It’s been nearly a month since the New York Times released a long-awaited exposé identifying Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein as a sexual predator, one who used his power to bully young aspiring actresses into sexual favors. Since then, the tidal wave of allegations that has emerged has shown no sign of abating.
The latest — and one of the most disturbing — was lodged yesterday by actress Natassia Malthe, who accused the 65-year-old of raping her after barging into her London hotel room in 2008.
Though the sordid exploits recounted have largely revolved around those in the Hollywood circle (with the likes of Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and many, many more sharing their experiences), the accusations have extended well beyond the United States. Singaporean actress Caitanya Tan recently recounted how she was at the receiving end of a sleazy Weinstein proposition in 2011, on the red carpet of the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong.
Now, another Singaporean personality has stepped up to share her own encounter with the disgraced film producer.
Speaking to Coconuts Singapore earlier today, 35-year-old actress and model Ase Wang recalled how she was invited to Weinstein’s hotel room — his alleged modus operandi — when he dropped by Bangkok in 2007 to oversee a film shoot.
Wang — who has acted in multiple pictures in Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong — was 26 at the time and based in the Thai capital. She had been personally requested to show up to a dinner with Weinstein and other entertainment industry figures at the swank rooftop restaurant Lebua at State Tower, a networking opportunity few young actors or actresses would consider turning down.
“When I showed up at the dinner later, I then realized that this was not a work dinner,” Wang said, noting that she instantly sensed the female invitees were “there for a reason”.
As the night went on, Weinstein made trips to his room in the company of some of the young women — a fact that made Wang highly uncomfortable. The two did converse during the dinner, she said, but her career did not seem to be a topic of particular interest.
While she left that night having never made the walk to his room, the ordeal wasn’t quite over. Wang says she received a call from his assistant the next day, asking her to come back to dine with Weinstein again.
“At that point, I had to be honest and say ‘I’m not into that kind of stuff,’” she recalled. But it was the query that followed that left her feeling most queasy: The assistant asked if she had any friends she could send instead.
Even prior to meeting him face-to-face, Wang said she was well aware of Harvey Weinstein’s reputation — one she insists was common knowledge in Hollywood circles.
“I’m not even an A-list celebrity and I [knew] about it,” she said, calling bullshit on the actors and celebrities who denied knowing about Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassments (*cough* Ben Affleck *cough*). Having lived in Los Angeles for years, she said that the man’s reputation for trysts was as widely known as his films.
The fact that this went on for nearly 30 years before becoming public wasn’t lost on Wang, who said that his enablers should also be held accountable for the pain he’s caused.
“Everyone is so quick to blame him — which is appropriate — but what about the people who work around him? What about his assistants? They’re just as to blame as he is,” she said.
Looking back, she believes the people who worked for Weinstein were likely trained in exactly how to cater to their boss’ peccadilloes. Indeed, many of the accounts that have emerged have a recurring theme: how the producer’s assistants would be the ones to escort actresses to his hotel rooms before quickly leaving them alone.
‘Many Harvey Weinsteins’
But as disgusted as she was with her sole encounter with Weinstein, Wang is quick to point out that the now-fallen figure is just one of thousands in her industry who have coerced vulnerable young victims into unwanted sexual encounters.
“There are many Harvey Weinsteins out there — it’s just that he got caught”, Wang said.
She shared an experience with another Hollywood big wig — one she declined to name — who she said propositioned her with the old I-can-make-you-famous schtick. He helpfully added that she needed to “try white men” (if you weren’t already nauseous).
Wang said one roommate in LA, meanwhile, had been an assistant to a famous Hollywood director (“you’ve probably seen 99 percent of his films”). That young woman’s job security depended on her giving the married father oral sex.
Such lopsided power dynamics exist not only among media execs, but among the rich in general in Asia, she said, adding that she has personally seen powerful businessmen in Hong Kong and Thailand offering her peers condos, cars, and opulent lifestyles in exchange for sexual favors. Those deals are sometimes accepted, she said.
While Wang said she’s been lucky enough to have never personally seen the dark side of the industry in her home country of Singapore, a fact she considers a blessing, she acknowledged that no matter the country or the business, men who abuse power for sexual gratification will always be around.
With the Weinstein scandal, she’s simply glad that someone finally had the courage to break the ice, something that gave other victims the courage to speak out as well. It’s also the reason Wang felt it was only right to contribute her own experience, she said during the interview.
But while she feels reason for hope, any changes in the industry as a whole are unlikely to happen overnight, she cautioned.
“It’s still going to happen, but people are going to be a bit more careful.”
Contacted by Coconuts, a spokesperson for Mr. Weinstein did not address the specific allegations by Ms. Wang, though did furnish the following quote:
“Any allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.”
Full disclosure: Wang’s attorney, Samuel Seow, has previously done work for Coconuts.
EDIT: Article updated to reflect statement from Weinstein’s representatives.