s perfect for the way we now watch TV – coming across things in our own time and bingeing when we do. And sure, encountering The West Wing for the first time, one might want to binge 156 hours, but, y’know, one might not. Much more satisfying – and less DVT-baiting – to know there’s a complete story, done, in eight to ten episodes. No follow-ons, no second series, and just as importantly, less room for it to take a left-turn into nonsense. The latter is a serious point: otherwise known as the Lost dilemma, where the writers completely lose any semblance of where their story should go. This isn’t actually surprising. Making a longrunning TV show – generally only renewed after each series – is like being asked to organise a marathon eight miles at a time, after the runners have started. Shit, which direction? Quick, they’re coming! An anthology, on the other hand, is a wellorganised eight-mile race, finish line staked.

And it’s not just the story, but the stars. Generally, any actor signing up to an American drama will be asked to commit to at least four series, or roughly the majority of a decade. This is why, despite the scripts, TV never tempted the true A-list – until recently. First Matthew McConaughey in True Detective, then the likes of John Travolta and Cuba Gooding Jr in American Crime Story and, for Fargo, the third season on Channel 4 sees Ewan McGregor follow on from Kirsten Dunst, who followed Martin Freeman.

Photographs Allstar; Getty Images; Landmark



No follow-ons, no second series and, just as importantly, no room for a left-turn into nonsense And Fargo reveals the untapped potential of standalone series – not the ability to kill everyone off (though American Horror Story has that covered), but the ability to tell tales of smaller lives. We’re told TV can be more intimate and nuanced, yet the reality is mostly a conga-line of presidents, drug lords, warring kings, mob bosses and, in the case of Amazon’s forthcoming American Gods adaptation, deities. There may be kidnap and murder, but Fargo is about the thrum of small lives, the tender terrors of connection, and the knowledge that nothing is ever really over with an ending.


Free Fire

Kong: Skull Island

Out on 21 April British indie darling Ben Wheatley (Kill List, High-Rise) returns with Free Fire, his most mainstream effort yet, an unwieldy, Tarantino-esque shoot-em-up that’s set to entice as many new fans as it’s likely to turn off his old ones. Set in the same building on a single night in Seventies Boston – and boasting the likes of Armie Hammer and Oscar-winner Brie Larson – it certainly lives up to his name, if not the overall expectation.

Out on 10 March Tom Hiddleston takes his shot at the American box office, playing a British SAS officer who leads a group deep into a mysterious island that is not only home to Kong, but also half the monsters in cinema history, from Godzilla-like dinosaurs to house-sized arachnids. Co-stars Brie Larson (again), and (as it’s a film with giant monsters that’s a guaranteed smash-hit) Samuel L Jackson. SM


Lincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders

Fair warning: the first full-length novel from George Saunders – so much a “writer’s writer” he’s almost a writer’s writer’s writer – was never going to be normal. This is a man, after all, who is the crafter of short stories so jet-black they transcend nihilism and come out the other side of despair: so mordant (and often strange and surreal) they become hopeful: you, at least, are not them. But could that work in a novel? Well, yes, but it’s not easy-going. It’s achieved, partly, by having a short story’s tight focus: Lincoln In The Bardo (Bloomsbury, £18.99) takes place over a single night in February, 1862. The American Civil War is raging, and President Lincoln is bereft over his gravely ill son. The “bardo” of the title is where he soon finds himself – a sort of transitional netherworld where a panoply of ghosts all have their say. It’s not as strange as it sounds – or rather, it’s a smooth transition of strange. The whole book is a chorus of voices – some real, taken from historical fact; some imaged from the deep well of Saunders’ imagination, all of which freely take over the narrative for their own say – and the result is fiction’s equivalent of Phil Spector’s Wall Of Sound. For some it’ll be overpowering, but for others it’s fiction taken to a new realm, and a work of sheer brilliance. SM


Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Since 2000, Moth Smoke and The Reluctant Fundamentalist (on both the page and the screen) have given Mohsin Hamid a global audience, from the US, where he was educated, to Britain, where he was born, via Lahore, where his family come from. Exit West (Penguin, £14.99), his fourth novel, is a major fictional reckoning with the migrant crisis, taking full advantage of his own fractured perspective, and told through the love story of a young Muslim couple, Saeed and Nadia, whose ordinary life and plans are stolen from them. In a departure from his first three novels, Hamid uses magical realism to describe how displaced people move around the globe (refugees seek passage through secret “doors” opening in their dangerous home cities to safer locations, whether it’s the beaches of Mykonos or the refugee camps of mainland Europe). It’s a bold narrative move but one which allows him to focus the reader’s attention on his real subject: a textured examination of what it’s like for ordinary people to live through a city moving from liberalism to extremism, and a subtle and moving examination of how human relationships endure and falter under unimaginable pressures. Some will balk at the magical realism, some will maintain it’s an instant classic. GQ’s with the latter. Olivia Cole APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 167

Ed Sheeran: + plus x equals ÷ The dressed-down megastar extends his imperial phase with a third album co-produced by bankable hitmaker Benny Blanco. Given that the first singles occupied the Top 40’s top two spots for weeks on end – an unprecedented feat – there may well not be a bigger pop album this year. ÷ (Atlantic) is out now.


The years have been kind, or why ‘comeback’ is not a dirty word Acts who spent an age out of the studio are returning with surprisingly good records he Jesus And Mary Chain split up, true to form, in a storm of noise and bad feeling. Midway through a show at the House Of Blues in Los Angeles in September 1998, the fragile, booze-frayed bond between brothers Jim and William Reid snapped spectacularly. William walked off after 15 minutes and took an awfully long time to return. The Scottish band’s new album, Damage And Joy (Artificial Plastic Records, out on 25 March), is their first since 1998’s fractious Munki. Nineteen years is a lifetime in rock music, or at least it used to be. When the Mary Chain debuted in 1985 with Psychocandy, their astonishing chiaroscuro of beauty and violence, the idea of a band who had been dormant since 1966 returning to the fray would have seemed comical. Music moved with such ruthless haste that even a five-year gap between albums was suspect. Reunions were regarded as a nostalgia trip at best and a legacy-soiling embarrassment at worst – witness the disappointment that attended the reformation of The Velvet Underground, Jim Reid’s favourite band, in 1992. I remember that the pre-Mojo music press’ tolerance for middle-aged comebacks was roughly similar to Logan’s Run. We are much kinder now that the equivalent modern analogy would be The Expendables. Californian indie-rock band Grandaddy are also back this month, after eleven years, with their fifth album, Last Place (30th Century Records, out now). The cynical explanation for so many second acts in musical lives is that nostalgia has become both a cultural addiction and a licence to print money. But here’s the twist: the records are often very good. The recent rash of comebacks began, as many trends have, with David Bowie. It’s easy to forget, now that he’s been elevated to sainthood, that Bowie was taken for granted for 20 years after Let’s Dance – the excitement over 2013’s The Next Day, following a decade of silence, was new. Absence had become a


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virtue, stoking his fans’ affection and his own creativity. The most critically acclaimed album of 2014 was R&B hero D’Angelo’s extraordinary Black Messiah, his first in 14 years. In the past four years critics have also welcomed back New Order, Sleater-Kinney (both after ten years), Blur (12 years), Aphex Twin (13), The Avalanches (16), A Tribe Called Quest (18) and My Bloody Valentine (22). For students of the long hiatus, folksinger Shirley Collins’ excellent recent album Lodestar (40 years!) is the connoisseur’s choice. Where did it all go right? Here’s a theory. When you’re young, the best thing you can do is maintain momentum and record as much as you can while the muse is

A long interval gives artists a taste of finality. A great comeback record is an answer to existential questions with you. The Beatles and The Smiths are two towering examples. But that manic productivity isn’t sustainable, so if you don’t split up, like the bands I just mentioned, then momentum gives way to inertia. You keep going because you’re too comfortable to stop and you release albums mainly as an excuse to tour. With notable exceptions, such as Bob Dylan, the records are at best dutifully solid products of the treadmill. This is The Rolling Stones’ model. A long interval, for whatever reason, gives you a taste of finality; it forces you to question what you do and why you do it. It’s a psychological jolt. Even solo artists experience a kind of break-up with music itself and have to find their way


Years between Kevin Shields’ (right) latest My Bloody Valentine albums, Loveless and MBV.

back. A great comeback record is an answer to those existential questions. New Order’s Music Complete was a full-blooded dance-floor response to life after the departure of bassist Peter Hook and his stubborn rockism. Black Messiah was born out of a former heartthrob’s midlife soul-searching. A Tribe Called Quest’s tremendous We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service came out of the rekindling of the friendship between MCs Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, followed by Phife’s tragic death. They all tell compelling stories about the artists’ past and present. They all have a pressing reason to exist. This month’s two comebacks are akin to Blur’s The Magic Whip in that they rewrite an unhappy ending to make peace with the past, even if they don’t transcend it. For Grandaddy’s frontman Jason Lytle, who dissolved the band in 2006 in a pit of depression and exhaustion, Last Place is “almost a study in what it is that Grandaddy finally means to me and what it’s meant to other people over the years”. Lytle is a poet of American disappointment; the places where progress hits the wall. His use of synthesisers, like his lyrics, highlights the fallibility of technology, and the people who use it, to evoke an exquisite sadness. Having loved Grandaddy’s elegiac 2000 masterpiece The Sophtware Slump, I was charmed and moved by the sound of Lytle falling back in love with his own band. Damage And Joy, which comes a full decade after the Reid brothers reunited as a live band, has fun with their chequered history. “I hate my brother and he hates me, that’s the way it’s supposed to be,” Jim sings on “Facing Up To The Facts”. More candy than psycho, it presents the Mary Chain as deft pop craftsmen rather than antisocial noiseniks, with honeyed guest vocals from Isobel Campbell and Sky Ferreira. The playful acknowledgement of the band’s hard-won second chance on a new version of “All Things Must Pass” could apply to many of these late additions to interrupted careers. “All things must pass,” Jim sings knowingly, “but not too fast”.

Photograph Press Association Illustration Christian Tate




1991 Gulf War in Kuwait and Iraq. ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’ by Bryan Adams spends 16 weeks at UK No1.

1993 199 4

1994 Nelson Mandela becomes president of South Africa. Justin Bieber born.

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1998 Good Friday Agreement signed in Northern Ireland. Keiko, the orca star of Free Willy, is released into the wild.

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Long players



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Eleven artists who stood the test of time and returned with a comeback record that was worth waiting for.

2001 Enron files for bankruptcy. The iPod is launched.

The Love Movement

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Severed from singer Amber Coffman, Dave Longstreth’s band now feels more like a solo project. This powerful heartbreak song cycle rubs autobiographical lyrics against avant-garde R&B.

Since I Left You

01 20


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Just Like The Fambly Cat

Drukqs Think Tank

Waiting For The Sirens’ Call

Out now.



Dirty Projectors Dirty Projectors

The Woods

2004 20 06 2007

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The Next Day

Last Place The Magic Whip


No Cities To Love














Music Complete

Spoon Hot Thoughts Consistency can be underrated. For a decade, Texas band Spoon have put out indie-rock pleasures more reliably than anyone. Their colourful ninth album is inspired as much by soul music as post punk. Out on 17 March.

2009 Barack Obama




Black Messiah

becomes the first African-American president of the United States. Michael Jackson dies.



Wildflower We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service

1 20 MBV

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Damage And Joy

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2010 An earthquake in Haiti kills 160,000. South Africa hosts the World Cup finals.

2013 President Obama sworn in for a second term. Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev detonate two bombs during the Boston marathon.

Blanck Mass World Eater Benjamin John Power’s exhilarating noise-rave draws fresh impetus from global upheaval. His obliquely political third album is both fearful and ecstatic. Its vast, heady rush resembles Orbital at the end of the world. Out on 3 March.

“Ars comes up with insight that no one else has.” Sergey Brin, cofounder, Google Ars Technica, founded in 1998, is the world’s most influential technology website and community, providing deep analysis and impartial reporting of the confluence of science, technology, policy, and the Internet. Tech news with real impact


KIT p.174




SEX p.179


23 Mental health hacks

From risk-taking and rescue boxes to hug-therapy and hounds, put your psychological wellbeing on the right path PAUL HENDERSON

Photograph Mitch Payne Model George Tarrant at The Squad


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Tackling poor mental health is a serious, life-changing task requiring time, patience and plenty of support from loved ones and professionals. Yet sometimes the smallest changes reap the biggest rewards, so try absorbing a few of these wellbeing tips into your daily routine...


Identify your strengths

Tom Rath’s national bestseller StrengthsFinder 2.0 (Gallup Press, £12) features assessments to determine your strengths followed by advice on strategising them accordingly. Get a copy and watch your productivity climb as you capitalise on assets you didn’t know you had.

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Take a risk every day


Disconnect from your newsfeed

Structure and routine are important, but can get you stuck in a repetitive rut. Risks such as talking to someone new, asserting yourself in a meeting or trusting a new confidant can help stimulate personal growth. Assign yourself one manageable “risk” a week and reward yourself upon its completion.

A survey from the US National Institute Of Health linked social media to depression and anxiety. A drip-feed of carefully selected and edited pictures on social media is a recipe for low self-esteem. If you can’t quite face culling your Facebook friends list and deleting Instagram from your phone, set aside a maximum of 30 minutes a day for checking your social accounts. Less is more.

Target your troubles


The IntelliCare Hub app and its accompanying 12 mini apps target symptoms of depression and anxiety. Download the core Hub app which will recommend the best mini app based on your symptoms, such as “Worry Knot” (for worry management) and “Thought Challenger” (to reduce negative thought patterns). Download IntelliCare Hub from Google Play.

Breathe properly

The Breathe2Relax stress management app walks users through breathing exercises that help stabilise mood, control anger and manage anxiety. It specialises in teaching “diaphragmatic breathing” (aka, belly breathing) to beat stress and encourage relaxation. Download Breathe2Relax from Google Play or the App Store.


Receive online therapy

Lantern combines cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with affordable advice from professionals trained in CBT. Sign up for £40 to determine your strengths and weaknesses in five areas: body, stress/ anxiety, mood, sleep and social life, and receive tailored daily exercises, plus oneon-one coaching when needed.

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Write away your woes


Writing down negative emotions and anxieties can be incredibly cathartic. Either make a list of what’s troubling you or keep a wellbeing diary as an emotional outlet.

8 Try some aromatherapy

A study conducted by Rutgers University found those in a floral-scented room displayed greater wellbeing than those in a room filled with classic fragrances, such as Chanel No 5 or unscented air. So put in a call to a florist, such as Grace & Thorn.


Unsubscribe from your inbox

Emails can be addictive. Constantly checking your inbox at work is unproductive and an escape from proper work. Plus, checking emails when you are out of the office can increase anxiety. Read Unsubscribe: How To Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions And Get Real Work Done by Jocelyn K Glei (Piatkus, £9.99) for tips on the best times to email, how to prioritise them and how to switch off after hours.

10 Hug it out

Paul Zak, a pioneer of neuroeconomics, has found that eight hugs per day can make you happier. In a 2011 TED talk, he explained that hugging a romantic partner can spike oxytocin levels and decrease blood pressure, heart rate and stress.



Keep a crisis calendar

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Add a 30-second sprint to your workout This doubles your endorphins and increases levels of noradrenaline, boosting your mood for up to 90 minutes after exercise, say sports psychologists at the University Of Essex.

13 Visit the travelling Light Lounge

The frequency of the lounge’s light machines you lie beneath are specifically programmed to entrain the brain into deeper states of consciousness. Many reviewers have reported a reduction in stress and even experienced visions, so why not give it a go yourself?



Boost your instrumental health

A new music app is scientifically engineered to enhance meditation using auditory brain entrainment. Unlike most meditation apps, MindMetro focuses solely on the instrumental. Download from Google Play or the App Store to receive one hour of complimentary music and use before bed for the best sleep of your life.

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Charting lows and highs can help you spot behavioural patterns. A meltdown might be linked to a certain social activity, work duty or a specific day of the week. Awareness of these particular patterns will help you prepare accordingly, so pin a calendar somewhere obvious, jot down your schedule, then mark your highs and lows with two separate colours.

A tidy home creates a tidy mind, so try adding “mindful” murals to decorate your walls. Choose from visually soothing designs including Crisp Pines and Ocean Mist to sit above your bed or desk: two places where inner calm are most needed. Eleanor Halls

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Eat an oily fish a day

Not only do omega-3 fatty acids (found particularly in salmon and mackerel) help prevent cognitive decline, they boost serotonin levels via their content of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Low levels of DHA are linked to depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, memory loss and Alzheimer’s, so include oily fish and (not or) Krill oil supplements in your diet three times a week.

Keep medication in sight

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Borrow a dog

In a new study, dog-owners were found to be more satisfied with life than non-pet owners, and that oxytocin (the cuddle hormone) was released by both human and dog when they interacted. If you can’t look after an animal full-time, create a free profile on the Borrow My Doggy app and browse till you meet the pet you’re looking for – just like Tinder. Sort of.

When you’re feeling desolate, medication can be forgotten, or it can be tempting to discard it as pointless, persuading yourself you are beyond help. Keep medication in an obvious place, such as with your morning toiletries, to remind you of its benefits and the danger of sudden discontinuation.

Keep a rescue box


Make a box of reassuring personal items that relate to positive memories – such as photographs, music or an inspiring letter from yourself – and turn to it during moments of distress, or make a loved one remember to give it to you.

Quit complaining

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Not only does it make you unpleasant to be around, but entertaining negative thoughts takes a big toll on your happiness and affects how you approach problems. Next time you’re about to complain about trivialities, think, is it worth it? Then swap it for a positive or amusing comment.

Photographs Getty Images; Plainpicture

Zen your home

Brush your teeth mindfully

As advised in Mindfulness: A Practical Guide To Finding Peace In A Frantic World by Danny Penman and Mark Williams (Piatkus, £15), spending time to focus on a mundane activity allows you to appreciate the moment and clear your head. Try spending two minutes brushing your teeth, concentrating on the movement of your hand and the sensation in your mouth.

Drink banana tea

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Banana peel contains ingredients such as amino acids and vitamin B6 that increase serotonin and relieve stress. Swap morning coffee (a depressant) for banana tea to start the day off positively.

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Do what makes you anxious

The more you avoid uncomfortable situations, the more they make you anxious. Set yourself a challenging environment, keeping track of your thoughts, and you’ll find it easier to rationalise your anxiety and realise it’s not as bad as you’d anticipated.

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Smooth sailing Your one-stop shop for all the latest gear, gadgets and sporting goods. This month, get the most out of life on the ocean wave with our nautical guide to sailing gear

HPX Gore-Tex Ocean Jacket by Musto Waterproof, windproof, durable and breathable, Musto’s three-layer Gore-Tex jacket can withstand anything the world’s toughest oceans can hurl at it. £699.

Bag by Helly Hansen Not only waterproof, this duffel bag is also hard-wearing and seafaring. £90.

BL500 Wind Meter by Skywatch This handheld device measures wind speed, temperature, humidity and air pressure. £200.

Ranger Grip Boatsman by Victorinox A 22-function tool ready to tackle your onboard emergencies. £143. At Swiss Store. Quatix 3 by Garmin This GPS smartwatch features a compass, altimeter and barometer, as well as a timer and even a tack assist. In fact, it knows more about sailing than you do. £540.

Breathable Boots by Gill These nonslip, waterproof boots are comfortable, lightweight and breathable. £169.



