Wow. Only Rachel could have written that last entry. Everyone who read it and knows me well agrees she nailed it! The way she described my mom was so meticulous, accurate and poetic. I think it’s the best thing she’s ever written(not because it’s about me at all) and I’m proud as hell of her. By far the best analysis of my motivations and personality.
Since I’m not fully digested on the entry, in a good way, I’m taking a left turn and telling a story about the time I saved the life of a guy who tried to violently rape me. And why I owe Anthony Bourdain a drink or something and a hearty thank you if we ever meet.
Before I start, let me preface there is no malice of intent. It’s what happened as it happened, meant to be a cautionary tale and without taking undue credit, the universe has done me kindness of watching his excuse for a career ground into obscurity.
Allow me to set the scene; a beautiful little guest house, on stilts, on an estate in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles. It was right above the only road to get across the mountain, so I had a great view but my driveway was damn near a 90 degree angle straight down into a two lane unlit road with no sidewalks and no lights. This will all be relevant.
I met an actor soon after I arrived in Los Angeles named Jeremy Piven. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t come right out and use his name except for three things; he did something really dangerous, I’m afraid he will just keep at it, especially if I’m hearing jokes about him all these years later, and as advice on what to and not to do in the situation that occurred.
So I met him at a coffee house in LA. He seemed nice enough and I like funny guys, so we exchanged info. I was all excited because I had just gotten my new place and gave him my address. Mistake #1! Arrange to meet a stranger in a public place. Don’t give any information you don’t want out “there”.
He asked me out to dinner but blew me off, so I chalked it up to him being another flake. Completely blew it off myself. I had someone at the time I lived with on and off for years. It was never a definitive boy/girl friend status, but we were the best of friends who enjoyed each other in every way. If I got any late night knock, I figured it was him.
About three months go by. I had just gotten home from work at a post production studio and it happened to be an unusually busy one as they were also in a casting process for a new film that I primarily managed. I’m in my pj pants, a sweatshirt, ponytail, washed faced; in for the night with HBO and popcorn.
There was a knock at my door about 9 pm. It was Jeremy. He was apoplectic and claimed he made a huge mistake. Blowing me off was stupid and how he regretted it. He wanted to come in and hang for a few while the canyon traffic thinned out. I said no, it’s cool but I’m not interested and sex is out of the question. I told him that laying a hand on me was verboten. That nothing was going to happen so if he wanted that, he was at the wrong door.
He pleaded that it was not the case. That he understood and just wanted to talk to an amazing girl and chill for a few. I made him promise multiple times that he got it, no hanky panky at all. He claimed he did and I let him in.
Mistake # 2. I felt like I knew what he was a capable of. I misjudged. We watched TV for an hour. I remember because we watched Tales from the Crypt and The Larry Sander Show, which he was on at the time. It happened to be all about him banging one of the production assistants all over the set. She was a cute redhead. It felt strange.
Mistake # 3…I ignored my little voice that this was intentional to try to set me up for a score. Never let a guy you don’t know in your place. Especially with those circumstances, too. My landlord was away, I was hanging off of a cliff. Nobody could hear us. Oh, did he pick the wrong chick.
Not only am I a Jersey girl who is tough, but once upon a time, in a mystic land called New Jersey(which followed me around, literally), my family had a lot of juice. I was born into power born of being connected to some very powerful people. But it was never safe at all times, going so far as kidnapping threats against me, so I was trained in multiple forms of physical and mental self defense. And with one phone call, I could get almost anything I wanted or needed.
After an hour or so, he made his move. Only his move consisted of pouncing on top of me and holding my wrists over my head; grinding into me like the was trying to make coffee grounds. I yelled no and stop and please but he was only more aroused by my struggle. There was no humanity in his eyes at all.
