After years of unverified claims of sexual misconduct by Louis C.K., five women have come forward to describe their own experiences with the comedian in a New York Times report published Thursday.
Two female comedians, Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov, told the paper Louis C.K. invited them up to his hotel room to celebrate after a comedy festival in 2002 and then proceeded to masturbate in front of them. Abby Schachner, a writer, illustrator and performer, told the Times he masturbated while on the phone with her the following year. Another comedian, Rebecca Corry, said he asked to masturbate in front of her while working together on a television pilot in 2005, which she declined. And a fifth woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity for privacy reasons, described similar requests while working together at “The Chris Rock Show.”
The report comes amid a slew of sexual harassment and assault allegations against powerful men, beginning with Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. Louis C.K. is one of America’s most popular comedians, with a hit television show, sold-out performances across the country, and two stand-up specials with Netflix. A recurring joke of his: masturbation.
“These days my problem is very simple: it’s trying to find a place in my house where I can masturbate without somebody bothering me,” Louis C.K. once joked in a bit. “I’m on the streets now. I’ve got nowhere to go.”
In a scene of “I Love You, Daddy,” Louis C.K.’s new movie, a character pretends to masturbate even as a female production assistant walks into the room. On Thursday, the premiere of “I Love You, Daddy,” was canceled.
Louis C.K.’s publicist, Lewis Kay, told the Times the comedian would not respond to request for comment.
Victoria Elena Nones, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Women in Comedy, told the NewsHour the problem existed beyond powerful comedians like Louis C.K. Last year, as complaints of sexual harassment roiled the comedy scene in Chicago, where the group is based, Women in Comedy hosted an online forum where female comedians could anonymously describe their experiences with sexism, sexual harassment and assault in the industry. Hundreds of women wrote in.
“It’s just sad because not much has changed,” Nones said. “At the end of the day it seems like we have to create our own safe spaces to exist, and for women and girls who like to create a career in this industry. We have to go outside the system.”