Jeffree Star accusers say the makeup mogul has a history of sexual assault, physical violence, and hush-money offers
- Before building his YouTube makeup empire,
Jeffree Starwas a politically incorrect Myspace celebrity.
- In addition to his racist outbursts, several people — including some of Star's former friends, peers, and associates — told Insider that he physically and sexually abused others at the height of his Myspace fame.
- Several people said Star sexually preyed on men around him through nonconsensual oral sex and groping at his music performances.
- Accusers also said Star used weapons such as a stun gun — a tasing device — on the people around him for fun and for revenge after facing rejection.
- Star's attorney denied the allegations of physical and sexual violence in this article, calling them "false and defamatory."
- Messages obtained by Insider showed two of Insider's on-the-record sources discussing a $10,000 payout offer from Star to recant their allegations.
Makeup mogul Jeffree Star is one of YouTube's biggest celebrities.
Vibrantly androgynous, with cotton-candy wigs and head-to-toe tattoos, he has leveraged his penchant for stirring internet drama into a multimillion-dollar cosmetics brand and amassed 40 million social-media followers, many of them teenagers.They avidly consume his makeup product reviews and tours of his $14.6 million Hidden Hills, California, mansion, and have helped launch his status as one of YouTube's top five earners, with an estimated $17 million in revenue from the platform in 2019, according to Forbes.
The online persona Star cultivated during that phase of his career, in his early 20s, was shocking and violent at times, with public videos of groping episodes and racist outbursts.An Insider investigation suggests that it wasn't all an act: Several former associates say Star engaged in violent and abusive behavior on multiple occasions during the late 2000s, including multiple allegations of
Four people who spoke with Insider said Star groped men around him without consent. Five people told Insider they personally saw Star using a close-range stun gun or other tasing device to hurt and intimidate people around him.And five people told Insider that in 2009 Star used a taser on a homeless teen who had rejected his affections in a movie theater. That teen later stayed the night in Star's apartment, and told Insider that Star gave him Ambien until he was intoxicated and forcibly performed oral sex on him without his consent. Several people and publicly available internet posts corroborate key components of the former homeless teen's account. In several letters to Insider, Star's attorney denied allegations of physical and sexual violence and questioned the reliability of Insider's sources. After Insider detailed the allegations to Star and his attorney, several people who had made on-the-record claims about Star's conduct contacted Insider to change their stories.
Insider obtained text messages showing two of the on-the-record sources for this article discussing what they said was a $10,000 offer from Star to recant their allegations. One accuser and two claimed witnesses — all of whom had provided on-the-record accounts to Insider in which they said they saw or experienced Star engaging in violence — ultimately did change their stories.
While he's addressed racism in his past, Star has yet to reckon with accusations of physical violence
Star, whose real full name is Jeffrey Lynn Steininger, Jr., has previously faced waves of backlash over the racist persona he crafted to attract attention on Myspace and the late 2000s livestreaming platform Stickam.Starting about 2004, the year Star turned 18, he began appearing in video footage online that showed him assailing people on public streets, sometimes holding a yellow self-defense spray canister and yelling the N-word at passersby.
Other clips from his Myspace-era show Star mocking Black women during comedic skits, at one point suggesting that he'd pour battery acid on a Black woman to lighten her skin. Star often instigated public fights on camera, confronting strangers with racist and sexist slurs. He acknowledged some of the language he used in a 2017 apology video and denied being racist.
In one widely circulated clip, Star appears to grope a man's penis on a 2009 Warped Tour stop. In a letter to Insider, Star's attorney said the video was of Star and a friend "jokingly touching one another," which was then uploaded to Star's YouTube channel "purely for
People told Insider that Star was violent when his sexual and romantic advances weren't reciprocated
In 2008, Gage Arthur was a 17-year-old in Austin, Texas, with dreams of becoming famous on the internet. He began building a fanbase on Myspace and Stickam. That year Arthur's roommate, also a Stickam entertainer, invited a friend from LA to visit their apartment in Austin: Jeffree Star.Over the course of four interviews with Insider that took place during this summer, Arthur said Star sexually pursued him soon after meeting him, starting at that Austin apartment, even though Arthur identifies as straight.
