Disgraced comedian Louis C.K. isn't shying away from his sexual misconduct as he attempts to stage a career comeback.
The comedian, who in 2017 was accused by five women of masturbating in front of them, addressed the allegations as he performed on stage in Rome earlier this week as part of his European tour, reports News.com.au.
"How's the last couple of years been for you? I had a mild disruption in my life," C.K. said at the start of his show, according to Hannah Roberts from Politico.
C.K. was declared persona non grata in the US after the allegations from the five women (which he confirmed were true) were published in the New York Times. He lost a TV production deal, and a movie he'd directed and starred in was pulled from release.
On stage in Rome, C.K. said he was happy to be "anywhere that's not New York" and added, "I'd rather be in Auschwitz."
Speaking directly about the masturbation allegations that all but ended his career, C.K. joked: "I'm good at it and I like company. If you were good at juggling, you wouldn't do it alone.
"Here's the thing about sex, everyone has a thing. But you are so lucky that I don't know your thing, everyone knows my f***ing thing."
The confronting jokes continued as C.K. said about women: "Women have a skill, pretending they are fine. Sometimes she's just making noises to get through it, it's kind of like Negro spiritualism, to assume she likes it is like seeing slaves singing in a field and saying, 'Oh, they are having a great time'."
According to Politico, C.K. received a standing ovation at the end of his show in Rome.
He is set to tour Israel, Slovakia and Hungary in the coming weeks before taking his tour to the US in late December.
The sexual misconduct
In the bombshell New York Times report, a Chicago comedy duo, Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov, alleged they were invited to C.K.'s hotel room for a nightcap during a 2002 Colorado comedy festival. The pair assumed the meeting would be "collegial".
Once inside his hotel room, the women said C.K. asked if he could take out his penis. They laughed it off as a joke.
"And then he really did it," Goodman told the New York Times.
"He proceeded to take all of his clothes off and get completely naked and started masturbating."
The pair described being "paralysed" from shock, and both fled the room after C.K. had ejaculated.
A year later, comedian Abby Schnacher called C.K. to invite him to one of her stand-up sets and said she could hear him masturbating during the phone call.
Another woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said C.K. repeatedly asked her to watch him masturbate when they were both working behind the scenes of The Chris Rock Show in the late '90s.
In her early 20s at the time, she went along with his behaviour but says "it was something that I knew was wrong".
The woman described "sitting in Louis C.K.'s office while he masturbated in his desk chair during a workday, other colleagues just outside the door".
Another comedian, Rebecca Corry, said C.K. asked her if he could masturbate in front of her while they were both appearing in a 2005 TV pilot. When she angrily declined, reminding him that he had a daughter and pregnant wife, Corry says C.K. sheepishly told her he had "issues".
In a long statement addressing the claims, C.K. confirmed the accusations and expressed remorse for his actions.
"These stories are true," he wrote.
"The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly. I have been remorseful of my actions … There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for."
Sexual harm - Do you need help?
If it's an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
If you've ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone contact Safe to Talk confidentially:
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• Text 4334
• Email email@example.com
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Alternatively contact your local police station -