Beware the original cold-blooded killer

Photographs Tobi Jenkins; Steve Neaves; Twitter/@BearGrylls

There are snakes on every continent but Antarctica – and many can deal life-altering damage. Learn how best to survive a confrontation with a serpent IN the course of my job, I’ve had my fair share of encounters with snakes. I’ve killed and cooked puff adders in Africa, eaten raw water snakes in the Northern Territory of Australia and caught and chomped my way through plenty of vipers in the Central American jungles. And, yes, I’ve been bitten. I had just made a little camp in a tree in the Borneo jungle. I was settling down for the night – hungry – when I saw something moving along the branch. I knew it could be my only chance for supper. Almost instinctively, I grabbed its tail and started to pull. But the snake wrapped its head firmly around a branch. I pulled harder. Eventually it pinged free, flew back and bit my hand. It didn’t stop there. The snake was so mad that it started biting itself in a frenzy. I chopped its head off, had it for supper and it all ended OK. That bite was nonvenomous, but looking back I know I was lucky. The truth is that you don’t even want to be bitten by a nonvenomous snake. As soldiers in the jungle are routinely told, snakes don’t brush their teeth. They harbour masses of bacteria in their mouths, which means any variety can give you an infected bite. In the jungle, an infection like that could kill you. So never play with a snake, even if you think it’s safe. Don’t prod it or poke it. Just let it do its thing and you run a better chance of it letting you do yours. Snakes are generally shy and will avoid you if they can (with a few exceptions that I have come across, such as water moccasins in the Louisiana swamps, which can be pretty aggressive). So good advice if you are in a snakey area is to walk carefully and with consideration to each step, but also with a slightly heavier footfall. They are very sensitive and will detect you coming from quite a distance. If there is a lot of undergrowth, find yourself a solid stick and bang the ground in front of you as you walk. Wear good, sturdy jungle boots plus snake gaiters and always step on top of fallen logs rather than over them – snakes often shelter in the overhang and are more likely to

attack if they see a big size eleven boot about to stand on them. It’s worth knowing that venomous snakes often deliver a dry bite, where they don’t inject any venom. For this reason, however, younger snakes – especially baby rattlesnakes – can be more dangerous than the adults because they are unable to control the amount of venom they produce. So don’t assume small means less deadly (which is good survival advice in general). If you’re bitten, you need to forget all that stuff you’ve seen in the movies about sucking out the venom. You’ll just open up more capillaries and spread the venom faster, not to mention the risk of getting venom in your mouth. Similarly, don’t try to cut the venom out. The best advice I can give you is to wash the wound, keep the bite below the level of

your heart, keep your heart rate low (easier said than done) and get as much fluid into your system as possible. Above all, get to the nearest hospital. In practice, this means that whenever you’re in a snake-infested area, you should act like every good scout should: be prepared and have a solid casevac plan. If you have a bad haemotoxic or neurotoxic snake bite, you need a fast route to a local hospital, and a dose of the right antivenom. Remember this, though: antivenom is not the magic pill people think it is. Sure, it might save your life, but if it’s a bad bite you’re still in danger of losing a limb. And even when you do everything right, the consequences of a snake bite can be ugly, as our former producer on Man Vs Wild, Steve Rankin, found in Costa Rica. He was wearing proper jungle boots, but a ferde-lance snake bit him through the eyelet of his boot. He did everything he was supposed to do, and got to hospital within two hours (carried on a rudimentary stretcher, then by car and helicopter). But fer-de-lance venom is vicious stuff and causes extreme muscle necrosis. It was messy. The venom ate away my friend’s muscle. The surgeons eventually had to cut off the top of his foot and remove part of his quad to staple in its place. You can see what it looked like (below); a good reminder that, like everything in nature, snakes are to be taken extremely seriously and the wild can be a dangerous place. But therein lies the challenge.

proportion of snake species % The that are poisonous (about 600


of 3,000 known varieties)

TV producer Steve Rankin’s foot with necrotised tissue removed

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The gift of second sight The pioneering surgery behind laser blended vision is opening up new possibilities for ‘difficult’ patients

176 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

The London Vision Clinic’s vital statistics…

1 in 1,000 Chances of a minor complication after surgery

5-6 The number of minutes per procedure

2h30m The time spent at your initial screening to assess suitabilty

97% The farsighted patients tolerant to blended vision

1 in 2,500 The risk of sight-effecting infection for disposable contact lenses while...

1in 2,500 The risk of sight-effecting infection for laser eye surgery

A welcome sight: Laser blended vision removes the need for reading glasses or bifocals

with that instinctive anxiety over eyes, pastoral care – in this case honed to perfection – is vital. It didn’t hurt that the clinic had the ambient frisson of a utopian science-fiction condo. Reinstein has successfully performed laser eye surgery more than 27,000 times, including 8,000 LBV procedures, and compares his approach to that of the airline industry, which he says, “thinks of problems as an opportunity. It is the same with eye surgery.” The most hassle-free technique is called ReLEx SMILE (small incision lenticule extraction). It’s a newer keyhole procedure and minimally invasive. After a few anaesthetic drops you feel no pain and throughout the operation I hear Reinstein utter the words “perfect” over and over, which has the desired effect. The clinicians also give me a teddy bear to hold, just in case I needed reassurance, which I “reluctantly” accept. The laser creates an outline of tissue that needs to be removed to change the shape of the cornea, then it makes a tiny connecting tunnel through which the surgeon draws out this tissue. All it takes is three minutes an eye. When I rise from the slab like Frankenstein’s – or Reinstein’s – monster, I read the writing on the far wall. “I can see!” The reason Reinstein can operate on people like me is his vast experience dealing with complications. “We treat people with high prescriptions and problems other surgeons cannot see,” he says. “Most don’t treat above +4 for farsightedness and consider -8

for myopia the cut-off point, after which most surgery involves new lenses rather than laser. Paradoxically, the problem is that laser is too safe. But the more you specialise, the more problems you encounter, which makes you a better, not worse, surgeon.” After ten minutes in a dark room, I’m free to leave (looking rather suspicious with sunglasses on at 10am in the gloom). For the first day, the world exists in a mist, albeit one through which I can see things I’d never been able to see before without glasses or lenses. I return for a check-up the next morning, then another a month later with a three-month, six-month and oneyear check-up in the book. After three days, I drive to the supermarket at night. After a week, I start to forget it ever happened. The consequences are as anticipated: exceptional and strangely forgettable. People tell me I look younger (it’s all relative, of course). Swimming and running are easier. Showers are no longer a contactlens hazard. The morning is not greeted in a murky, spectacle-groping haze. No more children snapping the arms of my glasses. No more waking up after a night out and realising I’ve forgotten to take my lenses out. As Reinstein is fond of saying, “Wake up and see the coffee.” What could be more ordinary – and extraordinary – than that? Treatment starts George Chesterton from £4,900. London Vision Clinic, 138 Harley Street, London W1. 020 7224 1005.

Photographs Getty Images; Ben Riggott Styling Jake Pummintr Grooming Chloe Botting using Kiehl’s Model Alex Nicholl at W Model Management

THE FUNNY thing about laser eye surgery is that the more successful the procedure the more dramatic the effects, but the more dramatic the effects the more quickly you forget it ever happened. There is something particularly toe-curling about the thought of a stranger prodding around in your eyes, so when it comes to laser surgery there would seem to be only two issues: safety and efficacy. But for me there was also a third. I had been wearing glasses since I was 12 and contact lenses since I was 15. Now in my forties, my long-standing myopia was being unhelpfully supplemented by age-related farsightedness (or presbyopia). That meant I would soon need reading glasses or bifocal contacts. This, I assumed, would be a problem. Not so. I bounded into the London Vision Clinic in Harley Street in possession of a single happy fact I’d learnt the hard way after a boozy teenage night that preceded an embarrassed trip to hospital. Eye tissue – or as Shakespeare, ever the drama queen, called it, “vile jelly” – is the fastest growing tissue in the human body. My surgeon, the foremost in Britain, Professor Dan Reinstein, pretended to be impressed. Reinstein has pioneered a concept called “Laser Blended Vision” (LBV) whereby the eyes are corrected to different specifications, with one eye better for distance and the other better for close-ups. After surgery, the brain puts the two images together in the mind and enables you to see distance and near without effort. Other than the biggest laser eye surgery myth – that you can go blind – Reinstein tells me the most common misconception is that a patient will need reading glasses after surgery. Blended vision means this is not the case. I was the subject of 95 individual tests at the clinic, first to ascertain my suitability, then before the surgery itself. It was soon obvious that when dealing



This metabolism-boosting combination of core-ripping plank and muscle-building press-up will not only help to rectify any imbalances between the two sides of your body, it will also train your core and build muscle and strength in the chest, shoulders and triceps. The strength improvements that you’ll experience from doing this exercise will be felt in all your training. Jonathan Goodair

Preparation • Press your toes into the floor and squeeze your glutes to stabilise the body. • Maintain body alignment, do not let your hips or back sag. • Your head should be in line with your back, hips in line with shoulders.

Plank • Start in plank position, forearms on the floor with the elbows under the shoulders, arms parallel to the body. Stabilise your shoulders and engage your abdominals by gently pulling elbows and shoulders back.

Push-up • Place right hand on floor under right shoulder followed by left hand under left shoulder and move to push-up position. • Perform the push-up, touching chest to floor.

Return • Return to plank position, leading with right arm. • Repeat, leading with left arm.

Try 3 sets of 10 reps on each arm. Rest for 60 – 90 seconds between sets.

Shorts by Nike, £45. Trainers by New Balance, £100. Socks by Adidas, £7. APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 177

W I R E D M O N E Y. M A Y 1 8 , 2 0 1 7. L O N D O N



CHARLOTTE HOGG CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, BANK OF ENGLAND • Charlotte Hogg is introducing the Bank of England’s fintech startup accelerator and changing how institutions work with innovative businesses.

JOHN FAWCETT FOUNDER, QUANTOPIAN • Quantopian uses crowdsourcing to develop investment algorithms, the authors of which receive a portion of profits.


JOERN LEOGRANDE EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF MOBILE SERVICES, WIRECARD • Responsible for Wirecard’s product innovation, Joern Leogrande spearheaded developments to make paying through smartphones possible.

JÜRGEN SCHMIDHUBER MACHINE-LEARNING INNOVATOR • Jürgen Schmidhuber is known as the father of deep learning. The networks developed by his teams have transformed machine learning and AI.

ARVIND KRISHNA SVP AND DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH, IBM • The man behind IBM’s Hyperledger, Krishna will discuss how the open-source blockchain platform will change business transactions.

TOM BLOMFIELD CEO, MONZO • Blomfield’s app-only bank was valued at £50m after an autumn 2016 funding round of £4.8m. He also co-founded and GoCardless.



The rise of below-the-belt plastic surgery Bigger, wider, smoother. GQ investigates four revolutionary treatments that are set to break men’s most intimate nip-and-tuck taboos. Brace yourself... According to plastic surgeons, cosmetic procedures for men in the UK have risen 200 per cent in the last decade and demand for intimate procedures is unprecedented. Thanks to advances in cosmetic surgery, a range of cutting-edge injectables and implants mean that you can now be picture perfect for your next “belfie”.

Scrotox The latest plastic surgery takes vanity to a new, ballsy level. The nonsurgical plastic procedure is “scrotox”, which is Botox shot into the scrotum. The procedure, which costs £400 to £650, takes a man’s prunes and turns them into plums. So why do men get their “balls done”? Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr Randal Haworth believes there are three reasons. First: “It keeps the balls from sweating,” which is a big issues if you’re an athlete. Second: “It makes the balls look bigger.” And finally: “It gives the scrotum a more youthful look.” The Botox “relaxes” the wrinkles. They also “tighten up and move closer” to the body, giving the old boys a lift. With scrotox, you’ll end up with the testes of a 12-year-old boy. The UK tends to be about three years behind the US in plastic surgery and scrotox is a relatively new procedure. Since it only lasts around four months, it’s not yet as popular as other procedures. That said, the procedure is coming to the UK soon and is predicted to be big.

Photograph Richard Phibbs/Trunk Archive

The Brazilian butt lift The second most popular procedure for men – after pectoral implants – is the Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL). Who gets this procedure? We asked Dr Matthew Schulman, a surgeon in New York City, who performs many of them. “About 75 per cent of men requesting BBLs are gay and looking to increase the size and roundness of their buttocks,” he says. “The other 25 per cent are straight men who complain that they have always had a flat butt.” The results are permanent. “The advantage of this procedure is that it also includes liposuction as a way of harvesting donor fat. This allows for simultaneous contouring of the hip

Smooth operator: Procedures such as scrotox have practical and cosmetic benefits

The P-shot The P-shot or the Priapus shot was named after the Greek god of fertility. The shot was pioneered by Dr Charles Runels, an American MD who specialises in sexuality issues. The patient’s blood is withdrawn, processed through a centrifuge to create platelet-rich plasma which contains growth factors. The process is used in sport medicine to rejuvenate torn ligaments. Dr Runels uses it to increase penis size by ten to 20 per cent and improve blood flow for a stronger, harder erection. Runels, the inventor of the Vampire Facelift says, “When I first started doing cosmetic procedures to sculpt the face, it occurred to me that it would be wonderful to do the same thing to the penis.” A study in the Journal Of Urology researching new therapies for erectile dysfunction found that “neovascularisation using vascular growth factors have been demonstrated to be feasible in animal models”. So if you inject growth factors into a human penis, it’ll grow new tissue and blood vessels and you will end up with a cock the size of a horse (probably). In 2016, a gift certificate worth £1,375 was placed in the Oscar swag bags of nominees up for Best Actor In A Leading Role and Supporting Role, which included Michael Fassbender and Leonardo DiCaprio. “The ‘penis rejuvenation’ shot promises a bigger and firmer trouser trophy. It lasts 18 months, which gives time to be up for Best Erection In A Leading Role. P-shot costs from £1,000.

The penis implant flanks and abdomen.” Finally, a fat stomach that’s good for something. Dr Schulman also notes that it’s a millennial phenomenon, with men aged between 20-35 requesting it the most. “The Kardashians have fuelled the increase in the procedure. Plus, Instagram has made us very conscious of how our body looks and there are plenty of photos of ideal butts.” A reality show changed the beauty aesthetic of the United States and started a body modification trend that has trickled down to men. At a recent Hollywood party, the prevailing look for women was thin with a big derriere, stuffed into a tight dress. For thin men with no body fat to harvest, Dr Schulman also provides silicone butt implants, but says they are riskier and can cause infection and shifting. And you can’t sit down for three months until “the seeds are grown”, as Dr Schulman explains. But at nearly £7,000 for each procedure, at least you’ll have an ass like a Kardashian. Brazilian Butt Lift from Elite Surgical costs from £6,700.

The equivalent of breast implants, the penis implant has finally popped up as a surgical option. Unlike the penile implant used for erectile dysfunction, this invention is for looks only. A silicone sheath wraps around the shaft to make it 2.5-4cm wider and longer. To be a candidate for the new penis implant, you can’t have diabetes and can’t be taking a blood thinner. And you have to be circumcised first, which is a great deal if you’re Jewish. The implant was invented in 2003, and since then only one doctor, Dr James Elist, a urologist and plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, does the surgery. He has performed over 1,300 experimental operations, with what he says is a 95 per cent satisfaction rate. He is waiting for final FDA approval so he can license his product globally, so men around the world will go from a having a small one to having a suitable-for-a-dick-pic one. If and when that happens, the penis implant will be the next big thing. Anka Radakovich A penis implant from International Andrology costs from £6,900. APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 179


Should I care about dead celebrities? It’s important to sort this one out, because they’re all going to die. All of them. I wish I could say this more nicely, but I can’t. Because they’re all going to die. That’s what people do. They die. That footballer you loved as a kid? Going to die. That actor from that film you saw when you were nine? Worm food. That rock star you listened to, on your Walkman, as you slouched along the street, who you secretly pretended to be when you turned your collar up and smoked your first cigarettes? Man, is that guy going to die. Ooof. Probably has already. Really, celebrity is just this massive long queue of people who haven’t died yet. If pop culture first flowered in the Sixties, then we’re now firmly into the season where the leaves start falling from the trees. They’re all going to die. And the only way you won’t have to deal with it is if you die first. There are people who will be really, really sad about this – properly weepy; nights out cancelled; stop all the clocks; prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone; and so on – and we shall come to them in a moment. This, though, is a column for the rest of us, who may fear we’re being a little rude. Normally, when somebody you know is bereaved, sympathy is easy. Right? As in, what you feel no urge to do, probably, is shrug and say, “Yeah, but he wasn’t my dad, mate, was he? So I don’t really give a toss.” Yet when your friend is sad about the death of David Bowie or Muhammad Ali or Carrie 180 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

Fisher, it’s somehow much harder. This is because you feel you’re both on a par. You didn’t know the deado and neither did they. So if they’re a mess and you’re fine then it feels a lot like something must be wrong with one of you. And if you are at least halfway confident that you’re not a cold and merciless sociopath, you’re probably going to conclude it’s not you. “This is self-indulgent bullshit,” you’ll probably think. “Get a grip.” Probably, you don’t let on. For a massive, massive fan, however, even your indifference is an insult. “But it’s Prince!” they’ll say. And you’ll say, “Meh.” “He wrote ‘Kiss’!” they’ll say. And you’ll say “Meh” again. And in doing so, you are not just disparaging their grief but also their fandom itself and at the worst possible time. “Actually,” you might as well be saying, “I always thought your dead dad was a bit of a wally.” Sometimes the people who mourn dead celebrities have never formerly shown much interest in them. This is weird, yes, but not necessarily insincere. Actually, the fact they didn’t truly know the dead person may make their grief worse, rather than better, because what they are mourning is not truly the person at all. For me, it happened first with River Phoenix, back in 1993.

You might as well say, ‘I always thought your dead dad was a bit of a wally’

I can’t pretend I was much of a fan. Even today, I often get him confused with Christian Slater, and I’ve met Christian Slater twice. (“Whoa,” I thought, the first time. “It’s the dead guy.”) Yet he was of my generation, and he died, and that felt like a first. Then, six months later, Kurt Cobain followed him into the void. Thus, we learn our mortality. A decade younger than me, and you’ll perhaps have learned it with Amy Winehouse. Last year’s big-name dead celebrities were teaching us something else. Prince, Bowie, Ali, Alan Rickman, Terry Wogan, George Martin, Paul Daniels, Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood, Gene Wilder, even George Michael, these were not fresh new talents, just starting out. If you were the right age – which is my age – they had always been around, like the supporting beams of culture itself. So the fact that they’d all been alive for so many years somehow made it more shocking, rather than less, when they suddenly weren’t. And, unlike your grandparents, you never saw them fade. In our minds, all celebrities are Dorian Gray. Whereas, in reality, they are their own portraits in the attic. So, yes, you should care, even if you thought Prince only had about four good songs and dressed inexplicably like one of the Golden Girls, or that Leonard Cohen had died 20 years ago. No, you didn’t know them as people, but people is not all that they were. They were also our landmarks, our mountains, our navigational tools. Remember, not for nothing do we speak of “stars”. And stars aren’t supposed to go out. Hugo Rifkind is a writer for the Times.

Illustration Britt Spencer


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Back in black Rado’s icon of Nineties minimalism returns with its dark materials PHOTOGRAPH BY

ou’d be forgiven for thinking that Rado watches are more renowned for their form than they are their function – forgiven, because the groundbreaking Ceramica, launched back in the Nineties, minted the idea that a watch needn’t be a) round, b) made of stainless steel (or in a precious metal) or c) look much like a watch (many were worn simply as black, shiny bracelets). To celebrate the Ceramica’s quarter-century, Rado asked German industrial designer Konstantin Grcic – a man schooled in furniture design – to reconsider its most emblematic piece. And reflecting the times we now live in, as well as the technological march that has


Sam Hofman brought us here, Grcic has chosen to focus on the timepiece as much as the material from which it is so famously wrought. Which means a little more distinction between the matte graphite case (now forged, rather than pressed and cut as before) and the all-ceramic bracelet (another first, highlighting ceramic’s hypoallergenic qualities) and a greater focus on the dials. Grcic’s own favourite, dubbed the Signature model, sits a circular 3-6-9 layout within the square aperture, but GQ prefers the minutetrack version with its nicely subdued tint on the numerals. Two sizes of the watch are available, with the smaller version also available in white. But then, you can take the watch out of the “Designer Decade”... BP APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 183

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With drugs, it’s always better never than late


George Michael was a beautiful soul, but his descent into middle-age hedonism was a life choice the latest health-obsessed generation are unlikely to repeat eorge Michael was too young to die and too old to be caning it. Fifty-three is not old for a selfmade millionaire looking forward to enjoying the final third of his life. But it is positively ancient when you have spent the last few years in and out of expensive clinics and getting busted. There is a time and place for party drugs and sex in public places. It is not a man’s middle years. After the booze-soaked, chemically crazed tumult of youth and young manhood, your thirties, forties and beyond are a time for yoga and fruit smoothies and stretching exercises – not rehab and bad drugs and increasingly desperate attempts to stay clean. When he did four weeks’ jail time for driving under the influence of drugs, George Michael was already 47 years old. I have known a few wild men in my time. But I never knew anyone who caned it all the way to the male menopause. Oh, George! When I first met him, he was 21 years old and Wham! were in their pomp – stuffing shuttlecocks down their tennis shorts, mobs of teenage girls chasing George and Andrew Ridgeley down every street and a chauffeured limo waiting until the night’s fun was over. But the fun was, like the 21-yearold George himself, as clean cut as could be. Young George was shrewd, mature and totally unlike the debauched degenerates


that I had been knocking around with for the previous ten years. The night we met, George and I went to Rudland & Stubbs in Smithfield and drank our bodyweight in sauvignon blanc. And I thought that was about as wild as it would ever get with this likeable young man. I was dead wrong. Even nine years after that first meeting, at his 30th birthday party on his father’s stud farm – the horses running free in the rolling fields, torch lights lining the long sweeping driveway – there was no indication that George Michael was going to go down in flames as the last of the great hedonists. Even on the night he turned 30, all that was still ahead of him. He looked too much the master of his destiny to ever veer wildly off the rails. He surely managed his career far too well to destroy it with gluttony for good times. But five years later we were sitting by the fire in his big open-plan house in Oak Hill Park, Hampstead – Hippy the Labrador chewing the white pile carpet between us – when George casually slipped into the conversation that he was smoking around 25 spliffs a day.

