May 24, 2019
“My recollection is a much older man being creepy with me”
by Nikki Griffiths
When Then It Fell Apart, the second memoir of musician and DJ Moby (aka Richard Melville Hall) was published earlier this month by Faber, it got glowing reviews. The Guardian called it “funny and often harrowing;” The Sunday Times said it was a “compelling testimony from someone who, finally, knows exactly who he is;” The LA Daily News called it “A wildly entertaining journey.”
Moby’s is a rags-to-riches story. Following the publication of part one of his memoirs Porcelain in 2016, this new book explores the poverty of his childhood to the excesses of fame after the success of his album Play in 1999, which led him on a self-destructive journey. His honesty and laid-bare writing seemed to have won over many. However, an ugly side to his story has recently raised its head. Then It Fell Apart might have been picked by The Times (London) as being one of their ‘best books of the year so far’ saying ‘It’s a tale as old as the music industry’, but unfortunately, that ‘old tale’ seems to be one our MeToo era is all too familiar with: of men abusing positions of power to intimidate and coerce women.
In the book, Moby claims he briefly dated actress Natalie Portman when he was thirty-three and she was twenty, saying: “I was a bald binge drinker and Natalie Portman was a beautiful movie star. But here she was in my dressing room, flirting with me.”
In an interview this week with Harper Bazaar’s Ella Alexander, Portman felt she had to address Moby’s claims:
“I was surprised to hear that he characterised the very short time that I knew him as dating because my recollection is a much older man being creepy with me when I just had graduated high school.
“He said I was 20; I definitely wasn’t. I was a teenager. I had just turned 18. There was no fact checking from him or his publisher—it almost feels deliberate. That he used this story to sell his book was very disturbing to me. It wasn’t the case. There are many factual errors and inventions. I would have liked him or his publisher to reach out to fact check.
“I was a fan and went to one of his shows when I had just graduated … When we met after the show, he said, ‘let’s be friends.’ He was on tour and I was working, shooting a film, so we only hung out a handful of times before I realised that this was an older man who was interested in me in a way that felt inappropriate.”
Yeah, this isn’t sounding good. This is sounding like an older man delusionally lusting after a much younger woman. Moby responded to Portman by taking to Instagram, posting a slightly alarming picture of him, shirtless, with his arm around a grinning Portman, saying:
“I completely respect Natalie’s possible regret in dating me (to be fair, I would probably regret dating me, too), but it doesn’t alter the actual facts of our brief romantic history.”
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I recently read a gossip piece wherein Natalie Portman said that we’d never dated. This confused me, as we did, in fact, date. And after briefly dating in 1999 we remained friends for years. I like Natalie, and I respect her intelligence and activism. But, to be honest, I can’t figure out why she would actively misrepresent the truth about our(albeit brief)involvement. The story as laid out in my book Then It Fell Apart is accurate, with lots of corroborating photo evidence, etc. Thanks, Moby Ps I completely respect Natalie’s possible regret in dating me(to be fair, I would probably regret dating me, too), but it doesn’t alter the actual facts of our brief romantic history
Let’s just say it: one creepy photo doth not a relationship make. The same papers praising the book are now running headlines telling Portman’s side of the story.
Choose to believe who you will, but ask yourself, who has the most to gain here by lying? It is also entirely possible Moby truly believes his own version of events. But even if they did have a relationship, a 33-year-old man dating an 18-year-old is gross. Congratulations on essentially coercing a child into something inappropriate to massage your ego.
And a stark warning for all publishers out there: FACT CHECK people.
Nikki Griffiths is the managing director of Melville House UK.