***Disclaimer: This is NOT a legal account. We have no lawyers to prove any of this happened.
All of the experiences below are alleged due to the fact that they were told to us and because we were not there physically when these events occurred.
But this is my experience and many other girls’ experiences with the band the Orwells and this is us telling that story.
***Additional trigger/content warning for violent misogyny, homophobic language, mentions and recollections of sexual assault ,etc.
MARIO CUOMO, HENRY BRINNER, AND GRANT BRINNER OF THE ORWELLS HAVE BEEN ACCUSED MULTIPLE TIMES OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT. MARIO CUOMO HAS ALSO USED HOMOPHOBIC AND APPROPRIATIVE LANGUAGE ON MULTIPLE OCCASIONS. I MYSELF RECEIVED UNSOLICITED NUDE PHOTOS FROM MARIO CUOMO WHEN I WAS 17 OR YOUNGER. Multiple girls have reached out to say that they also received unsolicited photos of Cuomo’s penis while underage and were contacted to send him nude photos of themselves. THE ORWELLS STILL HAVE SHOWS, THOSE MEMBERS STILL PARTICIPATE IN THE CHICAGO MUSIC SCENE, AND HENRY BRINNER NOW PLAYS DRUMS IN THE SYMPOSIUM*** EDIT: The Symposium has responded on twitter, screenshots later in article***** THEY ARE STILL VERY MUCH ACTIVE AND IT IS TIME WE PAY ATTENTION TO THE RED FLAGS AND REMOVE THESE ABUSERS FROM THE MUSIC INDUSTRY.
***Express permission to share has been given to us by all providers of screenshots/stories. NEVER share information publicly regarding assault without express permission of the victim(s)***Some minor details have been changed to ensure the victim’s anonymity.
Red flag number one: Lyrics
Many of The Orwell’s lyrics were oriented around violence against women and violence in general as well as inappropriate sexual behavior. Here are some lyrics i saw as “red flags.”
Red Flag number two: They have been in the media for being disrespectful and violent.
The article details Mario Cuomo disrespecting audience members by violently spiking the microphone into the crowd and fighting venue sound employees for attempting to get him to stop. At an Orwells show in Columbus, Ohio at the LC pavilion, I witnessed him swing the microphone by the chord towards the crowd, and hit a girl in the face. She was bleeding and they tried to give her free merch to console her. In 2013 at the Grog Shop in Cleveland, Ohio, Cuomo poured honey onto the front row that was largely teenage girls, grabbing them by their hair and drawing them uncomfortably close to his face, even licking it off of some.
There have been multiple accusations that Mario Cuomo has slept with underage girls as young as 15.
*There is an undeniable pattern of misconduct within the band’s history and they have already lost support from multiple Chicago bands they were once involved with.
Additionally, Mario tosses around homophobic language, calling people “faggot” and “dyke” using appropriative language describing things as “ghetto” and “ratchet.”
This is a conversation I had with Drew Potenza, an ex-Orwells tour manager they fired for being “too strict.” I asked to see if he could confirm any of these allegations, as no victim of sexual violence at the hands of Mario Cuomo, Henry Brinner, or Grant Brinner have taken this to court (to my knowledge). Evidence is even harder to find on Grant and Henry, who keep low profiles on social media. These are my exchanges with their ex manager.
Twin Peaks has also publicly denounced them and cut ties with the orwells, who they once toured with and were friends with. (Twitter user “BIG TUNA” is Cadien Lake James of Twin Peaks and twitter user “JD” is Jack Dolan of Twin Peaks. Chicago band Grapetooth (including Clay Frankel of Twin Peaks) has also denounced them.
Seen at popular Chicago dive bar Cole’s -
This is being edited and added to as more accounts are sent in.
Another anonymous account detailing Cuomo again sending unsolicited nude photos and attempting to solicit nude photos as well as sleeping with underage girls.
Anonymous account detailing Mario Cuomo again sending unsolicited nude photos to minors and manipulation of fans into sexual situations
Another instance of the language Mario Cuomo used in 2016 with another girl, note the acknowledgement of involvement with 15 year olds
This has also been shared on the subreddit r/indieheads and it’s receiving a lot of attention there. Many have commented with their own experiences with members of The Orwells, specifically Mario, being creepy and violent at their shows. Link below.
