Harvey Weinstein confronted at comedy gig | Yet it's the 'heckler' who's asked to leave © Kelly Bachman/ Zoe Stuckless

Harvey Weinstein confronted at comedy gig

Yet it's the 'heckler' who's asked to leave

Given the rape accusations swirling around Harvey Weinstein, you might expect him to keep a low profile.

Yet the shamed Hollywood mogul turned up at a comedy night in New York on Wednesday night – and when a comedian and and audience member called him out over his behaviour, it was the two women who were asked to leave.

Stand-up Kelly Bachman – herself a rape survivor –  first drew attention to his presence in the Downtime bar in the Lower East Side.

She told the audience: ‘I’m a comic, and it's our job to name the elephant in the room. Do we know what that is? It’s a Freddy Krueger  in the room.

‘I didn’t know we’d have to bring our own mace and rape whistles,’ she said – as male voices from the audience started to boo and yell: ‘Shut up.’

However she persisted: ‘I have been raped – surprisingly by no one in this room – but I've never gotten to confront those guys. So, just a general "fuck you" to whoever’.

She shared the footage in an Instagram post, adding: 'The few performers before me said nothing about it on stage…

‘I got on stage and tried my best to address him before carrying on with my set. I l was boo’d and told to "shut up" by men in the back of the room. I was shaking and hot-faced the entire time, in a traumatized state from my own experiences as a survivor of rape. 

‘I’ve literally had nightmares about seeing Harvey Weinstein in New York, the way I have nightmares about Stephen King’s It or Freddy Krueger. And he was 50 feet away from me, staring with shark eyes, surrounded by his allies.

‘After I went up, the next few performers also did not address It. One comic seemed to want to make fun of ME by saying "I’d like to address an elephant in the room too. Is the producer of Goodwill Hunting here? That’s a great movie."’

She said she later learned that MC of the show – staged by a networking group for performers called Actor’s Hour – was among those who booed her.

Weinstein was hen angrily confronted by audience member Zoe Stuckless in the interval, saying she was moved to act after no one threw him out.

In footage also posted online, she is seen shouting: ‘Nobody’s going to say anything? I'm gonna stand four feet from a fucking rapist and no one's gonna say anything?’

She is then asked to leave, and agreed.

Posting on Facebook, Stuckless said she initially did not believe the man could have been Weinstein until Bachman identified him.

‘As soon as she alluded to his presence in the room the event organisers, the bartenders, and a number of others booed her into silence,’ she said.

‘I was sitting there, and the more that I sat there waiting for the event organisers to kick him out, or for another performer to call him out, or for the audience to revolt, the more I found myself paralysed by the silence. He was sitting there, allowed to laugh and clap and drink and flirt and no one was saying anything. The more I sat there the more furious I was at all of our inaction.

‘I thought about all of the voices that have been silenced over so many years. I thought about the artists, the women, who were paralyzed by the same fear that I felt, surrounded by colleagues who were intimidated into a culture of silence and passivity. This room was a microcosm of our whole community. And I couldn’t sit there and let him laugh. So I spoke up.

‘I was kicked out of the bar tonight. His bodyguards herded me out. The event organisers were happy to see me go.

‘In some ways tonight was a horrible, painful reminder of the power a man like Weinstein holds even now. It was a reminder that even in this time of relative awareness it is hypnotically easy to be pulled into a culture of silence.

‘However, it was also a reminder that our voices have so much more power when we stand together. When I left the building, crying out of fury and frustration I was quickly surrounded by a group of mostly women who expressed the same fear to raise their voice that I had. They thanked me for speaking up.

‘Our passivity is poison. We need to stand together, and we need to speak up. Or this poison will fester, only encouraged by our fear.’

After Stuckless confronted Weinstein, another comic – Amber Rollo –  joined in from the audience. She, too, was allowed to leave.

She wrote on Twitter: 'In the show's intermission a woman started yelling about him being there. She was shouting and crying and seemed to be the only sane person there. SHE was kicked out. What the actual fuck?!

‘Then I went in and called him a fucking monster and told him he should disappear. His friend/body guard/goon/family member called me a cunt and I really really wanted to lunge over the table and strangle him.

‘I restrained myself, now that I'm sober I no longer throw drinks or fists. There was a woman at the table with him who gently guided me out. I don't know who she is but I hope she is ok.

‘{lease do not support Downtime Bar or Actors Hour, the position they put us in is horrifying.’

A spokesman for Weinstein complained that the scene was ‘uncalled for’.

In a statement to media, the representative said: ‘Harvey Weinstein was out with friends enjoying the music and trying to find some solace in his life that has been turned upside down. This scene was uncalled for, downright rude and an example of how due process today is being squashed by the public, trying to take it away in the courtroom too.’ 

Rollo later responded: ‘Harvey Weinstein statement called me "downright rude." You know what's rude? Rape.’

The venue admitted they asked the ‘heckler’ who confronted Weinstein to leave.

They  said they aim to ‘create an environment where everyone feels welcome’ – but their tone suggested they put Weinstein’s comfort above the women who feel uncomfortable around him.

In a post on social media, the venue said: ‘We want to address some concerns about a recent incident at Downtime.

‘A company called Actors Hour rented our bar for a private event, with a guest list all their own. Shortly into the evening, one guest began heckling another, causing a disturbance to everyone in attendance. After several requests to stop were ignored, we kindly asked the heckler to leave.

‘Please know that our goal at Downtime is to create an environment where everyone feels welcome. We respect the privacy of our patrons and event partners, and want to ensure that all guests are treated equally, with the same service and respect.

‘In keeping with this goal, we made a decision that would allow the evening to continue as planned.’

Weinstein was reportedly invited to the event by Actor’s Hour, which has not yet made any public statement about the incident.

Weinstein is facing criminal charges of predatory sexual assault, criminal sexual act, first-degree rape and third-degree rape, to which he has pleaded not guilty. He maintains that all sexual encounters he's been involved in have been consensual.

His trial is set to begin in January.

Published: 25 Oct 2019

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