Milo Yiannopoulos has been called many things, but he likes to call himself a "provocateur." When I, along with Salon's video team, spent an afternoon with Yiannopoulos during Jill Greenberg's photo shoot of him for Chadwick Moore's profile in Out, I heard Yiannopoulos use the word to describe himself multiple times.
Yiannopoulous, an editor at Breitbart, clearly wants people to believe his constant stream of racist and sexist rhetoric and targeted harassment — which got him banned from Twitter — isn't entirely sincere, but is instead about tweaking the noses of prudes, whom he claims cluster mostly on the left these days.
Perhaps I got a bit caught up in his self-mythologizing, which is why I thought he would have some fun answering provocative questions while he was getting his picture taken.
I was especially intrigued by the fact that he portrays himself and Donald Trump — whom he repeatedly referred to as "Daddy" during the shoot — as brave advocates for free speech against the supposedly censorious forces of "political correctness." Yet Trump is well-known for blacklisting journalists and Yiannopolous himself is supportive of Peter Thiel's crusade to destroy Gawker for publishing unflattering but true stories.
I never did get good answers to my questions, though I did learn that Yiannopolous likes to reduce feminism to "angry lesbians" supposedly tricking naive young women into becoming too fat to get boyfriends.
But I did learn one important fact: Milo Yiannopolous is not playing around. He is utterly sincere about his far-right views.
He is sincere enough that he lectured me for about 15 minutes and was so caught up in the moment that he seemingly forgot that he was half naked while wearing a wig and makeup. He was sincere enough to get genuinely wound up during this time.
Yiannopolous was so sincere that when the Salon team shut off the cameras so as to move to another vantage point, he demanded that I leave the room, refused to answer any more questions and called me a "bitch."
He was meaning to hurt my feelings, of course, but honestly I didn't mind. "Bitch" is just shorthand for a lady provocateur.