The car pulls up outside a dinner being held by Fox News, and two giant, besuited security guards get in on either side of me. They are the single most massive individuals I have ever met.
Then, at last, Milo arrives.
He slides into the front seat, all bleach and bling and giant sunglasses—I won’t get to see his eyes all evening. He asks me how I’m feeling.
Milo is excited. This is his night. How does he feel about his suspension?
“It’s fantastic,” he says, “It’s the end of the platform. The timing is perfect.”
He was planning for something like this. “I thought I had another six months, but this was always going to happen.”
Milo shows no remorse for the avalanche of misconduct he helped direct towards Leslie Jones, who is just the latest victim of the recreational ritual abuse he likes to launch at women and minorities for the fame and fun of it. According to the law of the wild web, the spoils go to those with fewest fucks to give. I have come to believe, in the course of our bizarro unfriendship, that Milo believes in almost nothing concrete—not even in free speech. The same is reportedly true of Trump, of people like Ann Coulter, of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage: They are pure antagonists unencumbered by any conviction apart from their personal entitlement to raw power and stacks of cash.
Milo puts on a bulletproof jacket before his big entrance. He does this “because it’s funny,” although he worries that it may be insufficiently flattering. “I’m going to send it to my guy at Louis Vuitton.” It’s all an act. A choreographed performance by a career sociopath who will claim any cause to further his legend. Milo Yiannopoulos is the ideological analogue of Kim Kardashian’s rear end. Trickster breaks the internet.
The larger of the two security guards takes the wheel. Milo strokes his arm and tells him it’s all right to go fast. There follows the single most terrifying car ride of my life. I allow myself 10 seconds of hysterical laughter. “Everyone’s a good person deep down,” I whisper to myself. “Everyone’s got good inside them.” I make it to the venue intact apart from my faith in humanity.
“Get Laurie a cigarette, darling,” Milo says to his personal trainer, who has charge of the handbag. We smoke in the car park behind the event space as Milo’s camera crew arrive and hook him up to a microphone. Then the crew livestreams the delighted Twitter martyr’s Reservoir Dogs strut through to the VIP room—a carpeted ballroom on the seventh floor of hell full of manic trolls and smug neo-fascists from every slimy corner of the internet.
Over by the bar, Geert Wilders, the Dutch far-right leader, is having a nice chat with two republicans of the sort who look like they’ve been poured into their suits. I realise that I have stumbled into a den of goblins. It’s way too late to cast a protection spell.
Milo swoops away to hold court. I hear a throat clear right in front of me.
And there is Daryush Valizadeh, also known as Roosh V, self-styled leader in the “neo-masculinity” movement, author of a suspicious stack of sex travel guides and headline-hunting nano-celebrity in the world of ritualised internet misogyny. Roosh hates feminists for a living. He asks me what I’m doing here. I ask him the same question.
The interaction that follows is the most surreal episode in a deeply surreal evening. Roosh is tall and well-built and actually rather good-looking for, you know, a monster. I have opportunity to observe this because he puts himself right up in my personal space, blocking my view of the room with his T-shirt, and proceeds, messily and at length, to tell me what my problem is.
Number one: my haircut, and he’s telling me this as a man, makes my face look round. This is absolutely true. Number two: I seek to destroy the nuclear family, and disturb traditional relationships between men and women. This is also true, although I remind him that the nuclear family as it is currently conceived is actually a fairly recent social format. He insists that it’s thousands of years old, and asks me if I truly believe that it’s right for gay men to be able to adopt children. I tell him that I do. He appears as flummoxed by this as I do by his presence at what is supposed to be a party to celebrate Gay republicans. He’s here for the same reason I am: Milo invited him.
What surprises me about Roosh is that he seems to be a true believer. Unlike Milo, he appears to be—at least to some extent—convinced of the truth of what he’s saying. He is bitter and vindictive, convinced of his own victimhood as a self-made blogger who was never given his due by the mainstream media. He tells me that the reason I have a column is that I’m a useful idiot and all my readers have low IQs. I ask him if he’s negging me.
I turn to leave, and Roosh suggests that we should start some sort of “fake fight” on the internet, because that’s “part of the game”. “I’m good,” I say, genuinely confused. There is no way I could have a fake fight with this man. We clearly have real, profound differences. I think he’s a dangerous manchild with an army of credulous misogynists at his disposal. I cannot fight him insincerely, and I don’t want to fight him in good faith because he’s already had too much of my attention. What — truly — does this extravagantly-bearded sociopath think he’s playing at?