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HOLLY WAINWRIGHT: Danny Masterson showed us who he was decades ago. Maybe today we'd listen.

Content warning: This story includes descriptions of sexual assault that may be distressing to some readers.

DJ Donkey Punch.

That was Danny Masterson's DJ name, back when he could get a job.

The actor chose it, he said, because it was a bit shocking.

And it is a bit shocking. A "donkey punch" is a porn slang term for a blow delivered to someone you are having anal sex with. A punch to the back of the head that triggers a clench reflex.

See, shocking. 

"I wondered if we can get [Donkey Punch] in the New York Times, and we did," Masterson told YouTube's The Kevin Pollak Chat Show in 2012, about why he chose that name. "This was before the world of the internet... before everyone knew what it means."

Instead of stopping talking at that point, Masterson then explained his own experience. "The thing is... when I had the donkey punch, it was a punch to the ribs that made the cough to release the back muscles."

In the same interview, Masterson rewatches a video skit where he plays a faux divorce lawyer who offers to "rape your spouse... financially". Minutes later, the video – made to promote the movie Made For Each Other, about a cheating husband – promises to "Take that slut to the cleaners."

When That 70s Show's Masterson gave that interview, he was five years away from being named as the man who had raped three women at his Hollywood home in the early 2000s.


Watch: Netflix removes Danny Masterson from 'The Ranch'. Post continues after video.

Video via Newsy.

He was eight years past an appearance on Conan O Brien's talk show where he joked about his Long Island accent. His pal Bhodi Elfman liked to imitate him by drawling, "Hi, my name's Danny Masterson. Would you like to touch my balls?"

"Why would you say that?" O Brien asked him jokingly. "I've heard about you. You'll be caught soon."

He was, eventually. But it would take almost 20 years.

It's become a predictable and often pious trope to trawl the digital footprint of problematic celebrities for clues of when, exactly, they showed the scales beneath their clothes.

And these are Masterson's moments. A violent, porn-y nickname, in the days before porn was in everyone's pockets. Ugly jokes in a bad-taste movie. Mila Kunis recounting that time he dared a 19-year-old Ashton Kutcher to French kiss a 14-year-old Kunis for a $20 bet.


We're often asked how many of us would stand up to the retrospective scrutiny we subject famous people to in 2023. Have we never made a joke that landed badly? Used a word that we now understand to be hurtful? Laughed at something that was clearly in terrible taste?


But how many of us chose a term for a violent sex act as our professional nickname and stuck with it for years?

Sometimes, a retrospective red flag is exactly that: A red flag.

Because at the exact same time that Danny Masterson was performing as DJ Donkey Punch and betting Ashton Kutcher to tongue-kiss an underage actress, he was also drugging and raping women at his home in the Hollywood Hills.

It would be 15 years before the women involved would feel confident enough to come forward and tell their stories. They spoke of the double impediment of shame about what had happened to them, and being under extraordinary pressure from the organisation they had in common with Masterson – the Church of Scientology.

But when the stories from that time did come out, they were damning. 

One woman told the Los Angeles Superior Court that on April 25, 2003, she went to Masterson's house to collect some keys. He was there having drinks with friends, and she decided to stay for a while. After one vodka tonic, she told the court, she felt woozy. Masterson, she reported, took her upstairs, put her in the shower and then raped her. During the attack he pulled her hair and threatened her with a gun.


The second woman said that she had been in a relationship with Masterson for some time when he drugged and raped her. 

"He wouldn't stop," she told AAP. "So I did something that I knew would make him angry and likely to get off me. I pulled his hair. He has these rules, 'no touch hair rule,' 'no touch face rule.' He had this thing about his hair, so I knew if I pulled it really, really hard, he would get off me. But what he did was he hit me."

Theirs weren't the only stories. More women came forward. It would take years for their accounts to make their way to court. The women say that they were harassed and abused by Scientologists determined to protect one of their big names. They say that the "rules" of the church prevent you from bringing criminal proceedings against another member. That claim is backed up by former members like Leah Remini, who encouraged the women to come forward, but the church itself strenuously denies it. 

Remini says there are "thousands" of stories of sexual assaults suppressed by the church, and the Masterson case is only the tip of the iceberg.

Today, the internet is obsessed, not with Masterson's crimes, but with his famous friends' bid to reduce his sentence. Those old mates from the 70s Show days, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, offered a clumsy apology for their insistence that Masterson was a risk to no-one, and that he was one of the few people they would "trust with [their] children".


Listen to The Spill hosts unpack the fallout from the response to Mila and Ashton's actions. Post continues below.

This story isn't about them. They have been close to this man for decades, and yet likely know nothing about what he's capable of. That's how abusers operate.

This story is about a man who showed all the signs of being a predator while being an actual predator, as the world laughed along at his lovable stoner act.

And last week in Los Angeles, one of Masterson's anonymous victims apologised to the court.

"I knew he belonged behind bars for the safety of all the women he came into contact with," she said. "I am so sorry, and I'm so upset. I wish I'd reported him sooner to the police."

Her words are beyond unnecessary. The world wasn't ready for her bravery then. We were still laughing along at crude little bros we deemed harmless.

Maybe today we're ready to watch out for him. And listen to her.

If this has raised any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service.

Feature Image: Getty.