After years of unverified rumors and in the wake of ongoing Hollywood sexual harassment scandals, Louis C.K. now stands publicly accused of sexual misconduct by five women within the world of comedy. The New York Times reports on their experiences.
In 2002, a Chicago comedy duo, Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov, landed their big break: a chance to perform at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colo. When Louis C.K. invited them to hang out in his hotel room for a nightcap after their late-night show, they did not think twice.... He was a comedian they admired. The women would be together. His intentions seemed collegial.
Once seated in his room, however, the women were taken aback when Louis C.K. disrobed and began to masturbate in front of them.
Ms. Goodman and Ms. Wolov said that when they told others about the incident in the Colorado hotel room, they heard that Louis C.K.’s manager was upset that they were talking about it openly. The women feared career repercussions.
Comedian Rebecca Corry described a similar situation, though she escaped without Louis C.K. exposing himself.
In 2005, she was working as a performer and producer on a television pilot — a big step in her career — when Louis C.K., a guest star, approached her as she was walking to the set. “He leaned close to my face and said, ‘Can I ask you something?’ I said, ‘Yes,’” Ms. Corry said in a written statement to The New York Times. “He asked if we could go to my dressing room so he could masturbate in front of me.” Stunned and angry, Ms. Corry said she declined, and pointed out that he had a daughter and a pregnant wife. “His face got red,” she recalled, “and he told me he had issues.”
Abby Schachner, a writer, illustrator and performer, was an admirer of Louis C.K. In 2003, she called with an invitation to her upcoming show, but the conversation went from personal to inappropriate:
She said she heard the blinds coming down. Then he slowly started telling her his sexual fantasies, breathing heavily and talking softly. She realized he was masturbating, and was dumbfounded. The call went on for several minutes, even though, Ms. Schachner said, “I definitely wasn’t encouraging it.” But she didn’t know how to end it, either. “You want to believe it’s not happening,” she said.
The fifth woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, recounted an incident during her time with "The Chris Rock Show", for which Louis C.K. was a writer and producer.
[Louis C.K.] repeatedly asked her to watch him masturbate, she said. She was in her early 20s and went along with his request, but later questioned his behavior. “It was something that I knew was wrong,” said the woman, who described sitting in Louis C.K.’s office while he masturbated in his desk chair during a workday, other colleagues just outside the door. “I think the big piece of why I said yes was because of the culture,” she continued. “He abused his power.”
Some of the women received apologies from Louis C.K. in the time since their encounters, apparently confirming their stories in private.
In 2009, six years after their phone call, Ms. Schachner received a Facebook message from Louis C.K., apologizing. “Last time I talked to you ended in a sordid fashion,” he wrote in the message, which was reviewed by The Times. “That was a bad time in my life and I’m sorry.”
Ms. Corry also received an email from Louis C.K., which was obtained by The Times, saying he owed her a “very very very late apology.” When he phoned her, he said he was sorry for shoving her in a bathroom. Ms. Corry replied that he had never done that, but had instead asked to masturbate in front of her. Responding in a shaky voice, he acknowledged it and said, “I used to misread people back then,” she recalled.
Corry was bemused by the phone call, thinking his mistake on the circumstances indicated he had done this type of thing more than once, and feeling he implied she had somehow invited his inappropriate behavior.
“It is unfair he’s put me or anyone else in this position,” Ms. Corry said.
Masturbation plays no small part in Louis C.K.'s repertoire of jokes, leading one to wonder where the comedy ends and real-life misconduct begins.
Jokes about masturbation have been a regular part of Louis C.K.’s stage shows. In one bit, he complains about not being able to find a private place in his house to do it. “I’m on the streets now,” he says, “I’ve got nowhere to go.” In another bit he laments being a prisoner of his perversions. “Just the constant perverted sexual thoughts,” he says, then mimes masturbating. “It makes me into a moron.”