Whatever your poison, start young and learn to pace yourself

In those years he was still reeling from a double bereavement. Anselmo Feleppa, the Brazilian lover who finally convinced George that he was gay and not hovering somewhere on the bisexual spectrum, had died of an Aidsrelated brain haemorrhage in 1993. His mother Lesley, the only member of his family I ever met in the many hours I spent in his Oak Hill Park home, had died in 1997 at the age of 60. But life is full of loss. It doesn’t make most of us want to ruin ourselves. And even when George made his first confession about drugs I would have bet my last pound that he would never allow the good times to turn toxic. But as he careered towards his 40th birthday, George finally let his hair down – and his trousers. In 1998 he was nicked engaging in a lewd act in a public toilet in Beverly Hills by a policeman. Suddenly, the sexual orientation that he had guarded like some Thatcher-era Rock Hudson was something to shout about. And suddenly, it seemed like the drugs were not for recreation but relief, respite and oblivion. And he was already far too old to be living that way. This is not to suggest that fleeting fun is for the young. There will always be a time and place for transient bliss in a man’s life, whatever his age. Witness Sir Rod Stewart, 72, flamboyantly making the draw for the fifth round of the Scottish Cup after possibly imbibing

LAST MAN STANDING a drink or two. And consider the late Leonard Cohen, who always said that if he lived to be 80, he was going to start smoking again. “It is the right age to recommence,” Cohen solemnly told the New York Times. And that’s exactly what Cohen did – it is no coincidence that on the cover of Cohen’s last album, You Want It Darker, released just before his death at the age of 82, he has ostentatiously got a fag on the go. Leonard Cohen, the smoker, and Rod Stewart, the drinker, glow with joy. But then they obey the first rule of hedonism – enjoy it.

ow much true undiluted pleasure, I wonder, did George Michael feel from his wild years? Rumours abound about what chemicals he was on. What is irrefutable is that they ruined him. I spent a lot of time around George in his twenties and thirties. We met each other’s families. When I went out with my girlfriend Yuriko on the night before we got married, the only person who came with us to the little Japanese restaurant in Islington was George Michael. In the end I was really just the favourite journalist of a big star. But I considered him my friend. But by the time he was in his forties and fifties, we had stopped talking to each other. And I had stopped recognising him. It wasn’t just the weight he piled on. He looked miserable. Why do most of us bail out of hedonism? Because we worry about the consequences. You have to be either 18 or 80 to smoke cigarettes and not worry about lung cancer. Anywhere in between and you know it is a real possibility. After youth’s first flush, other things take priority over having a good time. A serious job, a permanent woman and fatherhood. You don’t stay up all night when you have to play with your child at dawn. For most of us, life imposes its own restrictions. The hard-core hedonists are often the ones who take most readily to the Perrier and pilates of later life. Because they have watched their friends die. Because they have done unknown damage to themselves. And they know it. So they move from the dark to the light, from the madness to something approaching peace. George Michael, almost uniquely, travelled in exactly the opposite direction. Whatever George was on, he did too much of, much too late. Whatever your poison, you should start young and – when the hangovers take days to shake off, rather than hours – learn to


186 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

pace yourself. You don’t do what George did. Because that will give you a morning after that lasts for eternity. On the wall of the Snappy Snaps on Hampstead’s high street, five minutes’ walk from George’s old home in Oak Hill Park, there was some graffiti next to the dent where he crashed his car at 3.30 on a Sunday morning. “Wham” the graffiti quipped, and everyone enjoyed the joke. But it was probably a lot less fun to be the drug-addled middle-aged man who had passed out behind the wheel of his car when he was trying to find his way home. I never saw anyone get hedonism so badly wrong as George. All the drugs, all the sex in public places, all the reckless driving – and he was not having fun. He was dying. It is different for the authentically young,

for the generation born in the 21st century. A major NHS survey of 6,500 schoolchildren reveals that the number of young people

Once for the cool kids, unfettered hedonism is a dial-up pastime in a digital world smoking, drinking and taking drugs has dramatically fallen over the last ten years. The authentically young have watched their grandparents die of lung cancer because they smoked cigarettes. They can see that a drink or two is fun but that drunks are unequivocally pathetic. They know their parents took drugs – mum starting everything with an E in Ibiza, dad chopping out the white lines during the Britpop wars – so drugs seem old hat. They have watched their elders take hedonism to the end of the line. And they want very little to do with it. For the second half of the last century, young folk drank up, lit up and cranked up the volume. But the clean teens of the 21st century make that old-school hedonism look out of time, as redundant as record stores. And nothing ever seems quite so old fashioned as the formerly fashionable. Drugs are still out there. But even the use of cannabis, the most commonly used drug, is way down these days. And we are talking about the very young – which means we are talking about the shape of the future. The young of today have learned from the mistakes

of all those arthritic old groovers who cavorted in The Roxy and The Haçienda. And as the father of one of them, it seems to me that there has been a real cultural shift. It was once the cool kids who got off their faces. Now it is the uneducated idiots who get routinely rat faced. Unfettered hedonism is a dial-up pastime in a digital world. The experts say the nature of childhood has changed. This coming generation set the pace for all of us, with our personal trainers and obsession with appearance. These clean teens are more vain than all those generations who passed the bong in leaky bedsit rooms. In those heady days of 20th-century hedonism, nobody fretted about how they looked in a photograph. Nobody joyously rutting in the mud of Woodstock worried about something so superficial as their appearance. Now it often feels as if nothing matters more. Funny enough, George Michael was fanatically self-conscious about the way he looked. When we met in that house at the end of a private road in Hampstead, he would always put the kettle on and get out the biscuits. The only exception would be if he had a photo shoot coming up. Then he would not even touch a chocolate digestive. George was in control. He was disciplined. And in those years of early solo success, when he was up there commercially with even Michael Jackson, he was happy. Somewhere along the line, he lost his way. He lost the ability to know when it was time to say yes to a chocolate digestive – or your drug of choice – and when it was time to say no. Although we drifted apart, I remember him as a beautiful man with a huge heart and a generous spirit who could handle success but could not handle hedonism. You can’t make the pleasure of the moment last a lifetime. How will you celebrate your 80th birthday? Chop out a couple of lines? A threesome with friends? A fireside spliff? Or light up a cigarette knowing that life has waited too long to kill you with lung cancer? Leonard Cohen’s cigarette at 80 was only fun because he had stopped smoking decades earlier. We give up on the unapologetic hedonism of our extreme youth – the meaningless sex with a succession of strangers, the nicotine habit, the booze and powders – when we learn that life cannot be lived as if tomorrow never comes. Because unless you fall off your perch, it always does.




Anthony Joshua has already dispatched 18 opponents in less than two hours, but ahead of the biggest fight in British boxing history at Wembley Stadium next month, GQ throws a probing jab at Britainâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mightiest talent and asks if this really is a heavyweight ready to join the legends



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Paul Henderson


Mariano Vivanco


Paul Solomons

Elgar Johnson

‘I’ll knock Klitschko out. It won’t be quick, but I will find my opportunity and I will take it’ APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 189

‘I went from the hunter to the hunted. I knew everyone would want to beat me’


retty much everyone knows the “10,000 hours” rule. To be successful, to be a winner, to be the best at pretty much anything, you need at least ten solid years of purposeful practice – that’s three hours a day, every day – to achieve true greatness. It was bestselling author and cultural malcontent Malcolm Gladwell who came up with that theory in his 2008 book, Outliers, and it made a lot of sense to a lot of people. Musicians, scientists, athletes and academics agreed: the key ingredient was hard work and dedication. Look at any fitness meme, they’ll tell you the same thing: one per cent inspiration, 99 per cent perspiration; the more you practise the luckier you get; winners aren’t born. They are made. Anthony Joshua hasn’t read Outliers, but he knows the theory. He gets it. Agrees with it even. And yet the IBF heavyweight champion of the world hasn’t quite got his maths right. Not yet. He didn’t start boxing until he was 18 and now he is 27. So that’s nine years, not ten. OK, acceptable parameters. But dig a little deeper and the problems kick in. As an amateur, he won the senior ABA Championships in only his 18th contest. That made him the best fighter in England in 2010, barely two years after first putting on boxing gloves. Two years after that he became Olympic champion, making him the best in the world after only 43 fights. And as a professional, in three and a half years he has climbed into the ring just 18 times. None of his opponents have survived beyond the seventh round. He’s trained, of course, and trained very hard – make no mistake, he’s put the hours in. But how much time has he spent fighting for real since he

Hoodie, £295. Trousers, £195. Both by Belstaff. Underwear, £15 by Under Armour. APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 191

joined the paid ranks? That would be a grand total of one hour, 45 minutes and 41 seconds. I’d like to see Gladwell explain that in a TED talk. Joshua laughs. “It sounds quick when you put it like that. But for me, it hasn’t been quick because I know the reality of my journey,” he says. “I’ve still got five years, more maybe, before I get to be one of the best fighters in the world. It’s hard and I do understand the 10,000-hour rule and all that. But the thing is, I don’t get paid for overtime. Do you know what I’m saying?” He laughs again. We are sitting in the back of Joshua’s black Range Rover just after wrapping his second GQ cover shoot in less than a year and before he officially opens the new BXR boxing gym he is a partner in. Rather than spit and sawdust, BXR is a boutique fitness facility that promises boxing discipline in stylish, state-of-the-art surroundings. He hopes it will be a home-from-home for visiting boxers (“like Gleason’s Gym in New York or the 5th Street Gym in Miami”) and possibly the first of many similar fight clubs around the country. This, he tells GQ, is just another part of his ever-

heavyweight boxer in the world. Or it could bring all the hope, all the hype, the grand plans and billionaire dreams crashing down around him as the referee’s count reaches ten. His rise has been meteoric; his success has come quickly and most of his opponents – some might call them victims – have lost before they even heard the first bell. In boxing terms, he is a destructive force of nature, a combination of the merciless brutality of Mike Tyson, the intimidating presence of George Foreman and the cold-eyed cruelty of Sonny Liston. Whatever he hits, he destroys. And, most chillingly of all, he often does it with a smile on his face. He’s an inspiration to some and a role model to many, practising and preaching the values of honesty, hard labour and respect. And yet... And yet the jury is still out. Since he became world champion, he has been accused of only taking on hand-picked opponents, tailor-made for his fighting style. Where once he connected brilliantly with his fanbase, some critics now point out the increasing commerciality of his public profile. And, more worrying still, there are rumours and rumblings that he has been hurt several times in sparring, casting

As a pro he has climbed into the ring just 18 times. No opponent has survived past seven rounds expanding empire. Joshua isn’t just a boxer; he’s a brand. And he is also a businessman who has big, big plans. “When I first started, the aim was to become a multimillionaire. But now there are ordinary people, grandmas and granddads, who are worth millions just because of property prices. So the new school of thought is that I need to be a billionaire. Being a millionaire is good, but you have to set your sights higher. If I’m making £10 million from my next fight, my next target has to be making ten times that. And if I get to £100m-150m, why not go for the billion? I know self-made billionaires. It’s hard, but it’s possible.” The next fight, of course, is why we are here. For Joshua to make it to a billion all depends on one defining factor: he cannot afford to lose. And at the end of April, at Wembley Stadium in front of 90,000 people in what will be the biggest and richest fight post-war Britain has ever seen, Joshua will face 41-year-old Wladimir Klitschko. It is being touted as the young pretender against the aging legend. The man who would be king versus the man who has dominated the heavyweight division for most of the 21st century. Goliath vs Goliath. It is the fight that will prove, once and for all, if Joshua is the “real deal”, the greatest 192 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

doubts on his ability to take a heavyweight hit on his handsome chin. It means the question we really want to know is: how good is Anthony Joshua? he first time GQ sat down with Joshua was last summer. Over breakfast, discussing his nomination as our Sportsman Of The Year, he described himself as being “at only 50 per cent” of his potential. He claimed he made too many mistakes, didn’t stretch enough, didn’t sleep enough and didn’t eat as well as he should. He also made the point that he worried about investing too much in the sport of boxing, that he didn’t want it to define him. “People need to understand I’m just a man,” he said. “I’m not a god and I’m not a superhero. The only thing real is the struggle.” Today, I ask him if much has changed since then. “Yeah, I remember that,” he says. “I would honestly say I am smarter now. What’s around me hasn’t changed – my team, the people I trust and love, that’s the same. And my routine hasn’t changed. The struggle is still the same: camp, train, fight, rest, recover. But I am always learning and improving as a fighter and as a man. The big change, though, is this is the year when I have to embrace my job


more. To get to where I want to go, to achieve what I want to achieve, I have to invest all I have in boxing.” If there is a mind-set change, you’d be hardpressed to spot it unless you know Joshua very well, because on the surface he hasn’t changed at all. In person he is warm and charming, with an instant preternatural charisma. At the photo studio in north London he has as much time and as many smiles for the receptionist on the desk at he does for Mariano Vivanco, the famous photographer. And it feels completely genuine. When I arrive on set, fashionably late, he bounds over for a handshake and a man hug as soon as he spots me. We have only met twice, but not only does he treat me like a long-lost friend, he also has a startling memory for the conversations we’ve had and the things we’ve discussed. He makes you feel special – it is a rare quality that very few people have, least of all his famous peers. In the flesh – and dressed in just a pair of Under Armour shorts, hand wraps and boxing boots, there is a lot of it to see – he is bigger and more tanned (thanks to having spent the best part of a month in the Middle East) than I remember, and as solid as a postbox, with arms and legs like rolled up Axminster carpets and a neck like a tree stump. He is 6ft 6in, weighs around 18 stone and has a musculature that Atlas himself would admire enviously. He also has a mischievous sense of humour. When I ask him playfully if he is still working the “I’m so humble” shtick, he giggles and tells me, “Aww, I’m over that shit, man. I’m all about tearing it up in Dubai now and hanging with Prince Albert in Monaco.” Then he laughs and gets back to work in front of the camera. But later, when we get down to business with the tape rolling, he is always careful to quantify any joke with a “but seriously” disclaimer. He’s on the record and he knows how this game is played. For instance, when I ask him about that trip to Dubai over Christmas, he focuses on the need for recuperation with friends and family rather than the fun he had racing a Mercedes-AMG GT around the Yas Marina F1 circuit or flying microlights in the desert. He’s not hiding any of that stuff, but he’s mindful not to come across as being a big shot or a show-off. Because, as Steve Martin, global CEO of sport management agency M&C Saatchi, tells me, the key to Joshua’s public appeal so far has been his humility. “You just don’t see that in sport these days and especially not in boxing,” he explains. “For years, boxing has taken the Hollywood/showbiz approach to promotion – big sells, macho posturing, trash talking, press conference theatrics – and Joshua could do all that, but has chosen not to. He is calm, cool and respectful. It is very clever and that has become his USP.”


‘When I first started, the aim was to become a multimillionaire. Now I need to be a billionaire’

Hand wraps. Shorts. Boots. All by Under Armour.

ANTHONY JOSHUA And Martin would know. Back in the Nineties, he worked with one of the few boxers to bridge the gap between the boxing world and the far more lucrative lifestyle sector, Naseem Hamed, and the “Prince” did things very differently. Larger than life and twice as mouthy, Naz would enter the ring on a magic carpet and treat his opponents with the kind of disdain you’d expect Piers Morgan to receive at a women-only screening of Trainspotting 2. In stark contrast, Joshua’s strength is his authenticity and his refusal to engage in anything as petty as a war of words. Add in his badboy-made-good backstory and suddenly the high-end companies who have traditionally avoided involvement with “blood sports” are flocking to his door. However, Martin sees a potential problem. “What Joshua needs now is really careful management,” he says. “I know he set up his own company [AJ Boxing Management] to handle that, but you can see from his social media feed that the commercial side is starting to intrude more and more. Lucozade bottles popping up here and there, Beats By Dre headphones always on, another spin in a new Jag. If he starts diluting his own brand with clumsy commercial tie-ins, it will hurt him.” And Joshua certainly wouldn’t be the first Olympic medallist to lose credibility with the public when the money starts rolling in. Amir Khan and James DeGale both succumbed to the allure of making a fast buck and living a “flash lifestyle” and it cost them both credibility and top-dollar contracts. Joshua, however, is clearly smarter than that. He has surrounded himself with a close group of friends (“We’re like a brotherhood,” he says), he monitors all his deals personally and he works as hard at the negotiation table as he does in the gym. He also has a young son, Joseph Joshua, whose financial future he will never put at risk. But the main reason Joshua believes he won’t succumb to boxing’s pitfalls is because, as he openly admits, he has already made enough mistakes to last a lifetime. As we creep slowly through traffic, when I ask him if he ever imagined his life would turn out like it has, it is clearly not the first time he has considered the question. “No, definitely not,” he says. “We [his team] were talking the other day about an advert we were going to shoot, and the idea was to reflect on what I went through when I was younger. At first, I felt like I didn’t want to include one second of the life I had, when I was leaving the house and getting into trouble. Back then, I thought I was a little ‘G’, running around the streets. But then I realised: that stuff was all part of the journey that got me to where I am now. It’s part of me. Could I imagine where my life was going then? Not at all... Man, I couldn’t even imagine having a payslip!” 194 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

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efore he became AJ the heavyweight superstar, Anthony Oluwafemi Olaseni Joshua was known to his family simply as Femi. He was born in Watford, grew up on a stereotypical rough and ready estate in a well-kept house and describes himself simply as “a tall, lanky boy with a big head”. Despite his Nigerian parents (mum Yeta and dad Robert) splitting up when he was only around four or five, Joshua’s overriding memory is of being a happy kid. He made plenty of friends, played football, climbed trees and, every now and again, “got up to a bit of mischief”. He wasn’t a bad kid... but bad behaviour arrived in the post soon after the onset of puberty. “I suppose I must have been about 14 when I started going out and hanging with the wrong crowd,” he says. “My mum moved us to Edgware in around 2002, but I was going to school in Watford. My friends were there and my aunt lived there, so I stayed in the area and I started getting involved in things I shouldn’t have. I should have listened to my family, but I wanted to be my own man and live my own life. I suppose that is how you learn.”


Rather than follow a different path, Joshua decided he needed to get bigger and stronger, so that when he returned to his old stomping ground he would command even more fear and respect. He bought a bench press from Argos and got to work, much to the amusement of his cousin Ben Ileyemi. A young boxer himself, Ileyemi recalled visiting Joshua at home. “It was funny,” he said. “Anthony had weights that were too light and he was doing all the wrong exercises. So I showed him a few things and then invited him to come with me to Finchley Amateur Boxing Club in Barnet.” If you are expecting the line “and the rest is history” you’ll be disappointed. It wasn’t love at first fight. Asked to recall his first training session, Joshua puffs out his cheeks. “It was bad, man. I was drinking and smoking at the time and, as we were driving home afterwards, I told my cousin to pull over because I had a terrible headache. I opened the door and I was throwing up, I was shaking... and it was like all the badness that was inside was spewing out. But I remember thinking to myself afterwards, ‘If I am going to come back to this place. There are a few changes I have to make.’”

