After an eight-month absence from the public eye since allegations of sexual misconduct erupted last summer, comedian Chris D'Elia has issued a further apology for his behavior. And he's explaining, from his point of view, how and why the controversy happened.
"I know it looks bad," he said in a 10-minute video posted Friday on YouTube, "and it doesn't show the full scope of what happened."
The comic attempted to explain: "Sex, it controlled my life. It was my focus all the time, and I had a problem. And I do have a problem. It's not like months down the line everything's better. I need to do work on that."
D'Elia's career imploded last June after multiple women accused him via social media of sending graphic messages soliciting sex. In some cases, the women had gone to see him in person and described inappropriate behavior seeking sex. Five of D'Elia's many accusers spoke in detail to The Times. Some were underage at the time the comic contacted them and accused him of grooming them.
D'Elia was quickly dropped by talent representatives at three major agencies and a planned Netflix prank show was canned. His role in Zack Snyder's zombie movie "Army of the Dead" was recast. And like Louis C.K. before him, D'Elia was professionally exiled.
The former "Whitney" and "You" star got emotional in Friday's taped explanation of his behavior, which led off with him standing by his June statement that all of his encounters had been legal and consensual. Then he admitted that there were "way more" messages to women than those that had been revealed on social media. He said that when he was on the road, he would get at least 50 messages after each show and would reply to all of them.
"I thought, in my mind, that being straight up with these women was the right thing to do. 'Come on to my hotel room and let's have sex. Let's make out. Let's do this, let's do that.' That was what I thought was right," the 40-year-old said.
D'Elia said comedy fame meant that "having sex got a lot easier, for lack of better words." It also meant that he cheated on all of his relationships, including fiancée Kristin Taylor.
He said he's gotten professional help regarding his behavior but credited a conversation with a comedian friend for making it all "click" for him. He said he'd asked his friend why his behavior wasn't OK. The friend replied that it was OK, until it wasn't.
"It was something that just became life-controlling," D'Elia said. "I mean, I would think about it all the time. I would go and I would do my show and ... it was too much. It became a lifestyle that I didn't know how to stop. I didn't even think I had a problem — I thought this was how it was. I thought that guys who were in my position were lucky enough and fortunate enough. ... It was going out of control. And I never stopped it."
He said his counseling led him to realize that he'd been treating sex too casually and, in his words, had been "flippant with people."
"That's not the guy I want to be," he said. "It's not OK, and I'm sorry for that. It makes me feel shameful and it makes me feel bad."
But he also said that without the public spectacle, he wouldn't have changed his behavior.
"I was headed for — you know what, I was headed for this," he said, referring to the scandal and career meltdown. "And this needed to happen. Because I wouldn't have stopped cheating. I wouldn't have stopped using sex."
D'Elia said he's been "on this path of recovery" for months now.
"I can't go back and I can't fix that part of me, that hole in me that was trying to be filled with that," he said. "The loneliness on the road, or the fear that I felt, or the insecurity that I would just try to chase and conquer with this, with sex. It was out of control. So I have a chance here to apologize to the people who got caught up in that."
D'Elia seemed to have gained some self-awareness about how he'd rationalized what he was doing.
"It's funny the stuff that you tell yourself to make everything OK — the cheating and the sex every night or whatever. 'Oh, any guy would do this,'" he said. "They wouldn't."
He added: "It's the hardest thing ever to have to look at yourself and realize that that's what it is and that's what you've done and that's who you are."
D'Elia made no mention of a future return to comedy.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.