Josh Ostrovsky aka The Fat Jew is known around the world as the Instagram superstar and plus-sized model that has provided human beings with endless laughs and absurd delight through his infamous Instagram page abounding with pop culture memes and more. The rowdy man who has created a career out of morphing an Instagram account into an online comedy planet of its own has made waves in the entertainment industry and sparked controversy with his unnerving humor around the globe. I touched base with the man behind the madness to discuss his online ascension, off the wall art projects and more.
Photo Credit: Guerin Blask
First and foremost, introduce yourself to the world. How was The Fat Jew brought to life?
You know, everyone had literal nicknames. You know, such as Hot Breath Omar. I am literally just a Fat Jew. I was being an idiot before there were places on the internet to share being an idiot. I am old enough to remember a time when you would do really stupid sh*t just for people to hear about, talk about and for people to see live and if you weren’t there, you weren’t there. But, I am young enough to also now really put that idiotic mindset to work. And now I have a huge f**king following and a giant network of people that I can share my stupidity with.
Where were you brought up and how has that influenced your extensive knowledge of Pop Culture?
My mom is a Queen of memes. I was raised in a network of unbelievably peaceful, hip gay men. I had a male housekeeper and he was a gay Malaysian dude who like wore cut off shorts and all of my mom’s friends are beautiful rich power gays. I was sorta raised by them. I had ten to fifteen uncles with sun-splashed brown thumbs and incredible shoes with hyper-judgemental attitudes. I think that that combined with Jewish summer camp and really getting to figure out how to get to third base with a girl named Rachel; that all together made me the man that I am today. I was raised by ten, peaceful gay dads, basically.
Photo Credit: Stefan Kohli
Tell us about your tattoos and the artists that brought them to life.
I have like a real mix. I had days when I was a little bit more into tattoos with a little bit more quality. It’s like a chronological f**king timeline that really reflects the poor decision-making phases of my life. You know, I got tattoos from when I was sixteen and I got to go to London for the first time by myself with no parental supervision for a summer program. I took a whole bunch of f***king mushrooms and right when we were sorta coming down, I went and got a huge tattoo of a koi fish wearing a f**king monocle and a Sherlock Holmes hat smoking a pipe. So, there was that. Of course, you’ve got your bad tattoos from when you’re seventeen. When I was in college, I used to tell people by word of mouth, you know this was 2005 or 2006 before social media was your primary form of communication, you know the Myspace days. I used to tell people that if you paid for my tattoo, I would get anything you want. I mean, the only things that were off limits were you know, Hitler ejaculating the lightning bolt because I didn’t want it to really shake my mom to her core. But, after we all got drunk, some rich kid that I went to school with paid for me to get a gigantic tattoo on my arm of a huge ship, like a classic Sailor Jerry ship, and then above it, it says, ‘The Friend Ship’. And I guess it was symbolic of a giant ship that one day me and all of my friends would sail off into the sunset on. He paid for it, he conceptualized it, I couldn’t say no. Also, I was on spring break in the Bahamas in 2000, and somebody paid for me to get a huge caffeine dripping strawberry on my ass. Somebody paid for me to get a butterfly on my waistline like a girl who doesn’t really know her dad that well would get.
Photo Credit: Stefan Kohli
Now, I’ve just been in this straight jail tattooing phase for a while. I bought my friend Bob a tattoo machine. It’s at the house, and everybody’s getting f**ked up, and people are like, “Oh, you should get a tattoo of a peace sign made of interracial dicks”, and someone shouts, “Yeah! I’ll get it!” while they are all excited and f**ked up. But, by the time you were to get in an Uber, go to a tattoo parlor and actually sit down, fill out the consent form, wait for the artist to put on his f**king gloves, you’re probably going to sober up and more than likely back out. But, if you buy a tattoo machine, by the time you decide that it doesn’t sound like a good idea anymore, you’ve already got half the piece done. You can’t stop it. You know, Bob’s an artist, he’s not a tattoo artist, but he has tattooed everything from a plate of spaghetti with a fork twirling in it that says mom’s spaghetti.
Does that have any reference to Eminem?
Yeah, well it is a reference to my mom’s pasta which is actually delicious, but is also, of course, a reference to Em, and 8 mile and the 313. It’s all coming full circle in this conversation. Actually, another thing that I like to do is actually go into tattoo parlors and I’ll let somebody random in the shop pick a tattoo for me.
Photo Credit: Stefan Kohli
Oh my gosh, man. And you know the wild mindsets of individuals that typically spend a significant amount of time in tattoo shops and will tattoo some batsh*t crazy nonsense on you.
