I fucking hate when I’m asked, “So, what do you do?”
I find it painful to explain my vocation. I’m not really an asshole; I just play one on TV. To someone just meeting me, it can be a risky interaction. Explaining my anti-nine-to-five lifestyle tends to border on arrogance. Is this all an act? Hardly. I think of it as more of a performance.
Because I don’t do; I am. This glorious, repellent, beautiful train wreck of a life is my own fabulous creation and gift to the world. You’ve seen me on Bravo’s The Millionaire Matchmaker, gracing the pages of tabloids, trilled about in newspapers, featured on morning shows in Croatia, and causing American sensationalism in Sweden. Or, more likely, you haven’t.
But that’s just the dressing, just the richly decorated yarmulke on the beautiful Jew-fro of my existence.
So what is it I actually do?
I’m a pioneer in the field of social media celebrity. I keep my loyal band of online followers on a tight leash, feeding them intoxicating morsels of my incredible life, just enough to keep them wet and interested. I gauge what gets their dreidels hard, then give them more. Some of them love it, even want to marry me. Most of them hate it. And those are the ones I care about most—the haters. If they fucking hate my dumb, smug, pampered face but keep coming back to the table for seconds, if they love hating me, I’ve got ’em. Right there is my key demographic. “Treat them mean to keep them keen” is a motto I adhere to.
“So that’s what you do? You stick shit on the Internet?”
No, again, I’ve lost you. That’s just an ingredient in my special sauce. It propagates the fan base and moves things along. But that’s not what I do. It’s what everyone does. Everyone lives their life online, and they all need a leader. Someone to look at and admire. I play that role. But again, that’s just a means to an end. Same as my fashion line.
“Ah, right, so you’re in the fashion business?”
Sigh. I’m prone to tell people I’m a haberdasher. First, because that sounds incredibly pretentious. Second, because of conversations like this. Trying to explain my life to someone who holds a position of authority is like trying to get a free hand job from an arthritic—that is, pointless and painful. However, this approach comprises a decent shortcut when I’m trying to conclude a tedious exchange. And it’s a slightly more diplomatic response than “Google me,” although I have resorted to that one when I’m feeling frisky.
I run a successful company, Pretentious Pocket, that produces pocket squares rendered from the finest “Fuck You” silk. But again, it’s a smoke screen. A way to make an impression on people, a device so they’ll remember me. If you give someone a business card, they’re probably going to toss it. Give them a beautiful, garish piece of silk in a presentation box and a handwritten note. It’s something that pays dividends every time they’ll see you. Trust me. It’s a business, and it gets me things for free.
“Why do you need things for free when you’re so successful?”
Because successful people get things for free anyway. It’s the fucked-up way of the world. Once you hit that level, people pay you to wear their clothes and eat their tea and crumpets. And, while some might see right through it, to others, I’m seen as a successful person. I’ve been sent $3,000 suits to wear and shirts to accompany them. I get free skin care and upgrades, and I’m comped meals and champagne. I’m sent luxury ice cubes. Ice cubes! Ten dollars a pop. And I get paid not to go certain places. I’ve been invited and uninvited a half dozen times to the same event. That’s when I feel successful, when I reach that level of polarization.
I’m on that level because I appear to be on that level. You may have seen me at exclusive events, on the red carpet, spilling expensive drinks on Cuba Gooding Jr. I’ve made it my mission to mock celebrity in order to become a celebrity. It’s not about legitimacy; it’s the appearance of legitimacy. All the bullshit I did to get pictures taken with celebrities? People now pull that shit on me. Because, just like me, they don’t really care about meeting someone. What they really care about is possessing the evidence of having met someone, especially a celebrated someone. That evidence is worth a thousand drunken anecdotes. That’s why I’d rather leave my testicles at home than my camera.
“So you’re a photographer?”
No, dumbass, I make sure that my exploits are exploited, which means they have to be documented. If I’m in an Emirates A380 first-class cabin, then I want the world to know about it. I want them titillated. I want them salivating. I want them to see how much Dom I downed and caviar I spooned.
“So you like to fly?”
I, Justin Ross Lee, am the instigator and leading proponent of JewJetting. Allow me to explain. For generations, people have flown just to get from one place to another. With JewJetting, the flight experience is the thing—tracking down and embarking on an airplane ride of such unimaginable opulence that the dummies in coach would gag with envy on their dry, chalky pretzels.
JewJetting is the sport of flying for the sake of it; the destination is of little importance. Do you think I want to go to Kiev? Fuck no! No one wants to go to Kiev unless they’re selling Kevlar. But if some new carrier has launched a first-class cabin with ermine throw pillows, a foot massager, and a free foie gras dispenser, then I’d be the first one checking in. I love the mystery, energy, and satisfaction of luxury air travel. Besides, when I do it, it seems to piss off a lot of the people I want to piss off.
And now I know you’re going to ask the other fucking question I hate: “But how can you afford to do all this?”
Sigh. There are a few common misconceptions about me. There always are when you’re dealing with a person of interest. Was I born with a silver spoon in my mouth? Yes, definitely. Did I experience privilege? Absolutely. Did that experience give me a leg up in life? Sure, why not? However, not quite in the way you might think. (And incidentally, those privileged people fucking hate me, too.)
The well-heeled I had the unfortunate experience of growing up amongst do have money, but that’s usually all they do with it. They have it. They don’t enjoy it. In fact, it terrifies them. They simply abide by a predetermined prescription for acquiring and maintaining excess. They fear that if they stray from the tediously conventional path, they’ll be punished, or singled out. People such as this forced me to create the legend I am today—whereby I’m proud to say that I’ve circumvented my own circumcision in order to escape the bullshit. My lifestyle is the ultimate revenge. Hi, Mom!
My current endeavors are not trust-funded. My family is as mortified as anyone by what I do. They’re not going to give me a dime. Despite appearances, I don’t give a shit about money. I think of money as I do of everything else around me: as a means to an end. If I hit Powerball tomorrow, would I carry on doing what I do? Totally. Because what I’m doing is being JRL. No amount of bullion can interfere with that. Attention is the only currency I trade in, good or bad. Preferably bad. Negative attention brings positive results.
“So you want people to hate you?” you might inquire.
Given my lifestyle, it can’t be helped. It does tend to piss people off. If you actually work for a living and pay for stuff, you don’t want to hear about a jerk like me who just metaphorically whips out his dick online and doesn’t have to pay for anything. So what should I do? Stop flying, drinking, and dating beautiful women? Stop appearing at exclusive nightclubs and restaurants while people pay me for the privilege? Just to keep some office drones happy? Joke’s on Jew!
“Oh? You’re Jewish?”
Wow, you are sharp. I’m “super Jewish” according to the New York Post. It’s another buzzy shortcut to annoying people. They see me as this overcompensated, arrogant, pretentious, spoiled little putz. Exactly what I aspire to be, and I can’t think of anything more beautiful.
You might deem my ridiculously short workweek and general flaneurism rampant underachieving. Correction: it’s rampant overunderachieving. Minimum effort for maximum return. It’s something I’ve excelled at for most of my life, and I’m happy to share my dirty little secrets with you.
“I don’t think I understand.”
Good. Then I’ve won.