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Music Industry Vet Says She Was Harassed By Red Hot Chili Peppers In '91

The Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2002 (Photo by Chris Weeks/Getty Images)
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As more and more women are starting to come forward about sexual harassment in the music industry, one woman recalls an encounter with the Red Hot Chili Peppers that allegedly happened in 1991. Julie Farman, who's spent years in the music business, was working at Epic Records when she met the Red Hot Chili Peppers 25 years ago. In a post her site, The Grayish Carpet, she says that on "the 1-10 scale of sexual harassment in the music business of the 80s and 90s," her encounter with the RHCP was a "3." Nonetheless, it's a disturbing story drenched in the kind of rock star entitlement that seems to be all too common.

Farman writes that she had already heard a number of stories about how the bandmates treated women when Epic began looking into signing them following the band's departure from EMI. She said she first refused to meet with the band, but was later talked into it. During the meeting, she discussed strategy, press campaigns and band image, then took two bandmates into a storage room to show them the box sets and CDs (she did not specify which band members).

As we looked in the cabinet, they pressed up against me and told me about all of the ways we could make a super sexy sandwich. At first I thought they were joking. When I realized they weren’t, I ran from the storage room to my office, where I closed my door, sat down at my desk, and cried. I was humiliated and weirdly ashamed, and embarrassed that I was humiliated and weirdly ashamed. There was far worse was going on in the music industry at the time, and I thought I was a badass. Being a victim didn’t fit into my self-perception.

A few minutes passed and she said the band manager knocked on her door and gave her an apology that she recalls sounded "memorized."

She resolved to "get over it" because, sadly, sexual harassment was just par for the course if you were a woman in the music industry. She said most women encountered it, but didn't talk about it and didn't take a stand.

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"We were ashamed or afraid, didn't think we'd be believed, thought we'd be blamed, or worse, we blamed ourselves. We didn't want to be perceived as weak, and we thought that in order to succeed, we just had to put up with it," she wrote.

Farman was inspired to tell her story after she realized she'd only ever told two close friends about it, and after Dirty Projectors' Amber Coffman outed the appalling behavior of music publicist Heathcliff Berru, leading to an avalanche of tales from other female musicians—including Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino and Tearist's Yasmine Kittles—about how Berru had harassed them. Kittles has filed a sexual battery complaint against Berru, who has since resigned from from his position as CEO of Life or Death PR and Management and entered rehab for substance abuse.

"This post," Farman writes, "is about saying fuck you to the Chili Peppers and the misogynistic culture of the music industry that kept me from saying it in 1991."

An article in Entertainment Weekly from that same year detailed numerous incidents of sexual harassment in the music industry, and included a note about how RHCP thought it would be okay to ask Creem reporter Nina Malkin about her sex life during an interview. This behavior was something their manager chalked up to "just goofing."