Steven Kotok, a long-serving employee at Felix Dennis‘ various media enterprises and current CEO of The Week and Mental Floss, was among those who shared fond reminiscences for a recent theweek.com tribute following the colorful magnate’s passing. Speaking today via telephone with FishbowlNY, Kotok was kind enough to add a few more.
“My first memory of Felix is back before Maxim was launched,” Kotok recalls. “It was a 12-person company in 1997 and this guy wandered up holding the plastic part of a six-pack of beer, that had three or four beers left in it. And some Doritos.”
“I was working away in the office at 7 p.m. or something, and he offered me a beer and Doritos. That was the first time I met him,” he adds. “He was a person who just, absolutely, did not want to stand on ceremony or pretense. I think if he had been an assistant, he would have behaved the exact same way. He didn’t know how to be any other way.”
From those earliest days, Kotok’s relationship with Dennis naturally evolved. “Whenever he would come to the States, I would always meet with him,” the CEO explains. “And then as we kind of became more friendly, I visited him in Mustique five different times and I actually organized a  U.S. poetry tour.”
“We spent six weeks on a private jet together, while he did performances of poetry for crowds of 200 to 400 people in 16 U.S. cities.”
As Capital New York’s Nicole Levy noted, Dennis left behind the unusual legacy of a contiguous UK forest.
“Felix loved trees,” says Kotok. “He published this gigantic book about the history of the tree in England and also published a magazine called Tree News. So he was just incredibly knowledgeable about trees and felt that it was kind of tragic that England, which once was a lushly forested land, now is only about five percent forest.”
“Germany is 20% forest and I think the U.S. is something like 50% forest,” Kotok continues. “He just felt that it was kind of a great shame that he wanted to correct. So he began buying land and planting forests. But there was no pulp and paper aspect.”
In recent months, Kotok spoke frequently to Dennis, who had shifted back to Mustique. The last time he saw him in person was in England at the end of 2013. RIP.
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