Whenever there was trouble, the police never had a problem picking out the biggest guy in the group And Joshua learned the hard way. While at Kings Langley Secondary, he admits he took school for granted. He wasn’t badly behaved, but he didn’t work hard enough either. His head teacher, Gary Lewis, described him as “a friendly lad and a fantastic sportsman. Yes, he got into a bit of trouble here and there, but no more than anyone else.” But outside school was a different matter. There were street fights, formal complaints, ABH charges. He was drinking and smoking, going out to nightclubs, and whenever there was trouble – and there was plenty – the police never had a problem picking out the biggest guy in the group. “Honestly, back then I was just living dayto-day,” he says. “If you’d asked me what I was going to do for work it wouldn’t have extended beyond bricklaying and working on a building site. My thinking was ‘How can I get by?’ There was never a long-term vision of ‘I want to get a mortgage and buy a house.’ Everything was short-term: ‘OK, this week I’m gonna make a quick £250.’ I wasn’t setting myself goals, making plans or nothing like that.” Finally, having pushed his luck as far as it would go, Joshua found himself banned from the Watford area for a year, wearing an electronic tag and living under curfew with his mum. The penny, though, still hadn’t dropped. 196 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

He made a lot of them, but not all. Boxing had captured his imagination and he discovered a natural talent he didn’t know existed. He learned quickly, developed physically, won titles and was welcomed into the Team GB squad, but he had one last lesson to learn. In 2010, having fallen back into his old life in Watford, one night Joshua was stopped by police in his Mercedes and found with 8oz of cannabis in his sports bag. The police knew who he was, of course – he was even wearing his official team tracksuit. He was charged with possession with intent to supply, which had he been found guilty of would probably have ended his boxing career for good. “Luckily they knocked off the intent bit and I got a 12-month community order and 100 hours of unpaid work. I ended up down the allotments,” he said in an interview soon after. It was a sobering moment: Joshua emerged from the last chance saloon and put things right. Within two years he was an Olympic champion and, after a year assessing his options – travelling the world meeting the biggest names in the boxing business (including Richard Schaefer and Oscar De La Hoya from Golden Boy, and Frank Warren) and talking things through with Lennox Lewis on a visit to Montego Bay – Joshua decided to turn pro and signed with Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn.

“I had only been boxing for three years and I did think about staying amateur, but as the Olympic champion I had gone from the hunter to the hunted,” he recalls. “I knew everyone in the amateur game would want to beat me. So by turning pro I had another year to fly under the radar and learn my trade. I needed that extra time fighting in small shows to learn about myself, what I could do, to build my confidence up. I had fights where the risks were reduced, where I could learn what it was to be a professional and become a predator in the division.”

aving carefully guided Joshua seamlessly through his 18 professional fights to the brink of global superstardom, Eddie Hearn admits he is both very excited and very nervous about the forthcoming fight with Wladimir Klitschko. As his promoter, Joshua has helped make the Matchroom boss very rich and the 29 April date at a packed Wembley Stadium, plus a million pay-per-view buys and international TV sales will make him even richer, but Hearn knows one defeat could completely derail the Joshua Express. “AJ’s very fit, very smart and very strong, of course, but when you are boxing in front of 90,000 people and you have got a wily old 6ft 7in Ukrainian leaning on you, using every trick in the book to sap you of your strength and drain you of your energy, how will AJ cope with that?” he asks anxiously. “It’s a worry, especially if the fight gets into the later rounds – ten, eleven, 12. You have to remember Klitschko is a very tricky customer. He is obsessed with winning back the titles he lost to Tyson Fury in 2015 and that makes him very dangerous. If Anthony Joshua is the fighter everyone has built him up to be – including myself – then he will win. If he’s not, then he has no chance in this fight. Because Klitschko will tie him up, frustrate him, drain him of his confidence and knock him out.” At the moment, given the way Joshua has obliterated every be-gloved obstacle in his way since his professional debut in 2013, seeing him knocked out is almost unthinkable. During that time, as a fighter, he has demonstrated every single quality a champion needs to reign supreme. Physically, he has a body honed to pugilistic perfection. He uses his height to maximum effect, delivers his jab like a medieval battering ram and unloads so much power behind his clubbing right hand that one opponent said he’d rather be hit with a baseball bat than take another shot from him. He has that classic upright European style and he isn’t the fastest around the ring, but he has quick hands, decent balance and a mean streak that would give an assassin sleepless nights. Ask him what it feels like to knock a man out and he moans almost orgasmically. “Oh... It’s


Photographs Alamy; Gene Blevins/Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions; Andrew Couldridge/Reuters; Getty Images; Rex

ANTHONY JOSHUA amazing.” Then he laughs. “I just love it, man. And the thing with me is that there is no remorse. When I hurt someone it annoys me when they [the referees] don’t let me finish them. Honestly! Because that is my job.” But he does have weaknesses. Not many, but they are there. For one, he lacks experience. So far in the sport, he’s only had 61 fights, amateur and pro. He’s never faced an opponent that didn’t crumble before him once battle commenced and he’s never had to chase down a fast, fleet-of-foot fighter and cut off the ring. And he is still learning the psychological side of the fight game. But his biggest weakness, the one real question mark that remains is: can he take a punch? So far in his career, he has only been hurt once, in a frantic British title grudge match against a man who had a win against Joshua from their amateur days, Dillian “The Body Snatcher” Whyte. In their rematch, back in December 2015, Joshua was in complete control, bullying and stalking his outgunned opponent, uncharacteristically humiliating him by grinning and sticking out his tongue as he repeatedly rocked Whyte back on his heels. But, in desperation and as a last roll of the dice, Whyte threw a left hook that pinged off Joshua’s chin and rocked the man mountain to his boots. He legs stiffened, his head fogged and for a second or two Joshua was in trouble. But Whyte didn’t follow it up and blew his only chance – if you come at the king, you best not miss – and Joshua recovered to win conclusively (and concussively). But that wobble raised a red flag. Then there have been the sparring stories. Self-styled “big, ‘orrible heavyweight” David Price claims to have knocked Joshua flat on his back in 2011. “If it had been a fight, it would have been stopped immediately,” the Liverpool fighter said. More recently, and more worrying, there have been rumours that Joshua has been knocked out by an amateur cruiserweight called Lawrence Okolie and badly rocked by raw 19-year-old heavyweight prospect Daniel Dubois. The announcement late last year that Joshua would be changing trainers, replacing Tony Sims with the more experienced performance director of Team GB, Rob McCracken, did little to dispel the worries. Joshua, however, won’t be drawn on the subject. “In my code, the fighters’ code, it is not good to talk about sparring,” he says. “If someone invites you to spar, they are inviting you into their secret camp, their inner circle. So I don’t think it is fair to betray that trust by talking about it.” But pushing him a little harder, Joshua concedes that he isn’t the best sparrer in the world. “I don’t go in there to prove a point. If anything, I like to take more punishment because that is how I learn about myself. What is the point of going into sparring and beating everyone up, when in a real

For whom the bell tolls: Who next for Anthony Joshua after Wladimir Klitschko? 1. Deontay ‘The Bronze Bomber’ Wilder Who is he? The WBC heavyweight champion from Alabama is a slick, undefeated artist Sell us the fight: “Me against Joshua would be one of the best fights in history. We’re talking an Ali-Frazier type of thing. I hope and pray that Joshua can come through against Klitschko and we can make that fantasy fight happen once and for all.”

2. David ‘The Hayemaker’ Haye Who is he? The British former cruiserweight king and WBA heavyweight champ on the comeback trail. Sell us the fight: “I know Joshua as a fighter. I know how he jabs, how his feet work, where his head moves when the punches come... I know what he is going to do before he does. I have him figured out and when I get my opportunity I will be swift and I will be ruthless.”

3. Luis ‘King Kong’ Ortiz Who is he? The undefeated Cuban is the mandatory challenger for the WBA title. Sell us the fight: “I want to fight the very best and I want to be heavyweight champion of the world. I’m willing to fight anyone, any champion, any place, any time. I’m ready for anyone: Joshua, Wilder, Klitschko. I know I can beat all of them.”

4. Joseph Parker Who is he? Fighting out of New Zealand, Parker is the undefeated WBO champion. Sell us the fight: “I’ve seen a lot of positive things that Joshua does, but I’ve also seen a few weaknesses... We’re both young fighters and I respect him a lot, but I believe I have what it takes to beat him.”

5. Tyson Fury Who is he? Unpredictable and undefeated former WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion. Currently suspended from boxing. Sell us the fight: “Joshua can’t box. No, he doesn’t have a jab. Yes, his movement is terrible and he’s wide open with no idea how to defend himself... This game is not all about bodybuilding. It’s about knowing how to box. He’s getting knocked out.”

fight the tables might turn and I don’t know how to handle it? I want to practise what it feels like to be hit and hurt. You have to learn how to defend, to be slick when the punches are raining down.” I ask Joshua if he ever worries that he isn’t good enough? If he is scared to find out the truth? He nods. “Yeah. And it is a fear... it’s an insecurity,” he says honestly. “But it’s a valuable one to have, I think. Because that way you are always going to challenge yourself. I do face that for sure, but I’ve always proved myself wrong so far!” He laughs again. “That’s why my ‘stay humble’ motto, the one you don’t like, is so important. Because I am not going to start bigging myself up and saying I am the finished article. Because I’m not. Not yet.” His promoter, however, has no doubts. “Look, he’s been hurt once in a fight, against Dillian, from a left hook that caught him flush and would have uprooted a tree,” Hearn says. “It was thrown in anger and fear by a fighter who was struggling and you have to remember, in the heavyweight division anyone can knock out anyone. If you ask me, has AJ got a weak chin? My answer is no. I know he hasn’t. Does he have a great chin? I don’t know. We’ll find out in April.” As our interview comes to a close, I ask Joshua what he thinks will happen in April. He sits quietly for a moment. “I think I will knock Klitschko out,” he says thoughtfully. “I’m not superstitious about it, but I have a feeling that it will happen in a slightly unexpected way. It will be something like a counterpunch that will finish it. It won’t be quick... It will take time because he is so experienced and he isn’t easy to hit. But I will find my opportunity and I will take it.” When he does – if he does – the world will belong to Anthony Joshua. He will be 27 years old, the rightful king of the heavyweight division. So who comes after Klitschko, I ask? Is it Deontay Wilder, the big punching WBC champion in the US? Is it another Wembley blockbuster against fellow Brit David Haye? What’s the next big fight? Joshua shakes his head and grins. “Nah, man. If I win, I’m the big fight!” He claps his hands together and hoots with laughter. “Hey, you wanted the unhumble interview! I’ll fight anyone. Let’s fight [Freddie] Flintoff! I could fight anyone and it’s a big fight. Because if I win I’ll be The Man. I could even fight you!” Oh, you don’t want a piece of this, I tell him. You’re not that good. He gives me one last hug. “You see? You’ve got the trash talk down. We can do this. We could sell, what? A hundred seats, easy. Me and you. After Klitschko, it’s on!” I wonder if Malcolm Gladwell has any tips for me... APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 197

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‘ There’s no remorse. When I hurt someone, it annoys me if the referees don’t let me finish it’

Set design Trish Stephenson Set assistants John Jefferies; James Reygate Hair Michael Harding Grooming Zoe Taylor Styling assistant Oliver Sharp Photography assistants Tomas Hein, Jacob Mcfadden, Rinaldo Sata Digital operator Robert Self Hand wraps. Shorts, £20. Boots. All by Under Armour. APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 199

The love that dare not speak its name Men have always been told theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not supposed to like romantic comedies, with their sickly-sweet stories, cardboard characters and predictable endings. But in an uncivilised world we need the romcom more than ever. If you have tears, prepare to shed them now... STORY BY

Dylan Jones

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Photograph Allstar

I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t care that the scripts always involve bridal showers and weddings... I am addicted to romcoms

Boy meets genre: Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in Crazy, Stupid Love, 2011 APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 201

You took off an hour ago, and even if you’re not travelling in business, let’s pretend you are. You never normally drink at lunchtime, but you’re 30,000 feet up in the sky, no one can see, so you think, what the hell? And so you have a small glass of entry level sauvignon blanc and have a graze through the in-flight entertainment. You had a relatively long drive to the airport, spent a considerable amount of time in the lounge and you were late to take off; meaning you’ve read all the newspapers and magazines you brought with you, you’ve read all the articles you’d saved to your iPad and you don’t want to take a sleeping pill for another two hours (after you’ve attempted to keep down some of the in-flight meal, that is). So there’s only one thing for it. You’re going to watch a romcom...


hy is it that grown men always watch romcoms when they’re up in the air? Why is it that they’ll happily spend several hours – maybe more – watching a movie they would run a mile from at home? Why is it that when we’re on a plane we are perfectly happy to sit through a load of old, sentimental tosh starring Ryan Reynolds (often unfairly called the Wrong Ryan) or Jennifer Aniston when no one’s watching? I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve got up to stretch my legs on a flight only to see a man who should know better sniffling into his honey-glazed peanuts as he watches the latest romantic flick starring Sandra Bullock or Jason Sudeikis. The behaviour of people at airports and on planes can be bewildering at the best of times. There will always be the businessman who, although having passed through airport security at least four times a week for the last ten years of his life, chooses to have a hissy fit because he doesn’t want to take his shoes off. Then there is the infrequent flyer who, having pooh-poohed the offer of an instructional display from a kindly air stewardess, will be seen wrestling with his flatbed as it threatens to envelope him like a tree in Middle-earth. And then there will be the men surreptitiously

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watching You’ve Got Mail, He’s Just Not That Into You or Bride Wars as they knock back the cheap, methylated chardonnay and hoover up the spicy rubber chicken. But I have a confession to make. I don’t just watch romcoms on planes; for some time now I have started to watch them at home. I’m not proud of it, and previously have felt the need to disguise this fact, but in the spirit of full disclosure, and in a bid to create more transparency, I am coming clean about my consumer habits. Not only do I watch romcoms on airplanes, I now watch them in the privacy of my own home, too. There. I’ve said it again. Often, when I have a free evening, and when I have finished the latest series of House Of Cards, Game Of Thrones, Narcos or Peaky Blinders, I will scour my Sky Q library, alight on something I haven’t watched for a few months, drop my voice an octave or two, and simply say, in the way that Jeremy Clarkson does when his voice changes gear, “Sleepless In Seattle?” At this moment my family will usually start rolling their eyes, snort with practised derision and then disappear to their respective bedrooms to watch their own guilty pleasures on their laptops. So be it. I am addicted to romcoms and nowadays I don’t care who knows it. I don’t care that the scripts always involve bridal

showers, weddings, nauseatingly cute pets or the inability of a rogue British comedian to talk with a convincing American accent. I don’t care that the male leads usually don’t so much phone in their performances as send them by Twitter. I don’t care that the narrative arc never wavers (sexual incompatibility, a grand declaration of love, an astonishing coincidental logistical encounter, true love surmounting all obstacles, etc). On a flight to Antigua a few years ago, having ploughed my way successfully through State Of Play, The Hangover and Moon, I found myself rather self-consciously watching what I thought was going to be a dreadful example of the genre, The Proposal, starring Sandra Bullock. This is a classic New York life lesson (think Diane Keaton in Baby Boom – go on, you know you want to) in which a steely, coldhearted, ambitious executive allows a war of romantic attrition to blossom into true love, discovering her inner puppy in the process. But the thing is, Sandra Bullock isn’t dreadful and – a slow trumpet voluntary, followed by Tom Baker’s booming voice of God – neither are romcoms in general. Critics tend not to like them for the same reason they dislike soaps: they find them patronising. Nick Hornby even talks about them in his novel Juliet, Naked: “Tucker had given up on the romantic comedy he’d started watching. As far as he could work out, the problem between the central couple, the thing that was stopping them from being together, was that she had a cat and he had a dog, and the cat and dog fought like cat and dog, which made the couple, through some mysterious contagion that the film couldn’t properly explain, fight like cat and dog too.”


he really successful ones, however, the gold standard romantic comedies – what I like to call non-dom romcoms – are the most highconcept films of them all, proper back-of-a-cigarette-packet conceits that put most bromances, buddy-buddies or whack-job caper movies to shame. In truth, the romcom is the bastard cinnamon-latte offspring of the Thirties screwball comedy, while the Sandra Bullocks, Kate Hudsons, Jennifer Anistons and Emily Mortimers of this world rush their way through them in the hope of suddenly turning into Katharine Hepburn. No, chick flicks tend not to be written by John Cheever, John Updike or Philip Roth and, no, they’re not directed by the likes of Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson or Woody Allen (not any more, at least), though I’m sure Cheever would have done one had he been asked and every romcom I’ve ever seen has been better than any film Allen has directed since about 1992. Screwball comedies were


Photographs Alamy; Landmark

While you were ďŹ&#x201A;ying: Cabin pressure, alcohol and intimacy make men more susceptible to the emotional pull of a romcom

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part of a genre that not only allowed for smart verbal jousting, they positively encouraged it as a form of foreplay in the days when the Hays Code made it difficult for male and female leads to do anything but hold hands and express their undying platonic love for each other. This turned out to be a fairly robust genre, too, and it survived the onslaught of progressive American cinema in the Sixties and Seventies – seriously, how else can you explain Barbra Streisand’s Hollywood career?


he romcom is the ultimate escapist fantasy because the world in which it works is proscribed almost by legislation. The romcom can only work in a controlled environment, and when we live and work in an increasingly deregulated, chaotic environment, one that is witnessing a shift in demographic certainties driven by the most fundamental of industrial and technological changes, who wouldn’t welcome a bit of old-skool routine? The romcom world might be upside down, but at least it’s one in which we know where everything is. The romcom world is a world full of beds with hospital corners, a world where there are always parking spaces and where it snows on cue, where the leaves are always swept and where conflict is nothing but foreplay. As for the scenarios, well, they confer a little of the courtliness of bygone times, when romance was an imperative rather than an obstacle. The patterns here are patterns of resolution, because why would we want anything else? In this world, the women – whether they’re Hepburn or Streisand or Keaton or Aniston or Bullock – are often broadly drawn metropolitan neurotics while the men tend to be rather shy, put-upon creatures, the slightly wet Robert Redford, Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Reynolds types... all of whom appear to be incapable of saying boo to a goose. We would hate these people in real life – the awful, domineering women, the pathetic, subservient men – which might be why we enjoy the role reversals so much. Obviously, it’s why we can quite happily sit on a plane laughing out loud to films such as My Best Friend’s Wedding, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, 50 First Dates and Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past. Did I just say all of that out loud? Oh, the guilty pleasure of it all. The thing is, men aren’t just laughing at these films, they’re blubbing their eyes out. Remarkably, more than 40 per cent of men cry when they’re watching a romcom up in the air. And why do we do it? Because of the difference in cabin pressure and oxygen from the ground, it affects everyone, as our

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brains turn to mush. For men, though, it’s a safe place, our own garden shed in the air, a sequestered space where we can indulge our inner primal scream, masquerading as a sauvignon-blanc sniffle. We’re leaving loved ones, feeling isolated, maybe even a bit nervous, probably tired, and no doubt suffering from a lack of sleep. Disconnected from everyone we know, all the dark stuff comes flooding in, an oil slick of anxiety. One key player in processing emotions in the brain is the amygdala. A number of other brain areas keep those responses in check. But one study found that as we become more tired, the inhibitory influence of the medial prefrontal cortex over the amygdala weakens, resulting in an amplified response by the amygdala to negative emotional triggers. Plus, of course, as the Civil Aviation Authority is always pointing out to us, during a flight, low air pressure thins the blood, which increases the effects of alcohol. “Frankly, we’re suckers,” says the film critic Jason Solomons. “Flying and films is a heady cocktail, the images and feelings so close to your eyeballs, so intimate.” Helpless, too, our

