7 lessons from @jamesfgoldstein’s amazing Instagram account by Salome Oggenfuss

James F. Goldstein is a multi-millionaire NBA superfan who attends over one hundred NBA games each season, including approximately 95% of home games for the LA Lakers and the LA Clippers. He is also a prominent figure at Fashion Weeks around the world, and has his own clothing line. James has 20,000 followers on Instagram. There’s a lot to learn about swag from his feed.

The 7 lessons from his Instagram are interspersed with excerpts from a Gchat conversation between Lily Hodges and Salome Oggenfuss. The Gchat dissects the public image of James Goldstein. While trying to decipher his Instagram account, their reactions to this one man’s public life are meant to question to our society’s collective neuroses.

#1 Supermodel Game

This may sound a bit cliché, but if you can, make sure you are photographed in the company of models as often as possible. It will up your game by 100%. It does not matter how much time you actually spend with them, but do make sure to be photographed with them whenever you can.

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Salome:  …he goes to all the runway shows, but doesn’t take pictures of the runway shows, no signs that he finds inspiration there. He likes to pose with the models, attach himself to a society through photography.

Lily:  you said – ‘attaching oneself to a society through photography’. i think attaching is great word in this case because here’s what this guy’s done, that sets him apart . he’s managed to portray not just HIS (italic) attachment to fashion…

Salome:  (I wonder what he was like as a child)

Lily:  …but he manages to portray fashion’s attachment to him

he creates this sense that the models seek him, and that they  are gaining their own bit of social status from taking pictures with him. im not sure how he does it – money helps im sure.but as a whole the instagram accounts portrays him as a necessary piece of fashion (and basketball) culture. And im using “portray” very consciously.

he doesn’t, obviously, show photos of people who don’t seem to want to be photographed with him. he doesn’t post photos of a model or player saying “no” to being photographed with him

so we, as an audience, are left to assume, at face value, that everyone is clamoring to get their photo taken with him

Lily:  heres a good example of that:


#2 Confident-short-guy Game

What have we learned since the 18th century? Napoleonic behavior leads to nothing but war and murder. It’s best to come to terms with your stature rather than try to compensate for it. Being comfortable in your skin is what it’s all about.

Salome:  …but when I prepared some images for this chat, my favorite thing was looking at paintings of Napoleon

Sad, bitter short man…

Lily:  and full of it!

this is one of my favorite paintings

its HUGE

in the louvre, behind the mona lisa

his self-coronation

Salome:  He is the one holding the crown?

Lily:  yes

with everyone staring, and the priests snarling.

he has an expressionless face, maybe a little sad

Salome:  the use of light in the painting is fantastic

Lily:  its probably 30 feet, by a story and a half

its huge

Salome:  Was the painting commissioned by him?

Lily:  thats a good question. i meant to ask.

who takes all the photos of goldstein?

because they are never #selfies

Salome: i kind of love that there is this huuuge painting of an emperor at the Louvre, but it’s totally overshadowed by an aloof looking little lady across from it.


#3 Entourage Game

Let’s not forget about the right entourage. You can dress crazy, look cool, but no one will look up to you until you have the right entourage.


#4 Billboard Game

You know those targeted Facebook and Twitter ads you have been running to reach a wider audience? Well – sorry – let me break it to you: That’s amateur level. A billboard is what you need.


#5 Accessories Game

You have to accessorize the right way so people won’t get bored of you.

A drone, a basketball, a goat, a sea lion are good examples – be creative.


and his accessories game…

Lily:  hahaha


Lily:  i love these 18th, 19th century portraits. if you look at them broadly

they’re really not any different than instagram

except paintings were expensive, so they were only available to those with money.

#6 Teen Angst Game

Remember how as a teenager you constantly felt anxious, disconnected, alienated, melancholic, and depressed? Maybe you still feel that way! Don’t deny it. Hold your sadness like a puppet.

#7 Rapper Game (Guys only)

A rapper is a guy’s best friend. Especially if you are  into fashion, you will need to prove to people that you can still get down like a bro. Being photographed with rappers will definitely help with that.


Sent at 9:14 AM on Friday

Salome:  His instagram made me think of some Kehinde Wiley paintings. Kehinde paints these modern black men – rappers, basketball players – in a historical context, like warriors or knights. I wanted to reference them because I think they represent the kind of man Goldstein admires or wants to be

The masculinity, the guts, the ‘swag’

should i send the image again?

Lily:  no i have it

i find it way more masculine, commercially masculine

than goldstein

i guess its a little homoerotic

Salome:  Yes – it’s not what he IS at all! It is what he wants to be, thus the pictures with the basketball players, the rappers etc. He is the opposite.

Lily:  gotcha

Salome:  okaydoke. I think we covered a lot of ground – anything else you want to talk about?

Lily:  just that i wish susan sontag were still alive. i think she would have a field day with social media. she passed just as MySpace was starting up. i think we’re all scrambling to coherently make sense of it. she would have nipped it in a single essay


Lily Hodges is an academic during the day, and a poet at night. She currently teaches at San Quentin State Prison.

Salome Oggenfuss is a filmmaker based in Brooklyn. She is currently working on the documentary, “The Other Side of Fashion Week” that takes place on the fringes of the fashion world. She is currently in seeking funding on Kickstarter.

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