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THE BEST BEACHES IN THE WORLD AND WHAT TO WEAR WHEN YOU’RE THERE Junior Trump: The Troubled Life of Donald’s Pet Son

EFFORTLESSLY COOL

ZAYN MALIK


Here’s a rare bit of good news:

Yes, okay, it’s got old-world capitals and fancy museums, but EUROPE DOES BEACHES BETTER (p. 56), too Except for Hawaii, a.k.a. PARADISE (p. 80), where actor Pedro Pascal shows off the season’s waviest

It’s full-on summer. And we’ve

shorts

got you covered, whether you’re

It villain Bill Skarsgård dons the

orchestrating a LAST-MINUTE,

all-black uniform of anyone hoping

TOTALLY SPONTANEOUS SUMMER

to have a CRUEL SUMMER (p. 64)

HANG (p. 7)

JULIA IOFFE gets inside the world of

or watching other

If you’re feeling moodier,

countries play soccer using our pocket

DONALD TRUMP JR. (p. 50) and his

guide to the U.S.-FREE WORLD CUP

struggle to live in his father’s bloated

(p. 28)

Dad Style reaches its apex

with JON WILDE’ S endorsement of the LUXURY WAGON (p. 20)

Ask style

shadow

MICHAEL PATERNITI spends

time at Sunday school with our most essential ex-president, JIMMY

editor MARK ANTHONY GREEN about

CARTER (p. 76)

upgrading your BAGGAGE (p. 22)

officially introduces you to LAKEITH

before stuffing it full of IRREVERENT

STANFIELD AND TESSA THOMPSON

STYLE MOVES (p. 12)

But maybe

ALLISON P. DAVIS

(p. 72), the breakout stars of Sorry to And in ATTACK ON SKULL

also pack a sweatshirt—or eight—since

Bother You

we asked the SUPERPOWERS OF THE

ISLAND (p. 86), MAX MARSHALL follows

FASHION WORLD (p. 18) to re-invent

Kong director Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Gap’s iconic hoodie

as he tracks down the gangsters who

NOAH JOHNSON

breaks down HOW COLOGNE WORKS (p. 27)

And ZACH BARON writes

nearly beat him to death in Vietnam Oh, and for our cover story, CARRIE

IN PRAISE OF BEING WASHED (p. 34)

BATTAN hung out with the one and

from a golf course somewhere out there

only ZAYN MALIK (p. 40)

T H E C OV E R ↖ Zayn pulls off an animal print not found in nature.

Sebastian Mader

Coat, $6,700, by Bottega Veneta. Shirt, $195, by SSS World Corp. Styling by Simon Rasmussen. Grooming by Shannon Pezzetta using Tom Ford. Set design by Lauren Nikrooz for the Magnet Agency. Produced by Donna Belej at Allswell Productions. All prices quoted in this issue are approximate and subject to change.

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Jacket, $2,175, by Versace. Shirt, $475, by Dolce & Gabbana. Pants, $890, by Bottega Veneta. Shoes, $915, by Dries Van Noten.

PHOTOGRAPH BY SEBASTIAN MADER


C r e a t i n g n ew h e i g h t s The new Montblanc 1858 Geosphere. Spirit of Mountain Exploration. montblanc.com/1858


GQ HQ

The latest news from the monthly, the daily, and the all-the-time-ly world of GQ

Office Grails → This issue’s cover star, Zayn Malik, proves that leather looks cool even in sweaty July. (See page 40.) Here’s what GQ staffers wear on breezy summer nights.

Meet Zach Baron

1 What’s the most “I’m washed” thing you wear? I have succumbed to New Balance 990s and pale baggy jeans, which is literally the uniform my father has been wearing my entire life. I think he’s still wearing it better.

4 What is the anthem of the washed? Jadakiss’s “We Gonna Make It.” Because it’s exhilarating and perfect and no one under 30 knows what it is anymore. 5 What’s the most

2 Where do you wear it? During my one to two social engagements a week. 3 Where is the line between washed enlightenment and ennui? I take a walk every day and ask myself this question. So... long before you do that.

stressful thing in your line of sight right now? Page proofs for this story about how washed I am. 6 If you were a personal-injury lawyer, what slogan would you put on your billboard? “I will fight medium hard for you.”

Honoring an Industry Legend → When design director Fred Woodward left GQ after 16 years, the Society of Publication Designers presented him with the Herb Lubalin Award, producing a video that brought together a legion of magazine icons in an attempt to find the words to sufficiently honor his legacy. Former Time design director Arthur Hochstein put it succinctly: “Without offending anybody, in this generation there is Fred and then there’s everybody else.” gq prefers that letters to the editor be sent to letters@gq.com. letters may be edited.

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KEVIN NGUYEN S E N I O R E D I TO R

SAMUEL HINE A S S I S TA N T E D I TO R

M E G A N TAT E M D I G I TA L D E S I G N E R

“I got this jacket at the U.S. Open last year. It makes me look like a sporty Piet Mondrian. It also tricks people into thinking I’m athletic.”

“This jacket is from Our Legacy. The color is what really appealed to me. They call it nicotine, which gives it a little edge.”

“The jacket is very ‘graduated tomboy.’ My trick is to wear close to nothing underneath! No layers needed.”

TEN THUMBS UP FOR OUR JUNE COVER The cover of our Comedy Issue featured Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, Sarah Silverman, and some extra extremities. The responses from readers were arm-azing

Man, I’d give an arm and a leg to have been there for this cover shoot. —@MortonsEast via Twitter

This is quite alARMing. —@Blake_C137 via Twitter

Gotta hand it to yah… —@tomrambles via Twitter

This racy cover is showing wayyy too much leg…and arm, and hand… —Edgar Malaran via Facebook

PHOTOGRAPHS, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP RIGHT: KRISTA SCHLUETER (3); MARTIN SCHOELLER; COLLINS NAI. ILLUSTRATION: ALEXANDRA COMPAIN-TISSIER.

→ On page 34, GQ staff writer Zach Baron shares his manifesto on being “washed”—a state characterized by maximum golf and minimum ambition. We asked him some questions, and he found it within himself to answer half of them.


FOLLOW IN NO ONE’S FOOTSTEPS BUT YOUR OWN.

PREMIUM FOOTWEAR & PROVISIONS FOR THE MODERN GENTLEMAN.

MORALCODE.COM


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The Last-Minute, Totally

Ou r fa vo rit e e on es th at pa rt ie s ar e th at er ia lize. m ly en dd ju st su os t pu ll of f th e m He re ’s ho w to ou nt am t as le e th wi th of pl an ni ng

It’s 11 A.M. on a Saturday, somewhere in the depths of summer. You want to do something tonight, but you don’t feel like spending the whole evening at a bar, or even changing out of your basketball shorts. The only answer, then, is persuading people to come to your place for an event that resembles a party—but doesn’t require too much effort. Enter the low-key summer hang: It’s a little more advanced than your standard spread of PBRs and tortilla chips. People will come for the large-format cocktails and crispy barbecue, and they’ll stay until someone eventually yells out the name of a local bar. So here’s how to put together the tasty, un-boring cocktails and the snacks that’ll keep everyone going. —MARIAN BULL

PHOTOGRAPHS BY GRANT CORNETT

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The Fix

h D i tc

the

HOSTING K eg

Mix Your A large-format hang calls for a large-format drink that’s slightly more involved than ordering a vat of beer. These two options are impressive enough to please even your snobbiest friend yet easy enough that you can mix them in the time it takes for you to drink your pre-party beer.

(ON PREVIOUS PAGE)

Tiki drinks scream summer, but two of them can have you in bed before the sun sets. For a tropical-tasting concoction that won’t knock you out, we turned to bartender Chuck Rivera, who makes globally inspired tiki cocktails at Jungle Bird, his bar in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His delicious solution is a mix of tequila, pineapple juice, and beer—light enough to have a few of but strong enough to still be called a punch. Rivera swapped out the traditional tea—a classic punch ingredient that balances out the booze—for beer, which he quips is just “a fermented hop tea.” The rest of the drink skews fruity and herbal, thanks to pineapple juice and yellow Chartreuse, a French liqueur that adds a highbrow and slightly medicinal whiff to any cocktail. The result is something unexpected but highly sessionable.

PonchE Concept ual Serves 10 to 12 10 oz. tequila reposado 14 oz. yellow Chartreuse 4 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice 4 oz. simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water) 12 oz. fresh pineapple juice 2 pinches of salt 2 12-oz. cans of your favorite light lager beer 1. Combine the first six ingredients in a large jar or pitcher, then give everything a quick stir as you pour in the beer. 2. Serve over ice in glasses garnished with fresh mint and cinnamon sticks.

Hack Your

— A L I C I A K E N N E D Y, F O O D W R I T E R AND RECIPE DEVELOPER

THE ELECTRIC-GREEN MICHELADA Instead of tossing some hot sauce and lime juice into a Corona (which is still great in a pinch), Yana Volfson—beverage director at Atla, New York City’s beloved all-day Mexican café—makes a spicy, salty house salsa verde as the base for her michelada. She mixes it with locally brewed Gose beer—a little savory and a little tart, like a builtin squeeze of lime for any beer cocktail. The result is lightly spicy and far more interesting than that michelada-in-a-can you made on Cinco de Mayo. All it requires is dusting off your blender. If you end up with extra salsa, just grab the nearest bag of chips. Get the recipe at GQ.COM/BBQ

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Turning a whole pork shoulder into that shreddy, soft, and smoky thing we call barbecue is usually an all-day affair. But for the lazy or last-minute grillers, there is a way to get it done in three to four hours in your creaky Weber kettle. Cutting the shoulder into thick steaks increases surface area, therefore increasing the ratio of that delicious browned exterior called bark—which plays well with the people you’re feeding. You’ll cook the steaks over wood so the pork tastes like barbecue; you’ll use your chimney the way that barbecue people use a burn barrel, an ever burning fountain of glowing coals from which you can replenish the heat needs of the grill. A few high-maintenance steps are required for maximum results: A water pan set on the grill will

help slow the browning of the exterior of the meat and speed up the cooking of the interior; do not omit it. Wrapping the pork once it has achieved an almost burnt level of brownness also helps. Some people find that step fussy; I find it effective, a fail-safe way to get things done. And it’s easier than buying yourself an oversize smoker. In the end, you will have meat that is right and ready for any flavor direction you want to take it in. Just be sure to stock up on Martin’s Potato Rolls, the only acceptable vehicle for saucy piles of barbecue. — P E T E R M E E H A N, A U T H O R OF AN UPCOMING BARBECUE BOOK AND FORMER EDITOR OF ‘LUCKY PEACH’

For the recipe—plus sauce ideas both store-bought and DIY— head to GQ.COM/BBQ

F O O D S T Y L I S T: E D G A B R I E L S AT H A L L E Y R E S O U R C E S . P R O P S T Y L I S T: J E F F R E Y W. M I L L E R AT T H E M A G N E T A G E N C Y. M A N I C U R E : RACHEL SHIM USING DIOR VERNIS. CASTING: PARTS MODELS LLC. ILLUSTRATIONS THROUGHOUT: SIMON ABRANOWICZ.

THE TIKI-ADJACENT PUNCH


The latest GQ Best Stuf Box has landed. Subscribe now to get a quarterly shipment of our favorite gadgets, grooming products, style upgrades, and beyond— all tested and endorsed by the magazine’s editors.

BRANDS IN OUR LATEST BOX INCLUDE: ANTHONY AREAWARE BOIE USA BREDA GOODR

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The Fix

Light and effervescent, highballs are stupidly easy to make at home: Pour whiskey over ice, top with soda, and drink. At a party, you can set up a sort of choose-yourown-adventure highball situation for your guests, with options ranging from super boozy to almost sober. Start with good whiskey, like Suntory Toki. (The

1.

WHISKEY HIGHBALL

Shove as much ice as you possibly can into whatever cup you’ve chosen. Add 2 ounces Suntory Toki Whisky and 3 to 4 ounces soda water (basically, fill the glass almost to the top). Garnish with a lemon wheel.

2.

VERMOUTH HIGHBALL

Do the same as before, but replace the whiskey with vermouth and call it “moderation.” Garnish with a wedge of lemon and a sprig of mint or basil; call this a “vegetable.”

3.

OLD PAL

Combine 1½ ounces whiskey, ¾ ounce Campari, and 1 ounce vermouth over as much ice as you feel like. Garnish with an orange slice, Instagram it against the similarly colored sunset, and proceed with caution: This very tasty drink is also very likely to kick your ass.

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HOSTING

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Your Cocktails Japanese have perfected the highball, and their whiskey makes the best one.) Buy as much unflavored soda water as your arms can handle. Go heavy on the garnishes: Slice a bagful of lemons into wheels and wedges and grab a few bunches of fresh herbs.

Then pick up a bottle of bianco vermouth. According to Julia Momose, creative director at Chicago’s upcoming Japaneseinspired cocktail bar Kumiko, it’s the best option for a low-ABV highball. “As a highball,” Momose explains, “it definitely falls into the realm of aperitivos,” or light

cocktails meant to be drunk in the daytime. Round it all out with a bottle of bitter, sunset-colored Campari, which you can splash into soda or mix into a boozy Old Pal with the whiskey and vermouth. Write out directions for each cocktail—listed below—for your friends but encourage them to mix and match as they see fit.


The perfect place to escape from predictability. The world is full of choices. Yours brought you here. Come explore year-round. VisitCostaRica.com

Pacuare River, Caribbean Slope Rainforest

Š Costa Rica Tourism Board. All Rights Reserved.


The Fix

SUMMER SWERVES

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1 THE COMP LETE SE T

Not every suit is a masterpiece of tailoring. One of the easiest ways to look put together this season is to pick a pattern and wear it head to toe.

ST YLIST: JON TIETZ. HAIR: BARRY WHITE AT BARRYWHITEMENSGROOMING.COM. GROOMING: JODIE BOLAND USING LAB SERIES SKINCARE FOR MEN.

Jacket, $330, and pants, $364, by President’s. Hoodie, $575, by Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh. Sandals, $130, by Birkenstock. Socks, $3, by Uniqlo. Hat (price upon request) by Aimé Leon Dore.

HEAT WAVES

5 Irreverent Summer Style Moves Jurassic World 2’s Justice Smith breaks out fresh, unexpected fashion swerves for when temps rise and it’s time to get weird

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY DAVID URBANKE


The Fix

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SUMMER SWERVES

2 T H E K N I T TA N K TO P

Meet the summerized, psychedelic version of the standard sweater-vest. Sweater-vest, $420, by Acne Studios. T-shirt, $30, by Hanes x Karla. Pants, $228, by Michael Kors. Sneakers, $100, by Nike. Hat (price upon request) by Saturdays NYC. Sunglasses, $665, by Mr Leight.

3 PAT TERNED PANTS

When it comes to prints, think big, bold, and botanical and pass on the dainty critters and camo.

Shirt, $445, by Boss. Tank top, $200, by Dries Van Noten. Pants, $705, by Dries Van Noten at

J U L Y

Mr Porter. Belt, $125, by Maximum Henry. Shoes, $33, by Diegos. Watch, $19,730, by Patek Philippe.

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The Fix

SUMMER SWERVES

5 LOAFERS & SHORTS

There’s nothing more unexpectedly dope than wearing your strongest statement loafers (and finest hosiery) with a pair of beataround hiking shorts.

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Jacket, $90, by The North Face. Turtleneck, $170, by Jil Sander. Shorts, $79, by Birdwell. Loafers, $6,990, by Tom Ford. Socks, $18 (for pack of three), by Gold Toe.

THE PE R F EC T PA S TE L S UI T

Shake up the navys and khakis by reaching for one of these tasty new suit flavors: mint green, lavender, eggshell blue. Suit, $285, by Topman. T-shirt, $350, by Lanvin at Mr Porter. Sneakers, $50, by Vans. Bracelet, $165, by A.P.C.

→ J U S T I C E S M I T H is the rare 22-year-old actor who tried to bail on his first blockbuster role. Not because he didn’t want to do Jurassic World 2. He’d grown up with the series, watching the original Jurassic Park trilogy on DVD during family road trips with his eight brothers and sisters. “I loved them,” Smith stresses. But when the screen-test invite came, he’d just landed a role in the Off-Broadway play Yen, by Anna

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Jordan, as a character he really connected with. So he politely declined...and was counter-offered with the movie part outright. “I was like, ‘Wow, that’s very nice...at the same time I really still want to do this play,’ ” says Smith. “I’m a young actor about to say no to Jurassic?! This could ruin my career!” Luckily for summer moviegoers everywhere, he found a way to do both. And now the kid we met as Zeke

“Books” Figuero in Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down is at the forefront of Hollywood’s new generation of super-woke nice-guy actors destined to redefine old franchises. Not that it’s about the fame—Smith says that while he doesn’t mind “making it,” it’s “just never been the goal for me. I love imitating the human condition, exploring people’s psychology. The goal is to play roles that challenge me.”

Smith’s most recent challenge: acting an entire movie in front of a green screen. “Because Pokémon,” he says, laughing. That would be for Detective Pikachu, the live-action Pokémon movie out next year. “It’s going to be a childhood dream come true for a lot of people,” not least him, who still has all his Pokémon cards. What do you call it when you go from Poké-nerd to Pikachu co-star? Making it.— S A M U E L H I N E


PERFORMANCE, CRAFTED TO THE EXTREME. In creating the Lexus high-performance line, half measures are not tolerated. Titanium is used for stronger engine components. Chassis are engineered to have a lower center of gravity. Laser welding is employed for increased overall rigidity. Carbon fiber for greater strength and less weight. Because if you want to craft extreme performance, you have to take extreme measures.

LEXUS HIGH PERFORMANCE LC 500 RC F GS F lexus.com/performance | #Lexus

Options shown. Š2018 Lexus


The Fix

GAP + GQ

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Here’s a question for you: If Gap had never stitched those three letters on a pullover, would the hoodie as we know it—Supreme-logo’d, Gucci-embroidered— exist today? Probably not. Like Levi’s 501s or Converse Chuck Taylors, Gap’s most readily recognized design is an icon of democratic American style. It’s the Michael Jordan jersey of mall-store menswear: bought by 13-yearolds looking for their first wallet-friendly swerve, worn by Mark Zuckerberg (at least on-screen in The Social Network), and re-discovered by grown men nostalgic for their earliest style status symbol. That’s why we’re so excited to see how this year’s bestin-class crop of Coolest Designers on the Planet will interpret—or straightup overhaul—the quintessential cozy-guy staple.

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MSGM Massimo Giorgetti’s clothes prove that old-world menswear and New Age hype can get along. Pinstriped sweatpants, anyone?

7

Opening Ceremony Like anything cool in 2018, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim’s souped-up sportswear comes from all over: N.Y.C. by way of Tokyo, Paris, and L.A. 6

Officine Générale Parisian designer Pierre Mahéo excels at that most Parisian of activities: making everyday clothes unreasonably elegant.

— M AT T S E B R A

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No Vacancy Inn Tremaine Emory and Acyde are globetrotting jacks-ofall-trades, throwing Kanye-approved parties and elevating screen-printed T-shirts into an art form.

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LEFT: MAT T MARTIN. 1) PETER WHITE/GET T Y IMAGES. 2) JACOPO RAULE/GET T Y IMAGES. 3) PATRICK MCMULLAN/GET T Y IMAGES. 4) COURTESY OF CHRIS JOSOL. 5) KRIS CONNOR/GETTY IMAGES. 6) RICHARD BORD/GETTY IMAGES. 7) NOAM GALAI/GETTY IMAGES. 8) VICTOR VIRGILE/GAMMA-RAPHO/GETTY IMAGES.

Balmain Olivier Rousteing dresses the gilded social-media set (Kardashians and pop gods like Zayn and Bieber) in clothes just on the right side of baroque.


Presented by

and

9/8

Vince Staples BADBADNOTGOOD Saba 路 Preoccupations 路 Vagabon Madison McFerrin +More to Come 9/9

The Flaming Lips Nile Rodgers & CHIC Yo La Tengo 路 Hop Along 路 No Age

+More to Come

Beer Samples Included with Your Ticket

September 8 & 9, 2018 Governors Island, NYC

Tickets & More Info at OctFest.co


The Fix

DRIVE

The Coolest Car You Can Buy Is a...Wagon? One possibly delusional man’s argument for extra-long cars

probably believe that station wagons are dorky. That they always have been and always will be. But I, a genius, know otherwise: Wagons—right this moment—are actually extremely cool. First, you should know we’re in the midst of a wagon resurgence, and it’s being led by the world’s swankiest car manufacturers. From BMW and Mercedes and Volvo— longtime wagon believers—to newcomers like Jaguar, Ferrari, and Porsche, the high end has been putting a luxe sheen on this historically dweeby automotive category. These cars are all varying degrees of o≠beat handsome, muscular, and expensive. Inside they’re leather-lined, pin-drop quiet, and technology-laden. One of them has 550 horsepower. Two of them have more. There’s a certain timely logic to the wagon-aissance, arising just as Dad Style blossoms into a genuine high-fashion movement. Dad Style takes all the sartorial YO U, A P H I L I S T I N E ,

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hallmarks of stereotypical dadness—the aversion to sleekness, the devotion to the tao of “relaxed fit,” the deep, almost sexual attraction to practicality—and then smashes them together with elite craftsmanship. You know what’s also luxe and visually weird and extremely practical? A $154,000 Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo with 550 hp and enough trunk space to carry a Great Dane (or three with the back seats down). It’s a wild sensation, strafing the byways of America in such an esoteric vehicle. You can see the confusion on other drivers’ faces: Is that...a Porsche...station wagon...doing 90?

