Mike Cernovich: Potemkin Alpha Male

It’s been about a year since I last wrote about Michael C. Cernovich, the part-time lawyer, full-time Internet bum who’s publicly threatened to sue me (that is, when he hasn’t got me confused with Zoe Quinn.) Back then, I smelled a rat – Cernovich claimed to be a successful lawyer, yet he was seemingly no longer was actively practicing law just a year after finally getting his law license; and the address he gave as his law offices turned out to be a rental condominium in a residential neighborhood. Looking at it on Google Street View, there was nothing about the property which suggested it was really a law office, yet it was Cernovich’s address of record to the CA State Bar, and theoretically the place clients sent this big-shot lawyer their checks.

It was one of several details of Cernovich’s life that didn’t add up: why was this high-rolling attorney wasting his time with juicing e-books and blogging? Why did an apparent 2004 Pepperdine Law graduate swinging his credentials around on Twitter seem to have no known record of practicing law? And why did it seemingly take him nine years — until 2013 — to finally be admitted to the California bar? Why pretend his blogging was profitable when his own writings contradicted this statement? Moreover, why was Cernovich so obsessed with projecting an image of wealth, machismo & success on social media, when the facts suggested a far more modest reality?

As a result of my initial post about him, Cernovich threatened to initiate some sort of legal action against me. And I, unwilling to further provoke a guy whom I presumed could litigate on his own behalf for free, decided to put any new Cernovich articles on moratorium.

But in recent weeks I have learned that my fears were unfounded. Cernovich has never sued anyone: although he boasts of having his law blog credited twice in unpublished court decisions, there does not seem to be a single decision from any court in America in which he is credited as acting as counsel — state or federal. He appears to have obtained a law license in 2013 (nine years after graduating law school) yet there is no evidence he did anything with it except posture on the Internet. The closest Cernovich’s ever seems to have gotten to being a practicing lawyer was doing scut legal writing work on contract and blogging about law while being married to a law school classmate. This classmate apparently went on to become an IP attorney with several well-known, hugely successful public tech companies, while Cernovich stayed at home. The financial success Cernovich advertises as his own is almost certainly due to a “seven-figure payday” his ex-wife was forced to give Cernovich from her tech stock awards as part of their divorce settlement. (Michael himself appeared to confirm many of these details in a series of Tweets published and then deleted in the past fortnight.) Yet, in public, Cernovich is more than willing to criticize people who collect alimony.

In fact, much of Cernovich’s personal brand is a deception. Michael advertises his physical fitness as the result of regular workouts, juice diets and “Gorilla Mindset”, but it’s partially the result of testosterone injections. (According to Michael, “the ball shrinkage was 25%, tops.”) His financial success is allegedly the result of his e-book/podcast/men’s websites empire, but it’s likely propped up by the stock windfall Michael took from his ex as part of his divorce settlement. But this money may be dwindling. Nowadays, Cernovich claims to be wandering the globe for “tax purposes”, only briefly visiting the US to promote his self-help books.

Even his diet books are a sham: Cernovich admits on page 1 of “Juice Power!: How to Juice for Healing, Fat Loss, and Lifelong Nutrition” that he juices veg because he dislikes eating them whole, then follows with a lengthy disclaimer indemnifying his recipes.

That said, the recipes in Juice Power! are at least edible, whereas Cernovich’s advice on other topics is either useless or dangerous. Cernovich’s philosophical work ‘Gorilla Mindset’ claims to teach how to control one’s thoughts and emotions to lead a positive life, yet Cernovich routinely loses his temper on Twitter and later deletes the Tweets once he’s calmed down. Assuming the guy who wrote Gorilla Mindset should be the top practitioner of it, you’d expect Cernovich to be a lot less reactive than he is.

But there’s a reason Cernovich goes to pieces so often, seemingly without warning. According to Michael, his mother suffers from bipolar disorder, and Michael himself “had some form of mental illness in [his] late 20s”, which brought him “close to suicide many times”. Though Cernovich claims to have “cured” himself using “N-A-C, proper nutrition, and mindset exercises”, I’m not sure this worked as well as Michael thinks it did. This could explain – in conjunction with his troubles with the law – what appears to be his nine-year, two-bar-exam odyssey to get a license to practice in California.

Michael’s pick-up game is similarly weaksauce. Apart from the aforementioned divorce from a really successful attorney, the “danger and play” dominance technique Cernovich claims women crave may have also gotten him charged with sexual assault. (If you believe Cernovich’s story, he had a devil of a time beating the charges.) Indeed Cernovich’s advice on how to choke your partner during sex sounds like an injury waiting to happen.  Cernovich’s belief that ‘defense soap’ on the D is suitable prophylaxis against STIs is similarly risky quackery; as is his claim that “the best condom a man has is the skin on his dick.” (If Cernovich actually used condoms, he’d know that coconut oil, his favorite type of lubricant, degrades the latex and can cause them to tear.) Cernovich’s loony views on masturbation and “super serum” simply belong in another era. 

Although Michael claims to be a self-made man, he trolls more well-known men, drafting off their fame to get attention. He’s likely not a practicing lawyer, nor is he really a nutritionist, pick-up master or fitness instructor. In reality, Cernovich is a Twitter bug with a resume of Potemkin accomplishments – his financial success is more than likely the result of a divorce settlement, just as his fitness is based in steroid use. His tales of sexual conquest are just that, and Michael’s legal career is a similarly trumped-up story with little to no basis in fact. And considering the numerous misrepresentations Cernovich has already made to burnish his image, it’s hard to trust that anything he says isn’t a bluff.

This is why there is no reason anyone should be afraid of Cernovich or his boasts – nor should they really feel sorry for him any longer, as I have at times. Pathetic as Cernovich is, he also makes it his mission to stalk and bully others, either out of a lifetime grudge or because he thinks it will get him attention and clicks.

Cernovich is a Potemkin alpha male whose success in life is as artificially inflated as his testosterone levels. He bullies people more famous than himself in order to obtain what are by his own description modest pageviews and z-grade notoriety, and says extreme things he doesn’t believe so reactionary dregs will consider buying his e-books. And as he presumably whittles away his savings from the proceeds of his ex-wife’s hard-earned IPO windfall, I expect he will only become more desperate for attention and money.

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