An Interview with David Zaritsky, the World’s Biggest James Bond YouTuber, Fan and Collector

Interview with David Zaritsky, the World’s Biggest James Bond main

By Tony Greenway

In this ever-changing world in which we live in (to borrow a grammatically dubious lyric from Paul McCartney’s ‘Live and Let Die’), there are three kinds of James Bond fans. There are casual 007 fans, hardcore 007 fans and full-on 007 fanatics.

And then there is David Zaritsky, who is in a Bond league of his own.

David isn’t just a James Bond fan. He’s the James Bond fan to end them all. First of all, he’s the not-so-shadowy mastermind behind The Bond Experience, the most popular and prolific Bond channel on YouTube, which features cast and crew interviews, discussions and reviews of 007’s films, clothes and assorted lifestyle accoutrements. Fashion companies who have supplied the 007 movies with clothes over the years — from Sunspel and Billy Reid to Orlebar Brown and N.Peal — have noticed Zaritsky’s popularity and fall over themselves to feature their products in his unboxing videos and reviews.

But that’s not all. In his home in Philadelphia USA, David has one of the world’s biggest Bond memorabilia collections, comprised of hundreds of props, gadgets and clothes from all the 007 movies, including screen-used items. It’s a shrine to Bond that takes up the entire footprint of his house, with each of the 25 Eon-produced films — from Dr No (1962) to the latest, No Time to Die (2021) — given its own section.

David has jackets worn by Daniel Craig, Scaramanga’s golden gun signed by Roger Moore and Christopher Lee, Jaws’s steel teeth from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), laser guns from Moonraker (1979), a crossbow from For Your Eyes Only (1981) signed by Bond girl Carole Bouquet, and screen-worn costumes from Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008), among others. The list goes on. And on.

Interview with David Zaritsky aston martin

David with a replica of the Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger

“There were things that I could embrace”

David — who in his day job is president of a marketing communications network in the pharma industry — loves living the 007 lifestyle. He owns Bond suits that have been made on Savile Row to the original specifications from the films, has an extensive (not to mention expensive) selection of Omega watches and drives an Aston Martin Vantage. He’s holidayed at the GoldenEye resort in Jamaica where Ian Fleming wrote the original novels and sought out locations in the Bahamas where Thunderball (1965) was filmed. He’s even bungee jumped off the dam featured in the pre-credits sequence of Goldeneye (1995). David is now so recognised as an unofficial Bond ambassador that he’s appeared on BBC News and This Morning with Phil and Holly to wax lyrical about his love of the world’s most unsecret secret agent.

This year is the 70th anniversary of the first Bond novel, Casino Royale — and, to mark the occasion, all of Ian Fleming’s original 007 adventures are being reissued on April 13th. (These hit the headlines in February when it was announced that some of the more outdated and offensive language has been edited out). In the Bond cinema universe, it’s the 60th anniversary of From Russia with Love, the 50th anniversary of Live and Let Die and the 40th anniversary of Octopussy and Sean Connery comeback movie, Never Say Never Again. So it seemed like the right time to catch up with David to find out what drives his passion for all things 007…

Do you remember seeing your first Bond film?
It was The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977 on a rainy day in Atlantic City. My father took us all — my mother and my two siblings — into a theatre, but didn’t tell us what we were going to see. I just remember a shark, a guy with metal teeth and beautiful women… and I was hooked. After that, dad introduced me to the rest of the films. It was a way of — excuse the pun — bonding with him, because he wasn’t the sort of father who would say: ‘Hey, let’s go outside and play ball.’ But we would sit down together and watch a Bond film. When I think about it, it’s quite psychological. There’s no doubt in my mind that Bond helped me connect with my father, which is one of the reasons why I think I’m so connected to Bond now.

When did you become a fanatical Bond collector?
That didn’t happen until Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997. It was just the right time in my life. I was a young executive with a little extra spending money trying to, I guess, emulate what I was seeing on screen — which was Bond, as played by Pierce Brosnan. Now, I’m not a tall drink of water like Pierce, and I don’t have his dark hair or his panache; but there was something about Bond that I just liked. The positive parts, I mean — not the killing and the misogyny! I suppose I was trying to discover if there was any part of the character that was like me. The answer, I realised, was: ‘Nooooo’. But there were things that I could embrace including style aspects, fashion aspects, fine food and travel. That was where the whole Bond lifestyle thing picked up for me.