I also took the Jaguar XF-S Sportbrake for a weekend jaunt. It’s brawny and rakish, just like its sedan brother. The extended-length XF-S is also an inverse automotive mullet: party up front, thanks to a gutsy 380-hp supercharged V-6, and business in the rear, what with almost 70 cubic feet of trunk space. Installing my kid’s car seat forced me to lie prone inside the trunk, sniper-style, my legs dangling out of the hatch. It’s cavernous in here, I noted to myself gleefully. (Full disclosure: I’m a dad.) These swagged-out wagons, I realized, are the genteel way to indulge a midlife crisis and drive the kids to soccer practice, too. Which explains why three separate men of varying fatherly ages stopped me to shout out the Jaguar. One, in a sweater-vest (very Dad Style), asked, “Is that a Ferrari?” Pause. “Wait, is it a wagon?” I could sense his heart rate quickening. Dads like wagons. Dads are currently cool. Q.E.D.: Wagons are cool.— J O N W I L D E

←JAGUAR XF SP ORTBRAKE $70,450 “Sportbrake” is Jag’s macho take on “shooting brake,” a dusty Britishism for a sporty wagon. It’s fair: In dynamic mode, the growly exhaust note and engine get even rowdier.

TOP: COURTESY OF PORSCHE. BOTTOM: COURTESY OF JAGUAR. LIGHTNING: VECTORPOCKET/ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION FOR EDITORIAL PURPOSES.

P O RSC H E PA NA M E R A S P O RT T U RI SM O From $96,200 Whether you get the base version or the 550-hp Turbo that I drove or the mildly eco-friendly Hybrid, you still have what’s important: a Porsche.


Switch to GEICO and save money for the things you love. Maybe it’s the vintage submariner you’ve always wanted. Or those designer aviators. They’re what you love – and they don’t come cheap. So switch to GEICO, because you could save 15% or more on car insurance. And that would help make the things you love that much easier to get.

Auto • Home • Rent • Cycle • Boat geico.com | 1-800-947-AUTO (2886) | local office Some discounts, coverages, payment plans and features are not available in all states or all GEICO companies. Homeowners and renters coverages are written through non-affiliated insurance companies and are secured through the GEICO Insurance Agency, Inc. Boat and PWC coverages are underwritten by GEICO Marine Insurance Company. Motorcycle and ATV coverages are underwritten by GEICO Indemnity Company. GEICO is a registered service mark of Government Employees Insurance Company, Washington, D.C. 20076; a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary. © 2017 GEICO


The Fix

STYLE EDITOR

ASK M.A.G.

MARK ANTHONY GREEN H A S YO U R A N S W ER @A S K M AG

I Get Emotional About My Baggage

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So after approximately 247,629 flights in the past eight years for GQ alone, I’ve finally found what works, and what works, on the sidewalk or while trudging to the gate, is a roller bag, a tote, and a large—I mean large—Dopp kit. (The trick is to keep the Dopp kit stocked, whether you’re leaving town or not.) Never buy matching pieces of gear. It just looks lazy, like those shirt/tie/pocketsquare sets they sell at So-and-So’s House of Fashion. THE CARRY-ON Get a roller—if only for your spinal health. Rimowa luggage is a bit pricey, but it will outlast three or four cheap black bags. Plus, my roller bag is so good-looking—with its

scu≠s, customs badges, and stickers—it lives in my apartment. It’s like a piece of furniture. I never put it away. And the more you put it through hell, the less art you need on the walls. THE TOTE Look, I know some of you are still tote-resistant. But here’s the thing: Backpacks are great for hauling things, but they’re terrible for pulling things out or putting things in. You need something that opens up, so you can throw in some new treasure you find at a market. And on the plane, you need to be able to retrieve a book without having to claw around at the bottom of your satchel. I’ve been glued to this leather tote from RTH. It’s built to take a beating, and it always gives (and takes) what I need.

↑ M.A.G.’s roller and tote—proof that luggage shouldn’t match.

ILLUSTRATION BY SIMON ABRANOWICZ

MATT MARTIN

Hey, M.A.G., I have the same black luggage as everybody else shuffling down the aisle. How can I up my carry-on game? Great personal style is generally instinctual. Miles Davis just knew how to lasso his bandanna ever so artfully around his neck. Clark Gable just knew how to dangle a cigarette in a way that made the surgeon general say, “Now…that is cool.” Pharrell just knows how to rock green hair. And red hair. And orange hair. But there’s one sartorial sense no one is born with: sporting the perfect luggage. I’ve tried everything. The massive army-surplus knapsack. (Too Top Gun–y.) The leather trunk. (Too Titanic-y.) The cowhide du≠el. (Too many visits to my chiropractor.)


The Fix

SCENTS

Eau, Is That How It Works? We used to think making a designer cologne meant little more than combining a pinch of bergamot with some musk and a splash of water, outsourcing the production, and letting the money flow in. But then Louis Vuitton invited us into its scent lab—turns out it’s way more complex than that

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Hire the Best Man for the Job and Set Him Free

Search the Globe for the Best Ingredients

Don’t just phone in some citrus. For Nouveau Monde—one of Vuitton’s first men’s scents in the company’s 164-year history— Belletrud combined precious oud, worth its weight in gold, from Bangladesh with inexpensive cocoa from Guatemala. “It’s the meeting of those two cultures,” Belletrud says. “The Mayans were drinking the chocolate hundreds of years ago, and the oud has been used for over 1,000 years on the other side of the planet.”

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Turn the Raw Materials Into Oils and Start Mixing

First you’ve gotta infuse, distill, and extract the usable oil from the raw materials. When it’s time to mix, science goes out the window and it’s all art. The goal is to find the right balance. The biggest pitfall for a fragrance is if it turns cloying or obnoxious. For this one, Belletrud needed some spice to finish off the oud-and-cocoa combination, so he added saffron.

PHOTOGRAPH BY MATT MARTIN

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of bad news, but brace yourself, America: The United States— the country that put a man on the moon and a Starbucks on every corner—did not qualify for this summer’s World Cup, which will be played in Russia from midJune to mid-July. This dark truth may fill you with an overwhelming sense of astonishment, especially when you consider Iran, Panama, and Iceland (population 335,000) are among the teams that did make the cut. That astonishment will only swell when you learn that such traditional powers as Italy, Netherlands, and Chile also crashed out in slapstick style, yet no one has had the entrepreneurial nous to set up a World Cup NIT. What America’s absence does mean is there will be no Landon Donovan–inspired moment of last-minute collective ecstasy; no new heroes forged, as when Tim Howard went all Terry Sawchuk on the entire nation of Belgium; no searing moment of epic failure, akin to striker Chris Wondolowski whi∞ng in the dying embers of a game with a wide-open goal, and a small fortune in future Wheaties-box endorsements, at his mercy. Yet I am here to tell you that it does not matter. Yes, the United States’ shock loss to regional minnows Trinidad and Tobago last fall means Congress should immediately pass legislation to prevent our soccer team from ever attempting to play two countries at the same time again. But I believe the national failure that loss caused clears the way for this to be the best and most purely enjoyable World Cup of your life. Here’s why: I came of age in England, a nation that prides itself on being the home of football, yet which, despite that, triggered widespread shame and self-loathing by failing to qualify for two World Cups in my youth (Argentina 1978 and the United States 1994). Those tournaments are etched in my memory as the most satisfying I have ever experienced. Liberated from the gnawing anxieties of my own team’s inevitable doom, I was free to revel in every second of the tournament, basking in the totality of the great global telenovela that is a World Cup—drinking in every hero, villain, and neck tattoo. New, exquisite memories will be forged this summer, for sure. The world’s two greatest players—Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal and Argentina’s Lionel Messi—line up for what will almost certainly be their final tilt at World Cup glory. A clash in styles: Ronaldo, always the exquisite preening show pony, whilst Messi looks as if he has just stumbled innocuously out of his local Supercuts. They will be joined by a third ethereal global star, Mohamed Salah, the 25-year-old Egyptian who has just netted

UN-AMERICAN FOOTBALL

Your Guide to Enjoying This Yankee-Free World Cup The least red-white-and-blue (if you don’t count Russia!) major sporting event in our time will be the most chaotic, entertaining, and day-drinking-est World Cup the... world has ever known. An exhaustive pocket guide 2 8

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ILLUSTRATIONS BY PETER DIAMOND

PHOTOGRAPH: LLOYD BISHOP/NBC/NBCU PHOTO BANK VIA GETTY IMAGES

I H AT E TO B E T H E B E A R E R


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a record-breaking 32 goals in the English Premier League—a season akin to watching Brady Anderson hit 50 home runs for the ’96 Orioles, but without the (possible) drugsies. For added intrigue, all of this is going to go down in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The 64 matches will play out across four di≠erent time zones, in 11 cities scattered around the nether regions of the Rogue State, from Yekaterinburg, tucked away in the Urals; to Samara, which rubs up against the border of Kazakhstan; to Saransk in Mordovia, once feared in the Stalin era for its gulag prison camps, now known as the home of freshly minted Russian citizen Gérard Depardieu. That Russian setting promises to add an air of comedic menace to proceedings if the sensational pre-tournament news stories are any guide. They include the construction of enormous Soviet-style drunk tanks for English fans; the legalization of marijuana, heroin, and cocaine within stadiums if accompanied by proper prescriptions; and a plan to counter the threat of Russian hooligan fans (who, armed with hammers and GoPros turned Euro 2016 pre-games into war scenes) by deploying Cossack paramilitaries armed with whips on horseback. What could possibly go wrong? So while many Americans may not have been paying attention in the run-up, the tournament will undoubtedly be front of mind as the muscle memory kicks back in. Americans love few things more than a sporting circus or an excuse to slink out of the o∞ce and play hooky from work en masse. Remember, if you are in a pub at eight in the morning with a Budweiser in front of you, society frowns upon that behavior. If you are in that same pub, with that same pint of Bud, and Brazil are playing Costa Rica on a television above the bar—you are a bona fide World Cup football fan. roger bennett is co-host of the ‘Men in Blazers’ TV show and podcast and co-author of the new ‘Men in Blazers’ book: ‘Encyclopedia Blazertannica.’

↓ THE TEAMS

Just Happy to Be Here T U NI S I A

Light on experience and depleted by injury. Jamaican bobsleigh teams have been more highly favored in competitions past.

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If the Cleveland Browns had qualified for World Cup 2018… A USTR ALI A

Like a second cousin at a bar mitzvah—just excited to have made the guest list.

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Talent-rich with a world-class spine. If they do not emerge from the group stage, it will be the worst thing to happen to Africa since Toto.

Like a Tim Hortons Honey Cruller Donut, they look amazing but will only disappoint at first bite.

NIGERIA

The Super Eagles! Young, fast, frenetic. The athletic equivalent of shaking a can of Fresca, then ripping open the tab. DENMARK

S OUTH KOREA

The Hopefuls

Hardworking, devoted, straight-edge. Picture The Simpsons’ Springfield nuclearpower-plant team fielding 11 Smitherses. SAUDI AR ABIA RUS S IA

The Republic of Gilead have a better chance of winning a game at this World Cup. Blessed be the fruit. MOR OCCO

J APAN

Gifted automatic qualification as the home team, this turgid squad are a good bet to be worst hosts since

A fascinating combination of pace, power, and the ingenuity of Christian Eriksen, a midfielder who could role-play a serf at Medieval Times. For neutral hipsters who’ve tired of mastering pickling. S W ITZERLAND

S W EDEN

Lacking their aging superstar, Zlatan Ibrahimović, about as

As innocuous as Hootie & the Blowfish. Just ’cause they’re always on tour


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MEXICO

After being eliminated at the Round of 16 in the past six WCs on the run, this skillloaded squad must snap a hex more powerful than the Billy Goat, Bambino, and Madden curses combined. ENGLAND

Like Adam Sandler, their glory days are long behind them. Instead, they churn out muddled fare to neither critical acclaim nor expectation on Netflix.

MEXICO: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/GETTY IMAGES. POLAND: COURTESY OF HBO. COLOMBIA: KEVIN WINTER/IMAGEDIRECT/GET T Y IMAGES. SPAIN: COURTESY OF ELECTRONIC ARTS.

The Contenders

POLAND

Endearing and full of hope, yet always doomed, like Bubbles from The Wire. A team who knows “Ain’t no shame in holding on to grief…as long as you make room for other things, too.”

the Battle of Endor.

3 REASONS THE U.S. SHOULD HOLD OUT HOPE FOR 2022

F R ANCE

So much talent, so little in the way of a tactical plan to harness their full potential. A waste of gifts best symbolized by Paul Pogba, the Odell Beckham Jr. of soccer. The team’s best performances may be confined to Instagram.

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eyes and imagine a Teutonic New England Patriots, but even more tenacious in their pursuit of glory.

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In Praise of

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Has a life of ambition and striving gotten the best of you? Do you sometimes wish you could give up a little—stop chasing so many pointless goals you probably won’t hit anyway? It’s time you got washed by Zach Baron

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n a p r i l , Beyoncé headlined Coachella, in what turned out to be one of those grand cultural moments that come around less and less frequently these days. Late on a Friday night, and word starts to travel: Find a way to watch this. I did, and man—Beyoncé. What a world-historical feat: of athleticism, politics, power, charisma. It was perfection, almost. I say “almost” because partway through the performance she brought out her husband, Jay-Z. An idol of mine. One of the best live performers ever. But at Coachella he seemed…out of shape. Overmatched. He was doing guest verses, and his voice would begin to waver. The Internet had a field day. The verdict from those assembled online, watching him try to catch his breath, was swift and merciless: Jay-Z, at 48, was washed. I myself am probably too washed to pinpoint the moment that “washed”—an existential description that has become ubiquitous in the past few years, as the American empire ebbs and exhaustion sets in—first entered the culture. It’s not quite “washed up,” with its connotations of lounge singers in Vegas reflecting on their glory days. It’s more about that transitive moment: There you are in the train station of life, waving goodbye to your edge and your youth as they depart. You are Eli Manning, and you are no longer a plausible NFL starter in the eyes of some, but you are not yet ready to go to the bench. You haven’t been to that particular new restaurant yet, but you’ve heard it’s nice. People tend to use the word “washed” as a pejorative, or as a mild, self-deprecating

I

admission of defeat. But I’m not so sure. In fact, I’m beginning to suspect the word describes something far more ecstatic. Recently I turned 36, but I’d say I’ve been washed for some time now. Two years ago, I got married—itself a pretty washed thing to do—and my wife and I moved from New York City to Los Angeles. It’s been a blur of home cooking and “getting into red wine,” crossword puzzles and daily exercise, Tom Petty and the Beatles on the Sirius XM satellite radio ever since. Going to bed at 10 p.m. I’ve even started to play golf. There’s no defending this last activity (or maybe any of these activities) from an aesthetic standpoint. No one looks cool doing it or sounds cool talking about it; it represents a half-dozen things I was raised to despise. But it has quieted my demons in some real and undeniable way. I go to sleep thinking about golf shots instead of my failures as a man and a husband and a writer. I have to recommend this lifestyle: not the exact, golf-heavy bourgeois one I describe above, but any life that begins with accepting a few compromises and clichés, whatever your clichés may be. Most of us seem to stumble into being washed as we get older, but I see no reason why you couldn’t experiment with being washed at, say, 22 or 48. Staying in more. Acquiring unfashionable hobbies that nevertheless bring you pleasure. Redirecting some modest portion of your ambition toward pottery or astronomy or some other impractical thing that has no material value to you in terms of career advancement or sex appeal. Cutting yourself some slack.

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If you’re anything like me, you spent the better part of your teens and 20s tirelessly working on being, basically, a more interesting version of yourself. You didn’t eat meat because your girlfriend when you were 16 was punk rock and militant and frankly made some good points about the environment, and so you decided to become punk rock and militant, too. Then you got to New York and learned about A.P.C. and the way the dusty wood-floored shop on Mercer Street smelled, the one with the big flat mirrors in the dressing room. You vowed to dress yourself to match the version of yourself you saw in that mirror. There was always something to new to discover, in Chelsea and in museums uptown, where eventually you’d end up at Bemelmans or some other perfect old hotel bar. You went up to 14th Street and copped Hell Rell mixtapes with your friends and spent the rest of the night piling green bottles of beer in the center of the table at Odessa or wherever. Now you have a wine app on your phone. And it’s fine. Wine is great. So is Hell Rell. You spent years building up something— taste, experience, judgment. You were trying to like what you saw in the mirror, as all ambitious people try to do. What I am saying is, perhaps you actually like that person now. Perhaps you could use the mirror less. i look at my heroes, and how we’ve aged together. I spent so much time studying them, modeling myself after them. And now here we all are: washed. Jay-Z’s latest record, 4:44, was basically a catalog of all the things—the vulnerable feelings, the unflattering secrets, the self-doubt—he wouldn’t allow himself to talk about on his 12 prior solo records. He made late-period albums such as 2013’s Magna Carta Holy Grail, trying to convince all of us that he was still a world-beating giant. That everything was fine. But everything was not fine. I don’t pop molly, I rock Tom Ford. You do what now? I was relieved when I heard 4:44. It’s not a masterpiece—I think those are mostly behind Jay. But frankly he seems happier. He’s out here demonstrating, in work and in life, how to act when the world that you once held in the palm of your hand starts to spin on without you. I’m grateful for that example, as I am for those of so many others I’ve looked up to, and still do. Vince Carter—Vinsanity!—wincing at his 12th minute on the basketball court, still playing, throwing it down once in a while. Stephen Malkmus, noodling prettily through the occasional new record and watching tons of NBA games. Ad-Rock—hang out with that guy if you can; he’s everything you’d hope he’d be. He was in the Beastie Boys, and now he’s got his phone set up so that the text is as big as you can make it.

MATT MARTIN

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And I think about Roger Federer, an ivorycardigan-draped fetish object to washed men such as myself. He’s back at world number two as I write this, so maybe he’s not the most obvious candidate for being washed. But people forget how long he was in the wilderness. I went to the U.S. Open in 2011, and he was up two match points against Novak Djokovic. Federer served. Djokovic slapped back a reckless forehand that, improbably, landed for a winner. The crowd made this weird dying noise—Aghughhhh. I was right there; it was like it was being pulled out of all of us: Aghughhhh. Afterward, Federer had some trouble recognizing himself as the person in the match who had not won. “It’s awkward having to explain this loss,” he said, “because I feel like I should be doing the other press conference.” He’d already done some losing by that point, and he’d go on to do a lot more. But it was in this moment that Federer became washed. He modeled it for the rest of us. He didn’t quit. But he let go of the idea of himself as perfection incarnate. He let go of the idea of himself, in some ways, entirely: After a decade of representing some abstractly infallible version of whatever it was he was trying to be—a pursuit that seemed to make him miserable, especially when he was young—he was just a man with a bad back and some talent that he was still trying to make the best of. He stopped crying so much in post-match interviews. He raised one set of twins, and then another. These days he takes the spring o≠ in order to rest for the summer. They were all immortals at one point, and now they’re not. I find it inspiring, honestly, especially in this moment so otherwise thoroughly defined by our current president and his near daily talk of winning. Have you ever seen a more unhappy person in your entire life? There is humility, the graceful acceptance that even the highest o∞ce in the land is some small, modest part of a much bigger project. And then there is Donald Trump, so obsessed with victory—with avoiding humiliation—that he seems to spend his days seeking out and punishing those with less power than himself, just to prove that he can. He’s an example, too, if only of how not to be. His fear of losing is palpable, corrosive. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if more of us admitted...not defeat, necessarily, but the possibility of defeat? If more of us were washed? And in doing so allowed ourselves to find what pleasure, or peace, might await on the other side?

i do a lot of washed stu≠ these days—I wake up early, take walks, tend a garden out behind my house—but let me tell you about the most thoroughly washed thing I do, which happens every Friday after work. My washed friends and I go play golf at one of the local municipal courses here in Los Angeles: four or five hours, depending on the light and how late we get out there, drinking beer, doing long-term damage to our lower backs. Not to keep talking about golf—okay, actually, I’d love to keep talking about golf— but it’s a maddening pursuit: The harder you try, the less likely you are to succeed. It’s highly technical and yet deadly as soon as you think about technique. People who are good at it seem to hypnotize themselves into forgetting what they’re doing to be good at it. When you find that level of calm concentration where you manage to pull o≠ whatever you were trying to pull o≠, it feels like waking up underneath a warm blanket. But I’m an anxious person, so I attain this state rarely. Like any conscientious writer, I’m always typing out notes to myself: story ideas, observations related to pieces I’m reporting, lists of restaurants I’ve enjoyed, recipes that my wife and I make. (My

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memory has pretty much gone to zero at this point; I’m the guy in Memento, tattooing ottolenghi pea and pine nut pasta across my chest.) Since I began playing golf, a lot of those notes are about my golf swing, embarrassingly enough: Loosen your body Abstract your vision WHEN YOU FREAK OUT: muscles are tensing up, preventing the club from moving properly They’re all attempts to remedy the same thing that plagued me at 16, and at 25: Relax. All Friday afternoon, in increasingly strident tones, I am telling myself: Relax. And then we go meet our wives for dinner, like liquored-up and sun-dazed 1950s husbands of yore. On the drive to the restaurant, as the sun sets and the muscle pain sets in, I think about all the dumb Fridays in my life. High school: drugs. College: alcohol. Twenties: Let’s not talk about what any of us did in our 20s. And now the dumb Fridays of my present arise in front of my windshield— all my flaws, my corny pastimes, the great things I’ve left undone and will never do. I listen to my golf clubs rattle gently in the trunk and am consumed with thoughts about how some other, younger version of myself would be so terribly disappointed at what I’ve become. But what I mostly think is: Damn, I wish I’d known about this earlier. And in that moment, I finally relax. zach baron is gq’s sta≠ writer.