Exactly. So, I was in one recently in LA and Brian Austin Green was in there. You know, the guy that dates Megan Fox. Or maybe they’re married. Anyways, he was there with his friend who was getting this stupid tattoo. And I was like, “Hey yo, Brian. I’ll let you pick any tattoo that you want. Right now. You pick it, and I’ll get it. So, he picked a banana with a face on it with the emoji, you know, with the one eye closed with the tongue out? He picked a banana that has that as a face and above it I had him write, ‘No Parents.’ Because I can’t believe I’m an adult, like, I’ll eat ice cream for breakfast. It all represents really sh*tty decision making, and it makes me happy whenever I look at them. It makes me think about all of the sh*tty things that I’ve done. It warms my heart.”
And you know, it warms my heart that it’s lead you to the position that you’re in today. It really, really does (laughs)
I appreciate that. (laughs)
If our readers were in the driver’s seat of your Instagram account, what would a day in the life of The Fat Jew look like?
A big thing I do now is the White Girl Rose’ Wine. We do a bottle and a can of sparkling Rose’. And so a lot of the day is consumed with that.
Where is that available at the moment?
It’s everywhere. You can go to our national distribution website which is Whitegirlwine.com, I mean, it’s in everywhere from Target to f*****g liquor stores.
Yeah, I think I saw it at a Detroit bar the other night.
Mmm. You probably did. And it sort of started by like social experimentation. White Girl Rose’ was supposed to be a conversation piece, I put up a picture and we were going to make ten thousand bottles of it and sell it to Jewish girls that I know and some seventy-year-old women in the Hamptons, and then it exploded and I almost look around like, “Does anyone not know that I’m kinda kidding?”. Every day, I never know where I am going to wake up. And that’s the best part. There’s wine marketing and the rose’ stuff that takes a part of my day, and then I just try to get out there. I’ll probably eat a panini at some point throughout the day. My office is in the back of a nail salon in Queens, I rent out there waxing room. So, I go to the nail salon.
I’m sure that they take great care of you…
Yeah, they really do. My pubic designs are top notch. It’s a wonderful benefit. I have interns and we’re working on everything. Instagram brings a lot of interesting opportunities; people asking me to take them to prom, or a bunch of people will ask me to go on their yacht in France. I actually wrote about it in the book, I went on a yacht with a bunch of Scandinavians and they took me down to the deck and said that they wanted to show me something. So, I went down, and I thought it was going to be grenades, gold or something ridiculous, but, they had a live ostrich chillin’ in a room as their pet. They were like, “You cannot touch him. He is very dangerous. Do not go near him.” It was an ostrich, just chillin’ in a room on a yacht, and they named him Bradley Cooper. And I’m like, how do I get into these situations? It’s not about money, it’s about the f**king memories.
It is, man. And you are really putting yourself out there. These days, there are so many pigeons out there who are afraid to even cross the f*****g street, and the things that you’re doing are really standout and bold, which can serve to influence an alternative culture. You only live once. Make some bad decisions. You’ll tell a damn good story. And you never know where that’ll get you. I mean, look at you.
Photo Credit: Stefan Kohli
Tell us more about your plus size modeling career.
You know, there’s the female sorta plus size movement really gaining a ton of momentum which is really amazing because there is nothing better than full-figured women. And it’s really inspiring to watch. And then I thought, why aren’t there any men doing this? I really embrace my Shrek body, it’s probably the one really positive thing that I’ve ever done. You know, people hit me up and say thank you for being so comfortable with being in your body and being willing to be naked. You know, because I’ll show off my penis, which is basically a fleshy champagne cork, and you know, you’d think that I should really keep that under wraps. But I’ve gotten messages from people thanking me for being so proud of my mediocre body. And it’s really unintentional. I wasn’t trying to do it at all.
Right, and you know, it’s society’s perception of mediocre. To each their own. If that’s the body that you enjoy being in, then that’s beautiful. And you know what? There are a lot of insecure individuals, both men and women, who struggle with that. And being a key factor in that with your platform and sharing that people should just f**king embrace themselves and who they truly are is a beautiful thing.
I completely agree. I also think that having a sick body for a man where you’ve got abs up to your neck and those V lines that you get when you’re in killer shape that goes toward your dick, I think having those are super lame. It means that you don’t have any friends. You’re at the gym all of the time. Why aren’t you out doing stupid sh*t with your friends?
Photo Credit: Stefan Kohli
Dude, you do have to spend a significant amount of time at the gym for that unless you’re a f*****g genetic god.
