A Music Magazine and the Predator Within

In my very early twenties I worked for a well known music and culture magazine for my formative years straight out of university – writing and working on fancy music, fashion and art events with famous names and faces I had previously never dreamed I would meet.

It was so exciting to do so well so young and to land a job before I had even graduated. My work crossed fashion, art and music and included co-running big events that were featured in newspapers. I booked and took care of famous DJs and musicians and everything felt overwhelming, exhausting and very very exciting. When you think this is your break and you feel like you have hit the professional jackpot you don’t want to focus on the very wrong things that are happening to and around you. You get tough. You don’t crack and you think like this you will be safe.

I felt uniquely tough and smart and had no real work experience to compare. The further up and in I got the more blurry and disturbing things became. The music industry is so male dominated and my segment was predicated on a currency of celebrity, power and network. This all makes it near impossible for young people to call out violation and wrongdoing . Who would care firstly, who would do anything and most importantly, but not proudly, what would it do for my career? Without a clear meritocracy it is never disclosed why/how to get ahead and if you highlight a problem you become the problem and are then easily expendable. This much was clear.

Whilst at the magazine I witnessed many things but one haunted me – one night at a private event at a London venue with tons of famous musicians performing and celebrities attending I had to go backstage to get my boss out to give a speech with the head of a big fashion label who were our sponsors. I walked in on him in the midst of an assault on a blacking out doped up (young) teenage model. I calmly and firmly extracted him from the situation, I told no one and did nothing else. I didn’t know how or think that there was anything I could do. I doggedly determined to protect as many people as I could alone. I was pleased I had stopped something from happening and didn’t dwell on what would have happened if I had not walked in.

I protected a colleague at work who had become a target of his, even once rescuing her when he drugged her at his apartment after luring her there early morning purportedly for some professional purpose. I got a call and headed there before work and got her. We then went to the office and told no one, for years afterwards we barely even spoke of it as I knew she didn’t want to face what had happened. We didn’t have the words.

After that morning, he arrived in the office later that day wearing his sunglasses. I stood in front of his desk and glared at him silently. I was 23. I stared at him and he knew then that I knew. I thought that was enough. We then went for discreet help from senior women in our organisation who shrugged their shoulders and left us to protect ourselves. I still cannot understand how they could do that.

Later on I left and moved overseas. Within two months of my departure our boss had begun a ‘relationship’ with the friend I had so zealously protected. She was manipulated and not in any position to fully consent to a relationship within that kind of power dynamic. It ended and she was given comfortable and elevated positions whilst kept out of the way until leaving. I felt I had let her down and was bereft.

The stench of male bad behaviour clings to the junior staff who surround them and so for years I would protect the dignity of my female coworkers who were denigrated for supposedly having slept their way to their positions. Nobody ever blamed the men who abused their power, who lied and contrived to bed their female subordinates. Women in our industry were quick to tarnish the young women who were trying to start their careers and very slow to condemn the men who were in charge who had cultivated this disgusting and abusive environment.

I left the industry haunted by the teenage models and coworkers I might have almost saved and wondered often what more I should have done. And then years went by my career took off in a different direction and I tried to leave my concerns behind.

When Harvey Weinstein was the subject of an expose in the New York Times his modus operandi was so similar to the men I had worked with that I sat frozen reading the story and then wept. I felt complicit and disgusting and I still didn’t know what to do.

I see the magazine now profiting from the current cultural movement that supports feminism, non binary and diverse identity and I feel bile rising in my throat. The company was entirely built on the exploitation of young women -financially, physically and emotionally and had no regard for including models who weren’t white despite myself and a few others voicing objections – to the ridicule of our management. To see them now co-opting a message of inclusion without acknowledging the past and then profiting from it and the phenomenal individuals who do embody this is an abomination to me.

I have been reluctant to share my story because it includes many others and I have no desire to share their stories for them. The music, fashion and arts industries are insular and exclusionary and nobody wants their name to be forever associated with a more famous abusive man. One thing I have realised as a woman who has been committed to feminism since I could speak, who has been raped and assaulted and consistently fought to extinguished patriarchal oppression is this. The only thing that you have a choice in when you’ve been abused by a person in a position of power is what you let it mean for the rest of your life. I am not a rape victim. It is a thing that happened to me. I refuse to be defined by it, challenged and destroyed. I am more and I will own my story. But in doing so I have to live with the knowledge that others after me may have suffered. That perhaps I could have done more.

This platform will protect everyone so that we don’t have to bear the weight of prosecution and repercussion alone. So we can prevent instead of coming forward with our stories. So that we can finally feel that we have done something to stop this without destroying our own lives. And so that men like my first boss, who I hope is afraid right now, and the many others I and countless others have encountered across the creative industries, finally face the consequences of their actions.

I used to think I was special for being so tough. Now I realise that we wear the trophies that our oppressors give us and no woman/person should have to be tough enough to fight off sexual assault just to be able to do their job.

