In this topic-driven series, Alex Casey gets reality star Chrystal Chenery’s take on the world over coffee and scones. Her opinions about both her time in the spotlight and life in general were so fierce – and so candid – that we decided to publish them over the course of a week. Today she remembers Dancing With the Stars NZ, Dom Harvey and other dorks on the internet.
Alex Casey: The incident that really brought Chrystal and I together was the internet-based hurricane remembered as ‘crotchgate’. During an episode of Dancing With the Stars, Dom Harvey, one of The Edge’s most prominent radio hosts, posted an image of Chrystal’s crotch during an exceptionally aerobic dance move. He captioned the image “Chrystal just showing Art what he missed out on” and fired it off to his many thousands of followers.
Chrystal demanded that he take the tweet down, and then publicly refused to accept Dom’s apology. As I have already described, Chrystal’s defiance felt like a watershed moment, a refusal to be ‘cool with it‘ and let yet another damaging and humiliating incident slide. She found herself hounded online – surprisingly by a large amount of New Zealand women – for not being able to take a joke and laugh the incident off. Here’s what she had to say about it:
Chrystal Chenery: On the night that Dom’s tweet went out, I told Jay-Jay [Harvey] that I was furious and that her husband was a douchebag. I was already upset from earlier, when they were trying to get me to have a fake fight with Jay-Jay on the air. He had apologised for that, but I always felt like he was going to get me no matter what.
For example, Dom once suggested on air that I had slept with a whole rugby team. I’m the least promiscuous person ever. I’m actually the complete opposite to my persona that I’ve been given, so that’s why I’ve started my YouTube channel. At the moment it’s pretty weird. There’s a video about how I went cycling and I fell off my bike at a light so I just talked about that. That’s the real me.
What really pissed me off is that he knew how hard we had been working. He was in one of Jay-Jay’s dances. He knew how hard it was and he knew how hard his wife had been working. I just felt like all my hard work boiled down to that picture.
He didn’t take the tweet down, so I screenshotted it and sent it to all the big dudes of TV saying I wanted something done about it. Andrew Szusterman [MediaWorks] rang me to apologise, said that it had been taken down, and that he would be really keen for me to do more TV with them. He was basically telling me ‘keep quiet, because we’ve got more jobs for you if don’t cause a big bang’.
Then there was Dom’s shit apology. I was leaving it alone until that point, because everyone had rung and said ‘he’s just being a boy, it’s a radio thing’. They kept saying things like ‘it’s just him being him’. It was annoying because he has such a big, powerful voice.
I don’t know how the whole thing about me supposedly asking for compensation happened. I have weeks and weeks of emails going ‘can I have my hotel room paid for because I got cheated out of my contract’. I didn’t have an agent. When I said I’d do the show they flew me up, picked me up from the airport and drove me straight into the MediaWorks head office to have me sign something.
I think I said to one of the other directors ‘should I get an agent?’ Obviously it’s stupid, it’s like asking the barber if you need a haircut. I just thought it was a nice compromise. They actually owed me about $3000 in per diems but my bill was $1000 – so I just asked them to pay it.
That’s what he leaped on and it caused a sensation, all these other people suddenly grabbed onto it. That was horrible because you feel so frustrated, but you’re fighting with stupid people so there’s really no point. You can’t go out there and talk to every single one of them, it’s just so frustrating.
I just want to make clear that I don’t actually hold anything against Dom – because Dom doesn’t know any better. That’s the difference between men and women. Men will keep getting away with whatever they’re allowed to until they get pulled up.
Obviously he’s been pulled up heaps of times, but it still hasn’t worked. He’s still going to keep doing it until enough people get offended and stop it, which is how any change happens in the world. The more times people say, ‘hey, actually that doesn’t feel okay,’ the better.
After that it wasn’t Dom that I was upset at and I’m still not upset at Dom. It was more the responses from women in New Zealand. I had a lot of comments like ‘If you don’t sell it in the shop, honey, don’t put it up there’. I didn’t really read too much of it, but there was some actual vile shit.
I didn’t choose what to wear. It was a professional dancer’s outfit with sewn in leotard. That’s actually what hurt the most, when it felt like it was all just the women having a go. I’d been working so fucking hard and I should’ve just been going out and relaxing. Instead I wasn’t.
Before the Dom thing, my sister would tell me not go online if there had been a particularly bad troll day. After it blew up, I realised we didn’t actually know how bad it could get. It was not so much what individuals were saying, I was more disappointed in the whole attitude to women – because it just wouldn’t be the same for men. Girls definitely do dog on other girls to become ‘one of the boys’. It’s really interesting.
There are too many people who are just sitting at home on the internet, validating and liking or having a fight with each other about nothing. It’s ridiculous. Our minds aren’t mature enough to handle the technology we now have. It keeps the negativity just breeding and breeding.
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