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P RO MOTI O N

Breadth. Depth. The Best Technology Journalism.

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HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN ZAYN?* The 25-year-old British singer is deeply, maddeningly, almost trolling-ly enigmatic. And that cultivated mystery—along with his disdain for the standard rules of superstardom—is probably what puts him on the short list for COOLEST HUMAN ALIVE . On a recent Friday night, though, he dropped his guard and spilled his guts to CARRIE BATTAN

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T H E R E I S A M A J O R C O N U N D R U M I N Z AY N ’ S

T H E R E A R E E X A C T LY T W O P L A C E S I N N E W

York on a Friday night where Zayn Malik can smoke Marlboro Lights as liberally and openly as he pleases, unencumbered by gawkers or the city’s increasingly draconian anti-smoking laws. The first is Zayn Malik’s SoHo apartment, where he spends the majority of his time, zoning out, reading books, listening to music, and “partaking in the herb,” as he says. The second is the Mary A. Whalen, a 172-foot-long restored-tankership-turned-nonprofit-hangout-spot that is docked o≠ the shore of Red Hook, Brooklyn. The ship is closed for business after 6 p.m., but tonight its leader, a hardy blonde ship preservationist named Carolina, has agreed to keep it open late to accommodate us. No crowds, a few plastic chairs, and a gently lilting surface that is basically a giant ashtray. There is just one problem: The temperature on deck is decreasing rapidly with the setting sun, and Zayn—the 25-year-old former British-boy-band member, current solo pop-ish star, and all-around inscrutable avatar of contemporary celebrity—has arrived with nothing on his person but a lighter, backpack, and an iPhone. No jacket on his rail-thin frame—just a pair of charcoal skinny jeans, a distressed Pink Floyd T-shirt, a bright pink beanie that obscures his new flower skull tattoo (or “tah-oo,” as Zayn pronounces it). He looks so modernly cool, blending a hip-hop swagger with a punk-rock edge, that he should receive a cut from Urban Outfitters every time someone makes a purchase. He is the only man whose Disney-princess-long eyelashes seem to bolster his machismo rather than diminish it. Nobody this dreamy has ever bothered to check the weather to see if he should grab a jacket before leaving the house. Through chattering teeth, he rejects multiple o≠ers of blankets. “It’s all good,” he insists, burping faintly after taking a swig of his Peroni. “I’m cool.” 4 2

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Still, Carolina avails us of the ship’s warmer galley. “I might have a cigarette first?” Zayn asks, as though he needs permission, gesturing toward the other side of the ship. Over there is his assistant Taryn, a young woman with French-braided pigtails that make her look more like a high school soccer player than someone designated to manage the everyday logistics of a notoriously slippery superstar’s life. She is the custodian of his pack, doling out individual cigarettes to Zayn at 20-minute intervals. But Carolina assures us Zayn will not have to stay outside to smoke his cigarette. She’ll let us smoke belowdecks on the condition that Zayn provide her one of his Marlboros and permission to snap a photograph. She promises she won’t post it until after the story runs. “Uh…yeah?” Zayn replies, sounding sincerely surprised that he is the one who has to answer a question that was directed at him. A steely detachment from life’s mundane logistical concerns is part of almost every celebrity’s existence, but it is the core of Zayn’s being. This character trait has ruinous potential, but it also means he gets to live his life exactly how he pleases. And it means that he doesn’t have to express a single word or hint of desire in order for the conditions around him to re-arrange to his liking and comfort. There’s a hapless Peter Pan quality to it that makes it tough to hold against him. We settle around the table in the ’70s-style kitchen on the boat. It’s 15 degrees warmer down here and private. Zayn instantly appears relieved, his shoulders unclenching and his brow de-furrowing. He stops shivering. He is in a womb-like space, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, and he seems palpably and unexpectedly happy. “Thanks,” he says quietly and earnestly in Carolina’s direction as she seals o≠ the door behind us. “Couple of times I tried to quit. But I just like smoking cigs. Simple as that.”

life, which is that he may be constitutionally incapable of being a star. He tells me so almost immediately. “I don’t work well in group situations, with loads of people staring at me. And when you say ‘star’…everyone wants you to be this kind of character that owns a room or is overly arrogant or confident. I’m not that guy,” he says. “So I don’t want to be a star.” Zayn seems to aspire to the soul of Prince, or some cult ’90s skate-punk figure, but is trapped in the trajectory of a Justin Timberlake. A decade ago, someone like Zayn would not have become the Chosen Member of a band like One Direction. The Chosen Member is the boy-band graduate whose solo career evolves and hurdles into grown-up relevance, ultimately overshadowing the band’s legacy. Until recently, you could spot a Chosen Member from a mile away—he was unequivocally the best dancer and the one the most girls wanted to bring home to their parents. But Zayn never fit the mold of a Chosen Member. From the day One Direction formed, on the U.K. show The X Factor in 2010, he was cast as the smoldering background foil to the eager-to-please Harry Styles and Liam Payne. His energy and his dance moves were muted. He presented as the quiet, disillusioned one. But in the past five years or so, it has become acceptable—necessary, even—for a young pop star to show some edge. Thanks to the social-media-fueled, ever intensifying quest for authenticity, real or feigned, we no longer expect our most famous musicians to be toothless and virginal robots. Now we demand that they show a certain degree of lustiness, instability, anti-heroism. The Weeknd scored a No. 1 hit with an elaborately coded song about a cocaine binge—and then followed it up with another No. 1 hit, this one explicitly referencing a cocaine binge. Lana Del Rey’s entire aesthetic revolves around a kind of narcotized death wish. And Taylor Swift spent her last album desperately trying to convince us that she really is villainous. Even Disney’s babiest-faced of pop princesses, Selena Gomez, is getting mileage out of her demons, playing a Girl, Interrupted– style heroine and rocking a hospital bracelet in a music video. Face tattoos are basically required for entry onto the Billboard Hot 100 these days. Squeaky-clean is no more. And yet even for the most tortured-seeming of these artists, there is still a fierce expectation that they play the game. Mild drug habits or mental illnesses are perfectly acceptable,


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so long as someone is willing to write catchy songs about those tendencies and then later gussy them up for arena audiences and gamely field jokes from talk-show hosts. Even Justin Bieber, the poster child for our current era of troubled pop stars, is always just one phone call with his pastor away from being able to quiet his demons and pop-and-lock on demand. Zayn seems like a perfect avatar for this new generation of bruised pop heartthrobs, but he’s the only one of his cohorts who can back it up with a sincerely jaded disposition and an unpredictable way of being. He is the only one who is staunchly unwilling to play the game. You will not find Zayn cheesing with a random group of famous people for someone’s Instagram story at Coachella, nor will you find Zayn learning the latest viral dance move with Ellen DeGeneres. When he released his solo debut, Mind of Mine, two years ago, he opted out of touring altogether, surely pissing o≠ a bunch of emotionally and 4 4

financially invested parties. And although he promises to be more public-facing this time around—he insists he will tour—he’s still removed from the album-cycle content churn. Even the “behind-the-scenes” video that accompanied his new single fails to actually take anyone “behind the scenes”—it’s just the song playing over some B-roll. “I guess the cameraman didn’t get too much footage,” Zayn says on the boat. “I might have been running away from him a bit.” When I ask him why he failed to show up at the Met Gala a couple days earlier, he almost chokes on his cigarette smoke as he exhales. He went to the Met Gala once, in 2016, and that experience symbolized everything he detests about being a famous person—and the litany of coercion and artifice that someone in his position experiences. “I did go, but I didn’t go there to be like, ‘Yo, take me serious,’ ” he remembers. “I was taking the piss! I went there as my favorite Mortal Kombat character, Jax.”

He continues: “The Met Gala is not necessarily anything that I ever knew about or was about. But my [former] stylist…would say to me, ‘This is really good for you to do.’ And no matter how strong you are mentally, you can always be swayed to do certain things. Now, it’s not something I would go to. I’d rather be sitting at my house, doing something productive, than dressing up in really expensive clothes and being photographed on a red carpet.… To do the self-indulgent Look at me, I’m amazing thing on the red carpet, it’s not me.” Here Zayn catches himself, probably realizing this might register as a diss of Gigi Hadid, the 23-year-old supermodel he’s been in an on-again, o≠-again relationship with for two years. The supermodel who very much seemed to enjoy dressing up in really expensive clothes and being photographed on the red carpet days earlier. “I get it, and I understand that people gain enjoyment from it,” he says. I ask if he followed along with the coverage from his couch. “No, no,” he says, and pauses. “Gi stole the night, though. The stained glass on her dress. Everyone else just put a cross on.” When I ask Zayn if he has any confidants in the industry, he shakes his head vigorously. “No,” he says. “I don’t ever want to cross wires with other people too much. I just want to see the world through my eyes.” Zayn grew up with three sisters (“I was outnumbered,” he says) and is still surrounded by women, ensuring that there’s a high level of exasperated but fond maternal energy swirling at all times. Blood relatives and the Hadids—particularly Gigi’s mother, Yolanda, who seems to have taken on a Kris Jenner–ian role in his life—make up much of his inner circle today. (“We get on. She’s really fucking cool. She’s a Capricorn. She’s the same star sign as me.”) He recently parted ways with his high-profile manager. His best friend is a younger cousin. the mix.”

4 a.m. to attend the audition, where he broke from the typical pop fare with a rendition of Mario’s “Let Me Love You.” After his X Factor audition, there was an exchange (never aired) in which head judge Simon Cowell probed baby Zayn. “ ‘You know, with all these online platforms, why


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haven’t you ever put out anything prior to this?’ ” Zayn remembers Cowell asking him. Zayn seemed the type, after all: a soft-spoken and artistically gifted teen who liked to sing alone in his bedroom and tinkered with rudimentary song-recording equipment. “I didn’t necessarily think my stu≠ would be seen amongst the millions of people who put their stu≠ online. So I went with X Factor at that age,” he says now. Like any fickle teenager, Zayn “just did it for fun, to see what would happen.” The day that Zayn auditioned, he was among many aspiring solo artists rejected by the judges. But five of the young singers were cobbled together as a boy band in a later segment. Thus was born One Direction and a rabid fandom that British people love to compare to Beatlemania. A craze so fierce and massive that it generated global synchronized flash mobs and fan-fiction authors who’ve reportedly scored six-figure book deals. In an instant, Zayn was thrust into a star-making boot camp, fast-tracked to an uncontrollable type of notoriety without being given the opportunity to consider alternatives. It’s no secret that Zayn didn’t love One Direction’s sound or his bandmates. “My vision didn’t necessarily always go with what was going on within the band,” he says. There was something so earnest, so wholesomely dweeby, about the whole thing. It wasn’t cool, and Zayn didn’t particularly enjoy being dragged around the world to look like an epic dork during the prime of his youth. When he split o≠, in 2015, Zayn finally got to do all the things he hadn’t been able to in One Direction: dye his hair, grow his beard, sing about sex. But he was also introduced to a fresh army of puppeteers trying to guide him, and he felt disoriented, adrift. The only way to ground himself was to resist the pull of anyone’s expectations and answer only to Zayn. He’d spent five years taking direction and had become allergic to it. There are plenty of clichéd expressions about how toxic and stifling freedom can be, and Zayn experienced many of them when he went solo. “I didn’t really, like, make any friends from the band. I just didn’t do it. It’s not something that I’m afraid to say. I definitely have issues trusting people,” he says. When he was living in Los Angeles, aimless, he fell in with a crowd of industry people: “Producers, musicians, tailors, stylists, managers. Them kind of things,” he says. “It got too crazy. I just got too much into the party scene. Just going out all the time. And I was too distracted.” So he left L.A. permanently and moved to New York earlier this year as a way to bring himself back down to earth. There’s not much that breaks Zayn out of his conditioned state of detachment to speak in frenzied, paragraphs-long monologues, but one of those topics is the value of the paparazzi. The paparazzi who have been

trailing him for years and, recently, every time he sets foot near Gigi’s NoHo apartment, feeding the endless tabloid speculation about the state of their relationship. The paps used to piss Zayn o≠, until he realized their utility. “That’s my promo,” he says. “I come outside, they take photos.” He gets to quietly remind people that he exists—and get photographed looking like the second coming of Johnny Depp, leaving the apartment of one of the most gorgeous women in the world— without doing a thing. “They stay outside and do all the work!” he says. “You can get pissed o≠ about it, and be like, ‘Yo, this is a hindrance on my life.’ Or you can use it for your own benefit and be like, ‘Well, if they’re going to take the photos, then let them.’ You’ve gotta earn your dollar and I’ve gotta earn mine.” Which is to say that just because Zayn loathes the cornball industry churn doesn’t mean he needs to surrender his relevance. Zayn represents an era in which underground

cool and mass-market, Calabasian-style popularity have collapsed into one another. He operates on a plane where celebrity is predicated chiefly on relevance and intrigue, and Zayn—with his equally illustrious girlfriend, his brooding glare, and his following of millions—has about as much relevance and intrigue as anybody. He is both a casualty and a beneficiary of this uniquely modern form of celebrity. In running from his stardom, he’s only fueling it. Running a bit further, he recently bought a farm in rural Pennsylvania on the advice of Yolanda Hadid, who also has a farm there. The farm? “Cool.” The state of Pennsylvania? “Cool.” If you haven’t picked up on it for yourself yet, Zayn loves the word “cool”; he loves it so much that he uses it more than 43 times over the course of our conversation. And now that Zayn likes to go to his farm and visit the Hadids, he and Gigi even have a horse together, named Cool. He’s just getting


things going on the farm, but already there are crops of cherries, tomatoes, and cucumbers. He likes to ride his ATVs. Sometimes he and Gigi will go at the same time, and she’ll

images I will show my grandchildren to prove that the world was better in my day. All of the gossip about their relationship being an

opportunistic setup by their respective management is bullshit, Zayn says: “If a relationship is for your career, you can fucking walk out the door. No way. See you later.” Despite the dramatic announcement of their split a couple of months ago, Zayn and Gigi are very much still close, as evidenced by myriad photos of him leaving her apartment or kissing her on the street. Zayn speaks about Gigi in a purely misty-eyed, worshipful tone that telegraphs he may be atoning for something. “I’m really thankful that I met her,” he says. He uses the term “we” in the present tense quite a bit: “We go to the farm.” “We have horses.” The time he actually rode a horse with Gigi, he says, “I looked like a complete idiot and she looked like a complete professional.… We’re still really good friends, and we’re still in contact,” he says. “No bad blood.” He laughs. “…Taylor Swift. “We’re adults. We don’t need to put a label on it, make it something for people’s

expectations.” To hear Zayn tell it, Gigi is the hyper-organized, clear-headed, and positive counterweight to his disposition, which can dip into a vacant or negative state. She helped him reset his attitude when he was releasing his first solo album, partying too hard. “I had a very negative outlook on things. That might have been adolescence or testosterone or whatever the fuck was running through my body at the time,” he says. “She’s helped me to look at things from a positive angle.” As Zayn heads into his new album cycle, Gigi has been a font of support and organizational heft. He says she’s especially good with dates, which I mishear as “good with debts.” She’s good with debts? You’re in debt? “No, no. Dates. She doesn’t handle my eventually.”

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insiders, an equally potent verb. To “Zayn” means to be within someone’s reach one moment and then completely disappear the next without any explanation. Poof! To be “Zayned” is to witness a French exit so aggressive that it almost has a supernatural quality. I know this because it happened to me. We emerged from the ship’s galley, and as I prepared to launch into more conversation, he asked Carolina where he could find the toilets. She pointed him toward a porta-potty on dry land, and Taryn wordlessly followed behind him, obviously accustomed to this ritual. Before I could get my bearings, he was zipping o≠ into the parking lot adjacent to the tanker, no doubt scurrying home to his fortress of solitude and cigarette smoke in SoHo. I’d been Zayned. We were supposed to hang out the following week, and I patiently waited for him to reach out. But I knew that he never would. And much as I’d like to be the exception to the Laws of Zayn’s Nature, I get it. Who among us has never fantasized about blowing o≠ pesky professional obligations we deem useless? Zayn—driven by a spirit that is part self-destruction, part self-preservation, part youthful punk contrarianism—actually has the balls to live that fantasy. It’s self-absorbed, immature, and unprofessional. I’d be o≠ended if I didn’t think it was so fucking cool. carrie battan is a sta≠ writer for ‘The New Yorker’ and a contributor to gq.


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Junior! the

RealofStory Donald Trump Jr.

julia ioffe

nigel buchanan

A Burdensome Little Life in a Giant Shadow


On A R E C E N T T H U R S D AY afternoon, Donald

Trump Jr. buckled himself into a coach seat on a packed plane—just like any nameless fellow might—and flew west to Utah. There, for a few blissful spring days at a hunting retreat far from his myriad worries in New York and Washington, Donald Trump Jr., eldest son and namesake of the president of the United States, was simply Don. He rode through the mountains, gabbing with Robert O’Neill, the former Navy SEAL who has said he was first into bin Laden’s bedroom and who, after taking careful aim over the shoulder of the terrorist’s youngest wife, shot him square in the head, killing him instantly. O’Neill is a big supporter of the president, but he and Don didn’t talk politics. “I was really impressed with his knowledge of ballistics and harvesting animals,” O’Neill told me. “I was a sniper in the SEALs, and he knew pretty much what I knew about ballistics.” More than once during their time together, O’Neill says, Donald Trump Jr. called attention to the fact that he must come o≠ like a walking contradiction. “You didn’t think the son of a billionaire would be a hunter,” he said again and again, according to O’Neill. Don is hardly shy about this particular passion. His neighbors in upstate New York complain that his tract of land there sounds like a military-grade shooting range (perhaps ironic, given that he’s appeared in a promotional video for a manufacturer of gun silencers). For much of Don junior’s life, the hunter’s camo he’s worn has helped him not to disappear but to stand out, to di≠erentiate himself from his father, the real estate tycoon who never understood his son’s fascination with the outdoors. (“I am not a believer in hunting, and I’m surprised they like it,” Trump told TMZ of his two eldest sons.) Only when he began campaigning for the White House did Donald Trump see some value in his son’s bloody pastime. According to Sam Nunberg, a Trump adviser at the time, when an invitation arrived from the governor of Iowa to go hunting ahead of the state’s crucial caucuses, Trump joked, “Don, you can finally do something for me—you can go hunting.” It’s hard being Don. Struggling to make a mark. Living as the junior to Trump senior. Existing as the shy, kid who takes solace in 5 2

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the outdoors. Growing into a man who desperately wants his father’s love and pride yet is always mindful of the distance between them. His struggles are compounded by the perception that his life of privilege ought to be e≠ortless. Though to understand the strange gantlet of duty and drama that has marked that life is to wonder how anything would be simple for Donald Trump Jr. “I think Don gets it a lot. Everyone talks about Ivanka, but Don also has a lot of pressure on him,” says a former Trump adviser. “Everyone wants approval from the father, especially if the father is Trump. He has a special place in his heart for Ivanka. But Don is the eldest son, he’s named after him, he’s doing the nitty-gritty on the real estate, he’s got a lot of responsibility, and Trump is tough on everybody. He’s the alpha male. He sees his son as somebody he has to groom.” When a Brazilian journalist asked Don in 2010 whether there was much pressure being Donald junior, he replied, “There probably shouldn’t be. But there is for me, because you want to please someone like that, and he’s a perfectionist. There’s definitely always that shadow that follows you around, like how is this guy, the son of someone so good at what he does, going to act?” AC C O R D I N G TO his first wife, Ivana, Donald

Trump was never keen on bequeathing his name to anybody. It was Ivana who wanted to call their newborn Donald junior. “You can’t do that!” Trump is quoted as saying in Ivana’s memoir, Raising Trump. “What if he’s a loser?” Don tells his own story about coming into the world on December 31, 1977. “I like to joke that my dad wanted to be able to claim me as a dependent on his taxes for 1977,” he once told Forbes, “so he told my mom she had to have me before midnight and, if she didn’t, he’d make her take a cab home.” (Ivana wrote about her labor being induced by doctors.) So began the di∞cult, defining struggle of Donald Trump Jr.’s life—to make himself useful while carrying a name so beloved by the man who bestowed it that he put it in gold letters on buildings all over the world. When he was growing up, his dad called him Donny—a moniker the elder Trump would never go by. “[It’s] a name I hate,” he explained in The Art of the Deal.

