It was only a matter of time before #MeToo broke the sound barrier and entered the music industry though I must say that from where I was, I never saw anything untoward going on, certainly not in the UK and not in the Asia Pacific region. The U.S. I can’t talk about because it was foreign soil. But #MeToo continues to “trend” and one has to wonder what other industries will be swept along with what has mainly been a Hollywood created red carpet product and whether there will be some surprising U-turns and curve balls and where it’s all going to end.
The world can’t afford to be walking on eggshells and looking over one’s shoulder. It’s not the way to get on with life. It’s not providing any answers other than creating an environment of fear.
At least right now, most of the accusations go back in time so much that #MeToo could be #UsToo. Is this all some payback time with Harvey Weinstein finally revealed as The King Of Sleaze, something very well known here in Hong Kong and Shanghai for over a decade, or, as actresses Catherine Deneuve and Brigitte Bardot have boldly suggested, people jumping on an overloaded bandwagon? Is this genuine rage or hypocritical and sanctimonious bullshit?
Look, we’re all different, we each have our own stories and whether when in advertising and then the music industry, there were certainly enough examples of ambitious women knowing exactly what they were doing and knowing exactly what they wanted offering themselves to men to get ahead in their jobs, or else “simply” bed a man they wanted despite knowing they were married.
I should know as my ego succumbed to temptation, destroyed my marriage and caused irrevocable hurt on an beautiful woman who didn’t deserve the emotional havoc I wreaked on her with everything unraveling watched on the sidelines by a young daughter who grew up trying to understand all this and see some good in it. But there’s nothing good. Nothing.
So, though not taking anything away from women who have been sexually assaulted, sexually harassed and sexually abused- and sexual abuse has many different manifestations-let’s at least think of the men who’ve gone through the same things- and possibly even worse. Yes, ladies, worse.
I keep coming back to the photograph below of Ellen DeGeneres staring at Katy Perry’s best assets and this being laughed off as good clean fun. It is? In this highly sensitive politically correct world full of hand wringing and sanctimonious speeches?
Now imagine this wasn’t Ellen DeGeneres, but an actor like Johnny Depp, or Orlando Bloom. Hell, any actor, any man. ANY man. Any MAN. Imagine the public outcry and more hashtags. Imagine the indignation from Hollywood and those who suddenly see themselves as patron saints of morality and female empowerment.
Where have they been hiding for all these decades? Why choose- CHOOSE- to be the silent minority? Was it even a minority? Is it a minority today? That argument about a glass ceiling is irrelevant today. We’re all in this thing called life together. We shouldn’t give more and more oxygen to Hollywood bollocks and where The Orange House has become one tedious reality show.
When with PolyGram, Universal and EMI Music, I saw nothing approaching what many say happened. Maybe it was a different time. Yes, as mentioned, there were the ambitious women and female executives who wanted to get ahead, but at least in my case and during my time in the music industry, we were scared to fool around in the workplace.
Outside of the workplace was different. But in the workplace, we had seen too many males reported to Human Resources for sexual misconduct, especially after an office party, and found guilty no matter how innocent they were. That door didn’t swing both ways.
There was a helluva lot more of everything happening in the advertising industry where the more attractive females were promoted and who then used their looks and what they knew about someone’s personal life to join the client side.
There were the models who did whatever they could to get the big jobs that required travelling overseas and being paid big bucks. Was this anything more than using one’s sexuality to further their careers?
Hell, it’s happening all the time right now and where men have to be so careful about who they take a selfie with in case it ends up on social media.
In Hong Kong, many of us know the models who, as the Chinese say, “want to catch a big fish”. Many do. In the service apartments where I stay, girls from Eastern Europe and Shanghai live in luxury thanks to the generosity of rich sugar daddies who have the wife and family and public image and something younger on the side.
Knowing some of the girls, it’s a great holiday for them with all expenses paid and HK$100,000 a month for shopping whereas for some it means getting a permanent Hong Kong identity card in return for a one year marriage contract. It’s just another business transaction.
What’s rarely talked about are how males are used by other males to become enablers and happy to be so because it often means being in the good books of those who can further one’s career.