Right. Unless you’re an NFL player who eats a ton of Mcdonald’s and still gets stronger, it means you’re at the gym a lot. And I kind of think that you’re a loser. You should be out getting sh*tty tattoos with your friends while drunk. Not waking up and not going to the gym. I’m not advocating anyone to be so fat that they have to be in a rascal scooter, although that does sound chill, or you know those railings that go up the stairs where you have to sit on the chair and it takes you up the railing?
Yeah. Like a chairlift on a ski hill but in a public setting?
Yeah. Those are f*****g chill as hell but don’t be so fat that you need any of that. Take care of yourself enough to ensure that you’re healthy, and go do f*****g stupid sh*t with your friends and not at the gym with an acai bowl.
If you were an animated character, who would you be and why?
I would probably be one of the girls from Sailor Moon because they seem really chill and they are Japanese. And being a Japanese woman basically, means you’re from the future.
Congrats on your, ‘Money, Pizza, Respect’, book release. How did you perceive the writing process? What were the highlights and how did you get through any problems that arose?
Yeah, man. Writing a book is insane. I was just trying to recount crazy stories that actually happened. I can only imagine how hard it is to write a book of fiction or nonfiction where people go back in time. I don’t even know how people write sh*t like that. I was trying to write sh*t that literally happened to me and it was f**king hard. So, I bought a bunch of coke, delayed the whole writing process to the last two months of a nine-month timeline, and I locked myself in the hotel room out by John F. Kennedy airport. And, I just did not emerge until the book was actually finished. I think the book was a little different than what people expected, because there are obviously crazy stories about puking on my own grandfather, and you know, masturbating at The Great Wall Of China….all of which are completely true and totally ridiculous. But, there’s also a little bit of heartfelt sh*t in there. I told some real stories about some real genuine feelings, and I don’t think anyone really saw that coming. That’s kind of my whole thing in general; I like to keep people on their toes. Whatever people think I am going to be, I don’t like to be. I’m not a comedian; people want to put people like me in a box, but I’ve never been to a comedy club. I want people to say, “Why does he make Rose?’, or why is he a plus-sized model. Maybe I’ll put out a line of oven mitts, I just want to do things where people say “What the f***”, as conversation starters. There are stories in there about my Dad taking me to a strip club right when I turned thirteen because he is from Russia, and he thought that was the first thing you should do when you become a man. We all know that at thirteen, you’re not a f*****g man. But I was literally drinking diet coke at the strip club at thirteen.
Photo Credit: Stefan Kohli
And you couldn’t Snapchat it back then….
Yeah, that’s exactly right. (laughs) Keeping people on their f*****g toes, you never know what to expect from me. I wrote a chapter on erotica. I swear to God I am a really talented erotic writer. My next book is going to be completely erotic fiction. There’s a whole explicit chapter of the book about me having a three-way with Kim and Kanye and her glistening, Persian areolas.
Dude, ultimately, you have your category that Instagram placed you in as a public figure, but what the f**k; you don’t have to define yourself. You’re a human being just doing whatever the f**k you want to do.
Exactly. About a month ago, I just drove cross country and reviewed the food at fifty different strip clubs. Just the food. And it’s coming out in a magazine. We’re hitting a little bit of social media burnout. Too many pictures of babies, sunsets, 5ks and you know, f*****g acai bowls. Eventually, real life is going to get hot again. And as much as I love the internet and Instagram, which has been so fun and taking me to some really f**king weird places, real life is where the f*** it’s at. I’m not sitting in a basement finding funny pictures for the internet. I am literally driving cross country and reviewing the risotto at a strip club in Tampa Bay.
Photo Credit: Stefan Kohli
Last but certainly not least, what’s your motto or advice that you live by?
“You can’t ever get an STD if you don’t go to the doctor and know that you have it. It’s 2016, honestly, anything is f**king possible. They used to say that twenty-five years ago, but that wasn’t true. Thirty years ago, you could only have this one job where you’re one f**king word, you know, you’re a doctor, a garbage man, or you worked at a bakery. But now, the world is basically ending. The polaroid ice caps are melting, Donald Trump is a huge deal, everything is crazy. As scary as that is, it really means that you have to remember that anything is genuinely f**king possible. If you want to start a f**king company that makes scarves for dogs, that sh*t now works. Everybody wants a f**king scarf for their dog.
Dude, you’d bank. That would blow up with all of the basic bitches around the world.
I agree. Exactly. Thirty years ago, if you started a scarf dog company, how would people find out about you? How would you have even known where people were that want scarves for their dogs? People weren’t even open-minded enough to think that their dog needed a scarf. Absolutely anything is possible.