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Josh Ostrovsky is really into ghosts.
So much so that when he arrived in Los Angeles in late September to promote his new book, the just-published Money Pizza Respect from Grand Central Publishing, the 33-year-old (best known as The Fat Jew or by his Instagram handle The Fat Jewish) knew exactly where he wanted to stay: The Culver Hotel.
“This is the hotel where all the munchkin actors from The Wizard of Oz stayed during filming and apparently things got crazy,” laughs Ostrovsky, mentioning the well-documented tales of debauchery from back in the day. “Like there were like munchkin orgies, and I guess a couple of munchkins committed suicide. Some of the details are really unclear, but apparently there were other murders, so it’s, like, very ghosty. It’s a munchkin ghost scene, and that’s what I’m looking for. Some people want really great avocado toast and room service at their hotel while others care about the décor. But for me, it’s really about munchkin ghosts watching me poop.”
No word on whether that happened, but when it comes to the words written about Ostrovsky as of late, even he would describe the recent press and tough times as pretty shitty. In August, it seems the entire Internet was intent on branding him a plagiarist who had stolen jokes, memes and quips to build up his impressive 6.5 million-strong Instagram following.
Ostrovsky later responded to the firestorm in various interviews, but when The Hollywood Reporter sat down with him inside a cozy (and apparently apparition-free) suite at the hotel, he notes that he’s moved on from the controversy by giving credit where credit is due. In terms of fashion cred, the native New Yorker is dressed in cutoff neon yellow sweats, a Morrissey T-shirt and sneakers with his signature tuft of hair exploding from the top of his head.
It’s also important to note that Ostrovsky speaks quickly, uses the word “like” so often that he could easily conversate with any Valley teen, and he tugs on that tuft of hair. A lot. He’s also likable, and funny, a description which likely won’t sit well with his critics. It’s fine, he’d rather talk about the new book anyway.
The Hollywood Reporter: Now that the book is real, how does it feel?
Josh Ostrovsky: It feels good — I mean it’s, like, a real book. Also, don’t write a book. I don’t know how people write books. I wrote a book of what I think are great, crazy stories. A couple of them are fictional, but the vast majority of them are true, and it was still a nightmare. How do people write stories? Like, books about a mystical land, you know, where unicorns are ejaculating rainbows in middle earth of whatever. It’s just so much. But I might accidentally reinvigorate reading. I’m so low-brow that maybe this (book) will reinvigorate teen reading in America.
The book is hybrid featuring so many different elements. What is your favorite part?
I wrote it with my writing partner [David Oliver Cohen], and we wanted to break up all the reading because reading gets super tiring. So any book that has, like, a Tyrese (Gibson) coloring book, I’m into that. I have some stories that are super funny and super crazy from childhood and I wanted those in there. I really run my family’s name through the mud, so I’m really into the fact that I devoted a chapter to my mom’s like basically sleeping with author Shel Silverstein.
And your dad taking you to a strip club …
I didn’t want it all to be drug-fueled stories of debauchery. I wanted you to get to know me and to be able to see how my life has always been over-the-top and ridiculous. Back since my days as a very judgy, super gay kid. I was super gay.
Yeah, you wrote about that, mentioning how into fashion you were as a kid …
I’m, like, aging in reverse. At 10, I was wearing true-to-waist pants and a little button down making hors d’oeuvres with my mom and asking, ‘What are her shoes? What’s the deal? White after Labor Day! Get a hold of yourself.’ And now I’m, like, a big, giant adult baby.
Are there any stories or anecdotes that got left out that you really wanted to keep in the book?
Now in the current climate with some people knowing who I am, I get a lot of ridiculous offers to do really crazy stuff. Sometimes a bunch of hedge fund maniacs are like, ‘Come to Dubai with us, we’ll pay.’ And I end up in these situations with interesting people who you know. I’ve seen crazy shit. I want to tell those stories, but I just can’t. These are people you would not think are huge amazing maniacs and they deserve to be celebrated so much for their outlandishness, but I don’t want to burn any bridges or take it there because some of that stuff is not meant to be seen.
BABY SIPS: Josh Ostrovsky, aka the Fat Jew, drinks from a bottle of his own rosé outside the CFDA Fashion Awards in New York on June 1, 2015. (Photo: Neil Rasmus/BFA for Invision)
Fortunately, the three-way with Kim Kardashian and Kanye West made it in, so that’s good …
As fan-fiction erotica. That was part of my ultra-gay youth style, and I wanted to kind of bring that back.
