It’s good to see power-drunk psychopaths like Harvey Weinstein fall before they’re too old for the comeuppance to mean anything (or really hurt). Weinstein is at just the right age for the revocation of his droit du seigneur, and the corollary public shaming, to hurt: too old to bounce back but young enough that he might have continued to sexually abuse Serfs for another ten years, had his invincibility charm not worn off. Why it wore off when it did we’ll probably never know. Why hasn’t Bill Clinton’s? Or Congressman X’s? The subtleties of the machinations remain esoteric. Jimmy Savile’s slap on the wrist was very carefully timed to be posthumous, from which we can deduce that he had friends in higher places than Weinstein’s.
Will the “conversation” about Weinstein’s fall be nuanced enough that all notable commenters remain mindful of the subtle (or less subtle) distinctions between Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Impropriety and Flirting? Doubtful. There’s a distinct brand of youngish, upper-middle-class, neo-Edwardian, Liberal White Zealotry that will fail to recognize the fact that the mating dance of the heterosexual masses favors brash, impolitic males (with muscle cars for plumage). For these prim Young Liberal Mandarins, the wet-t-shirt-contest-loving heterosexual males of the masses are irremediably rapey in aggregate and should be shipped off to reeducation camps the way their great-uncles were sent to Vietnam. While the men are off in camps, their Proletariat girlfriends (ie “victims”) should learn, by aspirationally friending a better class of BFF on Facebook, about Gender Fluidity. This, in turn, should cut down birthrates (and meat-eating) among the Vocational Training bloodlines: win/win.
Not many non-Thespian men can legitimately claim to have been the victims of Sexual Harassment (defined here as someone wanting to fuck you, making it clear, and even dangling enticements to make it happen) but it happened to me at least three times between the ages of seventeen and thirty. After the age of thirty, people continued to “come on” to me (not, literally; well, not always) but they did so without sweetening the deal with implicit offers of cash/ vacation trips/ great jobs. When I say “people” I mean Women. Except once, when a man tried it by giving me a job in a call center.
My most generous Sexual Harasser was a lady in charge of the largest corporate Art collection in North America. I first met her because my then-girlfriend was her (new wave) hairstylist. The year was either 1984 or 1985 and Liza (not her real name) showed Aria Tanner (ditto) a few slides of my so-so paintings (I was dabbling at the time). Aria called me in for a meeting in her lavishly appointed (matte black/ chrome/ neon) office and told me that while my paintings weren’t thematically obsessional enough to deserve her attention as an Art buyer, she’d give me a job writing blurbs for the bi-annual catalog of the Bank’s Art acquisitions, because my cover letter, which had accompanied the slides, was “amazing”. The pay was $60 per page (“page” meaning three short paragraphs: some artspeak mumbo jumbo plus artist bio plus a four-sentence telephone interview); something like 100 pages needed writing. This represented an enormous amount of money, for very little work, to a c. 26-year-old in c. 1985.
Anyway, the cushy job wasn’t the extent of it. Aria often invited me to her immaculate, airy, Art-filled lakeside house (even when her pizza-faced, impotent lawyer/boyfriend was around). Her conversation creaked and groaned with shoe-horned double-entendres and she’d write me big fat checks on a whim (often passing them to me in the kitchen, plus taxi fare, which I’d pocket and walk home with), while her boyfriend moped in the living room. Sometimes, in fact, they’d have blazing rows in front of me while I pretended to page, with perfect absorption, through a 300-dollar coffee table Art book.
I remember Aria giving a fancy talk about Hogarth and Daumier at the Art Museum, in a secret room for International Collectors… I was seated beside a chatty English couple of about 170 years old… and I was the only brown-skinned, under-60 in the room (I was wearing eyeliner and a long dark fashionable coat, btw, and my hair was bleached blonde: a striking rent boy).
Ach, and I cringe to remember that a documentary video was produced, by the Bank, for some artsy print-maker, and I was given the commission to do the video’s incidental music, beating out a local jazz monument and handing in a master tape of avant garde synth for my fee.
Aria was chums with Andy Warhol and wanted me to meet him. She wanted us to fly to Paris and see Art together.
The problem: I just didn’t want to fuck her. She was 40ish and pretty enough, big-thighed and hefty in the bosom, but I was in love with my then-GF, 19, who was the secret (and deeply unintended) beneficiary of most of Aria’s largess. It was clear what Aria wanted from me in exchange but I just couldn’t do it.
One day she invited me over to her villa when the pizza-faced lawyer was out training for a marathon (“marathon runners have very low libidos,” as she put it). She decided to take a shower in the second-floor bath while I pretended to page, with perfect absorption, through a 300-dollar coffee table Art book in the living room. I remember noticing, suddenly, that the water had stopped very soon after she started the shower (I realize now that the bathroom door must have been open). Then I heard: “Steven…?”
Dutifully up those stairs I went. Aria was baby-like and soaking, big-80s-hair plastered to the sides of her doe-eyed face, wrapped in a towel, her demanding cleavage pink. She asked me some knee-slappingly ridiculous question or other (I wish I could remember) and I answered with a ridiculously prosaic answer. Back downstairs to the Art book went Candide. The next time I saw Aria, she gave me a paperback copy of Giovanni’s Room. I am not making that up. I suppose her ego required it.
It had been about 18 months of Rich Lady Patronage but that failed shower was the end, friends. Oh well! It was fun while it lasted.
Older, powerful people with unsatisfying Sex Lives (but too-much ego to resort to prostitutes) will opt for the Sugar Daddy/ Milky Mamma route. When neither party is a psychopath, the worst thing that can happen is inevitable disappointment, sprinkled with fantods. Pretty, 20-something men and woman are living through such experiences at this very moment and many of them probably won’t go to the police. Many of them shouldn’t, in fact; it might even be ungrateful or unfair if they did. It all depends, doesn’t it?
UPDATE: “#Me, Too” has already reached its ideologically hysterical, Stalinist purge-phase of internal denunciations
Don’t get me wrong: if this power-drunk, Twitter-fueled, Animal-Farm-like frenzy temporarily burns down Hollywood and its many Propaganda Assets (like Clooney, Hanks, Ron Howard, Bigelow, et al), and shakes the world’s faith in all that pseudo-caring, Judeo-Christo/ Consumer-Invasionist brainwashing, I’ll be delighted.