Fraught though their relationship has sometimes been—at one point Junior refused to speak to his father for a year—Don has lately found improbable purpose and renown as a savage defender of his father. His once private desires to win his father’s approval now come packaged as angry tweets and memes tearing down his dad’s opponents as illogical, histrionic socialists. At age 40, he has become like every other angry white man raging on the Internet, exorcising his psychic traumas through ghastly rhetoric and febrile conspiracy theories, like when he retweeted Roseanne Barr’s false claim that George Soros, a Holocaust survivor, was actually a Nazi collaborator. This sort of thing has endeared him not only to pro-Trump Republicans but also to the populist fringe that propelled Trump to power. “Don junior is royalty,” says Mike Cernovich, a right-wing activist. “Don junior is loved by the base. He’s accessible, he’s in the trenches, he’s sharing the memes, pushing out stories that other people aren’t. It shows that he’s reading what everybody else is reading. I know it’s a really dumb litmus test for a politician, but he’s the one you’d want to have a beer with.” Don’s bona fides as an outdoorsman have helped, too, and have earned him some sway in his father’s administration. It was Don who recommended that former Navy SEAL Ryan Zinke—a fellow hunting enthusiast who once reportedly referred to Hillary Clinton as “the Antichrist”—should be tapped as Trump’s secretary of the interior. To the president’s most ardent supporters, Don is venerated as a natural incarnation of everything the MAGA brand stands for: transgressive and defiant white, rural masculinity. “He’s a fighter,” says one Breitbart editor. “The stu≠ he’s focused on is the stu≠ the conservative movement is focused on. It’s not an act. With him, I think it’s genuine.” To people who have known Don for decades, this identity is jarring. He had always loved the outdoors. But the use of the Pepe the Frog meme and tweeting about taking away half his daughter’s Halloween candy “because it’s never too early to teach her about socialism”—that isn’t the Don they recognize. “I don’t remember him having political views,” says a friend of Don’s from college. “You’ve been hearing his dad for a


long time,” but as for Don’s views, “I didn’t see anything emerge until the campaign.” For years, Don seemed contentedly inattentive to politics. “He probably had the opinion that most New Yorkers have of politicians—they’re full of shit,” says sometime Trump business partner Felix Sater, who worked with Don on the ill-fated Trump SoHo project in Manhattan. “He wasn’t political. He didn’t like politics.” So old friends were shocked by the demagogic fury he unleashed. “What’s surprising is that the tone and the rhetoric are so”—the college friend grasped for a term—“so Fox News–ish. The anger is surprising. None of us would’ve guessed that he would’ve been so outspoken in either direction. It hit me strange to see this guy that was a friend in college all over the news in this way.” Those who have seen the political transformation from hunting-businessman father to the most prominent MAGA troll explain it as a simple, sporting calculation. The snarling political persona, the friend contends, is a show for an audience of one. “He wasn’t a political animal until this started,” says Charlie Kirk, who ran the Trump campaign’s outreach to millennials, of Don’s partisan awakening during the 2016 election. “He did it to help his dad. He got dragged into this fight out of loyalty.”

hindsight, was career prep. “He’s a business guy first and foremost, so we spent a lot of time with him, but it was always in a business environment,” Don told Oprah in 2011. Some paternal lessons have stuck with Don, who tries still to parse the old fatherly instruction for the faintest wisdom. For instance, a key Trump mantra, according to both Ivana and Don, neither of whom agreed to be interviewed for this story, was “Don’t trust anyone.” Trump would test his children on this maxim. “He’d say, ‘Do you trust me, your own father?’ ” Don once recalled. “We’d say, ‘Of course we do!’ And he’d say, ‘What did I just tell you? You didn’t take the lesson!’ It was certainly an interesting Trump moment,” Don continued, talking at a pressured, sober clip, “because it’s not something you’d see any conventional parent-child conversation

R O N G A L E L L A , LT D. / W I R E I M A G E / G E T T Y I M A G E S

B E I N G N OT I C E D WA S always something of a

struggle. That evening he was born, little Don was left by his parents to the care of the hospital’s nursery. His father headed home to celebrate New Year’s Eve, while Ivana put a boa and a mink over her hospital gown and went to visit a girlfriend recovering from back surgery on another floor of the hospital. Don had little luck with the first of his nannies, under whose watch he both broke his leg and nearly drowned. From there, a succession of caregivers followed, though Ivana was also active in her three children’s upbringing. In her telling, she instilled strict Eastern European discipline in the house. By several accounts, Don came in for the most punishment. “Don got in trouble with me more often than the other kids, probably because he was the oldest,” Ivana wrote in her memoir. Largely absent from childhood tales is the father. “He would love them, but he did not know how to speak to them in the children’s way of thinking,” Ivana said of her ex-husband on The Wendy Williams Show last year. “He was able to speak to them only when they came from university, when eventually he was able to speak business to them. Otherwise, he really did not know how to handle the kids.” The interactions were apparently alien in both directions. “The children,” Ivana wrote in her book, “didn’t know how to relate to him, either.” Nowadays, Don puts a happy gloss on his dad’s parenting style—which he believes, in

Ten-year-old Donald Trump Jr. in 1988.

go that way, especially not fully understanding what the concept of trust was.” If the lessons didn’t take, Don had his father’s own example to demonstrate untrustworthiness. On the day before the boy’s 12th birthday, Marla Maples—who was then carrying on an a≠air with Donald Trump—crossed paths with Ivana at Bonnie’s in Aspen and uttered her nine infamous words: “I’m Marla, and I love your husband. Do you?” According to Ivana’s book, Don witnessed the whole scene. When divorce proceedings began and the paparazzi set up camp outside Trump Tower and Don’s school, Ivana decided to explain the situation to her children. Ivanka, 8, and Eric, 6, got the sanitized version. Twelveyear-old Don, Ivana concluded, “could handle hearing the truth.” After being told about his father’s mistress and the fact that his parents would never live together again, Don stopped speaking to his father.

Soon after that, as Trump engaged Ivana in an epic public feud, he dispatched a bodyguard to his triplex apartment with instructions to bring his elder boy down to his o∞ce. Don, still not talking to his father, descended with the bodyguard to the 28th floor, and a few minutes later, Ivana, who described all this in her book, got a phone call. It was Trump, looking for some leverage by announcing that he was going to keep Don and raise him alone. “Okay, keep him,” Ivana said she told him. “I have two other kids to raise.” A few minutes later—his blu≠ out-blu≠ed— Trump ordered his boy to be taken back upstairs. “Donald never had any intention of keeping his son,” Ivana wrote. In his telling, Don was caught in that lonely isthmus of awareness where one doesn’t understand everything but knows enough to be deeply wounded by it. “Listen, it’s tough to be a 12-year-old,” he told New York magazine in 2004. “You’re not quite a man, but you think you are. You think you know everything. Being driven to school every day and you see the front page and it’s divorce! “best sex i ever had”! And you don’t even know what that means. At that age, kids are naturally cruel. Your private life becomes very public, and I didn’t have anything to do with it: My parents did.” Don, Ivana noted, “expressed his pain with anger, and he was really angry.” Don’s reprieve from the glare of Manhattan had always been the summers spent with his maternal grandparents in rural Czechoslovakia. But between the separation and divorce, his grandfather Milos died suddenly of a heart attack. It was yet another blow to Don, for whom Milos was a sort of father he never had. “Being in Czechoslovakia with my grandfather was the most memorable time in my life,” Don wrote in an aside in Ivana’s book. “My grandpa would say, ‘There’s the woods. See you at dark!’ He taught me how to fish, rockclimb, camp, shoot with a bow and an air rifle. Czechoslovakian summers were my introduction to ‘the great outdoors’ and an era that lives in me that I hand down to my children.… I miss him. I will always miss him.” People close to Don say Milos is the key to understanding him. The imprint stamped on Don as a boy by his grandfather is still evident, says Anthony Scaramucci, a Trump ally who briefly served as White House communications chief: “He’s a very downto-earth, grounded guy, and I think a lot of that comes from his mom’s parents, who he used to summer with. Spending several months in [Communist] Eastern Europe, seeing the di≠erence between what was happening in Eastern Europe in the 1980s and his life in New York—it gives grounding and perspective.” For a child raised in a gilded triplex, Don seems to have gotten a disproportionate share of what pain there was to go around.


Shortly after his grandfather’s death, Don found Bridget, one of his nannies, passed out from a heart attack in the basement of Ivana’s Greenwich home. He called the ambulance and the adults, but she was pronounced dead at the hospital. When his mother remarried, her new husband’s son roughed up and choked the then adolescent Don. On top of that, when Junior, at age 15, tried to take a girl on a date, it immediately made it into the tabloids: Ivana wanted the world to know that she had armed him with condoms. “Poor Don. He really got the brunt of everything,” Ivana wrote. “No wonder Don likes to go in the woods and escape from everything.” W H E N D O N H E A D E D O F F to college at the

Wharton School, his father’s alma mater, his relationship with his dad seemingly hadn’t fully recovered. Mad as he was at Donald Trump, Don was also Donald Trump, but smaller, less accomplished, and more wounded. He assumed a posture of studied normalcy and stuck to being Don, rather than Donald Trump Jr. “He wasn’t quick to volunteer his name or put it out there who he was or try to use that to his advantage,” says the college friend. “I remember thinking that if he used his name more, he probably could’ve gotten more girls.” A freshman-year friend, Dan Friedman, remembers a strange conversation on that theme. Friedman says that one day, as he and Don sat in a dining hall, Friedman jokingly warned him to watch out for girls—golddigger types—who would try to take advantage of him. “And he said, ‘What do you mean? I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ ” Friedman recalls. “I think he was playing dumb; he knew what I was talking about. He didn’t go as far as denying his identity, but it was very clear that he wanted to downplay it.” It wasn’t just the Trump name that Don avoided; he apparently steered clear of his father, too. A former classmate recalls how “Don’s dad came to campus to give a speech, and he refused to go because he was mad at his dad over divorcing his mom.” (The Trump camp disputes this classmate’s recollection, claiming Don was seated in the front row.) Don’s anger expressed itself in other ways, too. “He had a reputation as the kind of guy who would get to drinking and start fights,” says a college acquaintance. “He was a fall-down drunk.” In June 1999, the summer before Don’s senior year, Fred Trump, Donald’s own overbearing and emotionally abusive father, passed away. Don didn’t seem to feel the same private grief that he’d harbored after the death of Milos. He asked a few of his friends to go with him to the wake because he didn’t seem comfortable being alone at the event. “A few of us went to the wake with him, and I just remember how peculiar the vibe was,” recalls Don’s college friend. “It

was the only time I met his dad. It just had a cocktail-party vibe. It was just odd.” (The Trump camp disputes this, claiming Don did not bring friends to his grandfather’s wake.) After graduating, Don escaped to Aspen and spent a year and a half doing what he loves most, hunting and fishing—and avoiding what he must have felt was inevitable: going to work for his father. But in 2001, Don did just that. He succumbed to the centripetal force that is the Trump Organization— “it’s very hard to veer from that track,” Don has said—by joining the family firm. Very quickly his job became doing whatever chore was in the offing—a sui generis job he’s held for years. “Don, like most other people, gets assigned to a project and winds up overseeing all the various aspects, from construction, marketing, design,” says Sater. “Sometimes he works in tandem with Ivanka or Eric, and then reports to Trump. They share or split

main responsibilities. He’s worked on pretty much everything over the last ten years. Don has had his hands in just about every Trump project over the years.” In those early days back in New York, the assiduously private Don also found that the tabloids, which had made his parents famous, were waiting for him. Just before his 25th birthday, Don went to see Chris Rock at Manhattan’s Comedy Cellar. He got a little drunk. Sources later told the New York Post that “people at a neighboring table thought Trump was reacting too enthusiastically to [Rock’s] ethnic humor.” Three couples said they asked Don to pipe down but that he refused. Finally, two young men his age took matters into their own hands—the matters being their beer steins, which they lobbed directly at Don’s triangular brown mane. Don was taken to St. Vincent’s to have his head stitched up, and according to the Post, the two barroom vigilantes were


released on bail. (“I’m going to get those motherfuckers, that’s for sure,” Trump senior told the New York Daily News.) Eventually, Don stopped drinking and started dressing like his father, a cartoon of a Manhattan capitalist, all pinstripes and wide lapels and pastel satin ties. He mended things with his father, or at the very least gained some awareness of his dad’s view of the divorce. By 2004, he was telling New York magazine that perhaps it wasn’t just his father’s fault: “But when you’re living with your mother, it’s easy to be manipulated. You get a one-sided perspective.” In 2006, he referred to himself as “a brat” for having once hung up on his dad. Somewhere along the line, outsiders could see why the two men had the same name. “Don also has a big personality,” Nunberg says. “He’s got that larger-than-life persona, like his father; he has his big, nice o∞ce on the 25th floor; and you hear him beating the shit out of someone on the phone, like his father.” (Another source warned me about Don’s “quick temper.”) In interviews from this time, he is an eager carnival barker, selling his father’s brand while also eagerly trying to demonstrate how much he has learned about business—the business. Soon, he glimpsed the wisdom of lending his valuable name to other people’s projects. In 2010, he signed on to help hawk Cambridge Who’s Who, a self-billed “leading professional branding and networking organization.” In a promotional video for the firm, Don says over the soft tones of a keyboard that “Cambridge Who’s Who is your exclusive, by-invitation-only, private PR firm.” The company, headquartered “in Long Island’s premier o∞ce building,” turned out to be less than premier. Its then president, Randy Narod, once owned a nightclub and a bagel store and had been barred from the securities industry after sending someone to sit for his exam. By the time Don came on as a spokesman, Cambridge Who’s Who had amassed some 400 complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau, according to The New York Times. Despite some successes, like overseeing the construction of the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago, Don continued to get his famous name caught up in the wrong deals. In 2006, he helped launch a mortgage brokerage called Trump Mortgage, bragging that it was the “only company in a $3 trillion industry that anyone has actually heard of.” Within months it was defunct, an early casualty of the housing crisis. In 2006, he was kicked o≠ the condo board of the Trump apartment building at 220 Riverside Drive in Manhattan, amid board members’ concerns that $80,000 of the condo’s money had disappeared on account of nebulous “o∞ce expenses.” (He was eventually reinstated.) The setbacks seemed not to trouble Don, who never had the requisite hunger to be the

true titan of commerce, the man he saw in his father. Don was happier hunting or sitting by the pool at Mar-a-Lago than closing deals. He enjoyed the fruits of his father’s labors more than he liked laboring for more fruit. “He has a more balanced life,” a source close to Don told me. “It’s harder to become a captain of industry if you don’t make a lot of sacrifices.” And so Don has seemed content to take direction from his father—and not merely on matters professional. One night in 2003, while father and son were attending an event, Donald Trump spotted a blonde woman and pointed her out to his son. She was Vanessa Haydon, a young model who had made news dating Leonardo DiCaprio and a Saudi prince. “Vanessa walked in front of me at this big fashion show,” Donald Trump recalled on Oprah’s show in 2011. “She looked

“I feel bad for him, honestly,” said a person at the 2016 TRUMP TOWER

meeting.

Haydons, Vanessa and her sister were catapulted into a life of posh prep schools and a home on the Upper East Side. Vanessa’s rebellion, a friend from that time recalls, was very specific: She dated a young man named Valentin Rivera, who told people he was a foot soldier for the Latin Kings, a Hispanic gang. Rivera, who recently went public in an interview with the New York Post, was raised in an apartment atop the Yorkville branch of the New York Public Library, where his father was the caretaker. According to the article, Rivera delivered weed around the city. Vanessa apparently reveled in all this. “She talked with an urban, gangster accent,” the friend remembers. “She wore big hoop earrings, hair slicked back. She thought she was a gangster. She had a gangster boyfriend, and she acted like a gangster herself. She was somebody who went out of her way to intimidate people by having a scary boyfriend that could hurt people.” Vanessa seemed very much in love with Rivera, as much as a teenager could be, and despite her family’s disapproval, when Rivera found himself in Rikers Island for assault, she visited him there. The couple eventually went their separate ways, and in the years that followed, Rivera, who could not be reached for comment, was jailed several times for crimes ranging from weapons charges to negligent homicide. Before Vanessa married his son, though, Donald Trump apparently did his due diligence and discovered that his future daughter-in-law had dated a Latino gangster—a bad look for an image-obsessed family. Trump called Vanessa into his o∞ce and confronted her about her relationship with Rivera. Vanessa flatly denied it. B Y T H E T I M E his father ran for president,

so beautiful, I said, ‘Don, that’s the person you should marry.’ ” According to Vanessa’s own recollection, shared with the Times, the forgetful Trump accidentally introduced her to his son twice. Then, when she ran into Don several weeks later, she remembered him as “the one with the retarded dad.” Despite his father’s hand in their coupling, Don earned a scolding from his dad over the way he proposed—a Trumpian publicity stunt in which he scored a free engagement ring by popping the question in a jewelry store at the Short Hills mall in New Jersey. “You have a name that is hot as a pistol,” Trump senior told Larry King, lamenting the situation. “You have to be very careful with things like this.” By all appearances, the stylish Vanessa fit right in as the newest Trump. But she had her own complicated adolescence. Her wealthy father, Manhattan attorney Charles Haydon, was actually her stepfather. As newly minted

Don had cultivated a public image as a kind of prudent sidekick. He appeared on The Apprentice as an earnest good cop to his dad’s bellicose “You’re fired” character. As Don peddled his father’s business ventures around the world, he came into plenty of contact with Russians. “In terms of high-end product influx into the U.S., Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets, say, in Dubai and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York,” he said at an industry conference in 2008. (The Trump SoHo project, which he developed with Sater, ended up being sued for fraud, resulting in a settlement.) “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” Don repeatedly tried to develop Trump properties in Russia, but despite the country’s lucrative oil boom—and the gilded dovetailing of Trump and Russian aesthetics—he couldn’t quite manage Moscow and its corruption. “It is a question of who knows who, whose brother is paying o≠ who, et cetera,” he said after making (continued on page 92) J U L Y

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E U ROP E DOES I f yo u t h i n k of a t r i p to Eu ro p e a s a to u r of fa n c y c a p i t a l s a n d i m p o r t a nt m o n u m e nt s , yo u n e e d a va c a t i o n. TO, L I K E , A P E R F E C T S E C LU D E D S U R F TOW N I N P O R T U G A L . O R A W I N E - S OA K E D B E AC H C LU B I N I TA LY. S o s k i p Ca p e Co d t h is s u m m e r — i t ’ l l b e t h e re n ex t ye a r ( we h o p e ) — a n d s h o c k yo u r sys te m w i t h a little bain de soleil, an

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Portug

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IT’S LIKE SURFING ON THE SET OF GAME OF THRONES

↓ Praia da Arrifana, Portugal

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H AV I N G R E C E I V E D a not insignificant amount of the Atlantic Ocean up my nose and in my ears on that last wave, my mouth now tastes like a waterlogged sleeve of saltines. I pop my head out of the foaming surf (which is as crisp as that first chilled glass of Vinho Verde) to ride a very manageable wave toward the jagged cli≠s. The sensation of standing up—I’m a beginner, all right?—is about as soulnourishing as the buttery golden sauce they cook the clams in back in town. Let’s see, is

that enough food metaphors? No—because the whole point of Sagres, the chillest, southwesternmost town in the Algarve, is that it combines impossibly epic beaches with impossibly fresh seafood. Set aside a week to explore the praia-pocked coastline. At the end of each day, get intimate with juicy red prawns that were caught that morning. And then pass out with the kind of sun-bleached satisfaction that borders on religious fulfillment. — B E N J Y H A N S E N - B U N DY


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Or tow into the Wild Atlantic Way... Most people don’t associate Ireland with tasty waves. But Achill Island—this will come as no surprise to actual surfers—has consistent barrels. Set up shop at the Ferndale B&B (what’s Ireland if you’re not waking up to a massive savory breakfast?) and watch the swells come in.

