From white-hot to so-very-not in a matter of days, queer punk band PWR BTTM (yes, “power bottom” with the vowels omitted) have been dropped by their label, distributor, music platforms and seen their upcoming Summer tour in support of their just-released album, “Pageant” implode.
On May 11, reports on social media began surfacing, alleging that band co-founder Ben Hopkins was a “known sexual predator” and “perpetrator of multiple assaults” who had a history of initiating unwanted sexual contact with people, fans among them.
As more stories surfaced, and the controversy exploded, their record label, Polyvinyl released the following statement, “There is absolutely no place in the world for hate, violence, abuse, discrimination or predatory behavior of any kind. In keeping with this philosophy, we want to let everyone know that we are ceasing to sell and distribute PWR BTTM’s music.” The company added that it would refund purchases of their latest release, “Pageant” and make donations to nonprofit organizations that support victims of sexual abuse and LGBTQ-related violence.
Hopkins claimed he had a consensual encounter with the author of one such allegation, but the damage control was too late. Their once-fervent fan base had already bailed. The precipitous fall was most likely due to the band’s positive messages of social justice, sexual acceptance, consent, inclusion and safety refracted in harsh contrast to the steady stream of abuse claims.