Romcoms confer the courtliness of bygone times, when romance was an imperative and not an obstacle minds wandering into places we don’t normally go. We cry for the known and the unknown and, of course – and this is the worst kind – the known unknown. As the columnist Brett Martin once said, “Some strange overhead compartment of the heart opens up and critical judgement grabs its flotational seat cushion and follows the lighted pathway to the big yellow slide...” We revert to childhood and cry at trailers for films starring dogs and old people. Yes, there will always be the guys who drink their body weight in Romanian chardonnay, slap each other on the back and start bragging about how many meetings they had before they boarded, but even they will be sobbing into their pillows when they sober up. Particle physicist and TV presenter Brian Cox cries on planes. So too does Jake Gyllenhaal. Richard Madden, who played Robb Stark on Game Of Thrones, wept over the show’s red wedding all the way home to London: “I was the crazy boy on the plane crying at about midnight.” Even civil aviation enthusiasts find themselves blubbing. For men, I suppose a romcom is the ultimate guilty pleasure, but then as we all know,

guilty pleasures are simply a way to acknowledge the vicissitudes of taste. Of course, the more a genre becomes established in the public’s imagination, the more it runs the risk of suffering the reductive forces of the marketplace (which is why there were so many awful Bullock and McConaughey movies a while back), but a good romcom can still punch way above its weight. Annie Hall is probably the best example of the genre and close behind in second place would be the best Allen film not actually by Allen, Norah Ephron's When Harry Met Sally. The romcom has also, temporarily perhaps – who can tell? – been responsible for the rehabilitation of the legend that is Robert De Niro. If you are of a certain age then you will know De Niro as the grumpy foil in a litany of appalling comedies – notably the reprehensible Meet The Parents film series (none of which are funny) – and perhaps have been introduced to the man who was once the greatest actor of his generation through the increasingly forlorn laments of those who saw him at his peak, during his imperial years (roughly from Mean Streets in 1973 to Casino in 1995). But with 2015’s The Intern, De Niro experienced almost complete rehabilitation, giving a performance that not only reflects his abilities, but can also have you welling up as you sip Hungarian reisling at 30,000 feet. His first successful foray into broad mainstream comedy was the brilliant Midnight Run, Martin Brest’s 1988 buddy movie, a film with more one-line zingers than any Marx Brothers knockabout – while The Intern is his finest semi-comic turn since Analyze This. Actually, in true De Niro style it isn’t even really a comic performance, but as he has spent the last 20 years trying to become as ordinary as possible in his roles, perhaps it’s better to say that this is one of his more acceptable “normal” roles, one where there appears to be no more layers of the onion left for him to peel.


ne of the reasons the romcom has continued to thrive as a genre is because of its ability to inhabit an abstract, or occasionally surreal world, and while on the surface most romcoms might seem perfectly plausible, in reality – even Hollywood reality – they are anything but. Last year the New Yorker ran a list of updated jobs for romcom characters online, with the journalist becoming a contributor to a website (reposting other people’s articles with the same headline and barely any attribution), the bookstore owner turning into someone who works in marketing but who owns a Strand Bookstore tote bag, the prostitute morphing into a prostitute via


THE 15 BEST ROMCOMS KNOWN TO MANKIND Whether you’re up in the air or sprawled across your couch, the next time you find yourself stuck for something to watch indulge in these male-friendly chick flicks... The Holiday (2006)

Just Go WIth It (2011)

Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Photographs Alamy; Allstar; Collection Christophel

Wedding Crashers (2005)

Love Actually (2003)

an app, the architect becoming someone who designed an app that lets you know when you’re in the vicinity of other apps, and the human rights lawyer becoming someone with a start-up that connects start-ups to lawyers. These were jokes, but they’d actually still work on film, as would any other modern stereotype, such as the female Uber driver, the reluctant hipster or the billionaire nerd. Because the job only helps define the absurdity of the situation, empowering the comedy in the process. These days, we expect romcoms starring people who meet on Tinder and Grindr, or whose idea of flirting is inappropriate texting; though we’re still not looking for guidance, not really, only reassurance. And while we might now expect the average romcom character to challenge our perceptions of what one might be, we’re not anticipating any kind of zeitgeist-determining revelations. Romcoms are not meant to challenge our beliefs, they’re meant to indulge them. The romcom appears to be impervious to the demographic and generational changes we’ve seen in the past 20 years or so – they seem to appeal to millennials and snowflakes alike – as their sense of absurdity creates a fantasy world that even hyper-sensitive, lily-livered, judgmental bed-wetters can appreciate. I kind of concur with this, though I did learn something from a romcom once. If you remember, in 2011’s Crazy, Stupid, Love, Ryan Gosling (the Right Ryan) becomes Steve Carell’s mentor, guiding the recent divorcé through the avenues and alleyways of modern dating (largely how to pick up women in bars). The very first thing Gosling tells him to do is to stop drinking his cocktail through a straw. “Do you know what that looks like?” he asks. “It looks like you’re sucking on a tiny schvantz. Is that what you want?” (And for the purposes of clarity, a schvantz is exactly what you think it is: a penis, only in Yiddish.) Not only did Carell comply immediately with Gosling’s advice, but so did I. Not that I was drinking a cocktail at the time, but you get my drift. Not once since then have I ever been caught drinking anything through a straw, especially a cocktail. See, you can learn something from a romcom, even if you thought you just wanted a 90-minute distraction as you wait for the stewardess to bring you your second glass of warm sauvignon blanc as the BA Airbus flies over Kerry.

Annie Hall (1977)


For these related stories, visit

Red Hot Red (Dylan Jones, March 2017) Urban Fox (Dylan Jones, November 2016) The Break-Up (2006)

Wes Lang (Dylan Jones, September 2016)

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Photograph Eyevine

Gothic horror: Belgian soldiers on heightened alert in Brussels’ Grand Place five days after deadly bombings of the city’s airport and Metro, 27 March 2016


Brussels Welcome to

the city of jihad

In the wake of horrifying attacks in France and Belgium, the most notorious postcode in western Europe came under scrutiny from journalists, police and even the armed forces. But what is the truth about Brussels’ Molenbeek district? Is it the ‘seething’ den of Islamist terror at the heart of the EU’s dysfunctional capital, or the symbol of a national – even global – tragedy? STORY BY

Robert Chalmers


Daniel Berehulak

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time there is a terrorist attack, there is a link with Molenbeek.” Wander into a café in Molenbeek and introduce yourself as a reporter investigating the area’s association with terrorism, and you’ll be met with the kind of welcome extended to a foreign traveller in the first reel of a Dracula film, when he enters the village inn requesting a ride up to the castle. “It’s about time,” one patron in the “Friends Of Molenbeek” café told me, “that the world had the decency to leave us in peace.” Molenbeek is the second poorest municipality in Belgium. Of its population, 80 per cent are Islamic, most with origins in north Africa, especially Morocco. Just under a third are unemployed. Few read the foreign press. But the global stigmatisation of their neighbourhood has not escaped anyone’s notice. “Instead of bombing Raqqa,” the journalist Eric Zemmour observed recently, “France should be bombing Molenbeek.” This is a place, another French journalist has claimed, “where you get beaten up for ¤5”. The Daily Express has described the area as

‘Instead of bombing Raqqa, France should be bombing Molenbeek’ ERIC ZEMMOUR “a conveyor belt of terrorism where Isis are heroes” and as a “seething city of Jihad”. In late 2015, the Daily Mail dispatched a reporter to this “crucible of terror”. So grave are the perils awaiting any outsider mad enough to set foot in Molenbeek, their journalist asserted, that “my cab driver thought long and hard before agreeing to take me there”. Upon arriving, the writer declared, “You feel as if you have entered some seething north African ghetto”. Read enough of this sort of thing and even the place names on the map start to look intimidating. It doesn’t help that one of Molenbeek’s main Metro stops, Etangs Noirs [Black Lakes] sounds like the gateway to one of the less hospitable areas of Mordor. Emerging from the station alone, as night was falling, it occurred to me that, given what I’d read about the frequency of assaults here, I could probably undertake a walk for charity sponsored not by the mile but the minute. Nobody with their senses would seek to deny that Molenbeek has developed a unique connection with individuals capable of the most appalling acts. But the popular notion that the area is a more brutal version of southcentral LA is nothing short of vaudeville. In

the weeks I spent here I walked everywhere, at all hours. I confess to having occasionally dawdled on streets with a reputation for petty crime, close to the Brussels-Charleroi Canal, effectively inviting trouble. While it’s not an exercise I’d necessarily recommend, the worst that happened to me was that a woman stopped to offer directions. My HQ in the time I spent here was a beautiful old brasserie called La Saint Charles on Molenbeek’s main artery, the Chaussée De Gand, handily placed between the Mr Cod fish-and-chip shop and one of Brussels’ best restaurants, Les Trappistes. You can look out as long as you like from a window table in this family-run establishment without seeing anything that resembles what the British tabloids like to call “seething”. That said, you are a block away from the site of Les Béguines, the former bar owned by brothers Brahim and Salah Abdeslam. Brahim blew himself up outside a restaurant during the November 2015 Paris attacks. Salah, his alleged accomplice in that slaughter, returned to Belgium and managed to hide out for 126 days before he was apprehended at a flat across the square from the mayor’s office in Molenbeek. Taki in the Spectator has described the district as a “no-go area” which police are too frightened to enter. The only time I was stopped against my will was in the main square, after midnight, when two plain-clothes policemen wanted to know why I was there. Molenbeek, I told them, didn’t appear to be the vortex of undiluted evil that I’d been led to expect. “Unfortunately not,” one of the officers said. Why unfortunately? “Because if it was that simple,” he said, “it would be easy to fix.”


ost of the narrow streets are lined with attractive brick houses, many with wrought-iron balconies. As a non-Muslim you are in the minority and in some roads you do feel as if you’re in Tangier: an experience you may or may not find exhilarating. The real question about Molenbeek is this: can it be described as a neighbourhood which is beyond the state’s control, in the grip of sharia law, and a place where most residents are conniving to export death to the rest of Europe? And, if not, how is it that the neighbourhood has come to symbolise the terrorist threat against Europe in general and Belgium in particular? For a dispassionate view, I went to Nigel Farage, who has famously struggled to embrace the pleasure of sharing public space with foreigners, and who, as an MEP, spends a great deal of time in the Belgian capital. “Brussels,” Farage told me, “is becoming

Illustration Stefan Bayley Photographs Getty Images; Eyevine; Rex; Fame Flynet UK

here are still those in France who cling to a view of the Belgians as a feckless, whimsical nation whose inbred stupidity makes them ideal fodder for any joke that involves mocking an imbecile. In that sense, the Gallic chauvinists’ perception of their neighbours closely resembles English jingoists’ attitude to the Irish. The resemblance between these two ancient prejudices has been heightened, of late, by the twisted perception that your typical Belgian, like his Irish counterpart – in addition to being idle, eccentric and hilariously dim – might also be capable, should the mood take him, of blowing you to smithereens. And that, as observers from all national backgrounds agree, is not very funny at all. Belgium has produced more jihadi fighters, per capita, than any other western European nation and is estimated to have despatched around 520 recruits to the Islamic State cause in Syria. Even the idea of visiting the land that is home to the EU parliament is enough to inspire trepidation in some foreigners. “Go to Brussels?” Donald Trump remarked on Fox News in January 2016. “I was there 20 years ago.” Back then, Trump recalled, the Belgian capital was “so beautiful. Everything was beautiful.” Now, he declared, “There is something going on and it’s not good. They [the Belgians] want sharia law. There is something bad going on.” Travelling to Brussels, Trump asserted, requires you to rub shoulders with people who are “living in a hellhole”. The president didn’t mention exactly what evidence had informed this judgement. The likelihood is that he’d been reading reports from the now world-famous quarter of MolenbeekSaint-Jean in the centre of Brussels. Less than 20 minutes’ walk from tourist attractions such as the Grand Place, Molenbeek covers 6 sq km and is home to about 95,000 people. All nine known perpetrators of the November 2015 Paris attacks had a connection with the neighbourhood. The March 2016 bombings at Brussels airport and the city’s Maelbeek Metro station were planned there and executed by associates of Salah Abdeslam, who grew up in Molenbeek and has been described as a central architect of the Bataclan operations. The guns used in the Charlie Hebdo attack were sourced from the area. Two aspirant jihadis killed by Belgian police at Verviers, in January 2015, came from Molenbeek. In August 2015, Ayoub El Khazzani set out from there on his failed attempt to murder passengers on the Amsterdam to Paris high-speed train. The list goes on. As Charles Michel, the Belgian prime minister, put it, “Almost every


Terror on the streets Long linked with terrorist activities in other parts of Europe, Brussels’ notorious Molenbeek district was the base of operations for the bombings of the city’s airport and Metro in March last year. Three of the five perpetrators were killed and all have since been implicated in the Paris attacks the year before. The blasts left 32 victims dead and more than 300 injured.

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They feel trapped between racist thugs and IS sympathisers. The white gangs are the bigger problem

Gutter credit hereplease Gutter name here

Community relations: Molenbeek residents react to violent confrontations sparked by right-wing marchers (above). Police and residents clashed with protestors in the weeks following the bombings in March of Brussels Airport and Metro, 2 April 2016; (below) Maelbeek station reopens after the attack that killed at least 14 people there, 25 April 2016

Photographs Eyevine

BELGIUM increasingly lawless. It all begins with litter and with an unkempt look. Many crimes are now simply not reported. The last time I was mugged here, I simply didn’t bother to inform the police. In large part, this is a failed city. I am very pessimistic,” he added, “for the future of Brussels as a civilised place to live.” It’s an irony not lost on its critics that the EU parliament – an organisation which seeks to radiate such qualities as efficiency, cohesion and fraternity – should be located in the heart of a nation whose divided political elite has bungled so many areas of governance that the Belgian state is widely regarded, and not just by Eurosceptics, as the basket case of Europe. Brussels, wrote the historian Tony Judt, is “a metaphor for all that can go wrong in a modern city”. The dysfunctional, chaotic and frankly shady nature of political life here has entered the realm of legend. The capital has eight separate parliaments and 19 municipalities, each with its own mayor. Between the Flemish citizens and the Frenchspeaking Walloons there exists a mistrust that neither side troubles to conceal. Brussels, technically the capital of the Flemish region, is dominated by Walloons. In matters of policing, where good faith and collaboration are crucial, this tribal acrimony has proved catastrophic. The city’s 19 independent municipal police agencies were reduced to six following the last arrest of the paedophile and murderer Marc Dutroux, jailed for life in 2004. Before Belgium acquired its reputation as a breeding ground for terrorism, the events surrounding Dutroux’s crimes had been its greatest source of global scandal. In 1989, the married electrician, then 33, was sentenced to 13-and-a-half years for the kidnap and rape of five children. Freed after three years, he was awarded a generous pension to compensate for the “psychological damage” he had endured in prison. Melchior Wathelet, the justice minister who sanctioned his early release, was himself later accused, by two witnesses, of belonging to a child abuse network. The allegations were rejected after an investigation. Wathelet currently serves as advocate-general at the European Court Of Justice. In 1995, Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo, two eight-year-olds abducted and repeatedly raped by Dutroux, died in a dungeon beneath his house while he was serving a four-month term for car theft. In his absence, Michelle Martin, his wife and accomplice, fed dogs that guarded the cell but left the children to starve to death. Detectives ignored numerous tip-offs, one from Dutroux’s mother. Police who visited his house heard, but failed to investigate, the sound of young girls screaming. Dutroux’s wife was released in August 2012 after serving 16 years of a 30-year term.

Jean-Marc Connerotte, the judge at Dutroux’s final trial in 2004, broke down in court while speaking about the bulletproof vehicles and armed guards deemed necessary to save him from assassination. Connerotte was removed from the case as a punishment for attending a fundraising dinner in aid of victims’ relatives. Three-hundred thousand people marched in protest. The courthouse in the killer’s home town of Charleroi was scrubbed down by locals armed with brushes and soap. You will struggle to find a Belgian who doubts that Dutroux was protected at the highest level. Reforms in the wake of the scandal have failed to restore faith in the police or judiciary.

hat’s Belgium famous for?” asks Colin Farrell’s character i n M a r t i n M c D o n a g h ’s classic 2008 film In Bruges. “Chocolates and child abuse. And they only made the chocolate to get to the kids.” But of all the things Belgians are traditionally perceived to have been very bad at – these include sobriety, homicide investigations, driving, gun control, child


‘This idea that we live among infidels and don’t mix with them... For some in Molenbeek, Syria was the last straw’ protection and not hating each another – no area of failure has been quite so dramatic as their historical relationship with Africa. Britain, France and Spain may not always have distinguished themselves in their colonial adventures, but none of those countries’ leaders managed to behave badly enough to have been accused, as has Belgium’s King Leopold II, scourge of the Congo, of having outperformed Hitler in the matter of genocide. It’s not hard, if you are familiar with Leopold’s modus operandi of rape, torture, executions and mass starvation, to imagine the leader of an African tribe calling to a lookout who is scanning the horizon in an attempt to identify the nationality of the Western settlers who are about to invade. “Is it the Germans?” “No.” “The Italians?” “No.” “The Portuguese?” “No. Oh. Dear God. It’s... the Belgians.” If the casual barbarism inflicted on the Congo is a source of residual shame, Belgium’s subsequent handling of immigration from north Africa has been hardly more distinguished.

Certain streets adjoining Brussels’ Gare Du Nord (in Saint-Josse-Ten-Noode, the poorest commune in Belgium, close to MolenbeekSaint-Jean but not part of it) exhibit a flagrant lawlessness that would alarm anybody. It’s here that Mehdi, a friend of a friend, takes me to meet some of his neighbours from Molenbeek. He leads me into a bar where every vice known to humanity is catered for. The only women present are Congolese and of a matronly build. “Who are they?” I ask Mehdi. “The maquerelles [female pimps],” he says. “They control the girls.” (Younger black women are displayed in windows along the street.) “Who controls the pimps?” “Who do you think? The police.” Mehdi, who boasts that this establishment is patronised by the father of a well-known Premier League player, is joined by two friends, Karim and Mohamed. All are in their late-twenties; all grew up in Molenbeek; and all are unemployed. They embark on a litany of complaints of a kind that I would hear many times: considered unsuitable as job applicants once potential employers see the 1080 postcode on their CV, they feel trapped between, on the one side, racist thugs who threaten them on a regular basis and a far smaller number of IS sympathisers who look down on them for indifference to the cause. The white gangs, Mohamed says, are the bigger problem. “We get attacked,” he says, “and regularly insulted.” “In what terms?” “Things like, ‘F*** off back home you Arab scum,’ he replies. “I was on the Metro last week and this group of them got on and pointed at my sports bag. They put their fingers in their ears and said, ‘Watch him. It’s ticking. We’re all going up.’ I managed to get off at the next stop. They stayed on the train, laughing.” Karim’s late father, who came here 50 years ago, was a lathe operator. “He lost his job,” his son tells me. “Not long before he died he told me he wished he’d stayed in the Rif [northern Morocco].” As a boy, Karim says, one teacher laughed in his face when he said he would like to be a doctor. His immediate ambition is to become a hairdresser. All three were brought up in the Islamic faith. Alcohol is not a temptation they seek to resist. Do they get any help from the police? “Listen,” says Mehdi, “we [in Molenbeek] exist in a parallel universe. A different economy.” I tell him the area seems less threatening than I had expected. “Things in Molenbeek,” he says, “are opaque. People do get robbed and people do get radicalised. Some people see this as a form of warfare.” APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 211


n the opulent lounge of the Metropole, one of Brussels’ grandest old hotels, I meet Olivier. A white, French-speaking decorator aged 47, he was raised as a Catholic and is now a Buddhist. His son Sean, who grew up in Molenbeek, died in Syria in March 2013. When did Olivier realise where his son had gone? “He left with four friends,” he replies, “in October 2012. They didn’t warn anybody. Two weeks later I got a call. ‘Hello, Dad. I’m in

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Dark day: French and Belgian newspapers react to the attacks at the Bataclan and other Paris venues on 13 November 2015. The surviving perpetrators fled to Brussels

She learned of her son’s death in a text from an IS leader: ‘Congratulations. He is now a martyr’ Turkey. I’m doing humanitarian work.’ ‘When will you be back?’ ‘I can’t say.’ I was already sick with worry. Then he called again. And this time, in the background, I could hear the sound of...” Olivier pauses, “tanks.” He has helped found a support group for parents who have lost children recruited to IS. “I keep thinking, if I could go back in time, what could I do differently?” he says. “I feel I sensed the danger and did nothing.” Olivier is separated from Sean’s mother, who is half Moroccan. His son was not raised as a Muslim. “Sean was an ordinary kid,” Olivier says. “He liked films, dancing, listening to music. All that stopped. He became withdrawn. He’d met this group who were giving food to the homeless. He thought he was doing good. Six months later he was on the front line facing the troops of Bashar Al Assad. He didn’t last long out there.” “So these people exploited his better nature?” “That’s what makes it so sad. Sean had only been a Muslim for three years. He could have fallen in with good people. He didn’t. But Islam – true Islam – has nothing to do with any of this.”

