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Watch Harvey Weinstein’s Paper-Thin Apology, Sung By a Cut-Out Doll

Image courtesy of Lauren Maul / Shark Party Media

In the past year, numerous men in the entertainment industry and beyond have come under fire for their sexually abusive behavior. In attempts to save face or mitigate their impending PR crises, many of the accused have issued public apologies for their wrongdoings. Lauren Maul, a New York-based comedian and performer, was struck by the tone of the mea culpas, which range from ridiculous to horribly misguided. Inspired to create an album of musical interpretations of these statements, Maul constructed songs around the public apologies issued by men like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. With accompanying music videos for the catchy songs featuring the apologizers as singing paper dolls, Maul hopes to bring a little bit of levity to what has otherwise been a sobering time.

Maul’s album “Apologies for Men” is now available for purchase on iTunes, Amazon, and more, with 100% of the proceeds going to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. The album features the apologies of Weinstein, Spacey, Louis CK, Matt Lauer and others, with a special instrumental piece for the men who’ve been accused but haven’t yet apologized. Check out her video of Weinstein’s apology, fittingly called “The Culture Then,” below our conversation.

Image via Lauren Maul / Shark Party Media

BB_Q(1)
I’ve seen some of your videos, from your Apologies from Men album, and they’re very DIY. They’re hands on, obviously, but they’re also really unique in their approach to this pretty serious subject matter. Why did you choose to make an album and videos with singing paper dolls? Did you immediately know that was something you wanted to do when you heard about these allegations and subsequent apologies?

BB_A(1)
When I was reading the Louis C.K. apology, I was like, “Ugh, this is so gross. But it’s also good that it’s coming out.” So then, I decided– I was at a concert– that I wanted to do a concert like this. Like a fun concert, with my friends onstage, singing and playing music. And I wanted to do it to this Louis C.K. apology. And then all of these other apologies came out, and I was like, “Oh, my god, it has to be a whole album. What did I get myself into?”

And then when it came to videos, I had just come off of making a web series [Amazon Reviews: The Musical!] that took a lot of people and a lot of crew, and just a lot of scheduling work, and it was just something I didn’t want to do again for a while. And so I decided I’d just make [the videos] all by myself in my office, and have them be paper dolls. So I can make them do basically whatever I want. And I thought it was fun to actually belittle these men, because they had so much power that they abused and took advantage of so many people. It was just a fun way for me to turn the tables. And I just wanted the men to really be the butt of the joke. I never want the survivors to feel like I’m making fun of them, I don’t take jokes about assault or rape lightly. People– like comedians and artists– have a big responsibility, that if you are going to talk about rape culture, you’d better do it in a non-triggering way. Because I don’t want to cause them any more pain. They’ve been through enough.

BB_Q(1) How can a more comedic approach to these pretty serious issues affect our discussion of them? Do you think that comedy can help us take a different look?

BB_A(1) Yeah. I love that art is like the mirror you hold up to society– and comedy is the funhouse mirror that you hold up. It’s just that if you’re able to talk about it and laugh about it, then you can learn from it and heal. And also, it helps people talk about rape culture. For instance, my mom showed my grandma the Matt Lauer [apology] video. It’s like, would they even be talking about sexual harassment [otherwise]?

BB_Q(1) I’m assuming that’s kind of what you’re hoping people can take away from your videos, right? This idea of entering into a conversation about sexual assault, because it’s being portrayed in a different light than what we’ve seen in the media previously. Is there anything else you’re hoping people will take away from your approach to this?

BB_A(1) Yeah, I just wanted it to be very accessible. And that’s why I did it very handmade, to show that you can also do this at home, too. It’s not rocket science. I want people to feel like they can make their own art in response to difficult situations. And also I want this project to sprinkle a little joy in an area where there was formerly no joy.

BB_Q(1) The album and the videos definitely take a pretty unorthodox approach to all of this. What would you say to someone who– maybe they’re a sexual assault victim, maybe they’re not– thinks that maybe this isn’t the right avenue for comedy? That maybe these crimes are so heinous that they shouldn’t be treated in such a lighthearted way?

BB_A(1) I would just say that, first of all, I never want to offend someone who is a survivor. I would never make them the butt of the joke. So far, the only people who have been offended are like, straight white dudes. And that’s fine. If I’m offending them– they’re not my target demographic. I would say that’s the role of comedy– to turn shit into glitter. And I’m trying to do a service by turning a terrible situation into something that we can talk about, and even laugh about, but laugh at these men. Because they did something wrong. But yeah, it is touchy. And that’s why I try to be very thoughtful with what I do. Of course I can’t not offend everybody, but there’s this great Ricky Nelson song that’s like, “You can’t please everyone, so you might as well please yourself.”

BB_Q(1) So what are your boundaries? What is something you feel like, it’s not my place to make jokes about this, or include this in a bit?

BB_A(1) Well, one of the apologies that I did not include was the Olympics doctor [Larry Nassar], just because the magnitude and the sheer number of children he assaulted. Maybe someday someone will be able to make a funny musical about what a creep he was. But right now, his victims are still kids. And so, it’s like, I can’t– someone else may be able to go there, but I personally could not. It’s like, oh boy, this is too much. And plus, I have to really dig in to write these songs– I have to read the apology a lot, and do a lot of research on these men. And they all gross me out. But some of them, I’m just like– nope, can’t even touch, don’t want to go there. Too gross, too scary.

