Video of graffiti artist David Choe graphically describing raping a woman was recently removed online due to copyright claims after the footage of the 2014 podcast went viral on Twitter last week. Not long after the 2014 episode aired, Choe said the story was fictional.
The Los Angeles-based artist was recently featured as a cast member and title card artist on Beef, a high-profile Netflix show starring Steven Yeun and Ali Wong. Showrunner Lee Sung Jin told The Today Show that Choe was invited to audition for the role of Isaac after consulting Yeun and Wong, who are also executive producers and friends of the artist.
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Choe became famous for painting murals for the headquarters of Meta (then-Facebook) in 2005 and choosing to receive his compensation in stock. When the company went public in 2012, Choe’s shares were worth an estimated $200 million.
Beef debuted on April 6 and instantly became one of Netflix’s most popular titles. The streaming show is also produced by the entertainment company A24, which won 16 Oscars at the 2023 Academy Awards last month.
Sometime around the debut of Beef, Reveal reporter Aura Bogado posted a resurfaced video of Choe speaking on the DVDASA podcast in April 2014 to Twitter. The tweet quickly went viral and Choe’s controversial comments recieved additional attention in Hannah Bae’s April 5 review of the show for the San Francisco Chronicle.
In the video, Choe tells co-host and porn actress Asa Akira about a massage with a masseuse he called “Rose” where he said he forced her to perform oral sex. At one point, Akira said, “You raped her.” Later in the episode, Choe appeared to jokingly call himself a “successful rapist.” A conversation during the podcast about “rapey behavior” vs “rape” ended with Choe stating “I just want to make it clear that I admit that that’s rapey behavior, but I am not a rapist.”
On Sunday, Bogado tweeted a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice and a copyright ownership claim to remove the video of the podcast from Twitter. The screenshot listed Choe and the artist’s non-profit foundation as the copyright holder. Culture writer Meecham Whitson Meriweather, who also posted the video, said he had tweets removed for the same reason.
Media outlets such as XOJane and BuzzFeed News reported on the comments at the time. Several days after the podcast aired in 2014, Choe responded to allegations on the show’s website, stating that he was not a rapist, he hated them, calling himself an artist and a storyteller, and DVDASA as “a complete extension of my art.”
“If I am guilty of anything, it’s bad storytelling in the style of douche. Just like many of my paintings are often misinterpreted, the same goes with my show. The main objective of all of my podcasts is to challenge and provoke my friends and the co-stars on the show. We fuck with each other, entertain ourselves and laugh at each other, It’s a dark, tasteless, completely irreverent show where we fuck with everyone listening, but mostly ourselves. We create stories and tell tales. It’s not a news show. It’s not a representation of my reality. It’s not the place to come for reliable information about me or my life. It’s my version of reality, it’s art that sometimes offends people. I’m sorry if anyone believed that the stories were fact. They were not!
In a world full of horrible people, thank god for us.”
Netflix representatives and Choe did not respond to requests for comment from ARTnews.
NBC Asian America reporter Kimmy Yam tweeted that she also reached out to Twitter, A24, Wong, and Yeun. Wong has also made her Twitter account private. “So far, no responses from any of those parties,” Yam said.
Below is an extended description of Choe’s comments on the podcast. (Warning: The description involves graphic descriptions of sexual violence.)
During the podcast, Choe described getting an erection during the massage, starting to masturbate in front of “Rose” without asking or telling her, and how the situation became in his words, “dangerous” and “super self-destructive.”
“I’m at a place and there’s potential for a lawsuit… and she has given me no signs that she’s into me or that this is appropriate behavior. In my head I go, Do you care if I jerk off right now? and it sounds so creepy in my head that I go I can’t say that out loud … So I go back to the chill method of you never ask first, you just do it, get in trouble and then pay the price later….So I just start jerking off. So then her hands gets off my leg and she just stops … I go ‘Look I’m sorry I can’t help myself — can you just pretend like I’m not doing this and you continue with the massage?’ And she’s like ‘All right’ and she does … I’m like ‘Can I touch your butt?’ and I reach out and touch her butt and she pulls away. She doesn’t want me to touch her butt.”
During the podcast, Choe admits that he grabbed Rose’s hand, placed it on his genitals, asked if she would spit on it and kiss it (he says she declined both requests).
“She’s definitely not into it, but she’s not stopping it either. I say, ‘Kiss it a little,’ she says, ‘No, all the massage oil is on it,’ and I take the back of her head and I push it down on my dick and she doesn’t do it. And I say, ‘Open your mouth, open your mouth,’ and she does it and I start facefucking her.”
Choe tells Akira that he continued the sex act until he ejaculated into Rose’s mouth. According to Choe, she refused to have sex with him, and asked him to lie back down so she could continue the massage.