Digital casting couch

Billboard magazine fires gay director for demanding nudes from male musicians

Nik Thakkar
Nik Thakkar

Billboard music magazine has fired Patrick Crowley—senior director of Billboard Pride, the magazine’s LGBTQ section—for “unprofessional behavior” and violating “the company’s ethical and professional standards” after Nik Thakkar, a non-binary pansexual new-wave/post-punk musician who performs as NEO 10Y, publicly accused Crowley of sexual harassment. Since Thakkar’s accusation, other artists have made similar accusations against Crowley.

Thakkar claimed that Crowley had them removed from the magazine’s November 2018 Pride Playlist of LGBTQ-identified artists after Thakkar refused to send Crowley nudes pictures via Instagram direct message.

Buzzfeed reports, “On October 9, 2018, Thakkar contacted Crowley to enquire whether a new interview with him about his new song, Dopamine, would run as expected the following day.”

Crowley responded, “This is completely disrespectful to me as an editor,” adding that he’d be “highly irritable about this situation for a while.” He then began to complain that men on Instagram only hit him up when they want to take advantage of his position, and added that he couldn’t get to sleep because he left his Klonopin, a sedative, at work.

Crowley then said that porn sometimes helps him sleep and added:

“Maybe one day a cute boy will send me unsolicited nudes in my DMs. That’s your homework. Find me a decent looking guy to send me nudes and give me occasional compliments lol….Nudes as many as they want….They can be a photo or artist, honestly don’t care anymore…I’ll just put them on the cover of the magazine! Why not…what’s integrity. Nudes would be good. [My attempts to fall asleep aren’t] working because no one sent nudes.”

Thakkar reportedly didn’t respond to the requests to send nudes. Meanwhile, Crowley played the self-effacing victim, calling himself “worthless and ugly,” “a potato with bad stubble” and “not even f*ckable.”

Finally, Crowley told Thakkar to e-mail nude pictures to the Billboard overnight editor in Australia and to CC him. “I’ll give you his email to send him nudes,” Crowley wrote.

Thakkar never sent the nudes. Though the magazine ran the interview about Thakkar’s new song, and Thakkar was later informed that they were removed from the Pride Playlist “by an editor.”

Here are two images of Patrick Crowley:

Thakkar decided to speak out about the harassment because of the #MeToo movement and because they feared that other young artists might be harassed in a similar way.

“It’s such a big brand and it’s so unfair,” Thakkar told Buzzfeed. “I felt like there was an agenda that I wasn’t aware of. So when I’m getting 10 messages about nudes I try to push it away, but politely, within a mature and kind way of doing it that doesn’t fuck up my relationship with the biggest music publication in the world.”

Related: Is it sexual harassment to leave an eggplant emoji on someone’s Instagram?

A Billboard spokesperson told Buzzfeed, “Like any responsible news organization, Billboard regards the idea of blacklisting as repugnant. It never has and never would blacklist anyone. We thank you for bringing this issue to our attention and we regret the unprofessional behavior, which does not reflect our company’s standards.”

Following Thakkar’s story, other male musicians have come forward with similar tales about Crowley, including “Michael Medrano, a Los Angeles-based indie pop artist; Kisos, a New York-based publicist and musician; Alextbh, a queer artist in Malaysia; and Mosayac, a Nashville singer,” according to The Advocate.

In one text message exchange with Kisos, Crowley asks to “Netflix and chill.” In his exchange with Mosayac, Crowley requests “a hard pic in undies with it poking out a lil,” adding “send me what I wannnnt… clothes offfffff.”

Since then, three other artists, Storyboards, Graveyardguy and Scott Stowe have come forward with similar accusations against Crowley. A screenshot shared by Storyboards seems to show Crowley asking for nude pictures or at least a picture of his “nuts.” Graveyardguy says that Crowley asked him for nude selfies after helping him get into Drag Con and other events, adding that he was afraid of speaking out for fear of being blacklisted or losing other professional opportunities.

Crowley’s lawyers have sent cease-and-desist letters to these men for “defamation.”

The artists allegedly harassed by Crowley have released a joint statement which reads:

On March 19th, Buzzfeed published ?an article on the sexual harassment and removal of music artist NEO 10Y from an influential playlist by (now former) senior director of Billboard Pride, Patrick Crowley. Since then, artists Alextbh, Michael Medrano, Kisos, Mosayac, and Graveyardguy also publicly shared their own stories of harassment by Crowley. The Harman Firm, LLP served some of Crowley’s victims (and only his victims) with cease and desist letters.

