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Magazine magnate Jann Wenner has been accused of sexual misconduct.
Writer Ben Ryan has gone on the record with Buzzfeed to accuse the Rolling Stone co-founder of sexual harassment over a 2005 incident. Apparently, when Ben was 27 years old, Wenner invited the unknown writer for a meeting. Understandably, the then hungry up-and-comer jumped at the chance to meet with the powerhouse.
Although the invitation originally felt like Ben’s big break, the meeting ended with an offer of career advancement in exchange for sex. How awful.
“I felt like this was the beginning of me making it. That’s how naïve I was at the time.”
Ben first met Jann for a sit down at the publisher’s office, where he was given an assignment for the Men’s Journal. Reportedly, Wenner would call and check in every now and then, until one day he invited Ryan to his Upper West Side townhouse. During the visit, the openly gay Jann made his guest a drink and then pounced.
“I had Jann Wenner’s tongue in my mouth. I went along for a second but then said something to the effect of ‘Oh please, I’m not that kind of girl.'”
While feeling “totally grossed out,” Ben tried to diffuse the situation by joking that his psychiatrist predicted this would happen. The realization that someone might know of their meeting allegedly spooked Jann. Ben explained:
“It was like the entire temperature of the room changed in a flash… [Wenner] got very upset and was pseudo-threatening of how bad it could be if this got out. All of a sudden I was the bad guy and I felt like I was in the hot seat and being grilled.”
As Ben tried to leave, Jann hit him with the following proposition — stay and he’d be given a writing contract. Whoa.
In regards to the offer, Ben relayed:
“I think there was that moment where it’s like time stood still, and you’re imagining how this could be the answer to all my struggles. All I would have to do is this one thing. But that’s not me. I would never do that.”
Interesting point. A journal entry from that night reads:
“Thursday, August 11, 2005. Last night Jann Wenner asked me to come to his townhouse for a drink at 10:30 p.m. I knew this would happen sooner or later, I just didn’t think he’d take such a direct approach. It was the most pure form of sexual harassment: he pawed and groped and I insisted no but he persisted promising me a ’25 article contract’ in the most disingenuous voice. ‘Preferential treatment.’ I was forced to kiss him. His mouth was dry and he was a serpent-like kisser, lashing with his tongue. After 90 minutes I left dignity relatively intact.”
Man, oh man. Wenner has since acknowledge that the meeting took place, but refuses he offered career advancement for sex. In a statement, Jann defended:
“I met him twelve years ago and did flirt with him. There was no quid pro quo. He refused my advances, but still went on to have his assignment from Men’s Journal published.”
Ben’s ex has defended the writer’s account of what went down with Wenner, as he told Buzzfeed:
“He was very upset about what transpired. It was one of those things, that he’s a freelance writer, and these kinds of meetings and contacts are important for his career. He was hoping it would have been a big break for him.”
This encounter was certainly a “turning point” in Ryan’s freelance career as he made a point to never see Jann in person again. He concluded:
“I’m not saying he killed my dreams, but it was a discouraging part of the process.”
Oof. We’re curious to see if other freelancers speak out with similar anecdotes…
[Image via WENN.]