NEW YORK — Josh "The Fat Jew" Ostrovsky and his upright ponytail have leaped off his racy Instagram account onto the pages of a new book, "Money Pizza Respect," a memoirish collection of debauchery out Tuesday.
While sex, drink and drugs are a huge part of his money-making persona, this Internet sensation, in a recent, real-life interview, was a sweetheart teddy bear of a man-child who just gave away $10,000 because he felt like it and said he cares as much about his millennial fan base as he does about their social media-inept moms.
And he said he has aspirations beyond making crazy online videos and collecting funny, weird photos to caption: An erotic novel, perhaps, to follow up his debut book. Someday. Maybe. Who knows.
It's hard not to call the 32-year-old Ostrovsky, to his face, by his popular Insta-handle of @thefatjewish, not that he minds. He's approached all the time since making his way from the Z-list to the outskirts of the hip mainstream, partying with Alexander Wang during fashion week and being fawned upon by actress Nina Dobrev and other celebs who follow him online.
"I love that scene," he said of the fashion world. "I threw a fashion show. It was all dad fashion. I was thinking everyone in fashion wants to look like they don't care. Like that's the whole look. ... So who actually doesn't care about what they're wearing, because that's the ultimate fashion? It's dads."
Of the book, from Grand Central Publishing, Ostrovsky said he was going for real, but the kind of real that comes with a big, fat disclaimer at the beginning about how some of the real might not be after all. Who remembers the details, what with all the substance-induced blackouts.
But he promised the stuff about his childhood is true, including the time his Russian-born dad, who is a bootstraps radiologist, took him to a Brighton Beach strip club after his bar mitzvah for a lap dance, due most likely to the fact that dad suspected he was gay.
Who picks "autumn" as a bar mitzvah theme? Why, the future Fat Jew does. He's the same one who was really into fashion as a kid, took a brief turn as a child actor in commercials and delicately draped faux leaves throughout the banquet hall at his bar mitzvah.
As for his current occupation that often involves baring his slimmed-down-but-still-largish belly, he's at a loss for a job description. He spoofs Steve Jobs on the cover of his book and picked the title to match one of his tattoos.
"I don't know what this is," Ostrovsky chuckled. "I don't even know how to describe it."
Armed with a record of loathing school, he managed a college degree in journalism but — like the rest of his generation — headed to the Internet to live life and attempt fame and fortune. Now, this Internet guy said he wanted to do a book to balance things out.
"Everyone wants to do everything online. I think that real life is about to make a huge comeback," Ostrovsky said.
Yet Instagram keeps him and his "army" of interns busy as he has tried to create content that is more "palatably edgy" for a wider audience. He has 6.4 million followers there, despite having been kicked off three times and deflecting complaints that he had a habit of putting out jokes, memes and other social media content without credits. He's trying to turn that around with more tags.
"The Internet is like the Wild West," Ostrovsky said. "There's been a big divide way before me between slightly older types who kind of view writing in a more traditional way and then younger people who were born of the Internet and know about curation. I ended up being in the middle of a debate between these two sides."
Meanwhile, his Cavalier King Charles Spaniel rescue, Toast, has 319,000 Insta-followers of her own and has bonded with Yahoo's Katie Couric, who offers a blurb on the back of her owner's book. Both Ostrovsky and his dog were interviewed in August by Dan Rather.
In July, Ostrovsky and a partner began marketing their own wine, White Girl Rose, and have sold a quarter-million bottles since.
At 9, Ostrovsky fantasized about "how much legitimately better it is to be famous," but now that he has a taste, he calls it "seriously weird" to be chased by TMZ. And there's the question of fame coming with fortune for this Upper West Side kid with the well-off parents. Has he made his first million?
"That would be chill, though," Ostrovsky said. "I'd buy you a Falcon. I'd buy you something seriously cool."
Leanne Italie, The Associated Press