“These days my problem is very simple,” Louis C.K. once told a stand-up audience. “It’s trying to find a place in my house where I can masturbate without somebody bothering me.”
The comedian now has a much bigger problem, one also apparently caused by a desire to masturbate.
In a New York Times story published today, Chicago-trained comedy duo Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov, along with three other women, accuse C.K. of sexual misconduct. Goodman and Wolov—who Chicago audiences might remember from The Dana & Julia Show at iO—say C.K. took off all his clothes and masturbated in front of them without their consent in a hotel room after a comedy festival.
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. The bars were closed and they wanted to celebrate. He was a comedian they admired. The women would be together. His intentions seemed collegial.
As soon as they sat down in his room, still wrapped in their winter jackets and hats, Louis C.K. asked if he could take out his penis, the women said. They thought it was a joke and laughed it off.
“And then he really did it,” Ms. Goodman said in an interview with The New York Times. “He proceeded to take all of his clothes off, and get completely naked, and started masturbating.”
Stories of C.K. behaving in this way have been floating around for years. A 2012 Gawker post, filed under the tag “blind item” and headlined “Which Beloved Comedian Likes to Force Female Comics to Watch Him Jerk Off?,” describes a rumor about a female comedy duo’s encounter with a “our nation’s most hilarious stand-up comic and critically cherished sitcom auteur.” The details of the incident in the Gawker item are remarkably similar to the event Goodman and Wolov recount in the Times story:
We’ve heard from several sources that this shameless funnyman whips it out at the most inopportune moments, often at times when his female companions have expressed no interest in watching him go at it. A representative example: At the Aspen Comedy Festival a few years ago, he invited a female comedy duo back to his hotel room. The two ladies gladly joined him, and offered him some weed. He turned it down, but asked if it would be OK if he took his dick out.
Thinking he was joking (that’s exactly the kind of thing this guy would say), the women gave a facetious thumbs up. He wasn’t joking. When he actually started jerking off in front of them, the ladies decided that wasn’t their bag and made for the exit. But the comedian stood in front of the door, blocking their way with his body, until he was done.
One of the ladies was so shaken by the episode that she complained to the festival’s organizers about the comedian’s behavior. She promptly received a call from his extremely powerful manager explaining that, if she valued her career, she would drop it. She valued her career.
When we contacted the victim to check out the story, she wrote back: “first of all, your facts are wrong. and secondly, i don’t want to be a part of this story. i’m sure you understand.” When we asked her which facts were wrong and if the incident ever happened at all, she wrote: “please don’t contact me about this matter anymore. Breast of luck to you.”
Gawker followed up in 2015 with “Louis C.K. Will Call You Up to Talk About His Alleged Sexual Misconduct,” in which a tipster reveals correspondence with someone using the e-mail address email@example.com. The source claims to be a member of the comedy scene with friends who were harassed. The person had sent C.K. an e-mail asking him to “stop taking his penis out in front of uninterested and frightened girls.” In reply the tipster received a request to talk on the phone. In the subsequent conversation, the source says, C.K. seemed like he was “sizing me up” to “find out what I had heard.”
Another Chicagoan figures into Goodman and Wolov’s accounting of the moments after their run-in with C.K.: Charna Halpern, the cofounder of iO. From the Times story:
Afterward, they ran into Charna Halpern, the owner of influential improv theaters in Los Angeles and Chicago, where Ms. Goodman and Ms. Wolov performed, and relayed what had happened. “I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know what to tell them to do,” said Ms. Halpern.
Halpern was the target of criticism in January 2016 after she published a Facebook post in response to talk of widespread sexual harassment in the comedy industry. “There are times when there are women who just like to either cause trouble or get revenge or just want attention so they make up stories,” Halpern wrote. She later deleted the post and apologized.
Reached via e-mail today, Halpern had little to add about C.K.: “I have no idea about his rep in [Chicago]. I’m not the story—Dana and Julia are—I wasn’t there.”