In 2014, American artist and actor David Choe—who’s recently been brought back in the spotlight following the success of Netflix’s new TV hit BEEF, in which Choe stars as Isaac—told a detailed story about sexually assaulting a masseuse on his old podcast called DVDASA.
Though his troubling claims were first reported by entertainment blog xoJane at the time, clips of the podcast are only now resurfacing because of his part in the existential thriller, which currently boasts an impressive score of 100 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
In what can only be seen as a desperate attempt to clear his name, according to various publications including VICE and Variety, Choe is now issuing copyright takedowns of people who post the incriminating clips of the podcast episode to social media. Desperate times call for desperate measures, aye?
In the clip, which has been viewed by SCREENSHOT but won’t be shared in this article for legal reasons, Choe tells porn actress, adult film director and podcast co-host Asa Akira a story about his experience at a massage parlour, in which he claims he attempted to coerce a masseuse into putting her hand on his penis.
“She’s not into it but she’s not stopping it either,” Choe recalls, going on to describe how he held her hand on his penis with both of his hands. The actor also describes how he told the masseuse to “spit on it,” and to open her mouth, to which she said no.
He then adds that he forced her to give him a blow job: “I take the back of her head and push it down on my dick, and she doesn’t do it, and then I go ‘open your mouth’ and she does it, and then I start face fucking her.”
In response to Choe’s harrowing and spine-chilling story, Akira points out, “You’re basically telling us that you’re a rapist right now, and the only way to get your dick hard is rape,” to which he responds with a simple “yeah.”
In a confusing turn of events, on that same episode, Choe goes on to claim that although he admits “that that’s rapey behaviour,” he’s “not a rapist.”
When BEEF hit our screens on 6 April 2023, it took less than a week for the Netflix show’s hype to play its part in bringing Choe’s past comments back to the surface. As soon as Twitter users got their hands on a clip of the DVDASA episode, the actor’s claims went viral on the platform.
Several netizens who posted videos of the podcast were sent notices that their tweets featuring the clip would be removed on copyright infringement grounds. Reporter Aura Bogado bravely posted screenshots of the notice, which allegedly came from the “David Young Choe Foundation.” Interestingly, the foundation is a nonprofit led by Choe that was incorporated in 2015 and terminated under that name in 2020, according to public records. It was then renamed the Meleka Foundation.
Writer and content creator Meecham Whitson Meriweather was met with a similar fate after he shared a clip of Choe’s comments, claiming that Twitter “locked his account.” In the takedown request he personally received, Meriweather said both he and Bogado’s accounts were specifically named for having “re-uploaded” the podcast clip.
“Maybe because we were the most vocal about it and we’re the ones getting the most traffic?” Meriweather told Vice. “Not sure, but the video isn’t monetised and his reasoning for getting it taken down was pathetic,” he added.
Following the podcast episode’s release on 18 April 2014, BuzzFeed reported on an announcement post shared by Choe himself on the DVDASA website titled: “I never thought I’d wake up one late afternoon and hear myself called a rapist. It sucks. Especially because I am not one.”
In the full announcement, which has since been deleted from the internet, along with the podcast’s website, he claims that his story about the masseuse wasn’t “a representation of my reality.”
As first reported by BuzzFeed, Choe’s response allegedly stated: “I am not a rapist. I hate rapists, I think rapists should be raped and murdered. I am an artist and a storyteller and I view my show 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.
The statement continued: “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.”
Though this was the first time he acknowledged the controversy surrounding what he had said on his podcast, it certainly wasn’t the last. In 2017, Choe was commissioned by Goldman Properties to paint a large mural on a wall in Manhattan, New York. Shortly after, an anti-rape protest and performance art piece titled ‘NO MEANS NO’ responded to the mural, presumably in response to his 2014 comments.
Following the protest, Choe addressed his comments once again, this time in an Instagram post in which he denied that the story ever happened. “In a 2014 episode of DVDASA, I relayed a story simply for shock value that made it seem as if I had sexually violated a woman,” he wrote in the post’s caption.
“Though I said those words, I did not commit those actions. It did not happen. I have ZERO history of sexual assault. I am deeply sorry for any hurt I’ve brought to anyone through my past words. Non-consensual sex is rape and it is never funny or appropriate to joke about. I was a sick person at the height of my mental illness, and have spent the last 3 years in mental health facilities healing myself and dedicating my life to helping and healing others through love and action. I do not believe in the things I have said although I take full ownership of saying them,” Choe concluded.
BEEF director Lee Sung Jin, co-stars Steven Yeun and Ali Wong, and Netflix are yet to comment on the controversy. As of now, Choe did not respond to SCREENSHOT’s request for comment.