HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 30: David Choe attends the Los Angeles Premiere of Netflix's "BEEF" at TUDUM Theater on March 30, 2023 in Hollywood, California.

Rather Than Responding To Criticism, David Choe Is Filing DMCA Takedowns of Videos Calling Himself “a Successful Rapist”

Streisand effect is in full swing.

Soon after the release and praise of Ali Wong and Steven Yeun’s Netflix series BEEF, past clips of DVDASA (Double Vag, Double Anal, Sensitive Artist) podcast co-star David Choe began to make the rounds online.

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**Content warning: sexual assault.**

In one podcast episode, Choe brags about raping a Black woman and describes that rape in vivid detail. (A situation he years later stated was not true.) In another, he defends a hypothetical scenario in which his co-host, adult film actress Asa Akira, would rape a 13-year-old boy. As the clips began to trend, those sharing the clips found their accounts limited and the videos muted and taken down.

While there are details missing from the two-plus minutes of Akira and Choe fiercely defending child rape, Choe’s other story has been widely discussed since 2017. In the 2014 episode “Erection Quest,” he describes forcing himself on a Black woman masseuse. As co-host Akira correctly insists that the story he describes is rape, Choe first denies it, calling it “rapey behavior.” Later in the conversation, he admits to it, calling himself a “successful rapist.”

“But the thrill of possibly going to jail, that’s what achieved the erection quest,” stated Choe.

After backlash, including vandalization of his work, Choe defended his statements, saying what was said in the podcast was a fabricated story. Not that things are much better post-MeToo, but it’s worth noting this backlash took place months before the Weinstein story broke. A week later, he apologized in a lengthy Instagram post and stated, “I have ZERO history of sexual assault. I am deeply sorry for any hurt I’ve brought to anyone through my past words.”

Still, despite this backlash, he used his notoriety for a controversial show on sex that was only accessible to those who had signed an NDA later that year. (In a 2021 episode of The Choe Show, Choe connected his years of drug abuse and disgusting stories back to his year abroad in Korea at age four, stating, “almost positive I got sexually abused.”)

The story is worse than it sounds

After gruesomely describing a rape, the other podcast members gleefully asked him to describe the victim. And Choe obliged—ignoring Akira’s reminders that he was talking about rape.

Like beautiful … like half Black, half white, long curly hair, … huge titties. HUGE real titties.

How he cut through Akira to describe a victim of alleged assault as an exotic ideal of beauty who works as a massage therapist is alarming. Even outside of the 2021 mass shooting where a man traveled to three massage parlors across Atlanta and killed eight people (all but two of whom were Asian women), sexual violence runs rampant in this profession. Jokes about clients and masseuses secretly being sex workers as a wink-wink-nudge-nudge are all too common. (Please note that there was no punchline to Choe’s story and he never described it as a joke.)

Chart showing how rape culture is normalized. A graphic titled “Rape Culture” that has a triangle with words and a background gradient of darker red at the top peak, orange in the center, and yellow at the bottom. On the side of the pyramid is an arrow and 3 works, explaining the the gradient. Normalization leads to Degradation which leads to Assault. The text under the pyramid explains the relationship: “Tolerance of the behaviors at the bottom supports or excuses those higher up. To change outcomes, we must change the culture. If you see something, say something! Start the conversation today.” The words inside the pyramid, starting with the top and most severe: Rape, Drugging, Molestation, Stealthing (Covert Condom Removal), Contraceptive Sabotage, Victim Blaming & Shaming, Coercion/Manipulation, Threats, Revenge Porn, Safe Word Violations, Groping, Non-Consensual Photo or Video, Flashing & Exposing, Unsolicited Nude Pics, Catcalling, Unwanted Non-Sexual Touch, Stalking, Sexist Attitudes, Rape Jokes, Locker Room Banter.
(11th Principle Consent)

The other element is that he went into great detail to describe fetishistically describe her race and body. Like other women of color, Black women are highly sexualized in our culture. We are often described as always sexually available and with animal-like behavior. The Jezebel trope began in slavery when this stereotype was created to justify the rape of enslaved women. The fetishization certainly extends to multi-racial people who get labeled “exotic” and other people of color. So yeah, he hit the “WTF is wrong with you” bingo by placing a woman of color masseuse in his rape fantasy and then having the audacity to say it out loud.

The unwillingness of society to let go of viewing Black women through this lens is exactly why, despite the apology, Black women and others marginalized are unwilling to let this slide. This is not a trope limited to entertainment but has tangible life-or-death consequences. As a “storyteller” (his words) and an artist, he knows that every detail matters. So, the professional and racial make-up of these so-called fictional women matter. That was a deliberate choice to dehumanize these groups further and contribute to rape culture.

Choe (and/or his team) tries to erase videos

These videos started to circulate among Black and brown Twitter users before quickly spreading among several media critics. After a few days of discussion, most videos that weren’t behind a locked account disappeared.

Then, journalist Aura Bogado shared screenshots of an automated email from Twitter showing David Choe’s 501(c)(3) non-profit, The David Young Choe Foundation (now officially called The Meleka Foundation Inc), filed a copyright claim on her original upload to Twitter. Choe claimed that this was a copyright infringement of his podcast, DVDASA. The charity has been taking down the free DVDASA podcast episodes for years, with the only way to access them being behind a Gumroad paywall. Another writer who commented under Bogado’s original video shares emails involving him as well.

The Freedom of the Press Foundation retweeted Bagado’s revelations. “Abuse of copyright takedown procedures to censor journalists is a serious and growing problem. It’s also a preview of a post-Section 230 world where platforms fearing liability for user posts remove anything even alleged to be defamatory.” It’s not just Twitter, as several TikTok users have stated that without heavy edits, the sound is being removed from their postings of the podcast episode.

Choe’s loud silence

Not even all fans of the former podcast are defending this. In a post on the subreddit calling it “cancel culture” despite the continued success of a multi-millionaire artist, the top reply noted that Choe consistently claimed he was un-cancellable. “On DVDASA, [Choe] also claimed to be truthful with no censoring; then he tells that story and later claims it’s bullshit. So either Dave was a liar peddling us bullshit or he did some fucked up shit then backpedaled on it. The issue is that whichever one it was, it still makes him an asshole.”

Like other work with Wong and Yeun, BEEF is being lauded for its nuanced representation of the Asian American diaspora. However, in hiring Choe and, now, remaining silent, it’s sending another message, too. (Not to mention Wong locking her Twitter.) They don’t think this is an issue at all.

As his critics and fans discuss the situation, Choe remains silent. He’d rather go after the videos shared by journalists than address why these comments still hurt people. While no one is coming forward with an allegation of Choe, this mirrors silencing behavior common in sexual assault cases. It’s also resulting in the resurfacing of other instances of Choe’s misogyny as people look for answers and demand accountability.

(featured image: JC Olivera/Getty Images)


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Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.