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5 Women Accuse Tony Robbins of Harassment; Self-Help Guru Denies ‘Inaccurate, Agenda-Driven’ Report

Self-help coach Tony Robbins denied a BuzzFeed News report Friday that he sexually harassed five women in the 1990s and early 2000s, saying the story was an “inaccurate, agenda-driven” report that was “pierced with falsehoods.”

BuzzFeed reported that two former female employees of Robbins signed sworn statements saying “he had sexually harassed them by repeatedly pursuing them after they made clear they weren’t interested.” Another two women who worked for Robbins, according to BuzzFeed, said the motivational speaker “expected them to work alone with him when he was naked in his hotel room or in the shower.” A fifth woman said Robbins fired her after they had a consensual sexual relationship.

In a Medium blog post published soon after BuzzFeed’s report, Robbins said BuzzFeed’s yearlong investigation was carried out with “malicious intent.” Robbins said BuzzFeed refused to meet in-person, despite Robbins wanting to share “key evidence” that would contradict the report. “Your claims range from indistinct to ridiculous,” Robbins said.

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BuzzFeed said Robbins also created a “highly sexualized environment” in which his followers were told to “touch themselves intimately and simulate orgasms.” The website also reported that secret recordings and transcripts revealed he had “unleashed expletive-laden tirades” on survivors of rape and domestic violence.

“She’s f—ing using all this stuff to try and control men,” Robbins said after one woman said she’d been raped, according to BuzzFeed.

BuzzFeed said that in 2018, Robbins said a different woman was “lying” about her husband being physically abusive, and asked: “Does he put up with you when you’ve been a crazy bitch?” But BuzzFeed also said that the woman told BuzzFeed News that talking with Robbins was a positive experience and that she was grateful for his advice not to be a victim. She told BuzzFeed that the advice had helped her leave the relationship.

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Robbins said BuzzFeed intentionally took his seminars “out of context,” and provided video testimony from fans supporting his approach.

He said on Medium: “We have evidence to prove that your reporters rejected and otherwise ignored factual accounts from several individuals you contacted. In some cases, those individuals were even harassed and lied to when their accounts did not align with Buzzfeed’s predetermined thesis.”

In a letter that his attorneys sent to BuzzFeed, Robbins “vehemently denied” engaging in any inappropriate sexual behavior and said that he was “never intentionally naked” in front of his staff.

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“Let me be clear, while my open-classroom therapeutic methods are not for everyone, and while I am on my best day still only an imperfect human being,” Robbins said in his Medium post. “I have never behaved in the reckless, irresponsible, or malicious manner intimated by false, unfounded, and incendiary allegations suggested by BuzzFeed story-tellers.”

A representative for Robbins did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

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‘BLKS’ Theater Review: When Women Aren’t Afraid to Show Their Muscle

R. Crumb would love what director Robert O’Hara has done with Aziza Barnes’ play “BLKS,” which opened Thursday at Off Broadway’s MCC after its 2017 world premiere at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company.

Early in Barnes’ comedy, three young women (Paige Gilbert, Alfie Fuller and Antoinette Crowe-Legacy) get ready to hit the clubs in Brooklyn, circa 2015. The music blasts so we can’t hear what they’re saying, but the body language is unmistakable — and hilarious.

Gilbert and Fuller, especially, sport the kind of full-frame, super-sturdy, ready-for-action bodies that can be threatening to some men but which Crumb worships, fetishizes and immortalizes in his classic comics. Equally fine, Dede Ayite’s Saran wrap costumes and J. Jared Janas’s exaggerated wigs, hair and makeup work to complete the picture of pre-party mayhem. These women aren’t afraid to show their muscle and use it.

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Although fitfully funny, “BLKS” is never again quite this inspired, and that’s because Gilbert and Fuller spend too little time together on stage.

O’Hara’s fiercely kinetic direction clearly suits these two gifted actors whose gangbuster portrayals take no prisoners. Pitted together in the play’s early moments, they stoke each other’s fiery delivery. And they’re also pretty amazing when Barnes separates them to introduce other somewhat less fascinating characters. Imani (Fuller’s character) is so horny she’ll even put up with a rich white girl, spotted at the club, who’s identified in the Playbill as That Bitch on the Couch. Stuck in this thankless role, Marie Botha manages to underplay the character’s cluelessness despite Imani’s ridiculing her race and ravaging her body. Barnes graciously gives That Bitch a couple of good retorts to Imani’s hypersensitivity.

Octavia (Gilbert’s character) is also more than ready to get laid, and in the need for instant gratification, she momentarily puts aside her ill-defined relationship with another woman, Ry (Coral Pena). Octavia demands cunnilingus (a word never spoken in “BLKS”) from not one but two men (the beautifully double-cast Chris Myers).

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In the role of Justin, Myers manages to be this comedy’s most sane, accommodating, all-around nice person. And he’s playing a straight guy! Such a character is a true novelty in today’s woke theater. Especially clever is Justin’s backpack of goodies that holds everything from a sleep mask to Crazy Glue (to repair broken high heels). Myers also manages not to be blown away by Hurricane Paige, although his very ample pecs almost upstage him. Perhaps O’Hara didn’t want the women to sport all the muscle in this show.

O’Hara is less successful with the merely loud Crowe-Legacy and Pena, who mugs her way through “BLKS” without ever hitting a definable character.

Barnes deftly handles her characters’ sexual fluidity, but near the end of “BLKS” she adds a few sentimental touches that even Neil Simon didn’t resort to in his 1960s heyday. (He saved that goop for his 1970s plays and films.) Barnes makes the far graver mistake of leaving her best creation (Imani, as played by Fuller) off stage for most of the play’s second half.

MCC’s new Robert W. Wilson Space is an odd theater. To paraphrase Oscar Hammerstein II, it’s broad where it should be narrow and narrow where it should be broad. Set designer Clint Ramos works a miracle by using that Cinemascope stage to create three rooms of a Bushwick apartment, as well as a club, a public restroom, and a variety of street scenes. Seeing the 100-minute “BLKS” is to tour Brooklyn at night and wake-up wasted. But in a good way.

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