In 2009, Arthur moved to Los Angeles to join his more-internet-famous peers. Once he arrived, he struggled with homelessness and spent time couch-surfing with friends. In November 2009, a little over a year after their first meeting, Arthur said Star invited him to stay at his apartment and the two shared Star's bed.On November 11, 2009 — the first night that Arthur was to crash at Star's place, according to public social-media posts — Arthur and Star went to see a movie with two friends. During the film, Arthur said, Star tried to hold his hand, but Arthur resisted. According to Arthur, Star attacked him with a taser in the theater parking lot after the movie in retaliation. That night, Arthur told Insider, Star gave him Ambien pills until he was intoxicated, then performed nonconsensual oral sex on him. Arthur made similar claims when speaking to Christopher Stone, who operates the online gossip blog StickyDrama. In August, Stone published a post headlined "@JeffreeStar Drugged, Tazed, and Raped Me," about Arthur and Star's relationship. In it, Arthur repeated the same sexual assault and tasing allegations.
"Jeffree sucked Gage's d--- under the threats of force and actual use of force — i.e. the taser — as well as Gage's incapacity from drugs," Stone wrote, citing his interview with Arthur.
Star's attorney described the StickyDrama post to Insider as "false and defamatory," although Stone told Insider that neither Star nor his attorney responded to his own requests for comment.More than a month after the post went up, and after Insider asked Star for comment on it, Star's attorney sent Stone a cease-and-desist letter asking him to take the post down, according to a copy of the letter reviewed by Insider. Star's attorney likewise denied Arthur's claims to Insider, saying Star "has never tasered or drugged anyone for sex."
Three weeks after Insider first asked Star for comment on Arthur's claims, Arthur sent a text message to Insider, saying, "Hey his lawyers called me."
Five hours later he followed up with an email saying "I'm not sure I'm remembering stuff correctly" and "I may have misinterpreted things," adding: "I'm retracting our communications."The next day, Star's attorney sent a letter to Insider making clear that he was aware of Arthur's effort to retract his statements.
Several people corroborated key components of Arthur's initial claims of assault
Before Arthur changed his story, Insider corroborated much of his account with multiple people, including several on-the-record interviews with friends and witnesses. Social-media posts referencing the allegations have also circulated online over the past 10 years.Arthur's former roommate in Austin confirmed to Insider that Arthur was 17 when Star first visited the apartment they shared, and he verified Stickam footage depicting the three men together during Star's trip. The footage shows Star kissing Arthur for about 25 seconds. Star was 22 at the time.
Some of the events surrounding Star and Arthur's trip to the movies on November 11, 2009, when Arthur was 19, and Arthur's subsequent stay at Star's apartment were publicly documented on Twitter.On the night Arthur would sleep over at Star's apartment, they went to see "The Box" with two friends. That night — early in the morning of November 11 — Star posted on Twitter that he was "going to the movies" with Arthur and two other friends. In the morning he posted a selfie with Arthur, captioning it "just waking up."
Star deleted the first of the two tweets, in September 2020, after Insider requested comment on them.
One member of the party, who spoke with Insider on condition of anonymity for fear of legal and professional repercussions, but whose identity is known to Insider, said Star tried to hold Arthur's hand and leaned on him while watching the movie. The person also said that Star said he wanted to "f--- Gage" that night.When Arthur failed to respond to Star's affections, the person said, Star got up and walked out of the theater. When the group followed Star into the parking lot, the person added, Star chased Arthur around the car and used a tasing device on him.
In a letter to Insider, Star's attorney denied that Star used a taser that night. But several people told Insider that Star regularly used electroshock tasing devices to hurt others. Neil, the Warped Tour stage manager, recalled to Insider that Star caused problems on one summer's tour between 2008 and 2010 with his use of a stun gun.
"He came around a friend of mine and myself one morning on Warped Tour and he was super stressed out. He said people were gay-bashing him on the tour," Neil told Insider. "My buddy gave him a stun gun and said, 'Listen, if anybody really tries to beat you up, you can use this and you can defend yourself.' And then we got called into production's office by the owner of the tour the next day [...] apparently, he was going around stunning everyone."Two people contacted by Insider said Arthur told them that Star had sexually assaulted him. Kris Whalen, who was once Arthur's roommate, said Arthur told him in either late 2009 or early 2010 that Star had provided him with Ambien pills that night, causing Arthur to become groggy. Whalen said Arthur told him that Star threatened him with a taser and performed oral sex on him without his consent.