Part of me was genuinely asking myself if this was really happening. Is this the dude from all those cameos in Cameron Crowe flicks and who played a version of George Costanza on an episode from Seinfeld? As I kept repeating get off of me, my mind was going through my many scenarios on what to do. If this happens to you, try to remain calm and calculate your options, leave nothing out. And why somebody wasn’t coming to help me like they were supposed to. I’ll come back to that later.
Living alone and being a tri-state kid with training and a healthy dose of paranoia, I kept a sharp six inch hunting knife that had belonged to my dad tucked between the couch and ottoman, exactly where he was holding me. All I’d have to do is stop fighting and pretend to get really into it long enough to get the weapon. But pulling it meant I was going to have to use it immediately, to either immobilize him by severing his spinal cord or killing him by slitting his throat. A woman should never wrestle with a man over a knife, 99.99% of the time men’s wrists are stronger. I really didn’t want to do it but was totally willing to. I gave myself one try to scare him out of continuing before I did something I could never take back. Sometimes, nothing beats the truth…so that’s what I used.
I took a deep breath and got a very calm voice for a moment, then I let him have it. Jeremy was told that he had no idea who he was messing with. No idea where I come from, who my family is and who protects me. I told him that I’d make sure this followed him for the rest of his short life because he would be dead before sunrise. That his choice is now… To get up now!
I scared him alright. He froze on top of me and slightly loosened the grip on my wrists, just long enough for me to yank my right knee up and front kick him across the room, tearing a hernia in my abdominal wall in the process. I sat up and got the knife out behind my back, tucking it into my pj bottoms elastic.
It took almost a half hour to get him out of my house as he freaked out, grabbed my cordless phone and locking himself in my bathroom. It was insane. When I finally got him locked out and my phone back, I started to call my mother. Then quickly hung up, realizing the consequences if I came forward then.
What I told Jeremy was the truth. If I called my mom and told her, she would have flipped out and there would have been a domino effect. My family employed bodyguards to follow me in LA and Vegas. If I was alone, someone was supposed to have eyes on me or my place periodically. Not only would Jeremy have been sodomized then murdered, the people hired to protect me may have gotten whacked simply for not being in that right place at the right time. So I didn’t tell her. I figured I kicked his bitch ass and that was the important part. He had no idea how lucky he was, how generous I was and how close he came.
The event continues to haunt me a bit. Sexual assault doesn’t have to mean penetration. When I saw him in anything, my skin crawled. Apparently it wasn’t just me; he often behaves like this with women. It’s been told and so has my story, by all my friends in Hollywood. I even contacted his lawyer at one point and told him my story. He was a Jewish daddy and he could tell I was telling the truth. I gave a one time offer; my friends baby had leukemia and needed treatment immediately. The insurance denied it, so I said if he will donate a certain amount to make up for his behavior and apologize, I’ll sign a non-disclosure. He chose not to take that option. It worked out and the girl lived but now, he has nothing to dissuade me from telling the truth.
Mistake #4…never shove something so traumatic down for so long, it will come out in other ways causing all kinds of damage.
Recently while I was working, I had Anthony Bourdain in the background. He was in Bangkok I believe and used Jeremy Piven as the punchline to a sexual assault joke. I broke into spontaneous applause. We already love his mix of rock-n-roll, Jersey kid foodie who excels at being himself, but now, Tony, I owe you one. Personally. Thank you for saying that, on CNN no less! I want to party with you cowboy! We are incorporated in Oregon and would love to show our gratitude.
Always be prepared but not expecting. Expect good things, just be ready to handle the bad when it comes too. This guy tried to rob my of many things, most of all my power and I wouldn’t allow it. But for children with no power, they must take whatever abuse finds them. I want to empower all of them. Fight the forces that threaten them and in the process, show my attacker the true quality of my mercy. The value of rising above and helping others. Grief uncovers gratitude, so thank you @jeremypiven. You helped me learn how strong my will actually is. Still, I would recommend never running into me. Be a shame for a drink to get poured on those pretty little hair plugs.
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