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BRING ONLY WHAT CAN FIT IN A VESPA HELMET My Euro-beach-trip awakening was this: I saw a sexy Italian couple roar up on a Vespa— swimsuits on—and walk straight to the waves. In their swinging helmets, they carried street clothes, a pack of rosemary crackers, maybe a paperback. They bought a bottle of cold wine at a kiosk. And then they sat down, interlaced their limbs, and did Italian Love Eyes at each other for several hours. If they got bored, they swam. If they swam, they drip-dried. Nobody was unfurling a 10-by15-foot eight-ply towel from the bottom of a rolling cart full of pool noodles. It’s how you keep the love—and your lumbar-spinal health—alive. —SARAH BALL

Illustrations by CHRISTINE RÖSCH


Aman Sveti Stefan, Montenegro

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OVERHEATING?

TAKE REFUGE IN THIS FORTIFIED VILLAGE A M A N SV E T I S T E FA N juts right out into the sparkling surf. It’s an island tied to the Adriatic coast by an isthmus—a narrow spit of beach with the only road in or out. There aren’t many pirates left, but back in the 16th century, when Barbarossa was ripping around the Mediterranean, visitors were probably glad for the fortifications. Now, the whole of the carefully preserved cobblestoned village is a luxury resort. Add a day trip to Kotor, the UNESCO-protected port town nearby, and you’re practically ready to start a career in historical re-enactment—or maybe just to escape the sun with a cold lager.

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Or explore the ramparts of a medieval castle...

Tossa de Mar, Spain

T O S S A D E M A R has a fingernail of beach bookended by some low-slung hotels on one end and at the other a 12th-century castle—a castle!—upon which you can spend the non-sand hours of your days and nights eating, drinking, and scrambling about the ramparts. Is this a place to consume the meal of your life? No. Is it at a remove from civilization? Not really; the proximity to Barcelona (day trip and long weekend both in play) is the point. But is there a castle on your beach? Yes. It’s very cool, and I think about this place most days of the week. — D A N I E L R I L E Y


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MOST HOTELS ON TRIPADVISOR DON’T HAVE CLIFF ELEVATORS Il Pellicano is where Cary Grant got so tan. But the most perfect and only-in-Europe thing about this classic spot—a hotel improbably shoehorned into a Tuscan crag near the town of Porto Ercole—is a Glorious Mediterranean Cliff Elevator. You descend and emerge on a glistening cliffside platform— one holding only umbrellas, an aperitivo cart, and a dip-diveconducive ladder. — S. B .

I T A I N ’ T N E W.

PICK AN ISLAND, TAKE A WEEK, EXPLORE EVERY LAST COVE There’s a dead-silent Greek island called Elafonisos, just a scenic car ride from Athens. On your way there, through a forgotten swath of the Peloponnese, you can stop at the hilltop winery Seméli and pick up some audaciously fragrant Moschofilero or dry Agiorgitiko. Then drive your car right onto the ferry to the island. Ten minutes later you’ll be met with a bounty of grilled octopus, zero crowds, and still waters that might be the most wildly neon turquoise in Greece. This is the polar opposite of the see-them-all island junkets most Americans take. —A N D R E W R I C H DA L E

↑ Il Pellicano, Italy

Sp l i t

Croatia

Skip the oontz-oontz crowd and party like you’ve been here before...

Riva Harbor, Croatia

T H E B E S T WAY to “do” Ibiza? Don’t go there at all. Head to Croatia instead. Sure, the yacht scene is obnoxious, but on land it’s all yours to imbibe. Start drinking at one of the bars along the Riva. Then wander the stone streets of the Old Town until you find a spot that suits your exact speed.


BASK—NO, BROOD—ON THE BEACHES AT THE END OF THE WORLD Isle

w is of L e

la Sc o t

nd T O F I N D the most beautiful beach in Europe, you must head north and west and still farther north to the wind-whipped Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Follow a winding road through the peat bogs and electric-green

machair and eventually you will come to Uig Sands. You can’t even call it a beach: It is a vast sweep of bone-white sand, so wide and flat you must walk half a mile across its expanse before you get to the sea. And then suddenly you find yourself staring at the most

perfect crystalline waters. You can see right down into the center of the earth. Despite Lewis’s reputation for gales, when I visited Uig last year the weather was clear, calm, downright sunny. We even took off our shirts, a real

triumph at that latitude. When we saw that turquoise water, we got so excited we ripped off our wellies and dove right in. I have never felt such cold in my life. —REIF LARSEN

Uig Sands, Scotland

Or for those unafraid to beach in winter… Maine meets the San Juans—equal parts dramatic and playful. Whale is on the menu. Truly bold visitors head up in winter to behold the northern lights.

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IT’S LIKE

Telegrafbukta, Norway

Not sure which island to choose? LET THE ITALIAN DIRECTOR DECIDE You could do worse than planning your vacations only in places where Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love; A Bigger Splash; Call Me by Your Name) has shot his movies. Pantelleria, the sun-bleached Italian-island moonscape where Tilda Swinton has to choose between Ralph Fiennes and Matthias Schoenaerts, offers craggy cliffs and mud beaches.


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SEE ADDITIONAL CREDITS.

COLONIZE A BEACH CLUB I didn’t know you could go to the beach without hoisting two NPR giveaway totes stuffed with Kettle chips and bruised apples and a small lunch cooler carrying your human dignity as you trek over molten sand like refugees from suburban excess. That is, until I went to Italy and started behaving like an aristocrat. Because in Europe there are these things called beach clubs: part beach, part café. They have chaise longues, towels, adorable little changing rooms complete with simple outdoor showers. They serve wine right at your chair or at the little restaurant. And you’re not eating a sweaty bologna sandwich that could be balled up and stuck to a lifeguard chair, you’re eating motherfucking spaghetti alle vongole! You’re eating salade niçoise made by people from Nice!

KISS THAT DAMP RESORT BUFFET

GOODBYE!

Sa n

↑ Grilled fish at Elkano, outside San Sebastián. ↓ A lobster dish at nearby Arzak. Sebastián

Spain

O K AY, Y E A H. You’ve probably heard of San Sebastián. Maybe because it has three of the best restaurants in the world within Ubering distance. (That’d be Elkano, Mugaritz, and Arzak.) Shack up at nearby Hotel Iturregi and, if you’re really hungry, take a day trip across the border into France. Biarritz is San Sebastián’s less fawned over but equally attractive cousin.

—DEVIN FRIEDMAN

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St. Ives, England

Or partake in the latest food revolution... A N Y B E A C H you can get to by London sleeper train has a dash of Ian Fleming: Just crash into your bunk and awake to Cornish cerulean water, white-cliffy beach, and surfing-happy British hipsters. The only

mystery, Meesta Bond, will be where to eat. The food renaissance in this “subtropical” English vacation spot is well overdue, given that Cornwall’s cheese, produce, and fish are what supply London’s

top dining establishments. Pop-up beachside suppers of freshly hauled mussels and fish abound, piled on end-to-end tables under string lights—like those at Hidden Hut, a whitetablecloth situation on Porthcurnick Beach. J U L Y

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jacket $2,595 (for suit) Giorgio Armani sweater $950 Berluti


jacket $2,760 (for suit), jumpsuit $1,790 Prada | tank top $320 Thom Browne


eating psycho clown Pennywise in last year’s remake of It, Bill Skarsgård found himself in a nightmare of his own: fame. Leaving N.Y.C.’s Comic Con, he encountered a herd of autograph seekers—not fans, but professional sellers—outside his hotel. He signed a few and drove o≠. Hungry still, six of the signature-hunters— four in a car, two on bikes—showed up at the next red light, and the next few after that, hounding him for autographs at each. “I think it’s easy for people to think of celebrity as something attractive. That aspect of it scares the shit out of me,” says the 27-year-old. That wave of recognition is unlikely to wane anytime soon: The Swedish actor appeared in Deadpool 2; stars in Hulu’s Stephen King–inspired Castle Rock, premiering in July; and out-acts most of the cast in a small role in September’s feminist revenge fantasy Assassination Nation (think: Salem witch trials in the Internet Age). And he’s headed back to the makeup chair for the It sequel. That’s good news for Skarsgård’s career and bad news for his reservations about modern celebrity. (“What’s it like for Rihanna? She can’t go down and buy a doughnut.”) But he knows ego is born out of insecurity and feeds on validation. So instead he finds quiet confidence in acknowledging that he is only, in his words, “pretty good.” “It’s important: looking at yourself and going, ‘I’m a piece of shit at times, and that’s okay,’ ” he says. “Once you’ve reached that point, I think it’s easier to not be an asshole.” Which is great, considering that Stateside, Skarsgård would be a recognizable asshole. But he has an idea to bring some anonymity back into his life. The plan? To run away from it all. “I’m going to Japan.” He’s joking. We hope.— C L AY S K I P P E R

tank top $350, pants $790 Calvin Klein 205W39NYC | boots $595 Lucchese

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jacket $3,850, vest $1,450, pants $980 Gucci | shirt $710, tie $260 Tom Ford

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About These Clothes It’s time to reconsider black as a summer shade. Right now it’s easier than ever to find black tailoring in breezy open-weave fabrics, so you don’t have to sweat the color’s sunlight-absorbing qualities. Meanwhile, the rise of techy sportswear has popularized breathable fabrics on the dark side of the color spectrum. Some of our favorite designers working right now—like Anthony Vaccarello and Raf Simons—are particularly adept at cutting badass silhouettes in the most badass of all colors. Even Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, known for embracing the menswear rainbow, has a dashing black suit in stores this summer. So it’s easier than ever to stunt on your salmonshorted friends. And if you’re reading this from the Southern Hemisphere or the depths of your frigidly air-conditioned o∞ce: You have no excuse.— S A M U E L H I N E

jacket $2,990 (for suit), shirt $990 Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello


coat $2,227 Raf Simons | pants $2,990 (for suit) Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello

H A I R BY WA R D AT T H E WA L L G R O U P. G R O O M I N G BY R O M Y S O L E I M A N I AT T H E WA L L G R O U P.

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E IT WH T. Photographs by ERIC

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IN A FEW SHORT YEARS,

LAKEITH STANFIELD & TESSA THOMPSON HAVE INDIVIDUALLY BECOME T WO OF T V AND FILM’S MOST VERSATILE PERFORMERS. BUT TOGETHER, IN THE WONDERFULLY STRANGE SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, THEY ESTABLISH THEMSELVES AS HOLLY WOOD’S MOST COMPELLING NEW CHARACTER ACTORS


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O P E N I N G PA G E S

j a c k e t $ 3,9 9 5 pants $595 Ralph Lauren tank top $360 Hermès sandals $415 Barbara Shaum necklace (top) $150 George Frost necklace (bottom) $120 A.P.C. ON HER

top Altuzarra bra Walk of Shame shorts Levi’s at What Goes Around Comes Around sandals Missoni scarf A Peace Treaty bracelet (men’s) $120 A.P.C.

T H E S E PA G E S

shirt $440 Etro sunglasses $575 Cutler and Gross necklace (top) $120 A.P.C. necklace (bottom) Renvi ON HER

tank top T by Alexander Wang skirt Altuzarra sunglasses Etnia Barcelona bracelet (men’s) $120 A.P.C.

hair by lacy redway for the wall group. grooming by barry white at barr ywhitemensgrooming.com. makeup by kirin bhatty for starworks ar tists. manicure by rachel shim using dior vernis. prop styling by theo volpatti at t+j set design.


L A K E I T H S T A N F I E L D I S E L E G A N T LY S P L AY E D

across a small settee in the lobby of his tony SoHo hotel. The conversation has drifted into perception—specifically, how he’s seen as a big weirdo. The headiness of the topic requires him to lie down to properly orate. ¶ “It’s weird because I don’t know what weird is,” he says, pausing frequently between words, like a (slightly stoned) oracle slowly revealing the future. “No one’s not weird.” He starts to tell a story about high school in California. “I had no friends. I went to school with no shoes on. Just by choice, ’cause I wanted to be closer to the ground.” He relents: “I mean, I guess it is weird.” He then excitedly appoints himself our “weird leader.” ¶ Hail to the chief, sure, but Stanfield’s deconstruction of what makes him weird—or seem weird to audiences—is actually his greatest asset as an actor. This month, Stanfield stars alongside Tessa Thompson in Boots Riley’s extraordinary head-scratcher of a directorial debut. At its most succinct, spoiler-free log line, Sorry to Bother You follows Cassius Green, a down-and-out telemarketer in a dystopian Oakland who figures out the secret to making bags of money at his shady corporation: Use your “white voice.” The film has levels, though. It’s an interrogation of code-switching, media, wokeness, race, class, Oakland politics, and raw animal instincts. Industry shorthand suggests it’s the next Get Out. Don’t fall for it. This SocialJustice Magical-Realism Horror-Comedy is its own surreal, enthralling experience, the kind of freewheeling mind-fuck of a film that can only work in the hands of true character actors. Lucky for Riley—and lucky for us—he cast two of Hollywood’s newly anointed great ones to pull it o≠. ¶ Thompson sums it up matterof-factly: In Grease parlance, she is a Rizzo, never a Sandy. “The roles I’m attracted to are parts of myself that I haven’t been able to explore, be it darkness or lightness,” she says. “They are aspirational.” ¶ Both of their careers took o≠ with roles in Ava DuVernay’s Selma. Stanfield has been the low-key focal point of critically acclaimed projects like Short Term 12, Get Out, and, best of all, Atlanta, in his role as Darius, the king of black weirdos. Thompson is the face your eyes are drawn to in every movie that mattered in the past few years. She played a Marvel superhero in Thor: Ragnarok, a soft-spoken astrophysicist in Annihilation, a sinister corporate type on Westworld. Now as Detroit, the film’s Technicolor-haired activist-artist moral compass and Cassius’s romantic partner, Thompson is deconstructing yet another role usually reserved for the white, doe-eyed actress: the manic pixie dream girl. “Does my character buck that convention?” Thompson asks. “Or am I just the first black one?” ¶ You can chalk their diverse IMDb pages up to their being talented and telegenic. And at 34, Thompson is finally feeling a noticeable shift in how Hollywood casts, one that’s made space for her to play any and all characters, not only tropes. “I was able to stick around long enough through the periods where you’re the sassy black friend,” she says. ¶ It’s only in this new moment, one where actors of color don’t have to tra∞c in stereotypes to succeed, that a movie like Sorry to Bother You could get made. And Stanfield doesn’t even mind one bit if you’re expecting this to be just “the next Get Out.” “I think expectations are great,” he says. “They’re a tool I use to lure my prey into the trap.”— A L L I S O N P. D A V I S J U L Y

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Ex-presidents are supposed to gently retire. Make a life of lucrative speeches, or stay home and paint. But for nearly 40 years, Jimmy Carter has refused to fade away. At 93, he still spends most weekends in his hometown, preaching wise and powerful sermons. Sermons that speak to our current national crisis. That make us realize: We need Mr. Jimmy now more than ever M I C H A E L PAT E R N I T I M AT T M A R T I N


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wakes in his unchanged ranch home with the ’70s appliances and same old Formica countertops at the usual hour of 5 a.m., and inevitably scribbles some Bible-lesson notes that he mostly never refers to, and then, after his ablutions and 7 a.m. breakfast with Rosalynn—oatmeal is a favorite—the Secret Service ferries him through town in a black car, past the gas station that was once his brother’s, past his old campaign headquarters in a little warehouse, past the home Rosalynn was born in, to Maranatha Baptist Church. The church is the bull’s-eye of his stomping grounds—the verdant flatland upon which Plains sits, where he hunts and fishes. He receives vegetables from the farm where he grew up, a few miles outside town, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places. He visits every so often, and there’s the old bedroom that belonged to Mr. Jimmy, with a model wooden ship and weathered copy of War and Peace, and there’s the dining-room table at which the Carter family— two girls and two boys—sat to eat, or sat to read and eat, as Mr. Jimmy’s mother, Lillian, insisted that her children always be reading. And there’s the scrubby red-dirt tennis court built by Mr. Jimmy’s daddy, Earl, a Sundayschool teacher himself, who employed a wicked slice to always beat his son. About 40 Sundays a year, Mr. Jimmy materializes from thin air, flickering before us at Maranatha to lead Bible study, to say, No, the world’s not going to end. Not just yet. Though he’s elfin with age, you’d still instantly recognize him as our 39th president: with those same hooded iceblue eyes, the same rectangular head, 7 8

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OPENING PAGES, CARTER: ROTA/CAMERA PRESS/REDUX. PHOTO ILLUSTRATIONS THROUGHOUT FOR EDITORIAL PURPOSES. T H E S E PA G E S , F R O M L E F T: M E L I S S A G O L D E N / T H E N E W Y O R K T I M E S / R E D U X ; V A S I LY M A X I M O V / A F P / G E T T Y I M A G E S .

SUNDAY MORNINGS in Plains, Georgia, Mr. Jimmy

the same famous 1,000-watt smile. But when about who loved their wife more, but now he’s he teaches like this, he transforms from divided his love between a dahwg and his wife, whatever your vision of Jimmy Carter is into so I think I’m ahead of him!” someone di≠erent, some kind of 93-year-old Among ex-presidents, Mr. Jimmy blazes on. Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, both Yoda-like knower, who in his tenth decade men who sandwiched him in o∞ce, are on earth still possesses that rarest of airy dead; George senior teeters; Bill Clinton commodities: hope. Hope is something that Mr. Jimmy tremors when tired and, at 71, has begun to thinks about a lot—and faith, too, from fade before our eyes. (Meanwhile, Bill and which hope rises in the first place. It’s someHillary have pocketed over $150 million from thing that you’re born with, faith, but also speeches.) George W. has retreated to a more something you must re-apply every day, low-profile, patrician life of painting and like a gel or cream. He says first you have occasional aid trips to Africa, while Obama is just beginning a post-presidency that faith in your mama, when you’re suckling at her breast. And then you have faith in some have projected could be worth roughly your people: the tight-knit circle of kin and $250 million in personal gain and includes the recent announcement of a multi-year neighbors in your town. Then—your country. He says what might be most importproduction deal with Netflix. ant, though, is faith in a creator of some With Carter now in his fourth decade as sort. Mr. Jimmy says you can fill in the ex-president, his actual presidency feels more like a footnote, an aberration in the blank: Muhammad, Buddha, Jesus…Gaia, Martians, T’Challa, king of Wakanda… life of a holy man. The public servant in him, In front of the congregation—in spring the impulse that led him to the presidency in the first place, has thrived in the afterand summer, autumn and winter—he permath of his former Beltway imprisonment. ambulates the green carpet like old peoWhile he rejects pay-to-play speechmaking ple sometimes do, as if on the deck of a ship on a rolling sea. He wears a turquoise and appearances, his net worth—reportedly bolo, somewhere between groovy and huh? $7 million to $8 million—has come from the His face is still elastic, the zygomatic mus30-plus books he’s written, many of them cles reflexively drawing his mouth into spiritual in nature. His activism and advocacy that smile, but his voice sometimes turns across the globe—in particular his success in phlegmy without notice—and he starts eradicating Guinea worm in Africa and Asia, coughing. His mind is a churning thing from 3.5 million estimated cases in 1986 to 30 of wonder. His recall is sharp, his barbs last year—led to the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize. of humor unexpected. But it’s on these Sunday mornings of Bible study in Plains that you see the real “So you didn’t put ’em to sleep, right?” he Mr. Jimmy, the humble, hometown Jimmy says to the pastor, Brandon Patterson, on one April morning when he steps up to the lecCarter who some thought, when he first burst tern, flashing a mischievous grin. He turns on the scene, must have been putting on some to the overflow crowd. “You like our pastor sort of bullshit act. At his Plains pulpit, he appears as a silver-penumbra’ed teacher in okay?” Murmurings of assent. “Well, he just passed his 24th birthday and he got mara time when morals seem suddenly fluid and ried and he got a dahwg.” Mr. Jimmy facts illusory. If our democratic highway hangs on the word, and bends it, to has turned bumpy, Mr. Jimmy’s seen laughter. “He and I used to argue it all before: North Korea, strife Carter has in the Middle East, Iran, trade led sessions, open to the wars, stock-market roller coaster, public, roughly etc. He talks in steadying tones 40 Sundays about being a spiritual person in a year. a political world. His mere presence gives perspective. If he’s one of the most vital living links between the past and the present, he’s also the hook-and-loop between di≠erent American civilizations, from the Jim Crow South to the New South, from Depression to recovery, from a rural America to an urban one, from post-Nixon doldrums to Trumpian triumphalism. Mr. Jimmy says we humans have evolved to a high point, an apex. He says this while touching his palms together as he talks, wiggling his long fingers as if calling in signals from space. The human body, men’s and women’s bodies, he says, aren’t going to evolve anymore. We’ve reached past the point where we compete with animals, except in


some primitive societies. So the big question now is: What do we do with the rest of our existence as human beings? The answer: Learn to get along with each other in a peaceful way, to accommodate our human di≠erences. “Would you agree with that?” asks Mr. Jimmy. Peace and di≠erence, together. Unless you can imagine it, he says, the human race is probably kaput. A few years back, it appeared as if Mr. Jimmy was kaput, too, when the doctors found cancer on his liver and four tumors on his brain. At the time, he thought he only had weeks left and was filled not with sorrow, really, but great equanimity. Somehow, with treatment, he lived. Does anyone dare ask why? While Mr. Jimmy is still flickering, there are those who want to bask in the last of what he represents—a lost democratic tradition, civil discourse, moral rectitude—that lights a way out of this present-day mess. Is it possible to escape? That’s why we come to Mr. Jimmy now: to find out.

by the sustained Sunday crowds, Maranatha Baptist Church has turned into an unlikely American pilgrimage site. Perhaps we’re a±icted by a deeper national need, or lack, the kind that inspires searchers to travel hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles and begin lining up in the dark, but it raises a bunch of personal and collective questions. After all, soul-searching is a by-product of having temporarily lost one’s soul. On one of my Sunday visits, last November, I arrived around 4:30 a.m. and was handed a scrap of paper with the number 15 scrawled on it, meaning I was 15th in line. The man doing the handing out was named George, dressed in blue slacks and a checked shirt with a red ball cap on his head. He said that some Sundays, if you’re not there four or five hours ahead of time, you don’t get in. The Sunday after Mr. Jimmy announced he had cancer, in August 2015, 1,800 people came to Plains, beginning to queue on Saturday night. (The highway patrol shut down the road out front; Mr. Jimmy did two lessons, one in a nearby auditorium, and still they turned people away.) Today, George had arrived at his usual time, around 4 a.m., to find a young man— twitchy, half-awake, and chilled—in a suit, IF ONE WERE TO JUDGE

no tie, white shirt, standing out there on the front porch of the church in the dark, here to see Mr. Jimmy before it’s too late. Everything at that hour seemed special in Plains to someone coming from the North, as I had. George’s honeyed drawl, for one. And the silence was special, in the hour when the Muscogee ghosts give up night on the southern coastal plain, and everything is deep and still. George had his eye on the special sky now, scanning the canopy of stars. “Last week we saw it three times,” he said. “We won’t see it again for about ten days.” He was talking about the International Space Station, which you could track with an app on your phone. On his phone, too, George showed some pictures of yesterday’s fishing trip with Mr. Jimmy. No artifice, no braggadocio: just another fishing trip with Mr. Jimmy—who you can almost forget is ex–president of the United States down here—to add to the others. But still, it was crystal-clear: The people of Plains were proud of the celebrity Mr. Jimmy had bestowed on their little town. And the occasional luminaries he brought, too: Menachem Begin had been here, and Anwar Sadat. When Yasser Arafat visited, the mayor gave him a key to the city, and Arafat kissed him on both cheeks. (“I don’t think our mayor has ever gotten over the kiss,” says Mr. Jimmy.) When the president of Bolivia came, the delegation played soccer with a local high school team. According to Mr. Jimmy, Christina Aguilera was supposed to come, but there was a travel snafu. (“I’m disappointed her plane didn’t get in,” he says.) Putin hasn’t made it yet, either, but Mr. Jimmy has his personal e-mail. They like to fish the same stream in Russia.

