#91.5: Otep Shamaya Shares Her Side of the Terror Universal Controversy in Exclusive Interview
Otep Shamaya found herself at the center of controversy this week when her band pulled out of the upcoming Civil Unrest Tour — also set to feature Ill Nino, 36 Crazyfists and Terror Universal — because the singer of Terror Universal allegedly “violently grabbed my crotch on our last tour.”
Since then, accusations have been flying every which way. Ill Nino and the tour’s organizers both issued statements on the matter, as did the wife of Terror Universal’s singer (although, interestingly, no one in the band has yet commented publicly), and Otep herself shared additional details via Twitter.
In this special edition of the MetalSucks Podcast, host Chuck Loesch speaks with Otep directly to clear up all the details surrounding the incident: what happened, when it happened, and what the future holds. Otep shares all sorts of new details about the incident, including the revelation that Dave Chavarri, a longtime personal friend of Otep’s and the drummer for Ill Nino, is also the drummer AND manager of Terror Universal, creating a stark conflict of interest.
Here’s an excerpt in which Otep describes the original crotch-grabbing incident by Terror Universal’s singer:
This was during the meet and greet. We had the entire floor lined up waiting for their opportunity to come out and myabe buy a t-shirt or take a photograph. Suddenly I hear from off in the corner, “What the fuck is this?” And then some guy who I don’t even know… I was never introduced to him at all, they wear masks on stage and they never took the time to introduce themselves. I know Dave [Chavarri, also of Ill Nino], their drummer, I’ve known him for a long time, he and I are friends. But this gentleman, the singer for Terror Universal, I’ve never met before. He pushed through our security, pushed past our merchandise guy and walked right up to me and shoved his hand between my legs. I don’t want to get too graphic because it’s extremely upsetting and emotionally disturbing, but he shoved his hand between my legs and tried to force his fingers through my pants. At that time I shoved him away.
I stand on a chair and put one leg up on the merch table so I can reach, because I’m 5 foot 5 and I’ve got a lot of 6 foot 5 fans. In order for me to get good pictures with them I need to be up higher than I am sitting down. Plus I don’t want to sit down when I meet my fans; I want to meet them face to face and shake their hand. So I put one leg up on the table and one leg on the chair and he just walked right up and did that.
He was obviously drunk, which is still no excuse, but still. He had done similar things to the male members of my band. He grabbed every member of my band’s penis while they were carrying gear. He would just walk up to them and not just paint-brush it, but physically grab a hold of it. They were telling him to chill out.
After that happened I told them that was it, they were off the tour. I called my tour manager over and I said they’re done. Security dragged him out of the venue. His band put him in a van and from what I understand drove him away from the venue as quick as possible because they were afraid I was gonna call the police. I got calls from Dave, the drummer, who is also their manager, and he was begging me, “Please don’t do that, we’ll fire him, we’ll get the singer from Thira (the other opening band on the tour), please don’t kick us off the tour.” I said, “I’m sorry, I can’t do that, I can’t take that chance, I’ve been violated.”
On whether she’s blowing things out of proportion and the claims that she’s a “man-hater”:
This kind of an assault does something to you psychologically and emotionally. I know that there are a lot of people who don’t understand that and will try to say that I’m overacting. But unless it’s happened to you, you don’t know what that kind of violation feels like. It was really tough. I was very, very angry about the whole situation.
Once I told the story on Facebook there were a lot of people that said that I was making it up, or blowing it out of proportion. They even claimed that I’m a man-hater, which is absolutely absurd. My band is male, most of my fans are males, my best friends are males, my brothers who are also my best friends are male, my father’s male — I love him to death — my lawyers, my managers, my agents (Sid from Slipknot is my manager, he has been one of my dearest friends for about 11 years). So the idea that I hate men because I don’t want to be touched in such a violent way is an absurd thing. I don’t know why people don’t understand that and why they tend to react like that. It’s very strange to me.
On the accusations that she was trying to extort the tour for more money by threatening to drop off:
I have been playing music for 14 years, I’ve got seven album, I’ve written seven books. I do voice-over work as a voice-over actor: I was just featured in the last Hobbit movie, I was on the Playstation game The Last Of Us, I’ve done other films, I have a merchandise company. I’m a working class artist, I do very well, and I don’t need to extort anybody for anything. The idea that I would use such a heinous act as a lie to try and get money is so upsetting and just ridiculous. And again, this is what victims have to face when they come out and tell the truth and this is why so many woman hide it: because they don’t want this kind of unwanted attention.
Otep did go on to say that the once she found out Terror Universal would be on the tour, her agent and lawyer were trying to re-negotiate the tour contract to stipulate that the singer would be prevented from entering within 1,000 feet of her, which could be where the above rumors. She also talks about Terror Universal’s singer’s wife’s statement, his own lack of a statement and the band’s lack of a statement, that the tour organizers are trying to get Otep back on the tour now that Terror Universal are off, and so much more connected to this incident.
It’s a fascinating interview with a fascinating woman, and we thank Otep for taking the time to speak with us in spite of the fact that we’ve never been the biggest fans of her music (which she herself acknowledges in the interview).