Gavin McInnes, the Proud Boys and Vice founder largely credited with inventing hipster douchebagism in the early aughts, suddenly disappeared from his Get Off My Lawn podcast Thursday evening after offscreen, unwelcome visitors apparently entered his Bronx studio and interrupted the live broadcast.
While many crack internet sleuths believe it’s just a staged bit by McInnes—who is accused by his detractors of being a right-wing, racist extremist—friends of his show and his Censored.TV network say he was taken away by members of law enforcement, most likely federal, and that he’s been in custody ever since.
The timing certainly had a theatrical feel to it.
“Before we take calls,” McInnes was saying, “I want to talk about…” A pause follows (into which producer Ryan Katsu Rivera interjects “Sex!”—offering a sample of the show’s median humor level). McInnes then asks, “Are you hearing that?”
Next, he says, “I think someone’s lurking in the doorway… Well, should I go check it out?”
Rather than follow that up with the obvious next move from any episode of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, McInnes then asks Rivera to get the door, saying, “It’s gonna obviously distract me.”
McInnes then suggests, “It might be someone—I invited a couple of people to watch the show,” before telling subscribers, “Sorry about this, folks, this does not make for very good entertainment…”
The mood, and dialogue, quickly morph into what sounds like the setup from a truly uninspired Scream sequel, or an especially shitty “work” from the WWE.
“But when we hear someone at the studio at this late at night here in the Bronx,” McInnes says, “it’s very weird, because no one knows we’re here… and, uh, unless it’s a buddy… then why would they…?”
Moments later, McInnes orders his off-camera employee, “Don’t let them in!”
Getting up from behind his desk, McInnes then says to an unseen party somewhere on the other side of the camera, “Hello. We’re shooting a show, can we do this another time?”
Silence follows, during what’s apparently a response from the mystery guest, before McInnes—now offscreen—can be heard saying, “All right, I’m happy to do that. Let’s, uh—I’ll get a lawyer and we will sit down and have a conversation, we’ll schedule a meeting and we’ll sit down with my lawyer.”
The other party answers and, from the sound of it, they’re either cops or vampires because McInnes responds, “I didn’t let you in.”
Finally, electronic bleeps can be heard in the distance, which some online Hardy Boys have identified as a police siren, though to less bat-eared detectives it could be just a car alarm clicking on or off. After that, silence reigns.
Some fans say the live feed kept broadcasting for half an hour, others say an hour, still others put it at an hour and a half.
So what happened? No one who knows is talking.
But comedian Josh Denny—McInnes’ colleague and frequent guest (we assume)—tweeted early Friday morning that, whatever it was, it’s for real: “Just got off the phone with our people. It’s not a bit.”
What it was, Denny does not indicate, which is not super for his credibility, but he adds in the same tweet, “Gavin was AGAINST going to Jan 6. He was AGAINST Charlottesville (and told Proud Boys they were out of the club if they went) but he’s rotting away in jail because he dared to question authority.”
If Denny is implying that McInnes was picked up for something to do with reported connections between the Proud Boys and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the hate march and murder in Charlottesville, or other Trump-centric events, it’s unclear why he’s being coy with the specifics. As far as McInnes and the group, he has said for years that he cut official ties with the Proud Boys, but he continues to support certain members who have been arrested and/or imprisoned, maintaining that they are political prisoners.
Just got off the phone with our people.
It’s not a bit.
Gavin was AGAINST going to Jan 6. He was AGAINST Charlottesville (and told Proud Boys they were out of the club if they went) but he’s rotting away in jail because he dared to question authority.
— Josh Denny (@JoshDenny) August 26, 2022
In another tweet, Denny appears to reaffirm that McInnes is being held somewhere, because he promises, “The show goes on. We aren’t canceling ANY. Working with the @censoreddottv team and @RelocationBoss to get him out.”
We’ll fucking be there. #FreeGavin
— Josh Denny (@JoshDenny) August 26, 2022
Those familiar with this particular sector of the podcast galaxy will feel safe in hazarding a guess that @RelocationBoss (aka “Andy Espresso”) is Anthony Cumia, former half of the now-defunct Opie and Anthony radio show, on whose eponymous podcast McInnes is a weekly cohost, and who doesn’t try particularly hard to conceal his constantly-changing Twitter handles each time the platform inevitably bans one.
If Cumia has been enlisted to help extricate McInnes from whatever jackpot he currently finds himself, it’s only proper, since it was in the basement of Cumia’s Long Island mansion—known as “the Compound”—that the Proud Boys were invented sometime around 2016.
As Cumia told Joe Rogan in 2018, it began as “a goof.”
McInnes was a regular on Cumia’s earliest podcast, Live from the Compound, which the former morning host started out of his basement studio shortly before being fired from his SiriusXM radio show for racially charged tweets in July 2014, in which he vented wildly about a violent, late night encounter in Times Square he’d just had.
As Cumia tells it, Proud Boys began as a way to tease a rather inexperienced young Compound Media employee named Ben Ratner, who Cumia says he hired chiefly because his last name was Ratner—meaning that the youth could be legitimately nicknamed “Rat,” as in Fast Times at Ridgemont High’s adorable virgin Mark “Rat” Ratner. If that seems unreasonable, perhaps you don’t understand that Cumia does a passable Mike Damone, which, to a certain group of people, just will never, ever get old.
Rat was also a genuine fan of show tunes, according to Cumia, and McInnes soon made “Proud of Your Boy” from Disney’s Aladdin one of Ratner’s unofficial theme songs—about which, Cumia says, “It’s one of these grandiose Broadway pieces of shit.”
Next, Cumia explained, “So we goofed on him about that and then said, ‘We ought to make a club called the Proud Boys, and that way you can learn how to be a man. And that way, you know, you’ll get chicks, and tattoos, and, you know, drink beers and hang out with guys’—as a joke… It was like this parody of a men’s club, and it was so over the top… and slowly this fucking thing mutated.”
Cumia added, “But that’s how it started, and it was never supposed to go any further than that.”
How that supposedly throwaway, day-drunk, Porky’s-level “goof” ended with Cumia trying to spring his friend from the hands of the Feds, if that’s what’s happening, is possibly heading to a documentary near you. But Cumia said four years ago that he didn’t get it then, either.
“It’s amazing when you think about it,” he told Rogan, “because it makes you question everything. Like how did Nazi Germany start? Was that a joke?
Regarding McInnes, Rogan said, “It’s hard to find out how he really feels and when he’s playing games. It’s very blurry.”
Whatever became of McInnes Thursday night is still unknown more than 24 hours later.
Some observers have pointed out that, earlier this week, McInnes had said he thought cops of some kind had been watching his home in the swell Westchester, New York village of Larchmont. McInnes said they seemed as if they were trying to read his address.
But evidence that this was all an elaborate—or at least long-lasting—ruse is also being offered up, specifically in the form of a clip from last week in which McInnes already seemed to know that he might not be quite available to host his show this week.
It’s gotta be a bit. This is from last week’s show, plus what are the odds of him getting arrested during the live show pic.twitter.com/thFukXocfA
— Scotch and Ribeye (@ScotchAndRibeye) August 26, 2022
We reached out to Cumia’s Compound Media, as well as to Censored.TV and Josh Denny. Newsweek reports that the FBI declined to comment and that Will Carless, who covers extremism for USA Today, tweeted that local New York cops say they did not detain McInnes on Thursday, and so, “IF he was arrested tonight, more likely Federal.”
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign for our newsletters today