Somewhere around 6 a.m., more cars began to sluice into the parking lot for Mr. Jimmy’s 10 a.m. class. George greeted each new arrival with a slightly crumpled numbered piece of paper. In came Wilmington, North Carolina. In came Seattle, Washington. In came Pennsylvania and Virginia and Jamaica. George told them that the line would form outside the church at 7:45 a.m., that the Secret Service would do its scannings and checks, and that Miss Jan, his wife, would give a briefing at 9 a.m. The lot filled, the sun rose, sky was a mottle of clouds and blue nitrogen. The young man in the suit paced on the porch. People got out of their cars and stretched, walked down the highway to a big smilingpeanut statue in front of a convenience store, where they could get some Styrofoam-cup co≠ee. Others loitered on the lawn. One guy, a farmer from Pennsylvania, said, “A lot of people said, ‘You’re coming down here to go to church?’ I said, ‘Yeah. I’m coming down to hear a former U.S. president talk about something that’s important to him in a group of about 300 people and then stick around for pictures afterwards.’ ” A woman from Oregon said, “This couple here”—referring to Mr. Jimmy and his wife, Rosalynn—“are probably the closest couple of people that you’ll find that walks the walk of the disciples. That’s incredible in this day and age, this modern age. What they’ve done, what they do, it’s incredible.” “It smacks you in the face how polar opposite the current [president] is,” said another. “It just jumps out at you and says, ‘This is how it’s supposed to be.’ ” (continued on page 93)

“I have a fairly good friend in the White House,” Mr. Jimmy said, then deadpanned, “Just one. I have to admit, it’s not the president.”


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noticed my sni±ing. “Do you have allergies?” he asks. “You have a cold? Or do you have a cocaine problem?!” It’s spring, the season when our bodies rebel against us. I tell him about the allergies I’ve had since I was a kid. The Narcos star suggests I get a neti pot. “I love drugs,” he says, pausing to make sure I know he’s talking about the over-thecounter kind, but for him, nothing’s worked better than that weird-ass contraption. “It’s kind of gross, but it really, really helps.” He ofers to text me a photo so I know what to get at the drugstore. “I’ve been to such extreme locations,” the actor says from Oahu, where he’s filming a scene he describes as “survivalist.” This latest role, in a movie he can’t share the title of, is kicking his ass, and at 43, he’s finally feeling it. “My body is like, Dude, you were down for this ten years ago! When are you gonna play a psychiatrist?” Hawaii is good to him, though. “At the end of the day, it’s a caress being here. There aren’t any snakes, no deadly spiders. It rains a lot, but it’s never cold. The locals are just too cool. It’s the kinda place where you get your ass kicked if you’re an asshole.” Still, he feels he’s been away from his spiritual home (New York City, lived there for more than 20 years) for far too long. He was close last fall, in Boston filming the movie you’ll see him in next, The Equalizer 2. But it’s been a while, and it’ll be a longer while till he gets back—he’ll be leaving Oahu soon for London and a Wonder Woman sequel. But maybe after that he’ll finally get to stick around for a bit. Maybe do a play. He misses being onstage in New York, where he hustled in theater and on cop shows for more than a decade, when he first got bowled over by allergies. “I wanted a shotgun to my head,” he says. “It just fuckin’ murdered me.” Then he got a neti pot.— J O S H U A R I V E R A

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After the blockbuster success of Kong: Skull Island, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts fled Hollywood to live the expat dream life in Vietnam. Then, one night at a Saigon club, he was brutally beaten by a mysterious mob of gangsters. Who were these monsters? Soon, he began directing something entirely different—an international hunt for the men who nearly killed him by Max Marshall

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illustration by JIMMY TURRELL


T H E F O OTAG E I S almost too violent to watch.

In the opening shot, a rabbinically bearded man sets a champagne flute on his VIP nightclub table and hands his iPhone to a woman. While she looks at the screen, a tall guy with an expensive-looking haircut walks up and grabs the bearded man’s shoulder. He turns around and about a dozen bodies swarm him, landing punches, flipping tables, throwing glasses, bludgeoning him while he curls on the ground. The scene— one continuous, unbearable ten-minute take—ends with as many as nine mauled clubgoers on the floor. Jordan Vogt-Roberts is a filmmaker whose most famous movie, Kong: Skull Island, has nearly as much blood and napalm as dialogue, but the first time he tried to watch the footage, at a police station in Saigon, he had to look away. “As a director, I love violent movies,” Vogt-Roberts told me. “And I love fight scenes. But after I watched that shit, I was just in fucking shock.” When the fight choreographer for Kong saw the footage, he called the scene messier and more graphic than anything he’d seen in theaters. Vogt-Roberts had moved to Vietnam for refuge. It was a place where he wanted to make movies, not star in them. But there he was, watching a security tape of the time he almost died, wondering who could have done this to him. I N A U G U S T 2 0 1 7 , a month before the attack,

I met Vogt-Roberts in Saigon to write a profile about a rising-star director who left Hollywood for a simpler life in Vietnam. Standing on the Caravelle Hotel rooftop, gazing at the city twinkling below him, he looked absurdly confident. Wearing headto-toe streetwear and sporting a beard that went down to his belly button, Vogt-Roberts pointed to the skyline to show me the neighborhood where he was house-hunting, and then he climbed to the other side of the

guardrail and stretched his arms out over the skyline. “Sometimes you gotta pull some Batman shit,” he said, though, really, King Kong would have been the better reference. The then 32-year-old director had earned the right to be cocky. In less than a decade, he’d fought his way from broke Chicagoan (directing shorts for future Silicon Valley stars Thomas Middleditch and T. J. Miller) to semi-broke TV guy (Comedy Central’s Mash Up) to Sundance darling (Kings of Summer) to director of a box-o∞ce hit (Kong: Skull Island grossed over $566 million). His films blend his sensibilities— gamer nerd, comedy nerd, hip-hop nerd, Terrence Malick nerd—into arresting visual moments. A typical Vogt-Roberts shot is an ethereal nature scene framed through

In his capacity as tourism ambassador, Vogt-Roberts planned to bring friends and Hollywood producers to Instagram-friendly Vietnamese locations, speak at tourism conferences, and film a “Travel to Vietnam” video. And as if Vogt-Roberts’s new part-time gig didn’t prove his devotion to Vietnam, he also announced a major leap of faith: He was going to move to Saigon. Five months into his tenure, Vogt-Roberts showed me his favorite dining experience: an unnamed garage restaurant in a District 5 alley where motorbikes zip by blue plastic stools and life-altering bánh canh noodle soup costs 80 cents. “Common knowledge would say, ‘Why would you move to Vietnam, coming o≠ a movie like this?’ ” Vogt-Roberts told me, before answering his own question:

“ D U D E , T H I S WA S N O T A F I G H T.

I WA S A L M O S T KILLED AS WERE a first-person-shooter scope, or a flaming helicopter crash zoomed in on the chopper’s dashboard Nixon bobblehead. In 2015, he’d visited Vietnam with Kong location scouts and was enraptured by the country’s craggy, psychedelic beauty. VogtRoberts had to talk Legendary Entertainment into filming there: Not many American films had been made in Vietnam before. Two years later, his movie, an Apocalypse Now–tinged take on the classic ape story, starring Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, and Samuel L. Jackson, set box-o∞ce records in Vietnam. The politburo went apeshit, installing hairy Kong fists in a cave in Quang Binh Province and turning part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site into a Kong village. They asked Vogt-Roberts to be Vietnam’s first American-born tourism ambassador. Instead of staying in America to make another half-billion-dollar-grossing movie, Vogt-Roberts said yes.

“Because every time I come back here, I feel happy.” Throughout the night, strangers’ cheers and selfies hinted that the director’s love for Saigon was reciprocated; I understood why Vogt-Roberts’s assistant called him a “one-man Vietnamese boy band” in an Instagram post. As we dropped ice cubes into hot beers, the conversation moved from what had drawn Vogt-Roberts to Vietnam to what had pushed him away from Los Angeles. He said he’d been overwhelmed by the stress of being a highprofile director in Hollywood and “beaten the fuck up” by his hard-charging life back there. Vogt-Roberts had just gotten surgery on a vocal cyst, and he let out a black-lung cough while he lit a cigarette. Beneath his camo jacket were scars from third-degree burns he’d su≠ered when a janky fire pit in the Valley exploded on him. That had earned him two weeks in an intensive-care burn ward, right before he began filming Kong.


Vogt-Roberts after the attack.

I was unsure what exactly he meant by “wilding out,” so he took me to XOXO, a rowdy nightclub overlooking Saigon’s sprawl. The playlist was heavy on Lil Jon, but I experienced two local staples: inhaling nitrous oxide “funky balls” and watching fans beam at Vogt-Roberts. (As Kong actor and close friend Jason Mitchell would say later, “Jordan is the king of Vietnam. I’ve never seen shit like it.”) People who recognized Vogt-Roberts because of his facial hair either toasted him or mobbed him. I watched him stretch out his arms for a selfie with some admirers and begin dancing to “Outta Your Mind.” One month later, at the same club, “the king of Vietnam” would face a di≠erent reception.

But more traumatic than that, he said, was what happened on December 1, 2016, when the Skull Island promotion campaign was starting to churn. Halfway through a studio meeting, he looked at his phone and learned that someone had just leaked a nude picture of him. Vogt-Roberts feels that the hairy, belly-out photo was an attempt

H E R E ’ S W H AT VO G T - R O B E R T S remembers from the night of September 9: It was past midnight, and he had the best table in the club, in front of the DJ booth. He leaned back on his couch with his friends, including stuntman Ilram Choi (Kong’s fight choreographer and Andrew Garfield’s double in two Spider-Man movies) and VietnameseAmerican filmmakers Timothy Linh Bui and Danny Do. They looked out at the crowd. At a slightly less good table behind them were approximately ten bu≠ dudes with high-andtight haircuts and gold chains. Do leaned over to Choi and pointed backward. “See those guys? They’re the real deal.”

thing about it.”

Vogt-Roberts to safety.

ning down his face.

OTHERS. T H I S WA S A

SEE ADDITIONAL CREDITS.

F # © K I N G A S S A U LT to devastate him (successful) and get him removed from Kong (unsuccessful). It was, he said, “the worst feeling of my life.” Following the photo leak and the burn ward, Vietnam was a sanctuary. After an anxiety attack in California, he spent New Year’s hiking alone through Son Doong, the world’s largest cave. After that, Vogt-Roberts leapt headfirst into the “warm, authentic, beautiful place.” Beyond his government work, he was mentoring student filmmakers. He gave a local TEDx talk about the importance of taking risks. He delivered meals to the homeless. Then, at night, Vogt-Roberts said, he liked to “wild out.”

G A N G S T E R S .” Otherwise, it was a normal scene at XOXO. Green lasers bounced o≠ the white funky balls. Lil Jon rattled the subwoofers. VogtRoberts’s crew shared champagne and tropical fruit. A man in a hat and a man with a beard harassed two women at Vogt-Roberts’s table, groping them and asking them to leave Vogt-Roberts and join them, but the women shooed them away.

knuckles hitting flesh, windows smashing, clubgoers screaming “Ði, d–i, d–i!”—“Go, go, go!”—and bodies hitting the ground. Choi had fought in countless movies, but he had never seen this kind of violence before. Choreographed Hollywood fights are tidy and uncluttered; filmmakers want viewers to see what’s going on. This violence was hard to follow J U L Y

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A T T A CK ON SKULL ISLAND

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and hard to watch. At one point, a scrawny blond expat got knocked over and knocked out. The biggest gangster walked over and stomped repeatedly on his skull. Several clubgoers say they never saw XOXO security guards step in during the attack. (XOXO’s founder disputes this.) Once the club was destroyed and the attackers had located the missing cell phone, they took the elevator down to Le Thi Hong Gam Street and vanished. • • • S E V E R A L X O X O P A T R O N S ended up in the

hospital that night. They included Timothy Linh Bui, expats from other tables, and Vogt-Roberts. On September 11, a Vietnamese news site published this headline: kong director hospitalized after alleged bar fight in saigon. When I e-mailed from back in the United States to say I was sorry he’d gotten into a fight, Vogt-Roberts replied: “Dude. This was not a fight. I was almost killed as were others. This was a fucking assault by insane gangsters.” He sent me a photo from his bed at the Franco-Vietnamese hospital. Gashes in his scalp ran toward a crater on his forehead. A CT scan and other tests revealed a fractured skull, contusions, hemorrhaging, and a cerebral air pocket. His head wrapped in gauze, Vogt-Roberts Facetimed Jason Mitchell. “I was in tears,” Mitchell said later. “I couldn’t help it. I’ve never seen him that vulnerable. After [the fire-pit explosion in which] he blew himself up, he was joking around in the fucking hospital. But this time shit got deep. It got really deep.” Vogt-Roberts spent ten days in that bed, climbing out of a morphine haze and trying to find out who assaulted him. He texted people familiar with Saigon’s crime and nightlife scenes, many of whom had the same response: It’s better if you don’t look into who did this. When Vogt-Roberts would ask why, his terrified friends hinted that his assailants were protected and that their reach was global. As he was driven away from the hospital after being discharged, Vogt-Roberts looked out the untinted windows of the van and had a full-on panic attack. Surrounded by an ocean of motorbikes and possibly wanted by mobsters, he was an easy target in a glass box. When he reached the Park Hyatt, he took the back service elevator up to the presidential suite and finally calmed himself down enough to sleep. A couple of hours later, he woke up to a beep and a thump. Recognizing the sound of an opening door, he leapt out of bed and grabbed the steak knife from his room-service tray, crept up to the bedroom door, and pressed his ear against the wood, channeling Metal Gear 9 0

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tactics while his mind swirled with adrenaline. He headed knife-first into the living room. Empty. Then he edged over to the bathroom, where he discovered that the noises were a greeting from the mouth of his Japanese toilet. The next day, Vogt-Roberts visited the o∞ce of the Vietnamese Crime Investigation Division and watched XOXO security footage of the attack. Even though a handful of people who were in the club that night had told him that his assault was seemingly random, he worried that he was about to watch himself provoke his own beating. “I remember I wasn’t being an asshole,” he says. “I remember I wasn’t instigating. I remember getting punched in the fucking side of the face. But you never fucking know. You’re out at a fucking nightclub.” But from the vantage of the surveillance camera, Vogt-Roberts saw that he was only handing his phone to a Vietnamese woman who wanted to know his Instagram handle. It was the same woman who had rejected the gangsters a few hours before. O≠ to the side, a bearded man and a bu≠ dude with a B on his hat—the men who’d been declined— pointed at him and dispatched a lackey to go up to him and disrupt his conversation with the woman. When a man grabbed his shoulder from behind, Vogt-Roberts responded, “What the fuck?” Two weeks afterward, barely out of a tenday hospital stay and facing what he was told could be permanent brain damage, VogtRoberts watched himself get beaten nearly to death. After he saw the liquor bottle fracture his skull and knock him onto the floor, he tried to stare through the video screen and pretend it wasn’t real. But he couldn’t look away from the brutal facts: He was sitting, broken, in a Vietnamese police station, and the men who’d broken him were out there, anonymous and free.