Tainted Memories

Let me set the scene here. I’m a (nearly) 44 year old mum of two that has been passionate about house music since a teenager. Trotting my merry little butt up and down the country to various raves and events, following all my favourite artists. I ended up in uni in Manchester where the scene was obviously rich in music nights and not forgetting the legendary Haçienda. One night in there I was happily dancing away with a group of pals that had travelled up to visit for the weekend to revel in the house music glory of Greame Park. Had this creepy guy stalk me all around the dance floor most of the night. He followed us all over the shop. In the end my attitude was very much ahhh f*** it let him perv cos he’s not going to back off. Around ten minutes later, I felt a wet and warm sensation running down the back of my legs. The dirty b******* had masturbated all down the back of my ripped jeans. I kicked off. I got thrown out. As did my friends. I’ve never forgotten. My fondest memories of an iconic place tainted by that. Makes me sick to even remember it. So I stand with your movement. It’s not ok. 

 Oh and I have a young daughter. My days are filled with fear.

Serial Abuser

I was a girlfriend of the owner of a techno label in Buenos Aires in 2015. We lived together in my house. We started having a couple of little arguments, and he would always get angry and break something or push me.

Until one day (8-16-15), when he took me by my arms and threw me headlong to the floor. I had a momentary loss of consciousness. When I woke up he was yelling at me “Calm down crazy !! Calm down” as he held my arms (I just wanted to put my hands to my head because of the strong pain). Then he released me, and I went to take refuge on a sofa, while he kept yelling at me “You deserve it for treating me badly!”

I immediately called 911 and they took him handcuffed and detained to police station 47, and I was taken by ambulance to the Zubizarreta Hospital. They diagnosed me with “closed ECT with loss of consciousness” and left me hospitalized for 12 hours. Later I made a complaint for injuries and gender violence. He currently has a criminal case for this, but he is still free and after me.

There was another victim in April 2020, who also denounced him for having thrown her head on the floor.

Assault at the Afters

Today I decide to tell my story because I want to get rid of everything that I kept and erased from my mind on purpose when I was unconsciously in pain inside. I also do this for the survivors, because we are no longer staying quiet, and because I don’t want this to happen to another woman again. Last year I met a DJ in his promotion in Ohito, Buenos Aires (a hostel where some promotions have parties and some artists also live). I used to frequent this place with my friends. He always approached me greeting me. He put me on his guest list and I always got the impression he wanted more, as he was very suggestive. A couple of times he kissed me and I accepted because he was very insistent, and he always wanted something more to happen, sending me messages saying that he was going to fuck me at the after party, which made me uncomfortable. And when he was at Ohito he insisted that we go to his room but I made excuses because I did NOT want to. One day I left my things in his room, but I wanted to leave before the end of the after party, so I asked him if I could go get them. He walked me in and I went in and then he closed the door. He automatically threw himself on top of me to kiss me. I laughed because I got very nervous, I said NO, he didn’t give in. I went into his bathroom to put on a T-shirt to go outside (because it was cold), he followed me in to the bathroom insisting, and he started touching my whole body. He pulled his penis out in front of me and grabbed my hand for me to touch it. To which I always said NO, NO to everything because I did not know how to get rid of him, I got very nervous and the situation scared me, I finished changing and I left as quickly as I could. From then on my mind completely blocked this fact, because I had a very bad time and I no longer wanted to remember it, because I blamed myself for it, blamed myself for having agreed to kiss him without wanting to and for having gone alone to his room to look for my stuff. Later I realized that no matter how much we kissed, and we had a good time, I did not give him permission over me or my body, when I repeatedly said no, he did care about my plea’s and putting me in that situation, when I just wanted to change and go home.

End of Tour Assault

As a 32 year old straight male confronting and bringing up my sexual assaults has been one of the hardest memories to come to terms with but also a great power to face them head on and rid myself of all that manifested into my life from such pain that was forced upon me.

Around the age of 20/21 I was finishing a tour of Scotland with a show in Glasgow. A good female friend of the group came along and brought a male gay friend with her. After the show ended everyone was drinking and enjoying an end of tour party back at our female friends house. Nearing the end of the party i was out on the apartment balcony and spoke with the Gay Male about his struggles and hardship growing up with a dad who didn’t agree with his life path of being a homosexual. After having this conversation I went back inside and left him there. By this time myself and my band mates were setting up our sleeping stuff to crash on sofas and floors. After passing out in a drunken haze I wake up to said Male with his head under my sheets performing non-consensual oral on me. I completely froze and didn’t know how to react, later in therapy I learnt that the human body in these situations either goes into Fight, Flight or Freeze. Once he had finished I got up and ran to the toilet where i locked the door and passed out. The next thing i know my friends are bashing on the door asking why I was in the toilet. I Only told them half of the story until a few years ago when I had to come to terms with it fully as this toxic over dominating masculine energy kept returning in my life in different forms. This man is still at large and I have never confronted him but I have confronted that which manifested from him and rid it from world. Now I am claiming my voice back I urge others to dive deep and feel through the pain as the healing really begins when you start to speak out.