LOS ANGELES — Finally, the victims of sexual harassment and assault are speaking out—and finally people are listening. The latest firestorm exploded Oct. 29, as out actor Anthony Rapp told the world that Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey had tried to “seduce” him when Rapp was 14 years old. The “Star Trek: Discovery” actor, now 46, told Buzzfeed that he had been inspired to come forward by the stories of all the women leveling accusations of sexual abuse and harassment at one-time powerhouse Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
“And not to simply air a grievance,” Rapp told Buzzfeed News, “but to try to shine another light on the decades of behavior that have been allowed to continue because many people, including myself, being silent. … I’m feeling really awake to the moment that we’re living in, and I’m hopeful that this can make a difference.”
Rapp said Spacey, then 26, invited the young Broadway actor to a party at his New York apartment in 1986. Finding himself alone in Spacey’s bedroom after all the other guests had gone, Rapp recalled that Spacey “sort of stood in the doorway, kind of swaying. My impression when he came in the room was that he was drunk.”
Without a word, Rapp recalled, Spacey “picked me up like a groom picks up the bride over the threshold. But I don’t, like, squirm away initially, because I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ And then he lays down on top of me.”
“He was trying to seduce me,” Rapp said. “I don’t know if I would have used that language. But I was aware that he was trying to get with me sexually.”
Spacey’s response was immediate. He apologized and came out. “I’m beyond horrified to hear his story. I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years,” Spacey wrote on Twitter.
“This story has encouraged me to address other things about my life. I know that there are stories out there about me, and that some have been fueled by the fact that I have been so protective of my own privacy,” Spacey said, adding “I now choose to live as a gay man.”
Spacey was not welcomed with open arms. “Nope to Kevin Spacey’s statement. Nope. There’s no amount of drunk or closeted that explains away assaulting a 14 year old child,” Dan Savage wrote on Twitter.
Others were furious that Spacey’s coming out seemed designed to distract from the allegation.
Netflix cancelled Spacey’s hit show “House of Cards” after the upcoming sixth season, which is currently filming in Maryland. The decision was reportedly made prior to the Spacey scandal.
Hollywood has kept this man’s gay open secret and ignored whispers about sexual harassment for years. But people are coming forward now. Victoria Featherstone, artistic director of the Royal Court Theatre, was asked if she was aware of Spacey’s conduct when he served as artistic director of the Old Vic in London.
“I think that many people in the theatre and in the creative industries have been aware of many stories of many people over a lot of years, and Kevin Spacey would be one of the people that people have had concerns about, yes,” she told Radio 4 in England.
Nadine West tweeted: “KS groped my young male friend when they were both working at the Old Vic. Was apparently always known as one to avoid. Sadly unsurprised.”
Out actor/playwright Michael Kearns told the Los Angeles Blade that Hollywood is “a scalding cauldron of collusion,” with scores of players who participate in the straight-gay charade.
“What’s troubling is that a number of Hollywood powerbrokers treat homosexuality as a ‘sin’ or ‘immoral’ or an ‘abnormality’ that somehow is to be hidden; they categorize it as a career killer that could result in a loss of box office billing or revenue,” he says. “But they have skin in the game (usually financial) so they collude. They lie, betray, falsify; they are the immoral ones.”
When Spacey was “trolling the halls at Burke Williams, camouflaging himself by putting the hood of his bathrobe up over his head, he was not exactly embracing his gayness,” Kearns said.
Gay sexual harassment and the quiet collusion to ignore it goes beyond Spacey.
“Hercules” star Kevin Sorbo alleged that fashion designer Gianni Versace sexually harassed him in 1984, specifically because he was a straight “man’s man.” Sorbo said he refused Versace’s advances and the two remained friends. Sorbo continued to model for Versace but he didn’t get a major campaign he’d hoped for. “Casting couches have always been around. I don’t play that game, nor do I care to,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.
Actor Terry Crews told Twitter on Oct. 10 about how a “high level Hollywood executive” at an entertainment industry event in 2016 “groped my privates.” He thought about confronting the man, who “grinned like a jerk,” but then the “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” actor thought of the possible headline: “240 lbs. Black Man stomps out Hollywood Honcho.” He assumed he would go to jail so instead he and his wife just left the party.
The next day, the Hollywood honcho called to apologize, “but never really explained why he did what he did,” Crews said. “I decided not to take it further because I didn’t want to be ostracized — par for the course when the predator has power and influence.”
