TORONTO — Classical guitarist Liona Boyd says the mounting allegations of sexual harassment against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein have stirred up painful memories.
The five-time Juno Award winner says she encountered powerful entertainment leaders in the 1970s and 1980s who pressured her to trade sex for a chance at fame.
“I was in that position too many times,” Boyd recalled Wednesday after writing a social media post in support of the women who have spoken up against Weinstein.
“Thank goodness I was strong enough to say no, but I did lose all kinds of opportunities.”
She said she likely missed out on a chance to appear on the TV series “The Love Boat” and perform at the White House with Frank Sinatra because she wouldn’t have sex with a man involved in both projects.
A role alongside actress Nastassja Kinski was also dangled as bait by a screenwriter who wanted to see her audition in his hotel suite, Boyd recalled.
She decided to return to Toronto instead of forging a career in Los Angeles because “the price became too evident.”
“I felt angry sometimes, I felt used. I felt disappointed,” Boyd said. “I was furious at the time. They were taking advantage of my naivety.”
The Toronto-based singer first wrote about Hollywood’s “casting couch mentality” in her 1999 memoir “In My Own Key: My Life in Love and Music.” But the four stories of sexual harassment she shared were mostly ignored, as attention centred on details about her eight-year romance with former prime minister Pierre Trudeau.
“Nobody asked me about it at all,” she said. “(The book) got reviews but nobody mentioned that, all they wanted to know was about Pierre Trudeau.”
One of her memories outlined in the book involves a French film director who invited her to a business breakfast and then changed plans at the last minute, telling her to meet him at his hotel room instead.
Boyd quickly realized it was a mistake.
“A heavily perfumed monsieur, making what he had calculated to be a dramatic and irresistible impression in a black silk robe, lunged towards me in greeting while his lecherous hands slid below my waist,” she wrote in her memoir.
“Angrily extricating myself I told him I was expecting a business meeting. He laughed sardonically, ‘Cherie, you look so sexy when you are angry. Let me tame you, my gorgeous lioness.”’
Boyd said she felt deceived and stormed out, went back to her own room and reprimanded herself for “being so naive in regard to men.”
“Times were really different, I guess,” the musician said in reflection.
“I never thought of reporting it. I told my parents, I told my girlfriend … but there was no question about seeing a lawyer or reporting any of these men.”
Boyd hopes her stories will serve as a warning to industry newcomers.
“It’s not just sitting down and playing your guitar and making records,” she said.
“You have to deal with the people and the predators, make all these different decisions and try to keep integrity.”