In the wake of this, Crowley has made no statement or apology. ?Billboard Pride ?released a statement March 21st at 1:30 pm saying, “?Billboard expects all its journalists and employees to uphold the highest standards of professional and ethical behavior.” They have not addressed what they will do to prevent this from happening in the future, and seemed to cordone it off to an LGBTQ+ issue, instead of seeing it as a cultural issue that happens to have LGBTQ+ victims.

NEO 10Y, Alextbh, Michael Medrano, Kisos, Mosayac, Graveyardguy and many other private victims call for ?Billboard (not just ?Billboard Pride?) to release a greater statement on how ?Billboard will remedy the culture that allowed Crowley’s behavior, and on how ?Billboard will support the artists who publicly came forward and are now facing threats from the former director. The group also wishes to call attention to the distinct lack of support for their voices from artists of all sizes that Billboard Pride has featured, adjacent journalists, and all who pride themselves on being social justice advocates. The silence is deafening.

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Read NEO 10Y’s story ?here
Read Alextbh’s story ?here
Read Michael Medrano’s story ?here
Read Kisos’s story ?here
Read Mosayac’s story ?here
Read Graveyardguy’s story ?here

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FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Nate Hernandez // [email protected] // (347) 560-9499

Queerty has reached out to Crowley and Billboard for a comment via Twitter and will update this story if they respond.

On Friday evening, Crowley’s lawyers released the following statement outlining his intention to sue Billboard and his accusers (who he accuses of “self-promotion”and of saying nothing to Crowley about his behavior until the “Twitter bandwagon” appeared.)

Mr. Crowley denies any and all wrong doing, including but not limited to, any allegations that he sexually harassed anyone, including the individual artists and representatives who have now jumped on the Twitter bandwagon of embellishment and/or outright false statements.

Mr. Crowley has worked tirelessly for many years promoting new gay artists, so much so that Billboard created a new and special position for him, focusing on the “Pride” market, a position that he thrived in.

Although quite talented professionally, Mr. Crowley is meek and quite shy socially.  After engaging in some consensual, silly and innocuous social banter on private messengering features of Instagram and Twitter, with no overt or actual comments about sex.  Up until a few days ago, never once did any artist or representative state to Crowley or anyone else that anything that Crowley has said was offensive. In fact, the artists’ comments in the messages are very similar to Crowleys. Now, the artists and their representatives, lead by Nik Thakkar and Nate Kisos, solely for the purposes of self promotion, have engaged in a defamatory campaign to destroy Mr. Crowley and his career, making repeated, defamatory and in some instances absurd statements on Twitter about Mr. Crowley.  If you examine the partial messages carefully, there is nothing offensive in them and, more importantly, there is absolutely no indication that anyone was offended or that Crowley ever sought anything in exchange for publicity. In fact, the silly messages Thakkar posted took place after Billboard had already written a piece on Thakkar, that Crowley approved and that went live the next day.  Therefore, Thakkar has no credibility on his claim of quid pro quo harassment; it is a self-promoting fantasy of his, one that now leads to litigation.

You can say anything on Twitter these days and instantly it somehow becomes “truth”. When does #metoo go too far?  Mr. Crowley will now not back down and will be filing a lawsuit for defamation and tortious interference with the right to contract against Thakkar, Kiso and others. These artists have attractive, edgy, extremely aggressive and overtly sexual presences in social media. In fact, one of the artist features a picture of himself inhaling a sex drug as part of his self promotion.  How any of these artists could have been offended by anything Mr. Crowley did or said is beyond our understanding. And, in fact, no artist ever did say anything until this latest Twitter bandwagon began, a march of talking heads who think they can say just about anything they want on Twitter and somehow get away with it.

To make matters worse, and sadly, Billboard decided to abruptly end Crowley’s employment solely based on an investigation into Thakkar’s Tweets that lasted less than 24 hours.  Even more tragic is that Billboard treated Mr. Crowley, a gay man, in an entirely different manner than other senior male straight employees of Billboard who were accused by female employees of specific acts of sexual harassment; these woman [sic] complained in real time to Billboard‘s HR department about specific acts of actual conduct that offended them.  And, after an investigation, these straight Billboard employees were allowed to keep their jobs. This is homophobia in the workplace in its highest and most sinister form. Billboard continues to defame Mr. Crowley by making outrageous and unsupported statements in the press. Billboard will shortly be served with a lawsuit for, among other things, discrimination based on sexual orientation.