Would you vote for Kanye for president?
Yeah, 100%. I’ve actually hung out with him before. He has a sort of bizarre fascination with me, and I with him, obviously. I mean, who does not? You could go anywhere with him. You could sit with him in a 16 Handles frozen yogurt shop and listen to him talk. He’s captivating — literally, you cannot look away. He could say anything, like, ‘Yo, more koalas need monocles.’ That is not true — more koalas do not need monocles — but you would be like, ‘You know, he’s right. He’s 100% right.’ When you apply that to some sort of Syrian foreign affairs issue, he could captivate the nation. That dude is a beautiful unicorn.
You’ve said that Khloe is your favorite Kardashian, and you write a lot about prostitutes in your book. What’s your take on the Lamar Odom situation?
It’s definitely sad to see so much sensationalism. Just to be totally fair, how about we wait and once he is completely all good, then we all go in on him. He took an herbal boner supplement and passed out at a brothel and that’s funny, but maybe we should like wait until he’s OK. It’s a lot of ‘too soon.’ I’m the king of ‘too soon’ and I love ‘too soon,’ so when I’m saying ‘too soon,’ everyone should be like, ‘Whoa.’
Let’s talk about the controversy from earlier this year when you were accused of stealing jokes. What’s the first thing that happened – who did you immediately turn to work through the situation?
It was definitely horrendous, but it was a unique issue in that, say if Toby Maguire gets a DUI or whatever, there’s a standard protocol of how to deal with that. With this, there was a learning curve for everybody in terms of figuring out exactly what was happening. The Internet culture is not really understanding of the comedy culture, and very much vice versa. But the thing was, there was really nothing to figure out because I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to go back and credit everybody. I always tried to do it, sometimes you just have to go deeper. The most important thing was I had to bring out a team of people to peel back these layers of the Internet to find out where these (sources) came from — some were 36 sources deep. It’s not like I crashed my yacht on cocaine, so I knew what we had to do. Plus, we told people to reach out and be like, ‘that’s my thing,’ and we’re going to give credit. Then we’re going to get back to partying and having fun and putting up pictures up of ridiculous stuff that can bring people joy while in line at the DMV when some baby just puked on you.
COVER BOY: Ostrovsky poses as Steve Jobs on the cover of his book, ‘Money Pizza Respect.’
Writing a book doesn’t seem like the next most logical step after being accused of being a plagiarist does it?
I mean, at least from my perspective, yeah because it’s not like what it was. It was a moment of Internet history that needed to be figured out. Between my (White Girl rosé), I’m going to try to do the world’s first EDM cologne, I do so much real life stuff, Instagram is just one part of that tree.
Are you a millionaire yet?
No. It’s funny that anyone, like, literally would ever think that. The Internet is so funny. Also, by the way, if I was a millionaire, I would be doing the most awesome shit for everybody. I would buy you a falcon right now no reason. Every homeless man in New York would have a Balmain turban. I would be keeping the homeless people in New York so fashion. So if I ever get there, you’ll know because you’ll have a falcon.
Favorite pizza? From where and what kind?
Di Fara Pizza in Brooklyn, which is now super popular. I grew up across the street, which is funny because it used to be this hidden gem where a 90-year-old man would be shredding ricotta with his hands. This shit would blow your mind. I went back there recently and there are tourists from Quebec wearing two scarves being like, ‘We heard about this place we have to check it out.’ So you really can’t go there anymore because it’s insanity. But a plain slice from there will literally change your life. And I’m not even a foodie. I swear to God I would eat salami that I found in the trunk of a car. I basically have no standards for anything. I’ll eat Indian from a food court in a mall in Des Moines. But with pizza, all of a sudden, I turn into a Yelp reviewer. If you try to give me a piece of pizza in Orlando, I will flip a table like I’m Mariah Carey and be like, ‘Get this out of my face!’
Respect: Something that is earned or demanded?
Both. Ermanded? Is that a word? Demearned? Earmanded is better than demearned. It’s probably more earned than demanded, but sometimes you just gotta diva. Sometimes you just gotta go full Mariah. Like, ‘Listen hoe,’ when you’re talking about a man, mostly. ‘Listen hoe, you will feel me.’ But most of it is earned. So yeah, totally.
AWWW: A young Ostrovsky. (Photo courtesy of Ostrovsky.)
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