I’m not proud of it, but if I really tapped my memory bank, I was a “loyal” enabler to the Chairman of the music company I had recently joined. This started with me hooking him up with two Australian working girls based in Hong Kong. He was impressed and grateful and this role developed. Career advancement? Maybe.
There was the night during one of his visits to Hong Kong and we were in one of those outrageously expensive karaoke lounges with hundreds of female escorts. “That last woman you got me the last time I was here was crazy,” he whispered to me. “She stubbed a cigarette butt into my neck which created a huge burn. I had a hard time explaining that to my wife. Have you tried her?” I just shook my head trying to absorb everything I was hearing from the worldwide Chairman of my company. On the one hand, I was flattered he would trust me with all this information, but at the same time scared that this might become another addiction. My Chinese counterpart sitting with us wanted nothing to do with anything we were talking about. All he ever said was that “the old man says you know what he wants”. I guess I did.
The Mamasan kept bringing out 6-7 girls at a time. I wasn’t interested as I was living with someone who knew some of the girls. “I don’t like Chinese girls and I don’t trust Eastern Europeans” mumbled the Chairman. “Can you get me some Australians who can give me what I like? Two girls? You can join us”. I made a call, the girls were available and we quickly left for the hotel.
As the girls needed a special key to get up to the Penthouse floor, I had to wait for them in the bar and bring them up to his suite. They arrived with two huge bags and proceeded to show me the toys inside. After telling them to zip up their bags as people were watching, we got up to the Chairman’s room. He was in his bathrobe, the champagne and caviar was on ice and after talking prices, he asked if I wanted one for a short time. With one being coked up to the gills and the other new to the business and asking if she could be with me, I took her to the other room just to keep her away from the short, fat old man with her friend. My girlfriend was waiting for me at home and I had to leave before telling the Chairman that this new girl was “disappointing”. He didn’t care. He paid her and got the hell out of there. The girl with him was satisfying his needs. My job was done. I had produced the goods.
Around three months later, I received a call from Tokyo. The Chairman was there for budget meetings and things were not going well. I knew why: he didn’t like Japanese females. He wanted our Japanese management to get me on the first flight out to Tokyo with the same Australian girl he had met in Hong Kong. Money was no object.
On the flight over, she told me how he had flown her to New York and Paris. I wondered why he wanted me in Tokyo when he could just call her. “He likes you”, she said. “He finds the others around him to be dull. He says that you’re dangerous. He likes that”.
Again, I went into internalising myself. Despite not having any contacts in Tokyo and knowing the foreign girls who worked the clubs were controlled by the yakuza, I met a Canadian kindergarten teacher in the hotel we were staying. After one-on-one sex, she asked if she could call a friend to join us- who turned out to be a stunning black girl teaching English in Tokyo. She became the Chairman’s partner the next night. The budget meetings went off without a hitch and my stock in the company rose. My priorities had changed and relationships were discardable. Ambition can be a bitch.
There are plenty more stories like this and how far this enabling went, but the key is that men can’t just roll over and admit #metoo. There has to be some closure.
As someone who went along for the ride that took me to places I never thought I would end up, there’s now that important “third eye” where I can see what’s going on, who to trust and when to walk away.
I respect women and have more female friends than males for company and with who I can have honest and creatively fulfilling conversations. These are extremely smart women in the creative industry, a barrister, restaurateurs, and entrepreneurs. They don’t follow hashtags. They don’t have time for #metoo. If there’s a male or female or company creating problems for them, they know what to do. They don’t whine. They’re “sisters doing it for themselves”. They don’t need Oprah telling them what to do.
I’m proud to be part of their inner circle, but it’s not something I think about and work on. It’s all very organic and with mutual respect. Maybe it’s living in Hong Kong that has brought me to this place. But now that I am here, it’s about making a difference.
Part of this is to try and bring good people together- not to just talk and have this lead nowhere, but to create tangibles that will make us feel better about ourselves so that this feeling can be infectious and lead us to some form of enlightenment that can inspire those needing motivation, inspiration and not sinking into isolation.
#hashtags #metoo #ustoo #oprah #ellen #katyperry #enablers #hypocrisy #hollywood #musicindustry #advertisingindustry