Katy Perry is living anything *but* a “Teenage Dream” right now. The singer and American Idol judge has been called out for sexual misconduct, after two people came forward with stories about the singer’s unwanted advances.
On August 11, model Josh Kloss took to Instagram to share his experience of meeting Perry and starring in her hit music video “Teenage Dream” in 2010, after which Kloss alleges the singer assaulted him at a party. Just two days later, Russian journalist Tina Kandelaki also detailed an encounter she had with Perry, telling Russian media outlet Starhit that the singer tried to kiss her without consent while intoxicated.
Perry has yet to comment on these serious accusations. But here’s everything we know so far.
The first allegation
On the ninth anniversary of Perry’s “Teenage Dream” music video, Kloss—the star who played her love interest—commemorated the day in an unusual way, calling it “one of the most confusing, assaulting and belittling jobs” he’d ever done in a post on Instagram. In the caption under a still of him and Perry from the video, Kloss detailed his experience on set, writing that Perry was “cool and kind,” that the two sang worship songs together and that Perry went so far as to call kissing him “gross” on set; indicating that the relationship was, at first, purely professional (if not a little weird).
Then, Kloss details how his experience with Perry was *very* different off set. When running into her at a party after her break up with Russell Brand (the couple separated in 2011), Kloss says they hugged. “But as I turned to introduce my friend, [Perry] pulled my Adidas sweats and underwear out as far as she could to show a couple of her guy friends and the crowd around us, my penis,” Kloss wrote. “Can you imagine how pathetic and embarrassed I felt?”
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You know. After I met Katy, we sang a worship song, “open the eyes of my heart” She was cool and kind. When other people were around she was cold as ice even called the act of kissing me “gross” to the entire set while filming. Now I was pretty embarrassed but kept giving my all, as my ex was busy cheating on me and my daughter was just a toddler, I knew I had to endure for her sake. After the first day of shooting, Katy invited me to a strip club in Santa Barbara. I declined and told her “I have to go back to hotel and rest, because this job is all I have right now” So I saw Katy a couple times after her break up with Russel. This one time I brought a friend who was dying to meet her. It was Johny Wujek’s birthday party at moonlight roller way. And when I saw her, we hugged and she was still my crush. But as I turned to introduce my friend, she pulled my Adidas sweats and underwear out as far as she could to show a couple of her guy friends and the crowd around us, my penis. Can you imagine how pathetic and embarrassed i felt? I just say this now because our culture is set on proving men of power are perverse. But females with power are just as disgusting. So for all her good she is an amazing leader, hers songs are mainly great empowering anthems. And that is it. I continued to watch her use clips of her music videos for her world tour and then her dvd, only highlighting one of her male co-stars, and it was me. I made around 650 in total off of teenage dream. I was lorded over by her reps, about not discussing a single thing about anything regarding Katy publicly. And a couple interviews they edited and answered for me. So, happy anniversary to one of the most confusing, assaulting, and belittling jobs I’ve ever done. Yay #teenagedream I was actually gonna play the song and sing it on ukele for the anniversary, but then as I was tuning I thought, fuck this, I’m not helping her bs image another second.
In a follow up post, Kloss shared alleged emails with team, in which he claims they dictated what he could and couldn’t say about the singer in interviews, as a means to protect her image.
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I was supposed to minimize myself and stay PC to protect her “image” I listened and was a good boy. The fear sticks with you, when you are censored to protect someone else’s image. But in return treated like a prostitute and exposed in front of a group of her friends and other random people. Then you are shocked and you block it out, because you watch the face of children being uplifted by positive music she sang. And your mind is stuck trying to do your job and protect her bs image or be honest and help the global dialogue about power and abuse. And you hear over and over a million times that Males are the great evil on this planet. Meanwhile you know the truth POWER empowers what is corrupt in people, regardless of their gender. Folks I am putting us both out on display to increase and enlighten everyone. I don’t want money for this, Many of you project your own ambitions. I don’t want fame from this, that is why I stomached it and kept working, and kept supporting the “teenage dream” image. And this anniversary, and time elapse made me realize hey now is the time to let it out and let it go. Not one more day of hearing “How was Katy Perry?”
In response to Kloss’s posts, several of Perry’s friends jumped to the singer’s defence, claiming that Kloss had been obsessed with Perry since the video, and these accusations are the result of being spurned by the singer. Also chiming in was director Johnny Wujek. Kloss claimed in his initial post that the incident happened at Wujek’s birthday party. “Oh hell no. I’m not about to let you make accusations against my friend like this,” Wujek commented on Kloss’s post. “This is such bullshit. Katy would never do something like that. We all know about your on going obsession with her since the day of filming that video. You were writing her music. And planning an imaginary future with her. It’s not ok to do this to people who have done nothing but uplift and inspire others. Focus on your life and your daughter and move on josh. I’ll be praying for you. We all will.”
FWIW Wujeck, it’s important to remember that just because *your* experience with someone has been positive, doesn’t mean it’s indicative of everyone else’s.