• • • O N S E P T E M B E R 2 0 , Vogt-Roberts flew home. Beverly Hills specialists determined that he had a concussion and that his skull fracture was more serious than he was told in Vietnam. “Today was just a series of doctors looking me very deeply in the eyes and saying, without bullshit, that I was very VERY close to being dead,” he texted me. Weeks after the attack, he still felt aftershocks— dizziness, pain, vertigo. His plan to buy a house in Saigon was replaced by a decision to heal in America. Sitting on his couch in East L.A., though, Vogt-Roberts longed for Vietnam. “The main thing that was helping me feel creative and feel refreshed,” he said, “the thing that was helping me bounce back to normal life—not only did that get taken away from me, it got taken away from me through an assault and trauma.” To make things even worse for Vogt-Roberts, he could only guess about the prospects of the investigation: The Vietnamese police hadn’t told him who their suspects were or whether they were close to catching them. He called his mother, whom he hadn’t spoken to in weeks. “You’re exceptionally good at powering through,” she told him. He thought to himself, What if this is the time that it all breaks? What if this is the one thing I can’t push through? Vogt-Roberts realized there was one thing that would help

him move on: bringing his mystery gangster assailants to justice. He wanted to send what he called “an Obi-Wan–type message: Strike me down and I’ll come back more powerful than you ever imagined.” Using Facebook Messenger, he began conducting his own investigation, piecing together scraps of information gleaned from friends and XOXO clubbers. The first intel he received was that the culprits weren’t local; they were Canadian. Most likely, they were Vietnamese-Canadian drug tra∞ckers who moved to Vietnam to escape pressure in Vancouver or to broaden their global distribution chain. Or as a friend put it, “to live like kings, sleep with models, and start fights.” In almost every Blame Canada conversation, Vogt-Roberts’s sources named two possible suspects: “Cuong” and “Kenny.” These guys had apparently destroyed two other

We started to play full-on Hardy Boys. With new revelations, he’d text me: “Holy shit are we in a David Fincher movie???” Saigon nightclubs. After days of investigative heavy lifting, Vogt-Roberts texted me the names, and, while I stood in line for a bagel in Brooklyn, I joined the international crime investigation: going to Google and typing “Kenny Cuong Vancouver Vietnam.” The second result was the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s wanted list. It showed a photo of Ken Cuong Manh Nguyen, a man with a tiger tattoo on his right shoulder and a scar near his right eye. Kenny was unlawfully at large after killing a rival gang member outside a Vancouver nightclub in 1999. I sent Vogt-Roberts a text that said, “Yo, could this be the guy?” “Maybe,” he responded. “I’ll send it to some people.” He went on Facebook Messenger and passed the link around. Talking to one friend, he asked, “This isn’t him, right?” But the friend responded with a blue thumbs-up: a∞rmative. Piecing together bits from other sources—witnesses at XOXO, victims of other attacks, a mutual friend of the gangsters—a picture began to emerge. Vogt-Roberts believed that two Canadian gangsters, both named Cuong, led the XOXO rampage that night, and he was fairly certain that Ken Cuong Manh Nguyen was one of them. Vogt-Roberts and I temporarily shelved the magazine profile and started to play full-on Hardy Boys. We dug through court files and nightclub photos, comparing our notes every week. With new revelations, he’d text me: “Holy shit are we in a David Fincher movie???” We spoke to people immersed in the world of Vietnamese organized crime and, when local Vietnamese cops were less than forthcoming, of Canadian law enforcement. A high-ranking Vancouver-police source told us that Kenny Cuong was a member of the Chinatown Boys, a gang of street enforcers for major Canadian gang members. Because of its geography, ecology, and drug laws, Vancouver is a global drug-tra∞cking


ATTACK ON SKULL ISLAND CONTINUED

hub. And ever since the American War (as they call it in Vietnam) flooded Canada with Vietnamese refugees, the VietnameseCanadian connection has run deep. Cuong was arrested for the Vancouver club murder, and he received full parole in 2012. Among other restrictions, the parole board mandated that he reside in Canada, avoid other gangsters, and, prudently, stay away from nightclubs. These guidelines were lightly enforced—according to the Mounties, he “was granted permission by the Parole Board of Canada to travel to Vietnam from April to May of 2015 and failed to return.” The Vancouver-police source told us about Cuong’s involvement with the so-called United Nations, a multicultural drug syndicate that imprints “U.N.” on the kilos of cocaine it distributes—and on deceased members’ graves. According to a U.N. expert with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, it did multi-million-dollar deals with El Chapo’s Sinaloa cartel, sending airplanes and helicopters over the U.S.-Canadian border. One of the leaders of the group was a “multi-million-dollar drug guy” named Billy Tran. The Vancouver-police source heard that Tran is “living like a king” in Vietnam, where he likely helps pull strings in a Vancouver drug war against the Red Scorpions/Wolf Pack, a conflict he says has claimed more than 60 lives. Vogt-Roberts passed on the information to the Saigon police, and on September 27, 2017, in his capacity as tourism ambassador, he published a statement about the attack. He promised that his wounds didn’t diminish his love for Vietnam. He wrote that the attackers “do not represent this consistently amazing country nor the souls of its people.” He expressed his “full faith that the authorities will bring this gang of thugs to justice.” • • • M O N T H S P A S S E D , the gangsters remained

at large, and we weren’t anywhere closer to finding out who the other Cuong was. VogtRoberts called the American embassy and the Vietnamese police, but they had little to report. There was only so much VogtRoberts, still su≠ering dizziness, exhaustion, and depression, could do to solve the case in America, thousands of miles from where he believed the men who attacked him were still living free. He said he’d tried everything to stop obsessing over the attack, “from drinking too much to partying too much to fucking being serious about meditation to reading books to finding a trauma therapist. Every possible thing.” Nothing worked. His life was a wreck.* So in January, five months after his assault, he decided to try the only thing left: returning to Vietnam. I went with him. On the flight over, he wrote himself a note: “Yes, my existential crisis about the film industry is real. Yes, I’m unsure of how to create the best relationship with my parents, *It was during this period that adult-film actress and director Dana DeArmond tweeted about a drink she had with Vogt-Roberts in 2010, three months after she was filmed on the set of Mash Up: “He leaned in for a kiss. I said ‘no thank you’ he replied ‘don’t make this weird’ and kissed me anyway.” Vogt-Roberts says the kiss was consensual; DeArmond insists that it was not.

but fundamentally that’s because those things were broken. Now I have to do the fucking heavy lifting of actually figuring out what that means.” Together in Saigon, we got drinks with a mutual friend of the gangsters, bought funky balls for fellow victims, and met XOXO employees for Vietnamese co≠ee. We heard some enticing details—that one of the Cuongs supposedly drives a souped-up Mercedes with a license plate that contains 6666, that Billy Tran and his henchmen live in a luxury riverside apartment complex in Saigon—but nearly everyone claimed that they couldn’t identify the attackers. People were afraid, it seemed, to publicly accuse major drug lords known for disproportionate violence. One night, I had what felt like a close call. A source who had been at XOXO on September 9 and who was said to be familiar with Saigon’s criminal networks asked me to meet him for a vaguely described, o≠-the-record dinner at an address he texted to me. When I arrived on the back of a motorbike taxi, I looked up and saw a luxury high-rise— one of the flashy new waterside developments bringing South Beach to the Saigon River— and realized that the source wanted me to meet him inside the same complex I’d been warned about before. Billy Tran’s supposed building. Shaking, I asked the taxi driver to keep moving, quickly. I woke up to a text from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. We’d sent them photos of the gangsters at XOXO, and an o∞cial had written back: “Max, I have somebody that will ID both. He knows them well from policing them in the

“The red hat is Billy Tran,” the retired investigator said. “He also goes by Viet Cuong Tran. He’s kind of a quiet guy, but he’s not someone to cross.” 90’s and early 2000’s. He is willing to go on the record.” I went to the kitchen table and texted the new source at 8:59 a.m. He texted back at 9: “Call me now.” After one ring, a stern older man with a bouncy Fargo accent picked up. The source, who asked to be identified as a “retired Vancouver-gang investigator,” began talking about the United Nations crime ring and what he called “gang crapola.” He said he’d immediately recognized the two men in the XOXO photos. The bearded man was indeed Ken Cuong, he told me. He’d known Kenny through homicide investigations and street run-ins, and he was very glad the gangster was in Vietnam instead of Canada. Then he turned his attention to the photo of the bu≠ guy with a B on his hat. “That’s Billy,” the retired investigator said. “The red hat is Billy Tran. He also goes by Viet Cuong Tran. Numerous times I’ve dealt with him. He’s kind of a quiet guy, but he’s not someone to cross.” I began to shiver. Even though our suspect literally wore a red hat with his first initial on it, the Hardy Boys had never dreamed Billy Tran could

have been involved. We thought we were hunting down henchmen, not an international crime boss. • • • T W O D A Y S L A T E R , Vogt-Roberts and I met

in his hotel suite. Before he started talking, he took out a hotel notepad and wrote, “Like in Russian hotels, I’ve been told this room is bugged.” I remembered the rumor relayed by the retired Vancouver investigator that a powerful member of the United Nations drug syndicate owns one of the biggest hotels in Saigon. I really hoped it wasn’t Vogt-Roberts’s hotel. I picked up the notepad and wrote: “Vancouver ID’d both Cuongs!” “Wait, really?” Vogt-Roberts said out loud. “Yep,” I wrote. “Photo confirmation.” Vogt-Roberts put his hands on his head. Forget the bug. I needed to tell him the news faster than I could write. “On Tuesday,” I whispered, “a gang investigator in Vancouver confirmed Kenny Cuong’s and the other Cuong’s involvement in your attack. The bearded man with the expensive haircut was Kenny, and the weight-lifter dude with a B on his hat was Cuong. His name is Cuong Tran, but he goes by Billy. Billy Cuong Tran. Billy Tran.” Vogt-Roberts leaned back into the couch, grinned, and said, “This is a big fucking deal.” The Billy Tran news clearly didn’t scare him the way it scared me. The next morning, Vogt-Roberts returned to the Vietnamese Crime Investigation Division o∞ce for the first time since September. Armed with the results of our investigation, he listened as the detectives confirmed Billy Tran and Kenny Cuong as primary suspects. Then they shared even better news: Tran and his colleagues had flown to Bangkok the day after the attack. If the gang members ever tried to return to Vietnam, the C.I.D. had their names and Canadian-passport numbers. The investigator assured him that when you assault the tourism ambassador, you can’t bribe your way back into Vietnam. If the system held, all that awaited the gangsters upon their return was the national equivalent of felony-assault charges. In the following months, there would be a lot more Hardy Boys work. Vogt-Roberts would attempt to figure out who his other assailants were, clear bureaucratic logjams between Canada and Vietnam, hire lawyers, and somehow try to influence global extradition laws. The authorities would chase leads in Bangkok and elsewhere, but while the search for the assailants continued, VogtRoberts would continue to find solace in a memory of his police visit: An investigator sat a Bush-era Dell Vostro laptop on the wood table and played the XOXO tape for him one last time. Vogt-Roberts rewatched couches flipping, glass shattering, bodies being swarmed, Spider-Man leaping, a liquor bottle cracking his skull and toppling him to the ground. He reached the moment in the tape that, just a few months ago, he’d had to look away from. This time, he kept watching. He knew who the men leading his attack were. He knew they had run away and that he had come back. Vogt-Roberts watched the video to its end, and for the first time, he saw himself get up. max marshall is a writer in New York City. This is his first article for gq. J U L Y

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half a dozen trips there in a year and a half. “It really is a scary place.” The most infamous of his failed Russian deals—the one that backfired monumentally and now may imperil his father’s presidency—had nothing to do with real estate. In June 2016, when a set of Russians with oblique ties to the Kremlin reached out to Don through an intermediary promising damaging information on Hillary Clinton that “would be very useful to your father,” Junior couldn’t have been more curious. “If it’s what you say,” Don infamously wrote back to them, “I love it.” According to evidence and testimony released by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Don next made a few calls, a couple to Russia and a couple to a blocked number. (Investigators pointed out that Donald Trump Sr. uses a blocked number.) Don then set up a meeting at Trump Tower with the Russians, one of whom—lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya— was said to be connected to the Russian prosecutor general, an old ally of Vladimir Putin. And so on June 9, 2016, Don—along with his brother-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort—began a fateful confab in a conference room in Trump Tower. According to a person who was there, after some pleasantries about the view of Central Park, Don got straight to it. “So I believe you have some information for us?” he asked. Veselnitskaya began reading from prepared remarks about DNC donors the Zi≠ brothers, their alleged tax evasion, and the connection she saw between them and Putin critic Bill Browder. According to testimony, Don tried to get the conversation back on track. “ ‘So can you show us how does this money go to Hillary?’ ” two of the participants recall him asking. Veselnitskaya shot back, “Why don’t you do your own research on her? We gave you the idea.” According to one of the participants in the meeting, Don began to realize he wasn’t going to be handed what he was hoping for. “The light just went out in his eyes,” the participant told me recently. “He was totally disinterested.” Veselnitskaya then went into a long, tangled exposition about the Magnitsky Act and the adoption of Russian children, but it seemed like the two sides were now talking past each other, says the participant. Manafort seemed to fall asleep. Kushner grew agitated, asked why they were talking about adoptions, and left. According to the meeting participant, Don recognized that things had turned futile—but o≠ered to stay in touch. The participant said Don had a parting message for the Russians: “ ‘When we win’—he said when, not if—‘when we win, come back and see us again.’ ” 9 2

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That meeting, which Don had hoped would prove useful, has since become as useful as a hole in the head. It is now a prime focus of the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller into potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. “I think he regrets taking the meeting,” a source close to Don told me. “Does he regret it because he thinks he did something wrong? No. He regrets it because it ended up causing a situation that wasted a lot of time and money.” The New York Times recently reported that Don also met with an Israeli and an emissary from two Arab princes seeking to help his father win the election. “Maybe he’s not an intellectual, but he tried to be useful for his family,” the participant from the Russia meeting told me. “I feel bad for him, honestly.” Last fall, when Don was called before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was investigating potential links between his father’s campaign and the Russian government, he seemed oblivious to the gravity of the mess he’d created. “In the breaks between the questions, he was making dumb jokes about how absurd it was that he was even there,” says a source familiar with the investigation. “He had this sense of impunity at a time when it was dangerous, when it seemed like it was the Hill that would get them.” Instead of being wary of his questioners, Don wanted to be helpful and calmly acknowledged that he had corresponded with WikiLeaks during the election. He then happily turned the correspondence over to congressional investigators, helpful as ever. “He wasn’t embarrassed to be revealing that he had exchanged DMs with WikiLeaks,” says the source, even though it was by this point abundantly clear to the American o∞cials that WikiLeaks had links to Russian intelligence. “He’s too stupid to be malicious.” The source’s impression of Don was that he, like seemingly everyone else in Trump’s orbit, was uselessly trying to impress a man who can only be impressed by himself. “He’s hustling and trying to do what he can to contribute but without knowing where the lines are,” the source said of Don, adding ruefully, “He’s a sad and tragic figure.”

• • • U S E F U L A S D O N has tried to be to his father,

his blunt re-invention as a political warrior has perhaps been costly in surprisingly personal ways. In March, as Mueller’s investigation gathered steam, Vanessa filed for divorce. The New York tabloids, descending on the carrion of yet another Trump marriage, speculated that Don’s political transformation and volatile social-media presence were to blame. Rumors began to circulate in Trump World that Don has taken to drinking again. When news of the divorce broke, the papers dug into Vanessa’s past and reported on the marinara fortune she suddenly inherited—a windfall that seemed to free her from Don, who, the tabloids wrote, had kept her on a tight financial leash. (A rep for Vanessa denied the allegations of money problems between her and Don.) “Page Six” also unearthed an old a≠air Don allegedly had with flash-in-the-pan pop star Aubrey O’Day, whom he’d met on the set of Celebrity Apprentice. It had been Don’s father, “Page Six” claimed, who’d ordered that

illicit relationship to end in 2011. According to another report, Trump’s fixer, Michael Cohen, had been called in to keep the story quiet. In Don’s marriage and in its breach, it seems it was his father who called the shots. For her part, O’Day has declined interview requests but continues to fuel conversation. It was revealed that after the illicit romance supposedly ended, O’Day recorded a hardly veiled ballad called “DJT.” And days after news broke this past spring that Don had moved on to date Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, O’Day wrote on Instagram, “He’s still searching for me in every other woman.” The perennial tabloid fascination with Trump-family drama might not surprise Don, but it apparently now stings him. After a childhood seared by the trauma of divorce, he’s keenly aware that his five children are today in the same position he once was. His eldest, Donald Trump III, is now 9—old enough to wonder why his family’s struggles are in the papers, much like Don junior once had. “The way he looks at everything [written about him in the press] is ‘What will the kids think?’ ” says Don’s friend, “and the answer here ain’t a good one.” And yet for all the tumult—and for all the lingering legal woe the Mueller probe portends—there’s perhaps another way to glimpse these prismatic days of Donald Trump Jr.’s. His father, by virtue of being in the Oval O∞ce, is no longer in the one directly above him, which, by some accounts, has freed Don up to thrive—to court attention or to settle scores on his own terms. There’s little doubt that as a political creature, Don has grown more sure-footed. Once reportedly derided by Trump campaign sta≠ers as “Fredo,” the Corleone child who can’t seem to do anything right except endanger his family legacy, Don has now become one of Trump’s most useful spokesmen. “It’s not that he doesn’t want the Trump Organization to succeed, but I think he’s enjoying the challenge of his political e≠orts,” says the source close to Don. “And it’s more exciting than what he’s been doing for the last 20 years. This is something new in his life that he happens to be good at.” Scaramucci told me about a night in Pittsburgh, just before the election, when he took notice of the e≠ect Junior was starting to have. Don was scheduled to talk to a crowd that the local o∞cials figured would be about 400. “Over 3,000 showed up to hear him speak,” Scaramucci said, noting that Don has clearly found a voice and tuned it to a frequency that resonates. And in coming months, he’ll be making a big push to campaign for Republicans ahead of this year’s midterms— firing up his father’s base. “He’s not really even a surrogate; he’s a substitute,” Scaramucci told me. “You see the di≠erence?” Like Republican populists of the past decade, Don speaks of “real Americans,” people he defines as “the forgotten people between New York City and Malibu.” It’s an improbable notion: that the billionaire’s kid from 68 stories above Fifth Avenue is the one who speaks for the disa≠ected and the overlooked. But it’s no less surprising than the faint rumors suggesting that he might someday run for o∞ce—a way to finally, perhaps, make a name for himself.

julia ioffe is a gq correspondent.


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The twitchy kid in the suit said he was going to college in Washington, D.C. He took the last flight of the day to Atlanta, then Ubered two and a half hours to Plains and started waiting at 3 a.m. “I thought it’d be cool,” he said. And the ride only cost about $150, much less than he’d expected. Some visitors confessed that this had always been on their bucket list, and, well, who knew how much longer Mr. Jimmy would be around? 1 At first, I was a bit afraid to admit I wasn’t necessarily here to get closer to Jesus but, feeling bereft at the country we’ve become, had come looking for uplift. George told us that the Carters recently had a hill across the road from their house landscaped, marked for their eventual grave sites. Everyone shook their heads solemnly, not wanting to imagine it. Later, inside the church, Miss Jan greeted the gathered pilgrims. She was a short, commanding, wisecracking woman with a sassafras shrub of gray hair. She’d once lived in Washington, acting as “governess” for the youngest of the Carters’ four children, Amy, who now, at 50, has two sons of her own and is a classroom aide at a school in Atlanta. Miss Jan told us how happy she was to see us and that we were not to “get cute” when Mr. Jimmy came in. “Some of you are going to stop breathing, almost,” she said. “So amazed that this man is here.”

• • • O U R A M E R I C A , as summed up recently by The

New York Times, is a place where “life expectancy has declined, suicide rates have risen, the opioid crisis has worsened, inequality has grown, and confidence in government has fallen.” But our democracy has survived ragged, if not broken, times before. In 1971 the Times asked in a headline, is america falling apart? Then put a fine point on it: “America is a prewar country, psychologically unprepared for one thing to go wrong,” wrote Anthony Burgess. “Now everything [seems] to be going wrong. Hence the neurosis, despair, the Kafka feeling that the whole marvelous fabric of American life is coming apart at the seams.” If we were fully unraveling in 1971, what was 1974, then? What were 1776 and 1862? We were coming apart at the seams in 1929 and 1942, 1963 and 2001. It’s possible we’ve been coming apart since our inception. Perhaps it’s a shortcoming of our American imagination, or national narcolepsy—and part of our volcanic creation story, too—to believe that this moment, right now, may be the worst moment ever, over and over and over again. If we forget 1. When I told a friend I’d been visiting Jimmy Carter’s Sunday-school class, his eyes grew wide, and he said, “That guy’s still alive?”

other dysfunctional presidents, from John Quincy Adams and John Tyler to LBJ and Nixon, we might believe that this president is the most irrational, unstable, and narcissistic of all. The potential split atom of our democracy forever threatens to be our annihilation. But it doesn’t mitigate these times to say there have been times like them before. It only begs the question: To whom might we appeal, or where might we find not just a voice of reason but one to remind us that—despite division and gun violence, deep-seated issues of race and class—the experiment is still worthy and vital? Perhaps this is why people come to Plains. Because to gaze upon Jimmy Carter, to look upon a face marked by time—the charismatic handsomeness of his 50s has softened, hollowed, and transformed into the weatherworn visage of his 90s—is to see someone shorn of ambition, trying to tell a truth, or his truth. Somewhere inside the man we knew as president, there’s always been Mr. Jimmy, the seeker, who over time grew in concentration, no longer caring for our approval but, in a weird way, for the state of our national soul. If he was once criticized as a politician for being egomaniacal or sanctimonious, it’s easier, with his presidency in the deep past, to accept Jimmy Carter as a human being whose heart might have always been in the right place. In church, teaching from the Bible, Mr. Jimmy becomes to his followers the purest distillation, then, of some post-presidency ideal, some secular saint. On the hallway bulletin board are pinned pictures of community events, the Carters beaming with locals. The butterfly garden out back was built by Rosalynn. And at these Sunday-school meetings, her husband steadies our twitchiness in singsong tones, with a personal psalm of history, Bible study, current events, and autobiography. “There’s no way to separate completely the responsibilities of public service and also some basic moral and ethical principles on which we base the finest aspects of our life,” Mr. Jimmy says, “and we cure the problems in our society.” He likes to quote a favorite theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, who said, “The sad duty of politics is to establish justice in a sinful world.” Carter says, for better or worse, he tried. In the Oval O∞ce every morning before beginning his day’s work, he would stand before the huge globe situated by the Resolute desk and touch his finger on Moscow, trying to put himself in Brezhnev’s shoes. He would think: How can I not provoke him today? “We never shot a bullet, we never dropped a bomb, we never launched a missile,” says Mr. Jimmy of his time in o∞ce. It’s a fact he’s proud of, especially given that since World War II, America’s been at war with about 20 countries. China, on the other hand, hasn’t been in a major war since 1979. “What they have done is to use their enormous resources to benefit their own people,” he says. “China has 14,000 miles of fast-speed rail.” Look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he tells us one Sunday morning: “Thirty little, tiny paragraphs that you can read over in five minutes.… A lot of them are not being honored by our country in particular.… That’s why we have wars today. All of those 30 paragraphs guarantee that women and men should have equal pay and equal opportunity for advancement and equal rights.… We have a long way to go.”