BB_Q(1) I watched the Harvey video earlier, and I think the contrast between his “apology,” if you could even call it that, and the DIY, eye-catching visuals is great.

BB_A(1) Thank you! It’s so funny how he just goes off the rails [in his apology]. Like, it makes no sense at the end. Each time, with each video I edited, I’d get to a point where I was like, “Yeah, this is done,” but with the Harvey one there was never a point where I was like “This is done,” because it was just always like, “This is too weird. Is it done? I think it’s done enough.” It’s just so off the rails.

The fun part was making his little childhood bedroom. Because [for the video] I just pictured him moving back into his childhood bedroom after all this– his wife left him, he’s just moving back. And I put these posters of infamous creeps on his wall– like Phil Specter, O.J., Jimmy Page. Like, yikes! So it’s kind of like, here’s his heroes. And here’s how well that worked out for him.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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Bowie Mania Continues With Ziggy Cocktails and Record Store Day Releases

From “David Bowie is” at Brooklyn Museum. (Photo: Daniel Maurer)

The opening of the mammoth “David Bowie is” exhibit last week at the Brooklyn Museum left a lot of people nostalgic for the late Starman. Lucky for all the Ziggy Stardust acolytes out there, the Bowie love continues with a slew of new record releases in April and a batch of themed cocktails at Crown Heights bar and restaurant. So take your protein pills, put your helmet on and let the Bowie mania begin.

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Washington Square Park Goes Back in Time For Motherless Brooklyn Shoot

(Photo via Washington Square Park Conservancy’s Twitter.)

Motherless Brooklyn, the Edward Norton-penned adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s 1999 novel, took over Washington Square Park today, transforming the public space into a scene straight out of the 1950s.

Norton, who also directs and acts in the film, plays a lonely private investigator with Tourette’s searching for his only friend and mentor’s killer. Willem Dafoe, Alec Baldwin, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, among others, are set to join the cast. The film, set against the backdrop of 1950s New York, will be released next year.

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‘Sex Work Has Enriched My Life In Everlasting Ways,’ Says Escort Turned Author Andrea Werhun

If you’ve ever wanted to know what life is really like for a sex worker, then Andrea Werhun’s Modern Whore is definitely worth a read. The 28-year-old University of Toronto graduate, who spent a few years escorting while in college and after graduating, shares her experiences and insights in the new book, which features fine art photographs by collaborator Nicole Bazuin. Werhun, who also writes for Playboy, is candid about her clients and the stigma she’s encountered, and hopes her new book will change perceptions of sex workers.

Life after sex work has been busy for Andrea; in addition to writing, she’s also acted in several films, and, with Bazuin, cofounded the multimedia production company Virgin Twins, which is responsible for the release of Modern Whore. The New York book launch and reception will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. on March 3 at the Jefferson Market Library in Greenwich Village. In the meantime, here’s our conversation with Andrea. Discussing everything from noteworthy johns to the #MeToo movement to her current endeavors, she proves that there’s no such thing as a stereotypical sex worker.

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Turn to the Left, Right: David Bowie Is Everywhere Right Now

Suit used for the Ziggy Stardust tour. Courtesy of the David Bowie Archive (c) Victoria and Albert Museum.

David Bowie made no secret of his love for New York; he was known for frequenting the Strand and sneaking into movies at the Angelika, spending his final years enjoying all that the city has to offer. Several upcoming events around town will pay tribute to the late, great Starman, who died after a battle with cancer in January 2016. Whether it’s through a gallery exhibition of behind-the-scenes photos from Bowie’s prime, or a themed dance party in Brooklyn, there’s no shortage of ways to show your love and appreciation for Bowie this month. Hang on to yourself.

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Escaped Dog On Tracks Causes (Adorable) Delay For F Train Riders

Year of the dog, indeed.

Earlier this afternoon, the MTA reported that the F train was experiencing service changes and delays because of a dog on the tracks at the York Street station.

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Could an East River Pontoon Bridge Save Us From the L-pocalypse?

Earlier this week, the MTA and DOT revealed their plans for ferry service during the L-train shutdown, with proposed routes connecting North Williamsburg to Stuyvesant Cove. However, a recently launched project is floating another unusual solution to the impending L-pocalypse: a pontoon bridge. L-ternative Bridge, created by New Yorker Parker Shinn, touts the pontoon bridge as a cheap, quick-to-assemble option that would alleviate some of the difficulties posed by the shutdown of the Canarsie Tube.

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Chuck Schumer Trolled a Kentucky Senator With Brooklyn Bourbon, Only to Get Schooled By a Local Distillery

(Photo courtesy of Kings County Distillery)

Brooklyn-based Kings County Distillery sent Senator Chuck Schumer a bottle of their finest bourbon yesterday after his playful gift to senate majority leader Mitch McConnell didn’t go down so smoothly.

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Behemoth Bagel and Lox Takes Over Greenpoint

Image via author

In an effort to set a Guinness world record, Acme Smoked Fish teamed up with Zucker Bagels to assemble a giant bagel and lox at Acme’s Greenpoint headquarters on Friday afternoon. The sandwich, complete with plenty of onions, tomatoes, and capers, was predicted to weigh at least a few hundred pounds, and it did not disappoint– the final weight was a whopping 213.75 pounds. Talk about a lot of lox.

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