In conversation with

Nimrod Kamer

Gonzo journalist, arts writer

nimrod kamer pink visor

Introduction

Introduction

To call Nimrod Kamer a character would be an understatement. The gonzo journalist and arts writer (don’t worry, he knows it’s a weird mix too) embodies whatever a story demands of him. That might mean smuggling women into an all-male members’ club, faking his own TED Talk or asking Donald Trump if he plans to deport his wife. His recently released debut book, A Social Climber’s Handbook, is an essential guide to breaking into places you don’t belong. It comes complete with a endorsement by Kanye West who calls it “the nouveau woke” (truth or spoof: you decide).

Nimrod is shameless, but he doesn’t ruffle feathers just for the sake of it. He uses humour as a tool to expose hypocrisy – especially when it comes to class and gender – and is a fierce supporter of #MeToo. How can you get in touch? “Carpe-DM,” he says. That’s why you’ll find his business cards come with nothing more than his name. Oh and don’t leave him in charge of your Wikipedia page, unless you’re down with his golden ratio of 25% lies.

Question and Answer

Paint us a picture of the young Nimrod – what books did you read? What characters did you relate to?

Me as a kid? I liked fake wrestling back then, it was like my soap opera – they cheat, they have romances. I thought it was real. I grew up in Israel and I read Hebrew books – this long series about this red-headed kid called Red Head – and my dad’s Agatha Christie books. Other books I was obsessed with were Fear and Loathing (but on the Campaign Trail, not in Las Vegas) where Hunter S. Thompson chased the Nixon campaign. That’s real gonzo journalism.

How would you describe a gonzo journalist?

It means the story is about you getting into the story and not just about the subject of the story. The book I’ve just released – The Social Climber’s Handbook – is about how to penetrate places you’re not allowed. To get into a members’ club for example you can just say “I owe you money from last night, let me come in and pay you”. No one ever says no to a debt situation. The books talks about the time I met Clinton and later Trump as well as how to do a fake TED talk for you CV – you basically pay someone to hold the letters, get a red carpet and then talk about your issues. Mine was about Wikipedia – I love editing my friend’s pages.

"It's about how to penetrate places you’re not allowed"

What makes a good Wikipedia page?

Controversy. Something that happened like a fake accident or a fake plane crash. About 25% of every page should be false. I edited Jay Jopling, the guy from White Cube’s page, and his best friends are me, the owner of Chateau Marmont, Warren Buffet and André Balazs. I love ratios by the way. I want to throw a party where the only people allowed inside are the ones that have more followers than pictures on Instagram. And if you have too many pictures you have to stand aside in the queue and delete pictures.

nimrod kamer donald trump
Nimrod with Donald Trump
Nimrod with Bill Clinton

Were you always into spoofs?

I was in the army in Israel. I kept trying to get out so I’d send emails saying there was going to be an earthquake and we had to evacuate everyone. Those were my first spoofs. But Israel was too small for spoofs, really – there are no members’ clubs, no Uber, no Soho House and no Vice magazine office, so I had to move to the UK.

How did you start out in journalism?

I did this video in the beginning called Unfollowing Celebs. I’d go up to people in fashion week and tell them “I unfollowed you”, saying I can’t deal with how optimistic your tweets are. That’s the only thing I discovered prominent people care about – they hate talking about their careers. I’d just ask either about my issues or about their recent posts. It was for Don’t Panic online. Then I started pitching Vice and went to a Downtown Abbey press conference to ask why there were no Jews or Asians in the show.

fear and loathing on the campaign trail
"I was obsessed with Fear and Loathing on The Campaign Trail. That's real gonzo journalism."

Which other writers do you admire?

Hunter S. Thompson is the king of gonzo journalism. And there’s a guy called Nathan for You on Comedy Central who helps small businesses. He’ll go to a massage shop where nobody books the expensive massage, everyone books the cheap one. So in order to help that business he brings people with warts and they do the cheap massage which guarantees that everyone upgrades. He’s an inspiration.

nimrod kamer with portrait

What’s your approach to art writing and how does that balance with the other work?

In order to do the funny things I have to pretend to be a serious journalist as well [Nimrod was formerly Arts Editor for GQ]. When I speak to people about art it’s usually about the market – about collectors and dealers and the money side. I find it so tedious to interview people who talk about their music or their art – they speak in generalisations like “I like colours”. On panels I’m always asking: “So who’s the Harvey Weinstein of the art world?”. Then people actually listen because art panels are so boring.

Which magazines do you read regularly?

VICE no longer because of the sexual harassment. You think it’s a new media company but they’re the worst. I’ve stopped doing stuff for them because of that. I love Gawker – they went bankrupt because Hulk Hogan the wrestler sued them for this sex tape but actually it was this right-wing billionaire from Silicon Valley who funded the lawsuit. They had the kind of headlines I really adored, like “Kim Kardashian Kasually Kaused a Kerfuffle in the Middle East”. Now what’s left of Gawker is Jezebel which is great. I have this love/hate relationship with Monocle Magazine. All the employees are pretty much gay men who wear corduroy suits and I wanted to work there but they wouldn’t hire me. Tyler Brulée actually sent me an angry email after I pitched too many stories to his employees.

“Gawker had the kind of headlines I really adored, like “Kim Kardashian Kasually Kaused a Kerfuffle in the Middle East””

Do you care about pissing people off?

I have always been into embarrassing situations of all coordinates. It’s never abusive or harsh – I wouldn’t criticise but I just make it awkward, by over-complimenting for example.

Nimrod's business cards

What are you reading at the minute?

I’m reading Her Body and Other Stories – it’s a short story collection and it’s very #MeToo. I’m trying to take down Whites Members’ Club at the moment. So to expose this male safe space we bought two women in in a box and smuggled her them in. It was a whole operation. I’m always trying to use humour to expose class issues or gender issues.

nimrod kamer carmen machado

What’s your dream spoof?

I’d love to exist for a week on PR gift bags. Or live in like a sample flat that they’re developing in Battersea – with a fake coffee machine, fake toilets. I see it as a seven-episode day-by-day show.

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