When actor/comedian Sacha Baron Cohen debuted his Showtime series “Who Is America?” this year, the buzz it picked up was instantaneous — and for good reason.
Cohen famously ensnared outspoken Americans of all political stripes and got them to admit all manner of embarrassing views they either hold or couldn’t bring themselves to distance from. Baron Cohen famously interviewed people like Roy Moore, Sarah Palin, and even got former Vice President Dick Cheney to sign a waterboarding kit. According to reporting in Newsweek, Cohen told an interviewer that Cheney seemed to idolize the character he was playing because unlike Cheney, the character had actually carried out a murder, whereas Cheney had only ever ordered them.
“I had done the one thing that he hadn’t actually done. He’d ordered people to be killed but he never actually killed someone with his bare hands,” Baron Cohen said. “It’s a bit like a virgin sitting next to a womanizer and being enamored by them.”
Mr. Cohen, “Who Is America,” and its producers/showrunners got extremely adept at lulling people into a false sense of security and getting them to say and do unspeakable things. One subject was actually convinced to bomb the Women’s March and went so far as to detonate a device he thought was a real explosive. But as darkly hilarious as his interviews with Moore and Palin were, there was apparently one interview that potentially revealed something far beyond the ability of even Cohen — who has made a career lampooning everything and forcing people to deal with taboos straight on — to make light of.
The interview in question took place in Las Vegas. Baron Cohen wanted to delve into how someone on the order of disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein gets made, and how he keeps getting away with it.
“We wanted to investigate how does someone like Harvey Weinstein gets away with doing what…get away with criminality, essentially. And the network that surrounds him. We decided that Gio would interview a concierge in Las Vegas,” Baron Cohen describes.
So as his character “Gio,” Sacha then starts probing the concierge to see how far he can go before the man leaves the room, disgusted with the character. Cohen’s character than confesses to raping a young boy. Instead of bolting out of the interview, the concierge digs in, and offers help, Cohen says.
“This guy starts advising Gio how to get rid of this issue. We even at one point talk about murdering the boy, and the concierge is just saying, ‘well, listen, I’m really sorry. In this country, we can’t just drown the boy. This is America we don’t do that,’” Baron Cohen describes.
Shocked, Cohen says he then pivoted the conversation to the hotel concierge helping Gio find a date in the form of a young boy. Once again, the concierge seemed more than willing to help this alleged wealthy man secure a young boy for the evening. In fact, the concierge seemed to imply this wouldn’t be the first time he’d help make such an arrangement.
“He says, ‘what do you mean, a date?’ I go, you know, like a young man. He says, ‘well, what kind of age?’ I say, lower than Bar Mitzvah but older than eight. And he says, ‘yeah, I can put you in touch with somebody who can get you some boys like that.’”
Apparently, the whole episode with the concierge was so disturbing, instead of it being aired, the tapes were taken to the FBI. It’s unclear at this time if there is still an investigation ongoing, but what “Who Is America?” revealed with this episode isn’t so much surprising — that people with enormous sums of money can find willing accomplices for the most disgusting things — so much as shocking how much didn’t put the concierge off.
Maybe Cohen’s next show should be “Who Is The Catholic Church?”
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook and Instagram, but not Twitter because he has a potty mouth.