In Search of Chad Hugo

For music fans of a certain age (that certain age hopefully being 14 to 94), Chad Hugo is a legendary producer: half of The Neptunes, along with Pharrell Williams. Yet he always played the back — and has receded even more so in recent years. Hugo’s reticence may never fully give way in this profile from the incomparable Jeff Mao, but you finally, after all these years, get a sense of what makes him tick.

For this Asian-American listener, Chad’s subtle presence in Neptunes-affiliated music videos only added to his intrigue. You couldn’t help but notice this spiky-haired guy lingering in the periphery of a Clipse crew shot or playfully pantomiming his keyboard riffing alongside Snoop, yet he was also so clearly organic to the scene. He effectively became a legit if low-key Asian-American role model, something he acknowledges with a polite “Thank you” but won’t elaborate on much beyond, “Yeah, it’s scary.” If the longstanding and sadly unshakable perception for those of Asian descent in this country is that of Other, Chad managed the elusive trick of never looking like he didn’t belong by being himself.

Author: Jeff Mao
Source: GQ
Published: May 12, 2022
Length: 10 minutes (2,598 words)

In the Court of the Liver King

Brian Johnson used to be small. Today, Brian Johnson is large. Very large. He’s also very wealthy, apparently. In his estimation, both of those facts are inextricably tied to the fact that he eats a pound of raw organ meat every day. And if you’re at this very moment saying to yourself, “I hope someone hilarious profiles this guy,” then you’re in luck, because Madeleine Aggeler’s piece is a lot like Johnson’s favorite food: concentrated, intense, and liable to bring a tear to your eye.

The Liver King is open about the fact that his content is geared almost exclusively towards men. “People say, how come you don’t model, teach, preach, and fight for women? Listen, I can’t help you with that,” he shrugged. But even though I’m personally not really in his target audience, the Liver King did graciously have his chef prepare a large bull testicle and raw liver for me to sample, only to hurry me past the gory snack tray after confirming that I was a vegetarian. (“Your organs are ready!” the chef called after us.)

Source: GQ
Published: May 5, 2022
Length: 12 minutes (3,054 words)

Escape to Zoom Island

In some ways, the pandemic fast-forwarded the future, at least in regards to the acceptance of remote work. David Kushner explores how some entrepreneurs took advantage of this to try and create a utopian work-from-home world.

With the money flowing and the sun shining, the inhabitants of the “crypto–hotel,” as the Savoy was nicknamed, went on yacht trips and taxi rides, and had lavish dinners of fresh sea bream and Madeira wine. One night, Danchuk says, the Savoy CEO strolled through the lobby while nomads played “Wonderwall” on guitar. They held ecstatic dance parties, shimmying in complete darkness in rooms cleared of furniture, and saw the sunrise during parties on the beach.

Source: GQ
Published: Apr 27, 2022
Length: 20 minutes (5,159 words)

Nicolas Cage Can Explain It All

In an era when too many celebrity profiles either take place entirely over Zoom or vastly misapprehend what makes someone objectively interesting, Gabriella Paiella’s April cover story for GQ manages what seems the impossible: avoiding the pitfalls, commiting without caping, and leaving you with a very real sense of a man you thought you knew everything about.

Redemption does seem to have arrived for Cage, at long last. After falling millions of dollars into debt, and then working tirelessly to dig himself out, he has made many movies—too many movies—that only reinforced the idea that Cage was maybe a little insane. And yet, through the 12 years that followed the death of his beloved father, the turmoil of near-bankruptcy, and the big studios turning their backs on him, Cage has stayed committed to delivering flashes of his highly personal brilliance in smaller projects. Like in 2018’s Mandy, as a bereaved lumberjack in the woods who’s lost everything he loves. Or last year’s Pig, as a bereaved chef in the woods who’s lost everything he loves. And in doing so, he’s reminded people what they’ve always known: Nicolas Cage is one of our greatest actors.

Source: GQ
Published: Mar 22, 2022
Length: 26 minutes (6,673 words)

The One-Legged Snowboarder Who Built an Ingenious Prosthetic for Himself—and His Opponents

An amazing story of perseverance and resiliance — “Cyborg Mike” has not let 12 broken bones, a dozen or so concussions, and the loss of a leg stop him from competing in the sports he loves.

He had no idea that he’d keep stretching those goals until he would eventually refashion himself into a new athlete, competing on an even larger stage with equipment he’d created—and, remarkably, outfitting his opponents with the same. That old Monster Mike? He was nothing compared to the Cyborg Mike to come.

 

Source: GQ
Published: Mar 7, 2022
Length: 19 minutes (4,834 words)

Francis Ford Coppola’s $100 Million Bet

“Coppola still has fascinating things to say about the movie and will do so in the course of our conversations. But what he’s really interested in talking about is something else. Something new. It is a film called Megalopolis, and Coppola has been trying to make it, intermittently, for more than 40 years. If I could summarize the plot for you in a concise way, I would, but I can’t, because Coppola can’t either. Ask him. ‘It’s very simple,’ he’ll say. ‘The premise of Megalopolis? Well, it’s basically… I would ask you a question, first of all: Do you know much about utopia?’”

Author: Zach Baron
Source: GQ
Published: Feb 17, 2022
Length: 25 minutes (6,269 words)

The Rescue Artists of the New Avalanche Age

“As the weather grows more erratic, and as the popularity of winter sports nudges skiers and snowboarders further from the crammed routes and into the backcountry, the risks are mounting. Over a four-day period in January 2021, off-piste skiers and snowboarders set off eight avalanches that left eight free-riders dead. “Valais is the center of it all,” Pierre Féraud told me.”

Source: GQ
Published: Jan 20, 2022
Length: 22 minutes (5,526 words)

How the Maestro Got His Hands Back

“A lifetime of brutal injuries and misfortune robbed the world-renowned pianist João Carlos Martins of the ability to play his instrument. And then along came an eccentric designer and his bionic gloves.”
Source: GQ
Published: Oct 28, 2021
Length: 16 minutes (4,100 words)

Inside Amazon’s Huge Gamble on the Next Game of Thrones

“And so these books, with their gauzily painted or starkly heraldic covers, their comical abundance of pages published for the delight of furtive young boys and girls curled up reading by themselves in bookstore corners, waiting eagerly for their authors to publish the next installment (picture me here one more time, a child again, sleepy-eyed and confused, surrounded by the battered paperbacks and hardcovers I’ve lugged to every house and apartment I ever lived in) became…this. The biggest and most expensive business in all of television.”

Author: Zach Baron
Source: GQ
Published: Oct 19, 2021
Length: 23 minutes (5,816 words)

The Secrets of The World’s Greatest Freediver

“All around him, it has been lightless for some time, except for the light from the lamp on his head. If it were to go out, he would not be able to see his hand in front of his face. Given that he’s not breathing, there’s no real sound either. Just: sensory oblivion. Spooky stuff.”

Source: GQ
Published: Sep 21, 2021
Length: 29 minutes (7,369 words)