If we as a nation su≠er from thin-skinned righteousness, or ideological arrogance, he says he himself has su≠ered the sins of pride, thinking himself superior at times—to women, to those of di≠erent background. He’s not proud of this in the least, but he has the courage to admit it. “Who decided whether you’d be kind or filled with hatred?” he asks on another morning. “Who decided whether you would forgive other people or not? Who decided whether you’d be honest and tell the truth or not? Who decided whether you would be generous or not? Who decided whether you’d be filled with love or not?” Then he answers his own questions: “Every one of us,” says Mr. Jimmy, “has our own free decision to answer the question This is the kind of person I’m going to be. It’s not a decision that your parents can make for you, or

He loves to quote his schoolteacher Miss Julia, who oft repeated, “We must accommodate changing times but cling to unchanging principles.” your wife can make for you, or your husband or your friends. Everybody in here has the right to decide This is the kind of person I’m going to be. And if you haven’t been the kind of person that you are proud of so far, you’re free from now on the rest of your life to correct your mistakes.” It’s true of us in our private lives and true in public lives. It’s true, too, when we think about the life of our town or state or nation. This is how it begins, actually, today. With this goodness, change, and hope, of which Mr. Jimmy speaks. He loves to quote his schoolteacher Miss Julia, who oft repeated, “We must accommodate changing times but cling to unchanging principles.” Mr. Jimmy asks for people to characterize in a word this moment we live in, under this president. “Confused,” someone shouts. “Twitter,” yells another. Divided, angry, crazy… Once the floodgate opens, people can’t stop—reactionary, frightening, embarrassing…—but Mr. Jimmy eventually brings it to a shush. “How many of you have faith that our country can survive this despicable situation and come out okay?” There’s a caesura, and then all the hands in the congregation go up. It surprises and overwhelms even Mr. Jimmy a little. “If you don’t mind,” he says, “I’m going to put that in my book.” • • • A N A M E R I C A N A P O T H E O S I S is often built

on a humbling downfall, and Jimmy Carter has his, too, of course. He came to the presidency as one of the longest long shots in history: With only 2 percent name recognition when he began his primary run, he eventually won 50.1 percent of the national vote to defeat incumbent Gerald Ford. After four tumultuous years, he found himself as widely disliked as almost any president in history. His 34 percent approval rating upon exit was the same as George W. Bush’s, according to J U L Y

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Gallup; the only modern presidents more hated were Nixon and Truman. In Carter’s case, despite the triumph of a Middle East peace agreement and the normalization of relations with China, despite his claim of having the second-highest success rate of initiatives passed in Congress (LBJ was the first), he was blamed for crippling stagflation, a fuel crisis that led to epic gas-station lines, and a kind of Black Mirror episode in which a grumpy Iranian imam halfway around the world seemed to hold not just 52 Americans but an entire nation, including its president, hostage. Carter so worried over the hostages in Iran that he proclaimed they

“Do I have any kinfolk here today?” he asked. A man raised his hand. “You a kin to me? We’ll have to fish together.” were the first thing he thought about in the morning when he woke and the last thing he thought about at night during the 444 days of their captivity. To make matters worse, a failed rescue attempt left eight American servicemen dead in the Iranian desert.2 The Carter presidency (1977 to 1981) is partially remembered—and lampooned—for this very afterimage of ine≠ectuality, of a leaf man lost in the forest with a command for minute details but whose overweening morality eventually left him without political bite or guile. His religiosity also confused people. As the first president from a southern, evangelical-Christian tradition to talk about being “born again,” he was, according to E. J. Dionne Jr., treated by the press as “some sort of Martian.” 3 Surrounded by his “Georgia Mafia,” the group of advisers who’d helped make him governor of that state, Carter rode into Washington on a populist wave, as an outsider—and remained one. He took a dim view of Congress, at one point calling the members “juvenile delinquents.” A claim that came to define Carter’s microscopy was that, given all the crises in the world, the president himself controlled the sign-up sheet for the White House tennis court. (Carter eventually had to deny the detail.4 ) The toothy smile, the oversharing,5 Billy the beer-swilling brother, and a crazed swamp rabbit that seemed to muster an attack on the president as he fished—they all made for good punch lines. Though the true Carter was much more complicated, a combination, as described by historian Garry Wills, of “ferocious tenderness, the detached intimacy, the cooing which nonetheless suggests a proximity of lions.” His mean streak included an intense dislike for Ted Kennedy, blaming the senator for denying him a comprehensive health-care bill. In retrospect, there’s much about the Carter presidency that was shaped by externalities—in particular the Iranian revolution that was at the root of both the second oil crisis and the hostage-taking in 1979—and yet Carter’s response to both, epitomized in his famous “Crisis of Confidence” speech on July 15 of that year, was a withering sort of critique. In that address, he famously condemned our American addiction to stu≠, our 9 4

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materialism and consumerism. “Too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption,” he told us. He called for car pools, thermostats set lower, and obeyance of the speed limit not just as acts of common sense but of patriotism. To watch that speech now is to witness a very unusual sort of political mixing of morality, religion, and country frugality. (It seems telling that people misremember the speech as having been delivered in a cardigan sweater, rather than the suit and tie Carter wore.) Afterward, the White House switchboard lit up, allegedly with callers applauding the president. And yet judging by the reaction to that speech over time—including the election of Ronald Reagan—apparently what we craved was a di≠erent kind of bedtime story to solve our problems, not Carter’s strict-daddy austerity measures, ones that included solar panels on the White House. And yet the polls were still even on the Friday before Election Day, 1980; only in the waning moments of the campaign did Reagan’s brand provide the more powerful elixir. You can watch the aftermath on YouTube: Carter leaving Washington on Inauguration Day and flying back to Plains with Rosalynn, emerging in cold January rain to huge crowds. Here he is, then: 56 years old, and in the footage he sees his mother, Lillian, to whom he confesses he hasn’t slept in two nights, in a flurry of last-minute negotiations to free the hostages. He is home, among his friends and family, and yet there’s an air of exhaustion and melancholy. (“Allowing Ronald Reagan to become president,” he said later, “was by far my biggest failure in o∞ce.”) Prior to the presidency, he’d owned a prosperous peanut business, but due to mismanagement, he’s recently found out he’s over $1 million in debt. Not the most auspicious start to a post-presidency. At the time, America was mostly done with Jimmy Carter. We apparently were unconvinced by his wagging finger, by his stubbornness, by his inability to e≠ectively address the big challenges of the day. Our stature in the world seemed much diminished. He himself talks about his former “arrogance,” that he thought he possessed all the answers somehow. But we kept waiting for Godot to show up—and when he didn’t, we turned the page with some disgust. Ronald Reagan brought his California movie-star wattage and conservative duende, and, like that, after a fouryear interlude from the Nixonian nadir, the Republican party was seemingly resurrected and would run the table for the next 12 years. Carter’s last significant cameo was a visit with the released hostages in Germany at Reagan’s behest, one that left him moved and shaken. Then he retreated to write his memoirs from the 5,000 diary pages he’d kept during his White House years, and to pay back his debts.

• • • A S S U M M E R G A V E W A Y to fall in Plains, and

fall to winter, as winter relented to spring and the plums, figs, and sugarberries came back around, the cars kept pulling into the lot at Maranatha Baptist, greeted by George, who kept one eye on the heavens, looking for the Space Station. Back in February, Rosalynn took ill—“very, very ill” was how Mr. Jimmy had it. It had to do with her “insides,” repercussions from an operation years ago, and required

another operation, from which recovery was slow and arduous. Mr. Jimmy was going up to Atlanta twice a week to see her and abide with her and spend the night. Even he seemed a little more wobbly on his feet now, even more elfin with age. Sometimes Miss Jan set up a chair nearby that he never used, or a glass of water. He appeared from the wings at 10 a.m. each Sunday, flashing that disarming smile, and those hooded ice-blue eyes, the full e≠ect of which, when he registers surprise or joy, was startling, almost boyish. He spread the notes he never referred to on the podium, saying, “Good morning, everyone!” Beaming back at him were Connecticut and Arizona, a family from England, scatterlings from Taiwan, Japan, Scotland, Congo. “Do I have any kinfolk here today?” he asked. A man raised his hand. “You a kin to me? We’ll have to fish together.” Then he was o≠ again, musing about those statues of Confederate war heroes, whether they should be torn down: “When I see a statue of a soldier from the Confederate side, I feel like I might admire it because it might represent my grandparents.” Or sounding a little like Bernie Sanders, repeating beliefs he’s held long before we bothered listening to Bernie Sanders. “Today if you can’t raise $200 million, you can’t be the nominee,” he said, “and it costs $1 billion by the two candidates once they get done running. We’ve become an oligarchy ruled by wealth rather than a true democracy.” On a Sunday before Christmas, he claimed he’d just been on his last quail hunt. He was down in Leesburg with friends and noticed, while walking through the woods, that his balance was o≠. Rather than endanger anyone, he knew his shooting days were over. “I had to give up running when I was 80 years old, so age catches up with everybody,” he said.

When did Jimmy Carter forgive us? The answer to that was simple: The first day Mr. Jimmy, a citizen again, invited us all back to Plains, Georgia, for Sunday school, the day his expresidency began in earnest. In March, he reminded us that he was cancer-free. Maybe he could go on forever. So much was happening so quickly now: North Korea, Syria, Iran, Russian meddling, trade wars and porn stars, stock-market roller coaster, etc. He’d been in Egypt and met with the grand imam. He’d huddled with a White House o∞cial to brief him on the North Korea situation. (“I have a fairly good friend in the White House,” he said, then deadpanned, “Just one. I have to admit, it’s not the president.”) He’d recently sent a message to Putin, telling him that with the help of Google they’d constructed a “map of belligerence in Syria.” He wondered if Putin himself would be “interested in having it so he would bomb the right people.” Here we were, then, humans evolved to a high point, an apex, trying to kill each other, both figuratively and literally.


ADDITIONAL CREDITS

JIMMY CARTER CONTINUED

To inoculate myself, I’d tried to boycott the news, but then couldn’t. It seemed to boil down to a peculiar choice at this moment, between being apoplectic or apathetic. Was there a medical diagnosis for the national diminishment of hope? And on Sunday, Mr. Jimmy stood up in front of the world as it arrived to Plains—speaking before some sort of unspoken resistance movement—and calmly kept right on teaching his lessons. On the last Sunday I was in the crowd, Mr. Jimmy was talking about Tolstoy’s War and Peace. He was wondering if any of us had read it, and an uncertain hand or two went up. “It’s about ordinary people,” Mr. Jimmy said with a flash of excitement. “The message I got from it was that even in Russia, that was controlled by an emperor, it was the common, ordinary people that shaped the outcome of the major historical events. And if that’s true in a country that’s had an emperor, who was a dictator, it must be true in our country. You see, that’s the transition that I want us to make this morning. We, individual citizens [in] a democracy, we are the ones that determine what kind of country we have.” Afterward, at the nearby cafeteria, a fellow attendee—California—asked a group of us, “When did you forgive Jimmy Carter?” I understood the gist of the question—when did the failures of his presidency resolve into a higher regard for this citizen sainthood of his, if that’s what it is? But it seemed reverse to me. I was thinking about that Friday before the 1980 election, when the polls showed Carter and Reagan in a dead heat. We voted for the bedtime story, then, eight years, plus four more under Bush, that led to deeper class and race divides, to the rich getting much richer while the poor got much poorer. To me, the more accurate question might have been: When did Jimmy Carter forgive us? And the answer to that was simple: The first day Mr. Jimmy, a citizen again, invited us all back to Plains, Georgia, for Sunday school, the day his ex-presidency began in earnest. Four decades later, Mr. Jimmy was still flickering: He mowed the lawn at the church, and weeded, and because he favors woodworking, Mr. Jimmy has made the cross that hangs in the sanctuary, and the collection plates, and a table. Here was a man of peace, who was betting on the long arc of history, for us to be saved from ourselves again. If a president embodies a certain aspect of our country in any given moment, then you could look back and see now that Mr. Jimmy was the goodness of what we could be, the betterment. If he’d come to the presidency as a public servant, he was going to die one, too. His most important speeches were now given at 10 a.m., at Maranatha Baptist Church, and those lined no one’s pockets. Maybe the example Mr. Jimmy had set, in retrospect, is that the presidency itself isn’t a brand, after all. And that he wasn’t an accident of history, either, wasn’t just a four-year pendulum swing away from Nixon. Perhaps he’d been sent to carry his own message, campaigning for an idea that the greatest strength lies in humbling ourselves before one another. Peace and di≠erence, together. When it came time to hire Brandon, the 24-year-old pastor, Mr. Jimmy sat with everyone else from church at a long table in the cafeteria and, over fried chicken, collard greens, and sweet tea, asked questions and listened.

They hired Brandon, and the young pastor still remembers a small moment that says everything, he thinks. It was a Sunday night back at the church recently, after the morning’s Sunday-school teaching by Mr. Jimmy, and the service, and lunch, after another afternoon and evening event. It was 8 p.m., and only a few people were left at Maranatha, when all of a sudden the Secret Service swooped in. Out of a black car popped Mr. Jimmy, one arm in a sling from a minor mishap, clutching a hammer. “President Carter,” said Brandon, “what are you doing?” “The door needs fixing,” said Mr. Jimmy, smiling. He gamboled over, did some pounding and hammering, made a fair bit of noise. Then he turned and teetered across the yard. As quickly as he’d materialized, he was gone, in a black car carrying him back along the familiar streets of Plains, back to Rosalynn and the same old appliances and Formica countertops of home. michael paterniti is a gq correspondent. 2. Many have attributed the 10 percent di≠erence in votes between Carter and Reagan in the 1980 presidential election to the brinkmanship of Ayatollah Khomeini, whose hatred seemed reserved for Carter alone after Carter grudgingly allowed the Shah of Iran to take up residence in the U.S., a case of the human-rights advocate ceding to the human-rights abuser. Carter was so besieged by Shah supporters like Henry Kissinger imploring him to let the Shah into America for cancer treatment that after yet one more strong-arming meeting, Carter’s reported to have yelled, “Fuck the Shah!” By placing the crisis front and center, however, Carter also made it a top news story. Nightline, an instantly popular show hosted by Ted Koppel, was created to cover the crisis. Years later, when Koppel bumped into Carter, Carter is reported to have said to the anchor, “You know, there were only two people who really benefited from all of that—you and the Ayatollah Khomeini.” 3. As the presidential historian Douglas Brinkley wrote: “Carter never fit in the capital because his leadership style was essentially religious in nature, more preacher than politician. Among American presidents only Carter peppered his speeches with the word ‘love’ and earnest Christian entreaties for ‘tenderness’ and ‘healing.’... As president he spoke openly of his Christian faith and all it entailed: daily prayers, abhorrence of violence, the belief that the meek shall inherit the earth, the courage to champion the underdog. Most of all, his faith taught him that a clear conscience was always preferable to Machiavellian expediency—a pretty healthy attitude that proved both Carter’s greatest strength and his bane.” 4. While criticizing the Carter presidency, his former speechwriter James Fallows also wrote at the time: “After two and a half years in Carter’s service, I fully believe him to be a good man. With his moral virtues and his intellectual skills, he is perhaps as admirable a human being as has ever held the job.… Carter is usually patient, less vindictive than the political norm, blessed with a sense of perspective about the chanciness of life and the transience of its glories and pursuits. I left his service feeling that if moral choices faced him, he would resolve them fairly, that when questions of life and death, of nuclear war and human destruction were laid upon his desk, he would act on them calmly, with self-knowledge, free of interior demons that might tempt him to act rashly or to prove at terrible cost that he was a man.” 5. In a wide-ranging November 1976 interview with Playboy magazine, Carter famously said, “I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times.” Out of context, it sounds like Carter’s TMI version of Pollyannaish locker talk. What gets excised, however, is what he said just before and just after, as he was answering a question about religion and the impossible standards set by Christ, who said that to look upon a woman with lust is to commit adultery in your heart. He concludes: “This is something God recognizes I will do—and I have done it—and God forgives me for it.”

Pages 56–57. From left: João Canziani; Julien Capmeil Pages 58–59. From left: Westend61 GmbH/ Alamy; Paul Shiels/Alamy Pages 60–61. Clockwise from top left: Domin_Domin/Getty Images; courtesy of Stephen Ringer/Hotel II Pellicano; Dalibor Brlek/Alamy; Jose Fuste Raga/Getty Images Pages 62–63. Clockwise from top left: Craig Easton/Gallery Stock; Vanessa Jackman; Markel Redondo; Education Images/Getty Images; Fox Searchlight Pictures/Everett Collection; David Mathre Pages 86–87. Clockwise from top left: Lifestyle Pictures/Alamy; Jayfish/Alamy; courtesy of Royal Canadian Mounted Police; DPA Picture Alliance/Alamy; courtesy of Jordan Vogt-Roberts; Warner Bros. Pictures/Everett Collection; Peter Turnley/ Corbis/VCG via Getty Images; Peter Charlesworth/LightRocket via Getty Images. Photo illustration for editorial purposes. Page 89. Courtesy of Jordan Vogt-Roberts gq is a registered trademark of advance magazine publishers inc. copyright © 2018 condé nast. all rights reserved. printed in the u.s.a. VOLUME 88, NO. 6. GQ (ISSN 0016-6979) is published monthly (except for combined issues in December/January) by Condé Nast, which is a division of Advance Magazine Publishers Inc. PRINCIPAL OFFICE: Condé Nast, One World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007. Robert A. Sauerberg, Jr., President & Chief Executive O∞cer; David E. Geithner, Chief Financial O∞cer; Pamela Drucker Mann, Chief Revenue & Marketing O∞cer. Periodicals postage paid at New York, NY, and at additional mailing o∞ces. Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement No. 40644503. Canadian Goods and Services Tax Registration No. 123242885-RT0001. POSTMASTER: SEND ALL UAA TO CFS (SEE DMM 507.1.5.2); NON-POSTAL AND MILITARY FACILITIES: Send address corrections to GQ, P.O. Box 37617, Boone, IA 50037-0717. FOR SUBSCRIPTIONS, ADDRESS CHANGES, ADJUSTMENTS, OR BACK ISSUE INQUIRIES: Please write to GQ, P.O. Box 37617, Boone, IA 50037-0717, call 800-289-9330, or e-mail subscriptions@gq.com. Please give both new and old addresses as printed on most recent label. First copy of new subscription will be mailed within eight weeks after receipt of order. Address all editorial, business, and production correspondence to GQ Magazine, One World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007. For reprints, please e-mail reprints@ condenast.com or call Wright’s Media, 877-652-5295. For re-use permissions, please e-mail contentlicensing@ condenast.com or call 800-897-8666. Visit us online at www.gq.com. To subscribe to other Condé Nast magazines on the World Wide Web, visit www.condenastdigital.com. Occasionally, we make our subscriber list available to carefully screened companies that o≠er products and services that we believe would interest our readers. If you do not want to receive these o≠ers and/or information, please advise us at P.O. Box 37617, Boone, IA 50037-0717 or call 800-289-9330. GQ IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RETURN OR LOSS OF, OR FOR DAMAGE OR ANY OTHER INJURY TO, UNSOLICITED MANUSCRIPTS, UNSOLICITED ARTWORK (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, DRAWINGS, PHOTOGRAPHS, AND TRANSPARENCIES), OR ANY OTHER UNSOLICITED MATERIALS. THOSE SUBMITTING MANUSCRIPTS, PHOTOGRAPHS, ARTWORK, OR OTHER MATERIALS FOR CONSIDERATION SHOULD NOT SEND ORIGINALS, UNLESS SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED TO DO SO BY GQ IN WRITING. MANUSCRIPTS, PHOTOGRAPHS, AND OTHER MATERIALS SUBMITTED MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY A SELF-ADDRESSED STAMPED ENVELOPE. J U L Y

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BACKSTORY

↑ Nobody has ever looked the part of a “psychedelic gangster” like Leonardo DiCaprio as a Verona Beach Romeo in Baz Luhrmann’s stylized Romeo + Juliet.

“We wanted to create a sweaty and kinda seedy parallel universe with Zayn as a psychedelic gangster,” says Will Welch, GQ’s creative director, of this issue’s cover shoot. (See page 40.) “Imagine an overdressed hustler in South Beach, wearing snakeskin boots and a faux-fur coat in the middle of July, and you get the idea.” ¶ Stylist Simon Rasmussen drew inspiration from Brad Pitt in Fight

IT’S SUMMER! GO CRAZY!

Club, Johnny Depp in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Leonardo DiCaprio in Romeo + Juliet. There were enough tinted sunglasses and unhinged prints to overwhelm any non– pop star—but that doesn’t mean you can’t try it yourself. “That’s how everyone should dress this summer. A little loud, a little tacky. It’s way too hot to worry about looking all perfectly put together.”

CENTER, FROM TOP: 20TH CENTURY FOX/ALBUM/NEWSCOM; COLLECTION CHRISTOPHEL/ALAMY; UNITED ARCHIVES GMBH/ALAMY

↑ We can’t say who we’d bet on in a Durden-Malik rumble, but we can tell you that we’ll be mining classics like Fight Club for style inspiration a whole lot more going forward. Point, Zayn.

↑ A bucket hat hasn’t looked this good since 1998: Johnny Depp’s iconic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas uniform got an edgy update. 9 6

G Q . C O M

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY SEBASTIAN MADER


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