“That review just exploded”

Interview with David Zaritsky, the World’s Biggest James Bond YouTuber, Fan and CollectorWhat was the first piece in your 007 collection?
The first major one was a screen-used Ericsson phone from Tomorrow Never Dies (which Bond uses to, among other things, drive his car by remote control and electrocute an assassin). I cherished it. Then I discovered: ‘Hold on a second. You mean I can just buy the pieces that Bond wears? His suits, his shirts, his ties?’ Ask any collector. Ask my wife. It’s a slippery slope that never ends.

What’s your favourite piece in your collection?
It’s a screen-used Armani leather jacket that Daniel Craig actually wore in Casino Royale, which is my favourite movie. One of the best things about that jacket for me is that I can see it on film (it’s in the scene where Bond foils a terrorist plot at Miami Airport) with prop-applied water stains that are still on it. It’s like: ‘Ah! There’s my jacket, right there.’

Bond is the epitome of style in the films — usually. But what are the worst items of cinematic Bond fashion?
I made a video about this recently. In Live and Let Die, Roger Moore wears double denim which is not a good look. We call that a Tennessee Tuxedo over here. There’s also the power blue onesie that Sean Connery wore in Goldfinger (1964) — although, I must say, I’ve done some research on that particular item. It turns out that it was ‘a thing’ back in the 1960s. It was pool-wear for men, and very common. Fashion brand Orlebar Brown brought out a replica of the Goldfinger onesie — and I have one. I’m going on vacation soon and if I’m brave enough to wear it to a pool, who knows? I might see a Moonraker-style double-taking pigeon or two…

Did you expect your YouTube channel to become so popular?
Not really. The thing that put me on the map, so to speak, was when I did a video review of the Billy Reid peacoat that Daniel Craig wears in 2012’s Skyfall (in the scene in a Shanghai high-rise building, where 007 fights a gun-toting hit man). That review just exploded to the point where Billy Reid sold 800 of those coats within a month — and they cost $800. I think that surprised them. They’re still making those coats today, and they still sell out.

What’s your advice for any aspiring Bond collectors?
The luxury pieces that you buy are made to be worn or used. Any expensive and luxury Bond item that I own — my watches, my suits — I wear to death. I drive my Aston Martin. I don’t keep it in my garage. Enjoy them.

Interview with David Zaritsky, the World’s Biggest James Bond vantage

In his own Aston Martin Vantage

“The most relaxing feeling in the world”

Did you always feel like that? These things can be extremely pricey, after all.
I remember getting a crazy expensive pair of monk strap shoes — from Church’s — that Bond wears in The World is Not Enough (1999). They cost $600 and, for the first month, I only wore them around the house. It was like: ‘I never want to get a nick on these things’. Then I remember saying to myself: ‘You bought them so you could literally walk in Bond’s footsteps. You’re never going to put them on display — so wear them out.’ Which is what I did, and three minutes in I damaged the leather. But it was the most relaxing feeling in the world. Yes, they were damaged, but they were suddenly my shoes, not Bond’s. They were part of my story, not his.

Is there a 007 collectible that you haven’t got that you really want?
There is! Last year, Omega launched a 60th anniversary James Bond watch, which is an amalgamation of practically every Bond Omega they’ve supplied since Goldeneye. I’d quite like that, but it’s not been released in the US yet.

Doesn’t your wife say: ‘You’ve already got lots of Bond Omega watches. Why do you need another one?’
She’s incredibly supportive and super understanding because she knows I’m not dipping into the family savings. Family comes first, our house comes first and way down the line — if I have a little extra folding cash — comes James Bond. To be totally transparent, the brands have been so kind in many cases to gift me many of the items they put out. I’m not saying Omega watches do! But in my house it’s Christmas and my birthday almost every single day, because I’m always getting a Bond-related delivery of some kind. When the doorbell rings my wife knows I should go to answer it — because it’ll probably be (007) for me…

David Zaritsky’s Bond-themed YouTube channel is:


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