Back in February — it seems like four years ago — my lovely 18-year-old daughter Abbie and I were made what seemed like a pretty good offer.
You see, we have some friends in Macon who offer cotillion classes for teenagers. Our two teens both took the classes where they learn important civilizational habits like how to greet others in social settings, how to treat a lady (or a gentleman) on a date and how to dance the waltz and the fox trot.
Anyway, our friends had been contacted by a movie company that wanted to film a fictional scene of Southern belles making their debut. The company would pay fathers and daughters $100 apiece, and all we had to do was dress up, dance a little and enjoy free cuisine and drinks at the beautiful antebellum Hay House in downtown Macon.
Since my daughter was in her last year home before going off to college, I figured it would be a fun outing. We agreed to do it. Little did we know it would be our last formal social gathering for the next six months.
Anyway, the movie company sent us a nice email asking us to take a short online quiz as we prepared for the big show. Mostly it tested our knowledge of pop culture, asking if we could identify icons like Will Ferrell (no), Sacha Baron Cohen (no) and Mike Huckabee (yes). Then, a month before the event, they interviewed us in person at Cathedral Coffee at Northway Church on Zebulon Road in Macon. The cute, stylish girls from Hollywood were very nice. They just asked a few questions about our jobs and families. They bought us a Cafe Mocha. Then they had us sign some kind of waiver and we were done.
On the big night, I sucked in my gut, strapped into my tuxedo and off we went. When we got to the Hay House, we had to turn in our cell phones — sending us into cold sweats — while they assigned each father-daughter combo to one of two teams, A or B. There were also numerous armed security guards around the building.
Finally they shuffled team B into a high-ceilinged room with tables and chairs and a buffet of appetizers and drinks. We recognized some friends and sat with them, trying to figure out what we had gotten ourselves into.
Peering through the closed, large oak double doors, on the other side of a cavernous foyer, we could spy a dance hall where Team A was being filmed as they greeted two guests. Word spread around the Hay House that the storyline was that a young girl from the country of Georgia had dreamed of making her debut in the American South. She and her father had arrived and would be filmed interacting with local dads and daughters.
After two hours of being relegated to the food room, I went looking for some fresh air. I wound up in the basement and saw an open door. Aha, fresh air! I stepped outside and was met by an armed guard.
“What do you need?!?” he demanded.
“Uhh, just getting some fresh air,” i replied, beginning to feel like a hostage. This was starting to get weird.
At last, the neglected members of Team B were told it was our turn to escort our daughters into the ball room to make their debut for the cameras. Showtime! We also heard that the Georgian girl’s sister had arrived from Eastern Europe as well with her father. We soon met both pairs of “Georgians” in the ball room. The second father was tall, had a long nose and was acting wildly all night prancing around in a long coat. He accosted me as we waited in the presentation line and yanked out a Georgian-English dictionary and was pointing at words wildly trying to tell me something.
He continued his odd interactions with many other fathers and daughters as the cameras rolled. There were reports that he was trying to ask some of the fathers a “price” for their daughters. After four hours at the Hay House, we were looking for an exit.
Finally, the producers announced that our Georgian guests wanted to complete the night by performing an Eastern European folk dance for us. They began dancing side by side in synch when suddenly the “daughter” lifted her hoop skirt, gyrating and revealing no underwear.
That’s when all of us who were sober marched to the checkout desk, demanded our phones back and hit the road. My precious daughter and I walked out into the cool Macon night with mouths agape wondering what had just happened.
A friend who was there called me later that night. He had talked with some other attendees and determined that our crazy Georgian guest was in fact Sacha Baron Cohen, the comedy actor whose movie “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” made famous his Eastern European character. My friend had discovered that everyone on our Team B were those who could not identify Cohen in the on-line test. Cohen’s modus operandi seems to be trying to embarrass and shock southern conservative audiences on film. Of course our cotillion friends, having been hoo-dooed into hosting the charade, were humiliated and apologetic. When COVID shut down theaters just weeks later, we thought it may have spared us of from making the big screen.
Alas on Sept. 8 the film website Collider reported: “‘Borat 2’ has already been shot and even screened for a select few industry types”, adding that the fame of the first mockumentary means Borat can no longer interview unsuspecting Americans as himself, so is forced to go incognito, with varying degrees of success.
The title of the film is “Borat: Gift of Pornographic Monkey to Vice Premiere Mikhael Pence to Make Benefit Recently Diminished Nation of Kazakhstan”.
On Thursday, the trailer was released and there we were clapping like trained seals for Cohen and his "daughter".
"Borat 2" will be released on Amazon Prime on Oct. 23. The Guardian newspaper suggests he may be hoping to get “Borat 2” out in time for the election to swing some young voters to vote for Joe Biden.
I have no real problem with Borat getting a laugh at our expense. I find some of his stuff pretty funny. I will laugh a lot harder if we get the last laugh on Nov. 3.