His videos have been condemned for extreme misogyny, but gained a huge following. So who exactly is the man who was, earlier this year, the most googled person on the planet?
He says it to me too, several times. Granted, there is much Tate says that should be taken with a pinch of salt – he has also claimed to be the world’s first trillionaire – but he may have been right. Last month, though, he was banned from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. Not long before that, Hope Not Hate, the activist group, had declared, “Our major concern is that his brand of extreme and sometimes violent misogyny is reaching a young male audience and that he could serve as a gateway to wider far-right politics.”
Was this fair or was it not? That’s what I’ve come to Romania to find out.
“I’m telling you,” Tate says. “I never thought I’d become the most famous man in the world by saying women make me coffee.”
Let’s be honest. It’s not just about coffee. There are scores of Andrew Tate clips still floating around, even on the platforms from which he has been banned. “Bang out the machete, boom in her face and grip her by the neck. Shut up, bitch,” he says in one. In another, he says, “Slap, slap, grab, choke, shut up bitch, sex.”
“That was about me sleeping with a machete next to my bed,” he says now. “I’m a security-conscious individual.” And what happened, he says, was that a girl picked up the machete and told him she’d chop his head off if he cheated, so he told her what he’d do to stop her. “And she laughed out loud,” he says. “ ‘You’re so funny! Give me a kiss.’ So that was a joke.”
Tate counting money in a photo from one of his removed social media accounts
The problem, says Tate, is that these things all turn up as tiny clips from longer videos and are never considered in context. Our coffee discussion, for example, is sparked by me reading him another widely reported quote – in which he says a woman should “have kids, sit at home, be quiet and make coffee” – which he insists he simply never said. Although, for the record, he has also definitely said that he’ll ask a woman to bring him two coffees and then drink only one because “it’s doing something that is basically pointless to show that you have respect for me”. Which I have not tried at home.
There’s also another video. We should mention that. It’s the one that got him kicked out of Big Brother in 2016 after it appeared in the Daily Star. In it, he slaps a blonde girl in the face – you hear it; it’s definitely a slap – and then beats her with a belt.
I watch it before I meet him. Then, after I get back to my hotel, after two hours in which we have frankly got on pretty well, I make myself watch it again. Tate says now that it was a consensual sex game, and it’s true that the woman involved has released a video in which she says the same. He also points out, quite vehemently, that the lefty liberals who hate him so much also usually say it’s wrong to “kink shame” people for their sexual preferences. I must be the wrong sort of lefty liberal, though, because I think it’s f***ing gross.
Mostly he talks about success: how to become as rich as he is and as strong as he is, how to have sex with as many women as he apparently does. There’s a temptation simply to ridicule this, but you cannot deny the extent to which it connects. There are, bluntly, a lot of young men out there who do not know what to be. What Tate does is answer that question. And you might not like his answer, but at least he has one.
The other reason Tate is so famous is that he set out to be. When we speak, at least at first, he insists that his banning is due to his critics clipping his videos out of context and that he’s been hard done by.
This, though, is just not true. Both of those clips up above were circulated not by his critics but pretty clearly by his fans. What’s more, they obviously thought they had his blessing. Until recently, you see, he was running a business called Hustlers University, which ostensibly offered online business advice but which also paid subscribers almost half the money generated from any new subscribers they went on to lure in.
Some called it a pyramid scheme – he said those allegations were “false” – but it also made his clips and content spread around the internet like a rash. “What you ideally want is a mix of 60-70 per cent fans and 30-40 per cent haters,” he said in one Hustlers video. “You want arguments, you want war.” Basically, he was a virus.
“Can you give me an example of a specific misogynistic thing I said?” says Tate, leaning over the table in his cigar room.
I have some up my sleeve, but we don’t get far. Tate, you see, does not believe himself to be a misogynist. Yes, he thinks that a man’s job is to defend and provide for a woman and that a woman’s job is to look after her man. Yes, he also thinks that a woman must be faithful and that a man – or at least a man like him; there’s nuance here – need not be.
Also, he thinks women are most attractive about the age of 19 because at that stage – and this is a direct quote, although not to me – “they’ve been through less dick”. But what he disputes, quite furiously, is that any of this is misogynistic. In fact, he says, I only think this because I’m an out of touch liberal.
“I’m not a misogynistic person,” he says. “I’m a traditional person.”
Hang on. I’m a married man who lives in a terraced house with two kids. He’s a porn millionaire with numerous girlfriends who lives in a fortified Romanian compound. And he’s the traditional one?
“Since the dawn of time,” says Tate, “every king, every sultan, every emperor had more than one wife, or had a wife and a mistress. Powerful men have a certain status. Since the dawn of time. Not every man can say this. You interview a rapper and you won’t question him in the same way.”
His argument, you’ll understand, is that it’s not like this for all men. The guy working in Starbucks? No sleeping around for him. These rules are only for high-status men. Like Tate.
“If you are a high enough status male,” he says, “and I’m talking from experience, women do not expect loyalty from you like they would from a lower-status male. This has been proved.”
“Am I also a high-status male?” I ask.
Tate thinks not.
“Right,” I say. “Why?”
“Because society has taken a turn for the worse,” he says. “We live in a world where status is heavily derived from attention.”
“But I have 200,000 Twitter followers,” I say. “I have a radio show. Does that count?”
“Oh, OK,” he says, sounding genuinely respectful. “Then perhaps you are.”
Although then he points out that if I were to meet a 19-year-old Belarussian beauty queen in Dubai, she might not think so. Which I think is fair.
The thing is, I say carefully, I’m 45. So I’m not sure that having a 19-year-old Belarussian girlfriend would actually be high-status behaviour. In fact, I think it would be pretty low-status, shitty behaviour.
“You’re trying to apply your world view,” he says. “And it is quite disrespectful. Not to me, but to the world. If you were in Dubai and you were a billionaire and you had a yacht, you would need the 19-year-old to be high status. It’s a different game.”
Later on he tells me that the difference between us is that he believes women are sovereign individuals who can make their own choices, and he just doesn’t think I believe the same. So maybe I’m the misogynist here. Who knows?
The Romania thing, though. That’s weird. He’s not from here. He barely speaks Romanian. And yet here he is in his converted warehouse that looks like a car showroom somewhere on the outskirts of Bucharest. Inasmuch as I can tell, we are nowhere special at all. The road outside is pitted. The flats across the road are just flats.
“It’s a very misunderstood country,” he tells me. “A lot of people have negative perceptions, which I think is quite xenophobic, quite racist.”
This is probably true. It’s also true, though, that he himself once joked that he was in Romania because “it’s corrupt, which suits me because I’m f***ing rich”.
He also, in a now deleted video on his YouTube channel, suggested that part of the reason had been the country’s sex laws. “I’m not a f***ing rapist, but I like the idea of just being able to do what I want,” was how he put it. What he meant by this, he says now, is that he sees Romania as immune to what he perceives as a western sickness of excessive legalism. “A dying empire adopts laws,” he says. “Like a sick man adopts medicine.”
Probably, though, I should point out that in April, this compound – right where I’m sitting – was raided by Romanian police as part of a human-trafficking investigation. Tate’s version of this is that he was “swatted” – an internet term for your enemies lying so that armed police will be sent to your home. No charges have been brought.