Monday 01/06/2020 - 11:59 am

She wanted a Hollywood career. Her agent wanted sex

2018.03.22 05:23

The office was small and dingy, a two-room space with a reception area, across the freeway from Universal Studios in North Hollywood.

Toy action figures and a jumble of movie paraphernalia covered nearly every surface.

But Megan Densmore didn’t dwell on the bachelors-left-to-their-own-devices feel of the place.

When you’re trying to land your first acting job, the 22-year-old Oregon transplant thought, you don’t start in shiny corner offices of Los Angeles’ biggest talent agencies.

You start small. And you’re thankful for what you get.

So she waited in the cramped room for hours and watched as other aspiring actors gave up and left, one after the other.

When the office door finally opened, she met him, the one person who had called her back after weeks of sending out blind résumés to every agent she could find.

He appeared slightly rumpled, though his hair was neatly gelled. Heavy cologne covered a sheen of perspiration.

He asked her to perform a monologue, gave her some reading assignments and instructed her to follow up in a few days.

Over the next two weeks, he laid out his plan to help her break into the business. He told her he was well-connected. He had launched acting careers before, and he was going to do the same for her.

She had only to listen to him.

He would give her a Hollywood education, he said, and the first lesson was that they had to be in it together. That’s how the system worked. They had to be a pair.

It was what she’d been dreaming of — someone who saw potential in her and knew how to work the system.

It quickly turned to something more. He shared personal details about himself and asked her to open up in return.

He told her that he was good at reading people and that he could tell she wanted a dominant person in her life.

Then he was on the phone one night, telling her to touch herself.

She complied.

If this is what Hollywood required, she was going to give it her all.

“He found the one thing that I would do anything for, and he used it,” Densmore recounted in a tearful interview a decade later.

The casting couch has been a stereotype since the movie business set up shop among California’s orange groves at the turn of the last century.

Much attention this year has been paid to powerful men like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey who have been accused of serial abuse.

But what’s coming to light in the era of the Me Too movement is that sexual harassment and abuse is rampant in every corner of the industry.

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