The second allegation
On August 13, Russian media outlet Starhit posted an interview with journalist and TV personality Tina Kandelaki. In the interview, Kandelaki detailed an experience she had with Perry at a party. Speaking to the outlet, Kandelaki described Perry attempting to kiss her, before going off to find a “new victim.”
“Once I was invited to a private party with Katy Perry, where she, being pretty tipsy, chose me as an object for the manifestation of her passion,” she said. “I managed to fight back, strength training was not in vain, and [Katy] instantly found a new victim for kisses, hugs and dirty dances.”
So far, there’s seemingly been no backlash to Kandelaki’s comments from Perry or anyone associated with her.
This isn’t the first time Perry has had an issue with boundaries
To some people, this kind of behaviour from Perry might not come as a complete surprise. Over the past few years the singer has become known for her serious boundary-pushing behaviour—especially with younger men.
In March 2017, Perry was caught on video touching singer Shawn Mendes’s butt while on the iHeartRadio red carpet. Mendes, who is mid-interview, looks behind him before before saying: “Someone was just touching my butt.” Turning around to find the culprit, Mendes identifies the pop star, saying in shock: “Oh, it was Katy Perry who was touching my butt.” FYI, they’d never met each other before, Mendes was 18, and that is 100% not the way to greet someone, Katy.
Moments before the incident, Perry is seen in the background of the video looking *legitimately* like a shark stalking its prey. It’s uncomfortable.
But, it seems Perry didn’t really learn from the incident. Just a year later, she came under fire again after kissing American Idol contestant Benjamin Glaze without his consent. Glaze, a 19-year-old from Oklahoma, was essentially tricked into kissing Perry on the lips after admitting that he’d never kissed a girl before (because you “can’t kiss a girl without being in a relationship.” To quote former FLARE writer Jen Berry: “Bless him”).
This tidbit makes Perry’s ensuing actions even more upsetting. After asking for a peck on the cheek (which Glaze obliged), Perry asked for a second kiss, moving her head at the last minute so that the two connected—lip to lip. Glaze looked visibly uncomfortable, meanwhile Perry laughed and high-fived fellow judges Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie. Glaze was then forced to audition for the trio. It was all *super* uncomfortable and incredibly unfair to Glaze.
Talking to the New York Times after the incident, Glaze said of the kiss: “I was a tad bit uncomfortable…I wanted to save it for my first relationship.”
“Would I have done it if she said, ‘Would you kiss me?’ No, I would have said no,” he continued. “I know a lot of guys would be like, ‘Heck yeah!’ But for me, I was raised in a conservative family and I was uncomfortable immediately. I wanted my first kiss to be special.” In a later Instagram post, Glaze clarified that although he didn’t want the kiss to happen, he did not feel that Perry sexually harassed him. Glaze’s experience and how he interprets Perry’s actions is completely up to him; but his feelings towards the incident don’t mean that it *wasn’t* inappropriate.
And we need to be taking this seriously
We need to keep talking about Perry’s behaviour, and take these recent allegations seriously. Because, you guys, it’s becoming a pattern.
And it’s a pattern that hasn’t really been talked about or taken seriously. Up until this point, many media outlets have brushed off Perry’s past actions as part of her “quirky” personality. She’s a little off the rails, so we expect her to do things that are a little off the rails. This is, after all, the woman who live-streamed her therapy session Big Brother style and wore a literal hamburger to the MET Gala.
But, her behaviour is seriously harmful; and calling it quirky belittles both the severity of her actions and the repercussions of them. After coming forward with his experience, Kloss has been harassed, blamed and accused of lying by Perry’s fans on social media.
Which is another issue, and probably one of the reasons Perry’s actions *have* been glossed over thus far—because she’s a woman. With countless men from Harvey Weinstein to Aziz Ansari called out and forced to reckon with their problematic and harmful behaviour, we’re in a time where, more than ever, women feel empowered to speak up and tell their truths. And they should. This has been a long time coming. And in a way, we’d know how to react if Perry was a man with an incredible amount of clout and power: outrage.
But what about when the tables are turned?
It’s something we haven’t really seen, or had to reckon with, as much. And even when we have tried to reckon with it—like in the case of allegations against Asia Argento—we haven’t done a great job for survivors. But this could be a turning point; and it should be a turning point. According to stats by 1 in 6, a U.S. based organization to help men who have been sexually assaulted, one in six men will experience sexual assault in their lifetime. In Canada, 15% of sexual assault victims are young men. But a large majority of these instances go unreported due to stigmatization, shame and the reinforcement of toxic masculinity through the idea that men should “man up” and “enjoy” sexual advances from women, even if unwanted. As Kloss wrote in his initial post: “I just say this now because our culture is set on proving men of power are perverse. But females with power are just as disgusting.”
He has a point. This type of exploitation of power by anyone *is* problematic, and it’s time to start holding everyone accountable for their actions.
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