The next night, “Dawson’s Creek” star James Van Der Beek, now 40, spoke up. “I’ve had my ass grabbed by older, powerful men, I’ve had them corner me in inappropriate sexual conversations when I was much younger,” Van Der Beek tweeted. “I understand the unwarranted shame, powerlessness & inability to blow the whistle. There’s a power dynamic that feels impossible to overcome.”
The current list of alleged sexual abusers—to which Spacey will be added—contains few names of prominent bi/gay men—other than APA agent Tyler Grasham. Grasham was fired on Oct. 20 after allegations from filmmaker Blaise Godbe Lipman that decades ago Grasham “fed” him alcohol and sexually assaulted him. Four other young other men came forward alleging sexual misconduct, as well, prompting important clients to leave the agency. Late Sunday, The Wrap reported that actor Tyler Cornell, 20, filed an LAPD police report Oct. 27, accusing Grasham of sodomizing him earlier this year.
Former 80s child star Corey Feldman has also reemerged with promises of exposing a Hollywood pedophile ring that he says abused him and raped his best friend, actor Corey Haim, when Haim was 11. (Haim died at age 38 in 2010, apparently of an accidental drug overdose.) However, Feldman wants $10 million to fund a film and provide him with security protection before he’ll name names.
During an Oct. 30 interview with Megyn Kelly on NBC, Feldman gave up one name—talent manager Marty Weiss. However, Feldman already talked about Weiss in his 2013 memoir “Coreyography” and Weiss was featured in the documentary “An Open Secret” about alleged pedophilia and ephebophilia (adult sexual attraction to youth ages of 14 to 19) in Hollywood. Feldman also “hinted at another person as well, saying it was a man who ran ‘a child’s club in Hollywood’ and now works for the L.A. Dodgers,” the Washington Post reports, without immediate follow up.
“An Open Secret” (now free on Vimeo) is a harrowing 2015 documentary by Amy Berg that focuses on how male managers, agents, and publicists inflict abuse on young, male clients. Central to the film are the power players and the star-crazed boys and young men at the Digital Entertainment Network (DEN) in the tech-boom days of the late 1990s. Founded by Marc Collins-Rector and his younger partner Chad Shackley, with live-in friend teen actor Brock Pierce, DEN signified the Internet movie future, giving Collins-Rector lots of money to spend.
“There will always be a steady stream of kids who want to be famous,” Occidental College Professor Caroline Heldman says in the film, and “parents who push their children in this industry. If we don’t speak out about it, then we are part of the problem because we are contributing to a culture that normalizes this. And by normalizing something, it becomes invisible as a problem.”
And, says one impacted parent: “It’s Hollywood. People do what they want in Hollywood. And if you’re a big enough star, or big enough director or you making enough money for these people, you can do whatever you want.”
Echoes of “Apprentice” reality TV star and future President Donald Trump to “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush in a video released on Oct. 8, 2016. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” Trump says.
“Whatever you want,” says Bush. “Grab them by the pussy,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”
While examining the alleged sexual manipulation by Marc Collins-Rector and his cohorts at DEN, “An Open Secret” also seems to implicate several high-profile investors.
But while experts in the film say the investors and partygoers should have known what was allegedly going on at the DEN estate, proximity and guilt by association doesn’t mean actual guilt. The LAPD made no contemporaneous arrests and later lawsuits against investors were dropped.
“The term pedophilia is sometimes used to tar everybody with the same brush,” Dr. Jack Drescher, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University, tells the Blade. “Historically, people who are against homosexuality have often associated homosexuality with pedophilia.”
Drescher notes that pedophilia is a psychiatric disorder so sexual attraction to post-pubescent youth is more of a legal issue. “We as a culture don’t believe that people under a certain age have the legal right to give consent. So a person who’s an adult above the age of 18 who has sexual relationships with a person who, depending on the state, is below that age is guilty of statutory rape,” he says. “It’s not that the younger person wasn’t consenting. The state is saying they don’t have a legal right to give consent.”
Primarily, however, sexual harassment is about the “economics of consent.”
“Consent is a function of power,” actress, producer Brit Marling writes in The Atlantic “You have to have a modicum of power to give it. In many cases women do not have that power because their livelihood is in jeopardy and because they are the gender that is oppressed by a daily, invisible war waged against all that is feminine—women and humans who behave or dress or think or feel or look feminine.”