Another friend of Arthur's who goes by Eden Shizzle, and went by Eden Hilton at the time, told Insider that he picked up Arthur from Star's apartment in 2009 and that Arthur told him at the time that Star had sexually assaulted him."He said that Jeffree wanted to hook up with him and, knowing Gage, he said something like 'No, I'm good,'" Shizzle told Insider. "Gage was very adamant that he wasn't OK with it, and said that he got tased and was told to leave."
In an effort to cast doubt on Arthur's credibility, Star's attorneys provided Insider with a statement from Amor Hilton, a former Myspace celebrity who describes herself as Arthur's "best friend." In the statement, Hilton says Arthur's allegations about Star are false and that Arthur previously told her that if she "talked to [Insider] and supported him, he would 'take care of me' later if he received a monetary settlement from Mr. Star."In an interview with Insider, Hilton said that Arthur and Star "definitely had hooked up, quite a few times," and that she had dropped off and picked up Arthur from Star's apartment on multiple occasions. But she ridiculed the idea that Star could have sexually assaulted another man. "Gage is the exact same height and the exact same width as Jeffree is and there's no way that he could be raped," she said. "Come on dude, grow the f--- up."
Hilton, who said she is the niece of porn star Ron Jeremy, placed Arthur's accusations in the context of the #MeToo era, when increasing numbers of people are coming forward to tell stories of sexual assault that she regards as dubious. "All these accusations are coming cause it's 2020," she said. "You know, my uncle Ron Jeremy, he's going through the same s--- right now." The Los Angeles County district attorney has charged Jeremy with raping three women and sexually assaulting another 17, including one as young as 15. He has pleaded not guilty.
When Star toured as an electropop musician, accusers say groping and touching without consent were common
Insider spoke with other people who reported that Star had groped them or that they had seen Star grope others without permission.On May 19, 2007, Star performed at a venue called Bitoz Pizzeria, in Anchorage, Alaska. There, Britain Strah, who'd just turned 18, said Star groped him before his performance began.
Strah, who worked sound and other production roles at Bitoz, said he was wearing Spandex shorts that night. Strah said the venue's owner introduced him to Star and made a comment to Star about the shorts that Strah was wearing, after which Strah said Star reached down and groped his genitals.
"I was just kind of shocked," Strah told Insider. "After a while it dawned on me that it was pretty f---ed up. When the 'Me Too' stuff started happening, all these things that seemed to be smaller transgressions were coming out, and I was like 'Woah, wait a second, I was assaulted.' It had never really clicked."Strah said he used humor to deflect from the discomfort of the encounter. His childhood best friend Scott Thorpe, who was also working at Bitoz that night, told Insider he remembers Strah joking about what happened.
But while he coped with what happened through humor at the time, Strah told Insider that the memory of the encounter has stayed with him as Star's celebrity increased."Since he's created his makeup brand and gotten big on YouTube, especially with the community I'm in, I see his face everywhere," Strah said, referring to the drag community. "You can imagine that's very unpleasant. To have all these companies try to sell you your abuser is very uncomfortable."
Star's attorney denied that Star groped Strah, writing to Insider that "Mr. Strah used this same fabricated story six years ago to try and extort money from Mr. Star." Star's legal team did not provide evidence of Strah's attempting to extort money from Star, and Strah denied that he ever contacted Star in the pursuit of money.Strah shared screenshots of his DMs to Star over the years with Insider, which contain unanswered messages such as "Hey Jeffree. I really don't want to have to call you out in public, but your lack of response is kinda telling. Please, I'm asking you as a human being who you violently groped in public: please respond." Neil, the Warped Tour stage manager, told Insider that he believed Star's rise as a musician stemmed from an environment that sexualized his young fans, many of whom were underage. Neil said he personally witnessed Star grope both "guys and girls" onstage, and described one of Star's "shticks" as pulling his young-looking fans onstage for sexually charged encounters.