“I assume you don’t have Sean’s body?” “No. There’s always part of me that believes one day I’ll open the door and he’ll be back. But two witnesses told me he died. One was his best friend, Sami, who went with him. We’ve had no news of Sami for two years.” “Who recruited Sean?” “Older men who were very charismatic. Their propaganda was powerful. It sounds crazy but listening to him talk there were even moments when I started to wonder if he might be right.” “Where are these men now?” “In prison.” In Buffet Froid, the 1979 film by Bertrand Blier, one of the leading characters is Inspector Morvandieu, a homicidal detective who is asked, at one point, how many criminals he tries to convict. “As few as possible,” Morvandieu replies. “Because in prison, they corrupt the innocent.” As dark a line as that may be, I suggest to Olivier, you hear many stories about people who were recruited in jail, notably the El Bakraoui brothers, who orchestrated the Brussels attacks in March 2016. Both were radicalised in prison. “It happens,” says Olivier. “In the association we’re working with the authorities to try to stop it.” “How?” “We go into jails. We talk. We listen. We make contacts. We don’t have a grand plan. All you can do is to try. I don’t want,” he tells me, “to see another one die.” I tell Olivier that I can comprehend, if not empathise with, a young man who grows up in Syria and decides to fight, on either side. But why here in Brussels? Why Molenbeek? Areas of Paris with a high Islamic population, such as the forbidding, soulless enclave of La Courneuve, are considerably more threatening to an outsider. Many parts of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean have an attractive, village-like atmosphere. It’s precisely this sense of community, Olivier says, that makes Molenbeek so difficult to penetrate. One phrase you often hear – “Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody” – hardly encourages residents to communicate suspicions to the police. “Things are more... occult here. There has always been something odd and secretive about the place. It has a peculiar energy.” Fear also fuels this collective omerta. I spoke to a former schoolteacher who, like many in Molenbeek, was unwilling for me to use her name. She described an attack that followed her speaking out against a group of young students. Parents here who fear their children are being radicalised “just don’t inform the police”, says Montasser Alde’emeh, a researcher of Islamist extremism who runs a centre to discourage young men from travelling to Syria. “They have no faith in them.”

Photographs Getty Images

“So am I on the other side? Would I have had problems if I’d wandered into this bar on my own?” “Probably,” Mehdi replies. “Although you could be north African, just about. Maybe half. But you could also be a fascist. Or a cop.” “Maybe half”, says Mohamed. The other thing Mehdi adds is that, in Molenbeek, “Everybody knows everybody.” So did any of them know Salah Abdeslam, the former local currently awaiting trial in France on terrorist charges? “No,” Mehdi replies, without bothering to consult his friends. Historically, Belgian jihadists have been more interested in IS than in religion. (Les Beguines, the cafe owned by the Abdeslam brothers, was closed on account of drug dealing.) Here, by the Gare Du Nord, as the evening wears on, the conversation is increasingly dominated by an anger fuelled by international politics. I mention that I knew Jacques Vergès, the late French lawyer who continues to be extremely popular with the north African community. One of the attorney’s many notorious clients, the Venezuelan fighter Carlos The Jackal, described the lawyer as “a bigger terrorist than me”. I saw Vergès a week before he died, when the lawyer told me, “I always remember the words of St Just [who helped draft the 1793 French constitution]. He said that terrorism was a legitimate political weapon: the last resort of the poor. Were the French Resistance,” he’d asked me, “freedom fighters, or terrorists?” “Have you seen the film of Aleppo?” Karim says. “Yes.” “What do you feel? Guilt?” “More horror. And helplessness. You?” “Rage. Those are our brothers.” Could he go to Syria? “Me?” He laughs. “Not personally.” “Are you saying you’ve known people who have gone?” “Of course.” “Have they come back?” A long pause. “No.” They usually don’t.

BELGIUM One mother who did alert the authorities was Geraldine, a 50-year-old financier, and a colleague of Olivier’s in the parents’ organisation. She learned of the death of her son Anis via a text from an “IS commander”. “Congratulations,” it read. “He is now a martyr. Be happy he died fighting the unbelievers.” Geraldine had known of Anis’ plans to leave and informed the police. A week later he was in Syria. Magistrates had ruled it would be wrong to detain him as he was an adult. It’s the sort of decision that surprises nobody here. Two decades after the Dutroux scandal, the public still perceive the forces of law to have more in common with Clouseau than Poirot. Johan De Becker, head of the Brussels West Police region that includes Molenbeek,

policewomen, according to a December 2015 report in the newspaper La Dernière Heure, snapped into action and relocated to the soldiers’ upstairs dormitory, where they had sex with eight of the new arrivals in what has been described as a “drink-fuelled orgy”. A police spokeswoman intially declined to comment on reports that the policewomen became “hot and crazy” when the soldiers arrived, stating that, “I cannot give more information. Investigations into the Brussels police are complicated. I don’t want to trigger an internal fight.” The force has since denied the episode took place, saying that, ”Measures have been taken” to discipline “the individuals responsible for these rumours.”

streets of Brussels (theoretically a bilingual city) appeared not to understand French. Linguistic challenges are even more complex in Molenbeek, where many residents still speak only Berber, in which few surveillance officers are proficient. Historically, politicians, rather than focussing on a cross-party assault on terrorism, have tended to turn on each other. Some blame Molenbeek’s current mayor, centre-right politician Françoise Schepmans, in office since 2012, on whose watch the worst atrocities have occurred. Weeks before the Paris massacres, Schepmans was given the names of more than 80 terror suspects in Molenbeek. She took no action. “What was I supposed to do?” she remarked. “It’s not my job to track potential terrorists.”

Chief concerns (from left): Molenbeek’s centre-right mayor, Françoise Schepmans, briefs the media after a police raid in her district in search of the Paris attackers, 16 November 2015; this image of a Belgian soldier carrying shopping has come to represent the army’s low credibility when on patrol

was reappointed five years ago, despite having received a conviction for involuntary manslaughter. De Becker (who was acquitted on appeal) had returned a firearm that had been surrendered by a policeman suffering from depression. The officer then used it to murder a woman. The Abdeslam brothers lived and dealt drugs on a street adjacent to De Becker’s office. When Salah Abdeslam was eventually arrested in Molenbeek on 21 March 2016, after police noticed an unusually large consignment of pizzas being delivered to his house, Belgian interior minister Jan Jambon warned of the likelihood of an imminent revenge attack. The bombings at Brussels airport and in the Metro took place the following day. In the fourth week of November 2015, when Brussels was in lockdown following the Bataclan attacks and with Salah Abdeslam still at large, a platoon of 20 soldiers was garrisoned temporarily at a police station in Ganshoren, north of Molenbeek, in De Becker’s Brussels West area. On heightened alert, at one of the tensest periods in their nation’s history, two

‘What was I supposed to do? It’s not my job to track potential terrorists’ MAYOR FRANÇOISE SCHEPMANS


rmed soldiers in combat fatigues are a common sight in Brussels hotel lobbies, on street corners and on public transport, but their presence doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence. It’s not uncommon to pass groups of privates lounging and gossiping, machine guns dangling by their sides. During the 2015 lockdown, a soldier carrying an automatic weapon was photographed clutching a shopping bag while on duty in the city centre. Morale is not what it could be. In January, 25 of De Becker’s officers simultaneously applied for medical leave on the grounds that they were too fatigued to patrol. Several of the military I spoke to on the

Conservatives prefer to attack Schepmans’ socialist predecessor, Philippe Moureaux, alleging that he was slow to react to growing radicalism. Moureaux, a distinguished academic and writer, met me in his apartment in the heart of Molenbeek. How is it, I ask, that angry and disillusioned young men like the characters I’d met near the Gare Du Nord, seem inexorably drawn to Molenbeek? “Brussels,” says Moureaux (mayor for 18 years before Schepmans arrived) “is a segregated city. You have working-class areas in the north and the west, of which Molenbeek is one. In the south you have an affluent middle class, including many French civil servants, who move there because they pay less tax. There are two worlds. And there’s almost no contact between them. For those kids you met, going to the wealthy side of the city is like visiting another planet. And vice versa.” For generations, he says, “Molenbeek has Continued on page 240

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Leotard by Asos Petite, £12. Socks by Asos, £4.

Why aren’t you following...

Zanah Marie Straight out of the Golden State comes a real-world rookie wowing social media with her no-filter approach to life in front of the lens @zanahmariee PHOTOGRAPH BY

Mark Velasquez


h, the American mall. The galaxy-centre swirl of consumerism, the place where music playlists go to die, the place where the undead are almost certain to swarm (in the event of a zombie apocalypse) and, most importantly, the place where seemingly every American model is first spotted. In the case of 20-year-old Californian Zanah Marie, however, she wasn’t simply spotted once, but several times. In fact, for her, being spotted was as normal as getting a smoothie. “I’ll have a crushed berry smoo... you’re from what agency?” Finally, she relented.


It’s not hard to see what the appeal was. In an LA landscape of bleached blonde waifs, Marie – full lips, hourglass hips and the kind of porcelain skin that looks like she’s never seen the sun, let alone grown up in a state bathed in it – was always likely to stand out. She’s also refreshingly frank when it comes to the less salubrious side of the industry. “The weirdest experience I’ve encountered in modelling,” she says, “is shooting with perverted people. I never realised how many unprofessional people there are in this business. There have been various times when I just left, even if I was being compensated. I value my morals far more than money or exposure.” Why wouldn’t you follow a girl like that? Stuart McGurk APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 215






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From left to right: Shoes by Ermenegildo Zegna, £580. Shoes by Cheaney & Sons, £350. Shoes by Giuseppe Zanotti, £900. Shoes by Dolce & Gabbana, £645. Shoes by JM Weston, £490. Shoes by Clarks, £110. 216 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017


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From top left clockwise: Trainers by Balmain, £535. Trainers by Common Projects, £250. At Trainers by Gucci, £450. Trainers by Christian Louboutin, £525. Trainers by Giuseppe Zanotti, £535. Trainers by Geox, £105. Trainers by John Lobb, £445. 218 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

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Tommy Wiseau and the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s greatest bad movie

It was the $6 million vanity project, featuring no-account actors, unfathomable dialogue and a barely-there plot based on gibberish notes. And yet 14 years on, cult-classic disasterpiece The Room still commands fan-packed screenings on every continent. Ahead of a new film telling the story of how it got made, DANNY WALLACE meets cinemaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s strangest and most elusive auteur to unpick the puzzles and prah-cess behind the worst story ever told. Cheep! Cheep!


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Jeaneen Lund

Photograph Rex


‘I want to be remembered as the guy who changed Hollywood’

Green screen: Tommy Wiseau – writer, director and star of 2003’s The Room

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The Room is the Citizen Kane of bad movies Ticking over: Not content to give it expression in cinema, Tommy Wiseau’s creativity also finds outlets in his range of watches, as well as ties and even underwear; (below) Wiseau chose The Cheesecake Factory – a chain restaurant outside an LA shopping centre – for his first meeting with GQ’s Danny Wallace, 30 September 2016

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DON’T TELL my wife, but for the past two or three weeks I have been receiving sporadic late-night emails from a stranger named Raul. I know nothing about Raul. I don’t know where in the world he is sending these from, nor even what he does for a living. I’m also starting to suspect that Raul isn’t Raul at all. I’m starting to suspect Raul might in fact be the very man I’m trying to convince Raul to let me meet. A man who is every bit as mysterious as the mysterious Raul. About ten years ago I was in a taxi on a Los Angeles street called Highland Avenue when I noticed a very unusual billboard. It was advertising something called The Room. It didn’t look like all the other billboards you see in this part of Los Angeles, screaming about radio morning shows or brand new sitcoms, each of them bright and colourful and fun. This one was pretty... dour. Black. And there was a large monochrome photograph of a tired

man with one of his eyes half-shut, like he was mid-blink. It looked like a photo you’d probably want to delete. And yet this was the one that had been chosen for the billboard. I stared at it for a bit and then got on with my day, because billboards come and go. A year or so later I was back in LA. Again I noticed this strange black billboard. Again I stared at it for a bit. It had come but it hadn’t gone. Why was it still there? It was there because the half-blinking man in the photograph was paying $5,000 a month to keep it there. He did this for five years. Out of his own pocket. It was there because – along with the stickers and flyers you’d find on bathroom walls in restaurants all over the city – this unusual billboard represented the entire marketing strategy of a film he had poured his life and soul and every ounce of his energy into. A film that cost him a reported $6 million to make. Again, out of his own pocket. A film that many people have called the best

worst film of all time – “the Citizen Kane”, in fact, “of bad movies” – but which we are forced now to see in a very different light. Because when Tommy Wiseau – the same half-blinking man with the seemingly bottomless pockets – made The Room in 2003, he was doing something very few people are able to. He was taking on Hollywood on his own terms. He was standing out from the crowd. I have been courting whoever Raul is or isn’t for several weeks to try to get Wiseau to meet me. At one point I had to send him samples of my work. Sadly, if anything, this seemed to put Raul off. But I have the sense that Wiseau is a man who likes control. So I’ll give it to him. Wiseau can choose the fanciest, most expensive food and wine in the entire country and then have seconds and it will all be sorted. Wherever he wants. Whenever. Finally, Raul comes back to me, delighted. First of all, we can meet in Los Angeles. Second, he wants to be very clear about pictures. There is one in particular they’d prefer we use. He attaches it. It is a close-up selfie taken on a phone in a car in which Wiseau seems to be staring at his own lips. It doesn’t scream GQ. But what about lunch? Where in the world has Wiseau chosen? What dreams shall be made real this day? Wiseau has chosen a chain restaurant called The Cheesecake Factory opposite an Apple store in a shopping mall. The real story behind the making of The Room is how a complete unknown simply decided not to be. The real story is one of how a man destined to be shunned by everyone in Hollywood kicked the door down anyway. But kicking the door down doesn’t mean you can just stroll in. Here is a man who kicked down the door, but almost 15 years later is still standing in the entrance, holding his one big calling card: a one hour and 39 minute film that eventually found fans in Alec Baldwin, Paul Rudd and a host of Hollywood players. Wiseau’s pride and joy. Like everybody else in this town, all he wanted was a chance – just one chance. And yet time after time, Hollywood said no. Not you. Never. Wiseau was dismissed out of hand, as a writer, a director, a star. Discouraged – perhaps heartbroken – he knew he had to take control. And he had a way of doing it. He was independently wealthy through mysterious means involving foreign countries. He would put his money where his mouth was. And whether by accident or design, this outsider would create, write, produce, direct and take the lead role in a film so unusual APRIL 2017 GQ.CO.UK 225

– and with a script so complicated and a cast and crew so confused – that it’s almost impossible to describe what it’s about or why. That piece of work would guarantee Wiseau what he always wanted: near-vampiric Hollywood immortality. That piece of work was The Room. People love The Room. They love it so much. Knowing about The Room once felt like being part of an underground club; there was an instant bonding between fans. Fans who bought or found a copy on DVD (you can’t download it). Fans who flocked to soldout midnight screenings held all over the world; who’d queue for hours for a glimpse of its creator; who could quote the script word-for-word. If you met someone who’d also seen The Room, you liked that person, just because they’d also seen The Room. And this year, when the story of Tommy Wiseau crafting his magnum opus becomes a film in itself – The Masterpiece, starring James Franco as Wiseau, alongside Seth Rogen and Bryan Cranston and Sharon Stone and so many others – that club will become a church.

hen Wiseau arrives at The Cheesecake Factory, late, he’s flustered. Some people think he is a vampire. Certainly, his look is unusual. He is wearing sunglasses, a waistcoat and what looks to be an excessive number of belts. His hair is jet black. He is wearing an electric-blue tie (which he designed and sells himself), a chunky watch (which he designed and sells himself) and within an hour I will discover he is wearing Tommy Wiseau-branded underwear too (I’ll leave you to guess who designed and sells those). People turn to stare. A few must recognise him, a few must think they do. He has the appearance and impression of well-established fame; though, as I say, he looks like he’s wearing far too many belts. Then there’s his accent. The way he says “nahht” instead of “not” and pronounces Wiseau as “Wii-zahw”. (The accent is very hard to describe, by the way. Sort of midAtlantic eastern European. No one is quite certain where Wiseau’s from. Some say Poland. Others Transylvania. He says New Orleans.) “Ask me anything,” he says cheerfully. “Some of it you will like. Some of it you will hate. Hahaha!” A waitress arrives and Wiseau orders a glass of hot water and some seafood. And then he looks at me and says, “A lot what you probably find out is that a lot what you see online is completely nahn-sense.” There is a lot about The Room online. Fan theories. Critiques. Conspiracies. People


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who think there was never a script and the whole thing was badly improvised, or the film was a front for money laundering, because otherwise how did it get made? Wiseau waves his hands across his chest to show he’s serious. “So I have no comment about it.” He is adamant. But I’m confused. “No comment about which bit?” “No. Anything. Like about some people writing about me or whatever. I’m saying no comment. It’s ridiculous.” He sits back. His face says this conversation is over. He sits forward again. “Because people missing the point.” “Are they?” I say, as he nods furiously. “I mean, oh my God... Look, like bread, OK?” He points at someone’s sandwich. “What you need for bread? You need flour. You need water. You need... milk? I think? You know? Who knows? Whatever ingredients you have, you put stuff together. And that’s what makes me happy.”

‘I’d challenge anyone in the world to write a better script than me’ “Creating!” I say, like I’ve solved a riddle. “Exactly. I like to create stuff from scrap. The Room – perfect example. You start at ‘A’, you finish at, who knows? ‘W’ maybe. It’s part of prah-cess. You don’t know where you go.” You do get the sense that while making The Room sometimes Wiseau didn’t know quite where he was going. That perhaps he faced rather a lot of unexpected challenges as a first-time writer/actor/director with a multimillion-dollar budget and a script he’d only reveal to the cast one scene at a time. And that for someone who likes to be in charge, maybe he should have planned it all out a little more first. There is a concept in robotics called the uncanny valley. It’s the idea that if we ever create perfect human replicas, they will never quite be convincing enough. And because of those almost imperceptible differences in movement, speech or behaviour, they will provoke in us a sense of deep unease or eeriness. That’s a bit what it’s like watching The Room. It’s like watching near-perfect human replicas saying things that almost make sense.

