Backlash Mounts Against David Choe, the Muralist Who Painted Facebook’s Headquarters, After a Clip of Him Describing a Rape Resurfaced Online
Choe, an actor in the Netflix series 'Beef,' is famous in the art world for painting the first offices of Facebook, which made him a multimillionaire.
Netflix’s new miniseries Beef proved to be a major hit when it premiered on Netflix earlier this month. But since then, the show’s success has been clouded by a controversy involving one of its actors, David Choe, who is also an artist and twice painted murals at Facebook’s headquarters.
In a 2014 recording for Choe’s now-defunct podcast DVDASA, he described forcing a masseuse to perform nonconsensual sex acts on him.
“I just start jerking off,” he recalled of the incident on the massage table. “Then her hand gets off my leg and she just stops. I go, ‘Look, I’m sorry, I can’t help myself. Can you just pretend like I’m not doing this and you continue with the massage?’”
According to Choe’s story, the woman continued the massage before he attempted to grab her buttocks. She pulled away. “She’s definitely not into it, but she’s not stopping it either,” he went on.
“I say, ‘Kiss it a little,’ and she says, ‘No, all the massage oil is on it.’ And I take the back of her head and push it down on my dick and she doesn’t do it. And I say, ‘Open your mouth, open your mouth,’ and she does it and I start facefucking her.”
Choe concluded that “the thrill of possibly going to jail” is “what achieved the erection quest.”
“You’re basically telling us that you’re a rapist right now?” the podcast’s co-host, adult film actress and director Asa Akira, asked Choe. He responded, “Yeah.”
The clip was shared widely on social media last week, amid the attention paid to Beef. Now, though, the DVDASA clip is much harder to find online: Twitter has scrubbed the videos from its site after Choe reportedly claimed they violated his copyright.
In a message to Twitter, which was shared online by journalists who had originally posted the clip, Choe wrote, “Several Twitter users…have re-uploaded a clip from episode 106 “Erection Quest” of our DVDASA live podcast and video series that was originally published on March 10, 2014 without our consent.”
Social-media users were quick to call out the hypocrisy of Choe invoking consent. Others openly castigated Netflix and the stars of Beef for giving a platform to an alleged rapist. The nonprofit Freedom of the Press Association accused Choe of hushing journalists to protect his own reputation. “Abuse of copyright takedown procedures to censor journalists is a serious and growing problem,” the group wrote on Twitter.
Representatives for Netflix did not respond to a request for comment.
Choe was born and raised in L.A. to Korean immigrant parents. His early, self-published graphic novels earned him a cult following, as did his signature “dirty”—and often hypersexualized—painting style. In 2005, Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker, commissioned him to paint several murals in Facebook’s previous Silicon Valley office. Mark Zuckerberg asked the artist to do it again in 2007 for the company’s new headquarters.
For his work, Choe opted to be paid in company stock rather than cash, and by the time of Facebook’s IPO in 2012, it was reported that those shares were worth as much as $200 million.
Since then, Choe’s illustrations and writing have appeared in Hustler and Vice magazines, and he’s had gallery exhibitions in Los Angeles, London, and New York.
Choe publicly addressed the DVDASA clip after it circulated in 2014, saying in a statement that he was detailing an imaginary rape rather than a real one. “I never thought I’d wake up one late afternoon and hear myself called a rapist,” he wrote at the time. “It sucks. Especially because I am not one. I am not a rapist. I hate rapists, I think rapists should be raped and murdered.”
In 2017, protesters gathered in front of a mural Choe painted on the Bowery in New York to speak out against the artist and the “normalization of rape culture.”
The artist was the star of 2021’s The Choe Show, in which he interviewed celebrity guests and painted their portraits. In Beef, Choe plays a small time criminal and the cousin of one of the show’s leads, Steven Yuen.
Follow Artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.