Ali G called me what Former S.F. exec sues comedian

A former San Francisco marketing executive is throwing her lawsuit into the ring along with the litigious legions suing British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen of “Borat” fame.

In a suit filed in Los Angeles last month, British-born Californian Heddi Cundle is suing for libel, slander, invasion of privacy, fraud, breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation and negligent infliction of emotional distress based on a 2004 Cohen “interview” with novelist Gore Vidal on HBO’s

“Da Ali G Show.”

While Cohen is best known in the United States as Borat Sagdiyev, the anti-Semitic Kazakhstani reporter from the eponymous hit film, he became a household name in the United Kingdom in the 1990s with his oblivious, track suit-wearing wannabe rapper character, Ali G.

Cundle, reached on her cell phone, refused to speak with j. Up until six months ago she worked in San Francisco as a marketing director for the restaurant chain Pasta Pomodoro.

In the offending episode, Cohen, in character as Ali G, was “interviewing” Vidal about the United States Constitution when he led the bemused novelist on a rambling digression in his characteristic British-Jamaican patois:

“Ain’t it better sometimes, to get rid of the whole thing rather than amend it [the Constitution], cos like, me used to go out with this bitch called Heddi Cundle and she used to always trying amend herself. Y’know, get her hair done in highlights, get like tattoo done on her batty crease … very nice but it didn’t make any more difference. She was still a minger and so, y’know, me had enough and once me got her pregnant me said alright, laters, that is it. Ain’t it the same with the Constitution?”

Incidentally, “minger” is a British slang term defined on the Internet’s Urban Dictionary as “one who has fallen from the ugly tree at birth and hit every branch on the way down.”

According to legal documents quoted extensively in British newspapers, Cundle, who immigrated to the United States in 2002, attended the same youth trip to Israel as Baron Cohen in 1987. She claims, however, she never had a physical relationship with Cohen — or, one would gather, his imaginary alter-ego Ali G.

Cundle further claims HBO agreed to omit her name from subsequent showings of the episode, though, by that time, the show had aired heavily and even come out on a DVD set. Her current suit stems from her name being used in versions of the show reportedly available on the Web site and broadcast on Finnish television.

HBO and Cohen have refused to comment on the case.

Cohen, an assault comedian who outrages and shocks interviewees with his boorish and ignorant characters, could wallpaper a sizable room with the legal papers he’s been served.

A brief recap of his current legal maladies includes the following:

• In February, a U.S. judge tossed out a case brought by two students who claimed they had been plied with alcohol and made to act like drunken buffoons in the film “Borat.”

• Romanian villagers whose hamlet served as Borat’s Kazahkstani hometown in the film are suing for £15 million ($29.4 million), claiming they believed the film was a serious documentary.

• An etiquette coach claims her business was destroyed when Cohen, in character as Borat, handed her a bag of feces after visiting the men’s room.

• Israeli comedian Dovale Glickman has claimed that Borat’s exclamation of wonder — wah wah wee wah! — was his creation, and is threatening legal action.

Baron Cohen seems to be handling the cavalcade of lawsuits with a grain of humor. When he accepted his January Golden Globe award for best actor in a comedy, he thanked “every American who has not sued me so far.”

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.