The millions, the cocaine (off the body parts of strippers), a 200-person Vegas bachelor party, the prostitute and model-filled yachts… then jail, a book and a Hollywood blockbuster. It was all part of the life of Jordan Belfort. Belfort, of course, is the real Wolf of Wall Street, as played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the recent Oscar-nominated film The Wolf of Wall Street. We caught up with Belfort on the phone last week, and yesterday we exposed his more serious, business and even mature side as he chatted everything from advice to his 25-year-old self to traps of quick success and what is most meaningful to him in life now. Our phone conversation, however, eventually (and naturally) turned to what he really thinks about the film, drugs, wild parties, ex-wives and gold diggers. And he was just fine with that.
Here’s what we learned….
He didn’t become a cokehead over night.
“In the beginning, when I first moved out to Wall Street and refused cocaine on my first day, they presented me as some choirboy who was only focused on how to make my clients money, and in the next scene I am at a strip club snorting coke and going crazy. That’s not how it happened. It was a slow ascent over a couple of years where I lost my ethical way. But it was a three-hour movie. I think that the movie would have been better served by showing a slower assent into unethical behavior – that would be more accurate.”
It looks worse than it was (according to him).
“In terms of the business side, there were a lot of things that were not accurate. They focused on this idea that the companies were fraudulent or that they were not real. That is not true. That was not going on at the time, and that would not be a sustainable way of doing business. I am not trying to minimize what I did wrong here, but it was stock manipulation. The companies were venture capital companies. All in all it wasn’t better or worse than any other venture capital deals going on out there. The problem is, how can you educate an audience in three hours about stock manipulation? So they say the companies suck; I understand why Scorsese did that. But that said, it made my look character worse. I would never say, first we are going to sell the first stock, then we are going to sell the shit – I would not ever say that to a sales force. Nobody wants to sell shit. That was all fiction.”
He never punched his wife in the stomach.
“The personal side was very accurate, with the exception of the end where they had me punching my wife in the stomach. That never happened. It was complete fiction. Back when the movie came out and was in theatres, my ex wife – we are still really good friends – and I wanted to take our son together to show him, to make sure that both his mother and I know that this never happened. I didn’t want my kids to see me as that, so that was pretty rough.”
He never said he was not leaving the firm.
“Another thing that was not true is that I never made a big production and said that I was not leaving the firm. That was not true. I left. I was out of the firm in 1994 and I went and built Steve Madden shoes. That is the truth, but of course they wanted to show the firm in the film as a fun, vibrant place… so I get that.”
He’s not mad about it.
“All in all, you take the good with the bad. The film was an amazing success for me and the people who made it, so I’m happy with it all.”
He isn’t a choirboy or a preacher against drugs and partying.
“Now listen, I don’t think there is anything wrong with a little bit of indulgence; you deserve to reward yourself and you deserve to party. If you’re a 25-year-old, God bless you. Go out and party like a rock star. I’m definitely not preaching for people to be choirboys and to never do a drug in their lives. In many places, pot is legal. The idea is to have balance in your life. Know what is sustainable. And there is a tendency to go out of balance when it comes to things like drugs. I’d say to avoid them, but to each their own. I’m not pro-drug or anti-drug; with my own kids I am anti-drug. I still drink a little bit, I’m just not taking drugs at all.”
His second wife was cool and his first looked better in real life.
“I think that as a woman dating a Wolf of Wall Street type of guy, number one, you can’t let them walk all over you. One of the things that I did like about my second wife was that she was a challenge to me. She was tough and held her own and that made her sexy to me, versus my first wife – who was also a beautiful lady by the way – they made her look a little mousy, but in real life she was gorgeous. But she was meak and let me do whatever the hell I wanted.”
You need to be tough and have your own thing going on to date a Wolf of Wall Street type.
“For a guy like my character who is riding high that way, he wants to be challenged when he gets home. They want a woman who takes charge a little bit versus the wallflower. They spend all day cutting deals with the powerful and they don’t want to come home and face this meek little something. They want to at least get their fill at home. Also, as a woman – and I think this is kind of a given these days – but you have to have your own thing going on. You need your own interests, career and things that make you feel vital, because if you are just living through your husband’s money or his success, that is going to get old for you really quickly.”
Gold diggers are more complicated than you think.
“To call someone a gold digger is always more complicated than that. Was my second wife a gold digger? Well yeah, but she loved money and nice things. It wasn’t like I was a fat, 60-year-old man with a potbelly and no hair – I was a handsome 25-year-old guy myself. I was no f*cking Robert Redford, but you get the point. Certain women gained a reputation as gold diggers in the early 2000s, but you can always look through that. But I don’t think there is also anything wrong with a woman liking nice things. It is a biological reflex action to want a man who is going to secure the future of your children. This goes back to the cave man days.”
Sign a prenup.
“It is up to the guy to judge whether someone is a gold digger or not. It comes down to things like asking for your credit card week two type of things, her instigating shopping sprees and stuff like that. These are the kinds of things you need to look out for. Also, sign a prenup. Don’t get yourself in a situation where if you get divorced you will screw yourself. The same goes for the girl: you want to secure yourself as well.”
His bachelor party was his wildest.
“The most epic party was my bachelor party in Las Vegas. It was the craziest thing ever. I mean it was just complete insanity – dancing everywhere, hookers, strippers, drugs, booze, animals… I am not saying it was good or bad, it was just wild. It was complete insanity that involved about 200 people letting loose.”
The best parties are beach parties..
“We always had great parties on the beach every July 4th or Memorial Day. We would have three to four thousand people at the beach house. We used to have lobsters on the beach over open pits, dancers, jugglers, clowns, rock bands, table dancing… they were some great parties.”
He’d rather not host.
“Mostly I attend parties these days versus throw them, you know?”
If you are looking for the more serious side of Belfort, check out Part One. Don’t forget that Belfort will be speaking in cities across the country, starting with Vancouver on May 1st, where he tells us he will lay out a guaranteed formula for achieving wealth and success for anyone in every business that you are in or want to get into, reminding us that he has a track record of adding zeros on to people’s income.
Vancouver: May 1
Calgary: May 2
Montreal: May 12
Toronto: May 15
#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)
Cover image: Wolf Of Wall Street