‘Beef’ Star David Choe Is Scrubbing Videos of His Horrific Sexual Assault Story on the ‘DVDASA’ Podcast
Netflix’s miniseries Beef, starring Ali Wong and Steven Yeun, is one of the biggest breakout hits of 2023, with many critics and fans proclaiming the comedy/drama about a road-rage incident and its reverberating repercussions on the responsible parties’ lives to be the platform’s best product in a very long time. Artist, musician, journalist and podcast-host-turned-actor David Choe’s performance as Isaac Cho, the perpetually incarcerated cousin of Yeun’s character, has been at the center of much of the praise — as well as Beef’s biggest controversy.
In March 2014, Choe recorded an episode of his podcast DVDASA, a show he co-hosted with porn star Asa Akira, during which he told a story of how he booked a private massage and, over the course of the session, physically coerced his massage therapist into performing unwanted sex acts. Choe extensively described himself masturbating without warning in the middle of the massage, touching his massage therapist's body without consent and then physically forcing her to perform oral sex on him. At the end of the story, an alarmed Akira exclaimed, “Dave is telling us he’s a rapist,” which Choe clarified, saying, “a successful rapist.”
Though Choe has since walked back the story as a work of artistic fiction, the episode in question has followed him since 2014, with numerous posts about the story recently going viral on social media in response to his surge in popularity post-Beef. Audio and video clips of the podcast episode reached a peak this past weekend, shortly before Twitter removed the trending posts due to takedown requests from Choe and DVDASA. However, written accounts of the story still remain online.
A month after the episode aired to backlash over the story, Choe wrote a defense on the now-defunct DVDASA website, saying, “I never thought I’d wake up one late afternoon and hear myself called a rapist. It sucks. Especially because I am not one. I am not a rapist. I hate rapists, I think rapists should be raped and murdered. I am an artist and a storyteller and I view my show as a complete extension of my art. If I am guilty of anything, it’s bad storytelling in the style of douche.”
Despite Choe’s defense and the erasure of the episode from the DVDASA archives, fans and critics have not allowed the art icon to forget what he said in 2014. Choe’s massive street art installation, the Bowery Mural in Manhattan, has been the site of protests against rape and rape culture as well as the constant subject of vandalism for the same reasons.
Now, with Beef continuing its streaming dominance, online discussions over Choe’s story are only growing louder despite his best attempts to remove reposted clips from the infamous DVDASA episode. Earlier today, Ali Wong, the star of Beef as well as Choe’s close friend who, along with Yeun, first recruited Choe to the Netflix project, set her Twitter account to private. Neither Netflix nor the Beef showrunners have officially addressed the controversy, which, considering its remarkably public history, begs questions about Choe’s initial casting and the due diligence that may or may not have been performed regarding the ugly and utterly reprehensible story.
Worth noting is that, since Choe filmed the DVDASA episode in 2014, no victim has come forward to corroborate the story, and the only account of what may or may not occurred has come from Choe. However, even if the story is a complete comical fabrication as Choe has since claimed, it's hard to see the humor in a joke where the only punchline is rape.