And every character speaks this way; all of it nearly right. We’ll get to the plot in a second, but the main character is Johnny, played in a powerhouse performance by Wiseau himself. Now, Johnny’s fiancée is Lisa, but perhaps Wiseau couldn’t remember the word fiancée when he was writing. Throughout the entire film, no character ever says it. Even when literally describing the concept of being a fiancée, everybody instead just refers to Lisa as Johnny’s “future wife” and Johnny as Lisa’s “future husband”. No one says this in real life. Wiseau went through a number of different crews of varying quality when making The Room. Some shots go in and out of focus. Some lines are jarringly redubbed. Actors walk into rooms staring at the floor to find where they’re supposed to stand. The weather in outdoor scenes constantly changes. Characters who are nice one minute are nasty the next. Subplots appear, then disappear. Sometimes people react to horrifying stories with laughter. Or don’t react at all. In one scene, during a lighthearted chat about a birthday party, an older lady suddenly says, “I got the results of the test back. I definitely have breast cancer.” Then she goes shopping and no one ever mentions it again. “Not knowing where you’re going sounds like quite a financial risk,” I say, gently, because it was. At one point, Wiseau couldn’t decide whether to shoot The Room on HD or 35mm, so he bought – not rented – two sets of cameras and filmed everything simultaneously, using two entirely separate crews. This is not cost effective. But Wiseau picks up a fork and waves my concerns away. “So people criticise your stuff. For me it’s secondary, you know? I always say, ‘Good director need good vision.’” iseau’s visions for The Room came to him in bursts. He used to just write little thoughts down on pieces of paper by his bed. “Just little gibberish. I put it on the side, then another one. Then I thought, ‘Well, let me put all this together.’ And then I thought, ‘Well, let me condense this into a script.’” Simple as that. Hundreds of scraps of handwritten paper left by the side of a bed and then turned first into a 500-page novel, then a very long play, then a film. And if you’ve seen it, it might all make sense now. But Wiseau didn’t submit his work to any of the major studios, or any of the minor ones, “Because I did the research and I thought, ‘There’s no way they’re going to produce this.’ They would say, ‘Why should we produce


THE ROOM Belt up: Tommy Wiseau and Danny Wallace, 30 September 2016

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this?’” It’s a good question. But at its heart, The Room is a visceral human drama. Wiseau’s Johnny is a muscular banker down on his luck, because people love bankers and want them to do well. But will Johnny ever get that promotion? Thankfully, he has a few great things in his life, namely his best friend, Mark, his future wife, Lisa, and some kind of strange child he looks after who, although he is a child, is played by an actor quite clearly in his twenties. Soon things start to fall apart for Johnny, and indeed for the film. As the budget inflated, egos grew with it. People quit or were fired. Somehow 400 people ended up on the payroll. Scenes were reshot for almost no reason. People found Wiseau maddeningly vague in his direction or maddeningly specific. The pressure got to him and he found it difficult to remember his lines, so would read from cue cards placed just out of sight. But he needed this. And he was in too deep. As the wheels quickly came off the bus, and it veered wildly from lane to lane, Wiseau was the driver trying desperately not to go down in flames while the cast and crew desperately stifled their screams. The film therefore contains an incredible amount of very odd choices. There are unduly long and uncomfortable sex scenes in which we focus largely on Wiseau’s pert white bottom. Later, Johnny’s bearded friend Mark suddenly doesn’t have a beard any more and the camera slowly zooms in on his face to dramatic music to highlight this, but for no reason whatsoever. Another character is simply replaced towards the end of the film by a guy we’ve never seen before who just seems to know everybody. It’s like the script was there, but everything else was improvised. Plus, characters behave really weirdly. Wiseau’s often makes a strange “cheep, cheep” sound, like a bird. It’s fascinating to me, because I find it so creepy. “Where did the ‘cheep, cheep’ thing come from?” I ask. “Cheep, cheep?” “Yes,” I say. “From a chicken,” he says, and he looks at me like I’m mad. “Oh,” I say. “Yeah, I just mean why did you give ‘cheep, cheep’ to the character?” Wiseau takes a sip of hot water. “My mum used to have a farm,” he says, and this is where I get excited, because Wiseau never talks about his childhood. “And when I was a little kid I always like chickens.” He leans forward, remembering, and I lean forward too. “And when I moved to LA, I saw these chicken restaurants, you seen them? Like fast food. I don’t know if you know in Los Angeles they have some of it.” He’s not being sarcastic; he’s genuinely asking if I’ve noticed. 228 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

“So I observe all this stuff,” he says, slowly. “I look, and I say to myself, ‘Yeah, that would be pretty cool,’ because we don’t realise how chicken’s important.” He nods soulfully, then starts eating again.

iseau doesn’t speak to the majority of the cast any more (“I hear they bashing me. You don’t do that”) but while the set had its increasing tensions and Wiseau started inventing new producers so he could sack people and blame it on fictional bosses, everybody involved truly wanted the best for The Room. It must have been a little like they’d woken up on a tugboat when they thought they’d be on an ocean liner. So everyone began to improvise to help. In one scene, the crew was concerned Johnny’s living room was a little too spartan to belong to anyone other than an absolute psychopath. Wiseau thought it looked fine, but eventually sent someone to the shops to


‘Same thing happened with James Dean – everyone bashed him’ buy some picture frames. When they got back, they offered to put some photos of Wiseau and his future wife in the frames to make it all look more convincing. But Wiseau grew impatient. This wasn’t important. Which is why Wiseau’s characters live in a house absolutely filled with framed stock photos of spoons. This scene more than any other tells you why The Room has become the phenomenon it has. In New York, London, Paris, at the precise moment the filmmaker inadvertently shows us so many framed pictures of spoons, drunk Room fans suddenly start flinging dozens of small plastic spoons at the screen. And then they laugh. And they go “cheep, cheep”. And they laugh. You feel that Wiseau might have been devastated by this at one stage. You also get the sense that he’d never admit it. To Wiseau, The Room is not a spectacle but an extremely important drama; one he himself paid to have shown theatrically on its release in 2003 at two cinemas in LA for years; one

that exposes the fragility of the human condition, and perhaps exposes his. “When they say, ‘Douchebag!’ or ‘Script did not exist’ – complete nahn-sense! Script did exist. Same thing happened with James Dean when he came to Hollywood, everyone bashing him.” His voice rises and falls as he laments the disrespectful behaviour of others. “So I always say, ‘Don’t let people discourage you. Do what you think is right from your heart so long as you don’t hurt anyone.’” “You seem a bit hurt,” I say. “Pardon me?” “Are you hurt?” “Always hurt,” he says, deflating. “I met everyone in Hollywood, right? And I know some of those people; I want to work with them. But there is opposition. Their agency or whatever. Not everybody accepts your vision. They say, ‘What are you talking about, man?’” “So that hurts?” “Yes and no,” he says. “You may be surprised by what I say now, because I contradict myself. But I’m very strong guy. Sometimes people who create something not as strong. So that’s why people sometimes exploding.” “What hurts the most?” “I mean... ‘Script did not exist.’ Somebody writes that about you, it’s basically saying you did nothing. And script is very important. It’s not easy to do it. People think it’s easy, well good luck. I would challenge anybody in the world. I would say, ‘OK, you write a script and I write a script at the same time, we see who is better.’ Let the audience decide.” And excitingly, Wiseau has new scripts. “So one is called Vampire From Alcatraz.” “Is it another human drama?” “No. It’s vampire.” He looks at me like I’m mad again. “So it’s a question mark for humanity. Do those kind people exist? So someone visits Alcatraz and they discover the vampire thing. So that’s the story.” A memory flickers across his face. “But you need a vivid imagination for these things,” he says, and he smiles coldly. “So I’m just laughing because some of the stuff is so laughable because people trying to criticise you and they don’t know anything about process of writing. What are the fahk-tors? Why you wanna write it? Where’s the vision? I mean, you know? Oh my God.” So Wiseau doesn’t like rejection and indeed sees no value in it. He doesn’t understand why people don’t just let him get on with it. The reason he didn’t try to make The Room through the normal studio system is that he read articles about being getting turned down and he didn’t want to face that himself. “It’s not good mentally, physically. I always say, ‘If you can avoid rejection, you should.’”

THE ROOM It’s not a great leap to think that perhaps this comes from his early life, because it does seem fundamentally to scare him. But Wiseau doesn’t want you to know where he was born. How old he is. Where he lives. How he could afford to film The Room, or even why he truly felt the need to make it in the first place. “How come you’re so mysterious?” I ask. “Who, me?” he says, hiding a nervous smile. “I’m open guy.” “What do you like to do in your spare time?” He immediately covers his mouth. “I have my own routine. I cannot tell you.” “Look at your body language,” I say. “What my body language?” he says. “You covered your mouth and then you crossed your arms.” “I’m very open.” “You’re wearing sunglasses indoors.” “Who knows who’s right?” “You.” “People who meet me can’t go deep in my history.” “Why not?” “Because that’s what it is.” We stare at each other and smile. For ages. He wants to give me something. “I like parachuting actually,” he says. “Parachuting?” “No. Parasailing.” “I heard that you raised the $6m for The Room by importing leather jackets from Korea.” He rolls his eyes. “I did not import – I did naht. I designed leather jackets, Michael Jackson style. Very different. And I tell you, this is something that people don’t understand, but you may put this in your article...” I’m excited. What’s he going to say? “The best leather is French leather.” Oh. (Wiseau used American leather.) “And in South Korea they don’t even have cow, let’s face it. But people write things, you know? So people have a stupid concept and I hope you can write it in yours, because it’s pretty unfair. I mean, I don’t care anymore, but that’s pretty unfair.” On Wiseau’s website, there is a video called “Shame On You”. For two minutes and fifteen seconds and set to the score of Carmina Burana, it’s just the words “Shame On You” followed by loud explosions as Wiseau takes on his critics. (“No script? Shame On You”; “All by accident? Shame On You”). There are, in fact, three “Shame On You” videos as Wiseau continues to defend his legacy, his artistry, himself, because it’s the critics that are stopping him from moving on. He seems concerned that people think The Room is accidentally bad, when in fact every moment of it was a carefully considered choice. “Only now are people getting it,” he says.

ut even though I’m not sure that’s true, I worry that as The Room continues to find new audiences, Wiseau may become paranoid that everything is a criticism. I worry also that this year, the release of The Masterpiece may make things worse for him. In a matter of months, for the first time, the name Tommy Wiseau will be mainstream and maybe he didn’t realise that standing out from the crowd would also mean... standing out. “Someone sent me something – I don’t even read this stuff, I don’t have time, to be honest with you – and it said, ‘The Room is like a brainchild,’ and I was laughing. And I say to myself, ‘Yeah, it’s a brainchild,’ but somebody have to create it. It’s not like it just gathered from thin air. It’s pretty funny. Haha! Brainchild.” “Wait. Was the writer saying The Room was your brainchild?” “Yeah! So The Room is born, like a kid, like a child, of a brainchild, or something of this nature – I’m paraphrasing. Sometimes


Wiseau has got his wish: near-vampiric Hollywood immortality these articles are very creative, if you ask me. Anyway I don’t have time to read it anymore.” He says he doesn’t have time, because as well as designing his watches and ties and underpants, Wiseau is planning his next big move. “I am ready,” he tells me. “I am ready to direct $200m movies. Because sometimes they’re wasting money. They give a lot of money to the film but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be good!” He despairs at the madness of it. “Let’s assume average movie in Hollywood is $30m or $40m,” he explains. “But you have some movies that are over that. You heard the story – $100m movies, right? But it’s naht how you spend the money. It’s how you create the process of creation!” I nod. “Is there a movie you wish you’d directed?” I ask, moving things on, because I hadn’t really understood that last bit. “Well, as you know, Fantastic Four – I don’t know if you heard about it? I saw this movie and I actually said to my friend, ‘I could direct

this better than they direct it.’ But these are things you cannot push. Someone actually wrote it down that Tommy Wiseau wanna direct Fantastic Four and they submit it to the producer, so I mean, we see what happens.” “That sounds exciting,” I say. “But I always say, ‘You need vision as a director.’ But, sad story to say, not all directors have vision in the first place, you know? But I personally think I would do a good job.” A $200m Tommy Wiseau film would be an incredible proposition. It also seems extraordinarily unlikely. But we cannot ignore the fact that this is an outsider who has shown he can get things done, whether people want it or not. “What about a straight sequel to The Room?” “Yes and no,” he says. “My dream is to do same Room – but recast everybody. Everything the same, frame by frame, but new people.” I think maybe Wiseau feels that while he got most things overwhelmingly right in The Room – the script, the message, the direction – it was somehow the cast that let it down. “Would you still be in the remake?” “Oh, yeah, I still be playing Johnny,” he says, smiling. “I think I’m still good looking.” “So you and who? Angelina Jolie?” He looks a little stunned. “How you know this?” he says, and then a thought strikes him. “Maybe she’s too old. Who knows? She’s still good actress.” “And how would you direct her?” He shrugs. “I would say simply look at what you see on the screen, but do it better.” Wiseau finishes his hot water and says that on reflection he doesn’t want to have his picture taken outside in the sun. So maybe he is a vampire. As he stands in the shadows outside the men’s toilets in The Cheesecake Factory for his GQ photoshoot, a stranger approaches and tells Wiseau he loves him. He has seen The Room a dozen times. He knows every word. Whether he enjoys it ironically or not doesn’t seem to matter to Wiseau. The fact is, he enjoys it. “I want to be remembered like that was the guy who tried to change Hollywood a little bit,” Wiseau tells me, smiling, moments later. “I call myself ‘Rebel of Hollywood’.” And then Tommy Wiseau, Rebel of Hollywood, this man who stands out, walks out of The Cheesecake Factory, and disappears back into the crowd.


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a gesture. We never had any evidence that the trouble emanates from the mosques.” Geraldine, mother of Anis, said that her son never attended mosques but was radicalised by people “on the street”. Her opinion was echoed by almost everybody I met in Molenbeek. “The people that do this,” one source told me, “are more familiar with a bar stool than a prayer mat.”

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been the destination of last resort. First it was Flemish labourers employed in breweries along the canal. After the Second World War, Italians came to work in the factories. People called it Little Manchester.” The first great wave of Islamic immigration came in 1964, when Belgium signed agreements with Turkey and Morocco to bring in more industrial workers. Brussels’ already close relationship with Saudi Arabia was reinforced in May 1967, after a fire destroyed a department store leaving 323 dead. By coincidence, King Faisal arrived in Belgium on a state visit a few days later. The Saudis poured money into the city in the wake of the catastrophe. The authorities handed Faisal the keys to the Great Mosque, the oldest in Brussels. It was a gesture that helped cement the city’s connection with Salafism, the ultraconservative branch of Sunni Islam, closely allied to the Wahhabism, well-known for its determined attachment to sharia law. “The fact that the people who arrived from Morocco in the Sixties came mainly from the mountains in the north and spoke Berber,” says Sarah Turine, the young and highly regarded youth co- ordinator for Mayor Schepmans, “already fostered a notion of ‘them’ and ‘us’ which persists here. Each side demonised the other.” The prevalence of Wahhabism, she adds, “has undeniably been a problem. This idea that we live among infidels and don’t mix with them. For some in Molenbeek,” she explains, “Syria was the last straw. That conflict has huge resonance here.” “Through social media?” “Not so much. You read a lot of nonsense about sites like Sharia4Belgium [a nowdefunct and always incompetent organisation based in Antwerp]. In Molenbeek, radicalisation has been conducted by people known to the target.” So does the problem reside in Molenbeek’s 22 mosques? The day before I met Moureaux, newspapers were carrying reports of Mayor Schepmans having shut one down. “What she closed was an unofficial meeting place,” Moureaux told me. “It was 240 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017


t is ten years since the journalist Hind Fraihi wrote her outstanding book Undercover In Little Morocco. Fraihi was one of the first to describe what she terms Molenbeek’s “synergy between crime and Jihad” and has come to be called “Gangster Islam”, practised by small, secretive gangs who drew inspiration from marginal figures, such as Khalid Zerkani. Zerkani, a major organiser of radicalisation in Brussels, was imprisoned for 12 years in July 2015. The case for the defence wasn’t helped by the fact that Zerkani’s laptop contained tracts with titles including: “Thirty-Eight Ways To Engage

‘Paris is always looking to Brussels for mistakes the French have actually made themselves’ In Jihad” and “Sixteen Must-Have Items If You’re Heading For Syria”. At Zerkani’s trial, witnesses testified that he had taught small street gangs that “stealing from infidels is permitted by Allah”. Anecdotal accounts concerning such groups aren’t hard to obtain, although, as ever in Molenbeek, people are understandably reluctant to speak on the record. One source told me that he knew of bounties of as little as ¤300 being paid for the enlistment of naive recruits like Olivier’s son Sean. The networks responsible, he claimed, are dominated by a Tunisian mafia. (Zerkani has close links with activists in that country.) The funds, my source insisted, originate from what he would only describe as “a very wealthy gulf state”. Such organised gangs, Philippe Moureaux acknowledges, do exist. Could he have done more to prosecute them? “When I was mayor,” he says, “we recognised the beginnings of fundamentalism. What we didn’t have were these organised networks.” The key strategies required to combat terrorism are hardly difficult to identify. They include acute vigilance in local policing, adequate resources to infiltrate suspected terrorist cells and control illicit arms dealing, together with efficient frontier controls and swift cross-border

exchanges on intelligence. On every level, Brussels is conspicuously under-served. Belgium’s internal problems are exacerbated by the Schengen Agreement, which permits free travel between 28 countries, and the nation’s long-established reputation as the market of choice for illegal munitions. “Until 2006,” explains the Flemish Peace Institute’s Nils Duquet, a leading expert on the trade in illicit arms, “you could walk into a store in Brussels and buy a gun without a permit. After that, you were supposed to obtain a retrospective licence for a weapon you owned. Many people never bothered. As a result, about 100,000 firearms went missing. They’re out there somewhere, but they’re not registered.” Terrorists, Duquet told me, have an understandable fondness for the machine gun. “Many dealers from the Balkans come here,” he told me. “A Kalashnikov costs around ¤250 in Bosnia. In Brussels you can sell one for ¤1,500. What we see are numerous small consignments of these weapons smuggled in private vehicles.” He made it sound alarmingly easy. “If you’re a terrorist and you want to attack Paris, it makes perfect sense to organise it here in Belgium. It’s a two-hour drive. Within the Schengen zone there are effectively no border controls. Where there are checks, there is a serious lack of cooperation across frontiers. There is no effective European police force. Europol is restricted to supporting co-operation between national police agencies.” S o m i g h t i t b e ove r l y s i m p l i s t i c , I asked Duquet, to suggest that all this killing is the fault of some evil at the heart of Molenbeek? “Definitely,” Duquet tells me. “Molenbeek has a certain reputation, in common with many other districts. Is it so different from other areas of big cities in Europe? I don’t believe so.”


word you often hear in French language assessments of Belgian intelligence is “bavure”, a noun which roughly translates as “cockup”. The bungled opportunities to arrest the guilty have been so glaring and numerous that they would challenge the credulity of a reader of pulp fiction: in particular the multiple failures to arrest Salah Abdeslam in his four months at liberty after the Paris atrocities. The vehicle carrying Abdeslam back to Brussels was stopped by French police at Cambrai, an hour’s drive from the border. According to Jan Jambon, the Belgian interior minister, a database at the checkpoint began to blink red on Abdeslam 15 minutes after he had left the checkpoint.

BELGIUM Last year, the television station RTL produced an extraordinary documentary in which undercover reporters tested Belgian security at a variety of locations. They gained admission to Brussels’ Palais De Justice carrying a detonator and 600g of a substance expertly engineered to resemble plastic explosive. Two journalists joined a tour party at the European parliament and passed through metal detectors carrying an imitation bomb and detonator, the apparent authenticity of which was approved by independent munitions experts. MEPs were sitting. The two managed to slip away from the tour guide, assemble and prime the device in the toilets, then rejoin the party without their absence being noted. Had the explosive been real, it could have been detonated in ten seconds. Where the abilities of the Belgian national intelligence services are concerned, senior British politicians including former foreign secretary Lord Hague told me it would be inappropriate for them to comment. It’s no secret, however, that the Belgian counterterrorism service has long been woefully under-resourced: a problem Prime Minister Charles Michel insists Brussels is addressing with some urgency. “When it comes to exchanges of sensitive information,” one retired British intelligence officer told me, “no national security agency is ever eager to initiate full disclosure with another. Of the European intelligence services one does have trust in, it is reasonable to say that Belgium is not in pole position. At the same time,” he added, “I have some sympathy with the Belgians. Paris in particular is always looking to blame Brussels for mistakes the French have actually made themselves.” Combatting terrorism by intelligence alone, he added, “is a quite impossible task. If the Belgians have somebody ‘on the radar’ and the suspect manages to commit a terrorist act, it’s their fault for losing track of them. If they haven’t identified them as a threat, it’s their fault for having missed them.” The current level of threat facing Europe, according to Claude Moniquet, a former French intelligence officer and director of the Brusselsbased European Strategic Intelligence And Security Center, is “different to anything we’ve ever experienced before. We could be talking about 8,000 to 10,000 potential suspects.” A truly foolproof surveillance operation, observing a single suspect for long periods, Moniquet says, requires 30 to 40 operatives. Just as worrying as the way the Belgians have dealt with the guilty, is their handling of allegations against the innocent. Following the 22 March 2016 bombings in Brussels, Human Rights Watch detailed 26 incidents of alleged misconduct by the Belgian police, mainly involving use of excessive force.


uring an interrogation of the taxi driver who drove the three terrorists to the airport, the Brussels constabulary showed the man the now famous photograph of three figures: Ibrahim El Bakraoui and Najim Laachraoui, terrorists who died at the scene, accompanied by the third, mysterious, “man in the hat” who walked away from the slaughter. Detectives became convinced that the survivor was Fayçal Cheffou, a freelance journalist and political activist based in Brussels. On the afternoon of 24 March, Cheffou told me, he was travelling by car across the capital. “I was alone in the back seat,” he said. “A friend and his sister were in the front. Suddenly this blue Ford cut across us and blocked the road. Other cars hemmed us in from the sides. Men in plain clothes appeared, carrying automatic weapons. So I’m sitting in the back. To my left I have one guy yelling, ‘Open the door!’ To my right, another one’s shouting, ‘Don’t move, or I’ll shoot!’” “Did you know why they’d stopped you?”