"Things like three-way kissing and feeling each other up. It was the reason we never booked him again," Neil said. "We used to book him at various venues in the Northeast and someone who worked with me used to book him at tours and shows. Once I became aware of that behavior, that was it. I didn't want anything to do with him."
Star often takes fights to the internet, where he uses his large fanbase to bully and intimidate accusers
Star owes his fame to the internet, and one person who crossed paths with him online told Insider that he enthusiastically used his celebrity to direct vitriol toward her.Chris Avery Bennet, who ran a gay-rights Myspace page and blog as a teenager, told Insider that her first adverse experience with Star was receiving an anonymous email with a picture of a penis, which Bennet believes was Star's. Later, she said, he unleashed a campaign of digital abuse that had real-world consequences for her.
Bennet, who is transgender and used male pronouns at the time, said she had interacted with Star through an online circle of largely LGBTQ Myspace users. Bennet said she was 15 when she received an email to her now deleted AOL account that contained the nude photo, and she noticed an ice-cream-cone tattoo that seemed to be the same one that Star has on his finger.
Bennet told Insider she never responded to the email, but later, in 2009, reached out on a public Myspace wall to ask Star to share a story of empowerment on her gay-rights page."He replied saying 'You are f---ing disgusting and nobody will ever take you seriously, stop calling yourself fierce,'" Bennet said. "And it turned into an all-out war. Like an absolute all-out war."
None of the Myspace posts or comments between Star and Bennet are available for Insider to review, and there is no record of them stored on the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. But the online archive did store a version of Bennet's second Myspace profile, which she created after deleting her first Myspace account, in 2009, and which features a section called "Why Jeffree Star messed up," referencing the harassment allegations."Jeffree Star was my first bully. My first real bully and abuser," Bennet told Insider. "Jeffree is a bully, but the way that Jeffree does things goes far beyond and turns into actual abuse and harm."
In a letter to Insider, Star's attorney denied that Star sent a nude photo to Bennet."Mr. Star has never sent a picture of his penis to anyone," the letter read, adding that Bennet did not identify the additional tattoos on Star's hand that, he said, would have been visible in such a photo.
People say Star offered witnesses money to recant their allegations about him, and 3 changed their storiesBefore this article's publication, Arthur approached Bennet on Facebook Messenger, according to screenshots reviewed by Insider. According to Bennet, the two had never spoken or met before.
Arthur had first approached Insider himself in July to share his own accusations of battery and sexual assault against Star — accusations that he submitted in writing to Insider's tip line and elaborated on in interviews.
Arthur's unsolicited message to Bennet came just hours after he sent an email to Insider attempting to recant his previous statements.He first asked Bennet if she'd talked to Insider about Star. (Insider never shared Bennet's name or status as a source with Arthur, but we had informed Star about her claims.) When Bennet responded, Arthur sent her the following messages, according to screenshots she provided to Insider:
"The events I discussed with Business Insider were from many years ago. I am not sure I am remembering things correctly, and I may have misinterpreted things. I've decided to retract my communications to Business Insider and told them they don't have authority to publish anything I discussed with them. To resolve all of this, Jeffree Star has agreed to pay you $10,000 if you choose to do the same.
"Send a # and I'll send it over if you want."Bennet told Insider she refused the "attempt to pay 10 grand for my silence." Two other sources who had previously told Insider on the record that they had witnessed physical violence by Star subsequently changed their stories after Arthur changed his.
The person then wrote: "I'm sure you won't hear from him again" and added "$."Star's attorney declined to answer questions about whether Star had offered payment to anyone who spoke to Insider.
Before receiving Arthur's offer, Bennet had told Insider: "Jeffree has never hidden any of this. The only thing he's ever done is shut people up. But what needs to happen is somebody needs to speak up and open that door for people who have more serious encounters. And nobody's done that. And I'm not afraid to be that person."To speak with a reporter about Jeffree Star, email Kat Tenbarge at email@example.com.
- Kerala's COVID-19 test positivity rate reaches 27.28% with over 42,000 new cases today
- Adani Power registers profits after a disappointing loss-making quarter last year
- Star India Network garnered a cumulative reach of 352 million in the first 26 matches
- Rabindranath Tagore Jayanti 2021: Remembering some of his greatest words
- Non-residents will have to pay tax in India if transactions exceed ₹2 crore