‘For generations, Molenbeek has been the destination of last resort’ PHILIPPE MOUREAUX “I had no idea. I didn’t move a muscle. I was worried because I could see their hands were shaking. I remember thinking: if I move, they’re going to do something stupid here. They got me out, put me on the ground then drove me to their headquarters.” There, Cheffou says, “they gave me a full body search. They wanted fingerprints, a DNA sample, and to swab me for explosives. I asked why. They wouldn’t reply. I said, ‘I want to see my lawyer.’ They said, ‘Your lawyer is dead.’” Cheffou, known to the police for less serious offences, bears scant resemblance to Mohamed Abrini, the Belgian national who, after his arrest on 8 April 2016, admitted in a police interview that he was the man in the photograph. Cheffou was cleared after phone records confirmed he was at home at the time of the atrocities. During the five days he was held, he claims, he was beaten to the point of unconsciousness. When his lawyer finally arrived, he says, “he pointed out that the man in the hat not only looked nothing like me, but his hands, in that famous picture, are all over the airport trolley. Meaning it was covered in his fingerprints. They did nothing to investigate that for three days.” Cheffou has alleged more serious abuse at

the hands of police, which will constitute the basis of an appeal for compensation once the inquiry has been formally closed. What had been the consequences of the experience? “For five days,” he says, “I was the most hated man in Belgium, if not the world. Even now, people point at me on the street. My life has been ruined. You should try applying for a job when if they google your name, all that comes up are pictures of police and body parts. All I can say is that after something like this happens to you, you will never be the same.” “It sounds like something out of Hitchcock.” “It was.” “When will the police investigation be over?” “Nothing would surprise me of them. I was summoned to the police station not long ago. The questions they asked me were just surreal. Was I left-handed? What was my opinion of the press? What did I think of the bombings in Turkey? It’s glaringly obvious,” Cheffou adds, “that I am not the man in the picture. Those were the five worst days of my life.” With the exception of one or two individuals concerned with enforcing or evading the law, I met nobody, in my time in Molenbeek, who was not striving to do their best for the district. That includes community leaders, schoolteachers, deradicalisers, doctors, the current mayor’s office, Philippe Moureaux and a Belgian intelligence officer who described the challenge of combatting extremism here as “like trying to arm-wrestle tear gas”. Anti-terrorism, he told me, is “a discipline in which progress is far harder to identify than failure”. The chances of another atrocity committed by people with links to the area, everyone agreed, seem highly likely. ”What you have here in Molenbeek,” said Olivier, father of Sean, “is an entire generation of young men who are sleepwalking through despair. They’re living in what people tell them is the heart of Europe and yet they feel utterly excluded, which makes them very easy to manipulate. But what I would like to say, loud and clear,” Olivier added, “is that this tragedy does not simply have to do with MolenbeekSaint-Jean, or even just with Belgium. This is not some local difficulty. It is a global catastrophe. The thing about evil is that it very quickly gets you noticed. What is so terribly sad, where Molenbeek is concerned,” Olivier said, “is that outsiders tend not to see that there are good people here too.”


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When that oppositionist mind-set holds the leadership, we really are in trouble. I am not even convinced he will step down if we get hammered at the next election. In truth, the so-called coup probably played into his hands, strengthened him. We ended up with a leader consistently described by MPs as unelectable, yet who appears to be unassailable. Unelectable and unassailable – that is a lethal combination. “Oh, we’ll win. Don’t you worry. We will win despite people like you.” So says shadow chancellor John McDonnell. You may have seen the prelude to this exchange on BBC Question Time last autumn. We had had a chat beforehand and agreed that while we would not say anything we didn’t believe, we would try not to feed the image of a divided party. My desire for things not to get too personal was reinforced by the fact that my daughter Grace was there, sitting in my eye line, alongside Seb Corbyn, son of Jeremy, chief of staff to McDonnell. Grace knows a thing or two about growing up with a political dad who gets slagged off, so the sight of them side by side acted as a good brake on what I actually thought. Indeed, when the question about Labour came up, I said I had no animus against Corbyn. It was wrong to blame him alone for our problems and it was great he was attracting new members. His narrative on inequality was tapping into something postglobalisation that we in New Labour had not. I ran through a few issues that had damaged us, from tuition fees to Iraq. But McDonnell couldn’t hold back. “Oh, this is nauseating.” Come again? So he did. It was my “spin and lies”, he said, (for the record: four inquiries, cleared by all four) that lost us five million votes. I was seemingly single-handedly responsible for creating a situation where nobody believes politicians; both Gordon Brown’s and Ed Miliband’s defeats were down to me. Like I say, people seem to think I have more power than I do. Though Tory MP Anna Soubry had attacked McDonnell as a “nasty piece of work”, it was with me that his anger rose, reminding me of the time Tory MP Alan Clark told 242 GQ.CO.UK APRIL 2017

me, “We’re f***ed because we now hate each other more than we hate you.” To the McDonnells of this world, the loathing for Blairites seems to outstrip any feeling towards the Tories and the damage they are doing to the country or any responsibility to put together a winning strategy. I admit that the row which kicked off afterwards, F-words flying around liberally, was provoked in large part by me. “You can’t f***ing help yourself, can you? Half an hour maintaining the bank manager façade is too much, so off you go.” “You sided with the Tory woman.” “No, I didn’t. I said nothing personal about you or anyone else.” He tried to walk away. “Do you actually want to win a f***ing election?” “Oh, we’ll win. Don’t you worry. We will win despite people like you.” “Good luck with that. I’d love to know how.” We were in Dorset and I had mentioned on air that in 1997 we had won seats there and I asked him what his strategy was to win them again. Answer came there none. “There is another reason you won’t win. If this is the best you can do, you don’t f***ing deserve to.” Then, embarrassingly I admit, my daughter led me out as Seb Corbyn led McDonnell to the far corner of the room so he could escape “that f***ing arsehole”. Me. There is a conventional wisdom developing that Labour must hit the rock bottom many fear will result from a May-Corbyn general election before we rise again. But in today’s world, where political tribalism is eroding, where Scotland shows how quickly one political dominance can replace another and where election defeat could see a wipeout of rising talent, why do we automatically assume that going down means we then rise once more? Rather than go down and come back, might we be heading, existentially, for down and out? It is not that long ago that Labour was identified with winning and delivery. The winning machine has become a losing machine. Much of the delivery has been forgotten, partly because of Iraq and the negativity around Tony Blair, but also because of his successors’ failure to defend the record. Legacy matters. It is to the Tories’ advantage that Churchill is viewed as our greatest prime minister. History has current political potency. The Tories use it. Why else do they bang on about “the mess we inherited from Labour”, the soundtrack of the last parliament, or hark back even further to the “Winter of Discontent?” Why are they so loyal to the image and memory of Margaret Thatcher, even those who didn’t always agree with her? Iraq. Spin. Lies. That is the New Labour record for many Corbynistas. Not the minimum wage, the New Deal, devolution, Sure Start, LGBT rights, the Good Friday Agreement, shortest

waiting times in NHS history, smallest class sizes, 44,000 new doctors, 42,000 new teachers, best exam results, half a million children out of poverty, almost a million pensioners, saving Sierra Leone, reversing ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. But spin, lies, Iraq. That’s it. Spin, to me, is getting trounced in byelections and council elections and saying it’s fine because things went better than some had predicted. Spin is saying, as McDonnell did, that only a minority of MPs are unhappy with Corbyn. Spin is saying that until the leadership challenge Labour was neck and neck with the Tories, or even ahead, when of the 89 polls prior to that the Tories had been ahead in 85, level in four, Labour ahead in none. In any event, you don’t need polls to tell you where we are; you just need to hear the conversations going on all the time, all over the country. Here is an interesting fact for you. The number of Labour leaders who have won a general election in the last 40 years is... one. This is a hard country for progressive parties to win in; harder still when you take in the shift against us in Scotland, the Boundary Commission review, the Brextremist media’s love-in with May. Why make it even harder by sticking with a leader so few believe can do the job well enough to be considered for the top job, and a politics so many outside the Momentum bubble have rejected? If the membership can’t or won’t send him on his way, and the MPs loss of confidence is of no import, does there not come a point where he owes it to the party – everyone keeps saying he is a decent man – to do the decent thing? If he doesn’t, do we not need to add arrogance and self-indulgence to the complacency and incompetence that has defined his leadership? People say he is a man who sticks to his principles. But what are the principles underlying his handling of the most important issue of this era, Brexit? A half-hearted, counterproductive role in the referendum that meant many thought our official position was Leave (since Brexit featured so infrequently at PMQs, people began to wonder whether he actually voted Remain at all). Then, when May finally came out as a full-fledged Little Englander – so obsessed with immigration that she would have us out of the single market and customs union whatever the cost to the economy or risk to the NHS, that she would prefer the calamity of no deal to a deal that didn’t meet the demands of her hard right and the newspapers beating the drum for her (provided she marches to their tune), all the while begging for crumbs from Trump’s table because we are out of friends in Europe – what does Corbyn do? This serial rebel against three-line whips imposes one to back May on Article 50. I understand how difficult the politics are. That the result must be respected. That Labour

ALASTAIR CAMPBELL MPs represent seats which voted most heavily for Leave and which voted most heavily for Remain. That the right-wing press will get even more rabid at anything which suggests Labour is ignoring “the will of the people”. That he retains the right to put down amendments and develop arguments during the Brexit negotiations. But I am not even asking for him to come out with a Lib Dem/SNP style position that essentially says we do what we can to stay in the EU. I am simply saying that given the scale of the change now taking place with May’s hard Brexit plan, given the damage many fear it will do to the poorest he fights for, Labour must have an “all options open” position, not least because whatever the Brextremists say, leaving the single market was not on the ballot paper. The Tories have the numbers to get Article 50 through and get on with the negotiation. Labour’s job is to get inside their heads and make them worry that if the deal is not a good one, then the public will want to take another route. But we are getting locked in, outmanoeuvred. To stand up for the genuine national interest, knowing there will be a political price to pay in some parts, but offering a real alternative approach from the government, would display the kind of leadership most feel he has lacked. For some, Brexit will define their politics and their vote entirely. For many, it won’t. But Trump and hard Brexit create a whole new prism for our politics. As Trump turns his back on the world with his far right “America First” stance and May turns her back on Europe, the space is wide open for leadership that paves the way for a new approach, a new set of policies on the economic, social and cultural issues that matter to people. It should be a Labour leader who is developing a new approach to industry, to public services, to the housing crisis, and who is honest with the public that the next wave of technological change is going to throw up threats to many jobs as well as opportunities for business. The tech world is in an era so far ahead of the political debate it is terrifying. Politicians need to make sense of change, not just sing the old tunes in an empty stadium. The problem, says one of his former frontbenchers, is that Corbyn lacks the curiosity for leadership. He knows what he thinks. He prides himself on never changing his mind. But an incurious mind is a slothful mind. A real opposition leader would be hoovering different analysis and arguments, getting his head round the detail of the negotiations that are about to take place, making sure he knows more than May does about it. He would have put together a top Brexit team of those derided experts, meeting daily, coming up with facts and arguments that do get inside Theresa May’s head. Since last June, he should have been signalling the need for changes to immigration

control while also persistently identifying ways the single market could have been kept a possibility, making her Lancaster House hard Brexit speech much harder to make. We voted as a country to leave the EU. The government must get the best deal it can. But Trump means this is not simply about the terms of trade deals now. It is about the values we as a nation espouse, and about our national security, because we are faced with an enormous decision, about where between the US and EU we place ourselves. We must have alliances with both, but if we separate ourselves from Europe and accept the direction of the US in all significant things – protectionism, spheres of influence with Russia that allow Russia freedom to break international law in their sphere of influence, the abandonment of multilateral bodies and norms, the imperative above all else of nationalism – we pursue a course which is fundamentally at odds with the ethos and values and success factors not just of the EU, but of the UK. Labour should be making that case.

Corbyn lacks the curiosity for leadership – and an incurious mind is a slothful mind It is entirely possible to do a deal that reflects this approach – rejecting protectionism, not increasing our dependence on the US, arguing for immigration controls that seek to promote our own economic interest, as our non-EU immigration controls do. Labour’s position should be to ensure that the government gets such a deal and that if they fail we will do everything in our power to stop the deal by forcing them back to the negotiating table and move the dial more towards Europe. They have the right to start the Article 50 process. But the deal they bring back must be good, or rejected. And that should be rattling inside May’s head all the time. Alas, it is not. Whether because of Euroscepticism or incompetence, Corbyn and McDonnell have taken us down the route May wanted them to. Then, she could get on the plane to Washington, bow before the racist-in-chief and later refuse to condemn Trump’s hideous random ban on migrants and refugees. The same Trump who cited Brexit as an inspiration in what May called his “stunning” victory – because some of the same forces are at play and history would suggest they will not end well. Of course, politics is a continuum and we all have to accept some responsibility for where

we are. Blair begat Brown begat Miliband begat Corbyn. Equally, this rise of virulent populism is a global thing, as we see with Trump, as we see in France, Holland and elsewhere, and at the intellectual level may require a global response, the birth of new ideas to challenge it. That is not going to come from New Labour’s old ways. But it certainly isn’t coming from Corbyn’s old ways either. Trump and the rise of populism across Europe risks the destruction of basic values and his stance on national security poses a potential new threat to global security and even our way of life. It is not overstating things to say that how we handle Brexit and Trump could define who we are as a country for some time to come. Shaping the right path is going to require real leadership. Yet nobody on the left appears to have the self-confidence to do it in the face of the white working class rejection of Labour, the US Democrats, the French Socialists. Our line on Brexit seems to be... “We know this is going to be a disaster... er, so we are voting for it.” Leadership means laying out a route that will not suit every faction but can convince most sensible people it will work, and it would be better than what we have. Corbyn and co appear to me not even to be trying. Add monumental selfish indifference to what happens to the party to which they owe so much to the charge sheet. I am certainly not blaming Corbyn for Trump and his hideousness, or for the zeal with which May is pursuing both the president’s favour and her hard Brexit agenda. But the Labour leader is a big part of the reason that she can and she does, and for that reason alone, never mind all the others, surely he should go, and make way for someone who might actually be able to do the job of opposition leader, and one day prime minister. I don’t yet know who it is, and maybe Labour’s troubles go much deeper than the leader. But if we don’t see real change, soon, I can see the time not far off when Tristram Hunt or some other historian writes the modern version of George Dangerfield’s 1935 book, The Strange Death Of Liberal England. Delete “Liberal”, insert “Labour”, and might we see history repeat itself? If so, John McDonnell can tell me I will have Iraq on my conscience all he wants. He and his may have the destruction of a great political party, and Tory hegemony for the rest of our lives, on theirs.


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The Welsh thesp brings a tear to the eye with tales of an actor’s life at Trullo

handsomeness and charm that Evans can get away with it. He struts in wearing a dark brown airman’s jacket, indigo jeans and smart shoes. He’s got a man-bag with him, black leather, in which he keeps all the money he’s made in films over the years – which is a lot, Disney’s live action remake of Beauty And The Beast being this month’s cash cow – or his gym kit. He never shows me the bag’s contents so we’ll just have to assume it’s Mickey’s cash. Three things happen over lunch with Luke Evans that are worth noting: firstly, he also seems to know what makes a good olive oil. “Great oil,” he comments after our starters of ribollita, for him – a thick vegetable soup with stale bread – and homemade pici (pronounced “peachy”) pasta for me. Secondly, he can’t take his eyes off our server. Not in a pussy-grabbing way, but certainly fit for a Mayfair locker room. “She is absolutely gorgeous, isn’t she?” He’s right. As she takes our plates he growls at me with a big conspiratorial grin like an inmate from HMP Prescoed on day release. “Glowing! Radiant!” He grunts. It entirely discombobulates me. But then there’s no rule on saying a gay man can’t note an attractive member of the opposite sex. Perhaps I’m a prude. Or jealous. The third thing Luke Evans does is very nearly cry. Not like a baby. Not even like a bratty toddler whose’s just missed out on a distinction at a ballet exam. No, not cry so much as pre-sob. It’s while telling me of his big break: “I was 29. I’d moved out of home aged 16, bullied at school for the religion thing – my parents are Jehovah’s Witness. I’d been to Cardiff for drama school, then got to London, singing mostly, and into musical theatre. You know, Taboo, Miss Saigon... But I knew I could act. I was angry and frustrated; I just couldn’t catch a break. Then I switched agents – someone who actually believed in me. I got a role at the Donmar Warehouse in 2008, a play called Small Change. And literally overnight my life changed. To be honest, even thinking about it now makes me emotional. It was everything.” Cue watery eyes. “And I’ll never forget what I had to do to get to that moment.” Oh, he’s good. He’s very good. And that’s all you need ever know about Luke Evans the actor. Hardworking, stupendously talented and forever grateful. If I were a director I’d hire him. There would be no tantrums. What about Luke Evans the man? Well, now he’s as complex and as dark as a superior olive oil. Peppery. Lots of oleocanthal. But I don’t suppose you know anything about that sort of thing. Trullo, 300-302 St Paul’s Road, London, N1. 020 7226 2733.

was a little early for my date with actor Luke Evans. (Very Welsh, absurdly heroic, abs like two tins of Spam.) Not by much, say 15 minutes or so. But enough time to ask for some bread, olive oil and tap water. Why tap water? Well, because ever since my dentist told me the fizzy stuff rots your enamel as fast as a John Lewis Christmas ad I’ve tried to keep off the bubbles, and “tap” because if it’s good enough for environmentalist-in-chief Leo DiCaprio, then it’s good enough for me. Anyway, bottled water is self-congratulatory pomp. (And not in a Vetements kind of a way.) The olive oil here in Trullo – still the best local restaurant in London, without doubt, by the way – is not insignificant. In fact, the maître d’ – if a woman can be called a maître d’ – makes a point of noting its quality, citing the strength of last year’s harvest. I nod appreciatively, although we both strongly suspect I haven’t a clue about what makes a decent olive oil. Big olives? No stones? Lime juice? The oil in question arrives with a basket of bread, Poilâne-esque, and a puddle of dark liquid gold in a white saucer. The colour is certainly striking. A bit greener than the extra virgin olive oil you drown your endives in at home, and a shade Farrow & Ball would no doubt call “Rising Damp”, but it was good. Peppery, which apparently is a sign of its freshness. Olive oil appreciation, it turns out, is the opposite of wine: anything past a year old should ‘Thinking about my be kept for keeping granny’s scalp moist. big break makes I often worry about starting a meal before my lunch companion arrives, thinking it rude to begin before me emotional’ anyone arrives. Bread and tap water are fine, but stray into antipasti and a glass of Pouilly-Fumé and, in my book, you’re giving off the wrong impression. The impression you want to present isn’t one of gluttony and indifference to company. Well, unless you’re dating someone who is both proudly fat and really cool, which let’s face it, seems very unlikely. No, a meal at a restaurant is supposed to be a shared experience, one that unfolds with a certain amount of synchronicity. Get it wrong and it’ll feel slightly off beat. Like doing your shirt buttons up incorrectly. Or your memories of Rolf Harris. I spy Luke Evans through the glass. He’s sucking on a vape like a Whole Foods’ Steve McQueen and gives me that leading man finger-pointy thing. It sounds cheesy, which it is, but such is his


VERDICT Table manners: ++,,, Amount of hair product visible +,,,, Most famous person’s name dropped: Sienna Miller Overall ++++,

Illustrations Anton Emdin; Zohar Lazar

...with LUKE EVANS

freelancer collection | mechanical chronograph

British gq april 2017  
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