An anonymous reflection on relationship with Mario Cuomo
“These past few days for me have been spent doing a lot of reflection. I have had many encounters with Mario from the Orwells over the past 3 years, and while they were all consensual, the majority of them also happened while I was under 18. I can say that I was a messed up teenager, always feeling older than I actually was, so I ultimately didn’t see the wrong in doing things that I legally wasn’t allowed to be doing. Recently when all of the stories were shared by other women who were taken advantage of by members of the Orwells, I realized that while my experiences with Mario were consensual, they were extremely inappropriate. When I was younger, I thought I was cool for doing all these things that made me stand out in a crowd, but as time went on, I now realize how disgusting that a grown man would allow these things to happen, and that I actually wasn’t the only one. I have felt sick to my stomach for days thinking that I used to not see any problem with the fact that a grown man would reach out to/be interested in me, an underage girl. All I can really say is that I give my deepest apologies to the other girls and women out there who were abused or taken advantage of by the members of this band, and I feel ashamed that I didn’t see the horrific truth of what I was continuing myself to be involved with. I never want any woman to feel unsafe, and I am extremely guilty for associating with someone who caused such feelings. I am just so sorry, and I want things to change.”
An anonymous account of sexual misconduct by Mario Cuomo
“Like many of the people who are victims of their abuse, I was a really big fan of the Orwells in 2013/2014. During their tour in spring 2014, my two closest friends and I drove over 2 hours to a venue in another state to see their show. I was a junior in high school and was still underage. We were really excited and got there really early so we could be front row. I also want to note that I was completely sober during the incidents that follow. After Twin Peaks opened, the Orwells started their set and Mario began doing his usual routine - just really getting in people’s faces and clearly trying to make people in the audience, especially young women, uncomfortable by being really exploitative of the physical power he from being on stage. I remember staring at him because I wanted him to notice me, and eventually he did. He came over to me and started singing into my face, bringing my face closer to his until he stuck his tongue in mouth. I did not resist his physical actions, but I in no way gestured that I wanted him to kiss me. That kiss was my first kiss, ever. He then proceeded to stick his fingers in my mouth, choke me, and forcefully shove my head around, all in front of the entire crowd of people. I was in shock. He then stuck his hands down my shorts, into my underwear, grabbing me for a few seconds. I felt completely violated, because not only did I have no way to consent to any of this, I also had no physical control over the situation. He was on stage in front of me, and a mosh pit of fans were pressing up against my back. At the time, I was completely sexually inexperienced and naively wanted to seem cool to these boys who I thought were so cool. All of these factors were intensified by pure shock and adrenaline, and I so didn’t make a scene. I remained in the audience for the show of the show. Afterwards, I saw Mario outside the venue and he whispered in my ear that I was “pretty enough to want to do other stuff to.” I declined, and we never spoke again. For nearly 5 years, I’ve never shared this story with anyone, except my two friends who were with me. I was embarrassed. I thought it was my fault - that by willingly making eye contact with Mario I had invited him to stick his hands down my pants and sexually assault me in front of big crowd of people. My two friends took photos on their phones while it happened, which I still have. It’s taken me years to come to terms with the fact that this was not my fault, and that Mario Cuomo used his position to prey on, sexually intimidate, and take advantage of countless women, many of them his teenage fans. I will never forget how completely powerless I felt.”
Here is the photo with the victim’s body blocked out
**** TRIGGER WARNING - SELF HARM ****
An anonymous account of sexual misconduct by Grant Brinner
“In fall 2014, after an Orwells show, Grant Brinner invited me to the after party at a nearby bar. I had previously hooked up with his brother Henry for a while, and we had become casual friends because of this. At said bar, Henry and I began talking, he bought me a drink, and then told me that he had a girlfriend. I was very drunk at this point, and began crying - a lot . Once Grant noticed how upset I was, he came over to me and suggested that we go back to his hotel to talk, so I wouldn’t be crying publicly in a bar, especially since Henry was still there. He got a taxi, and we left, to my great relief. I don’t remember getting into the taxi, or the taxi ride at all, but I came-to once we arrived at the hotel, because I remember Grant taking me into their tour van parked on the street. I asked why we weren’t going upstairs to talk and hang out, and he said that other bandmates of his were using the room, so we couldn’t go up. This didn’t really make sense to me, but I didn’t fight it.
Again, I blacked out for a while, but when I came to, we were in the backseat of the van, having sex. When he finished, I started to freak out, asking, “You realize I was just sobbing because I’m in love with your brother?” “Was it always your intention to fuck - is that why you invited me to leave?” and so on. I then asked if we could please go upstairs to the hotel room, so I could use the bathroom and figure out what had just happened, and how it had just happened. He said, “I think it’s a good idea if you just go home. I’ll pay for your taxi.” I refused to take his money, as if that chivalrous gesture could erase the evilness of his dirty manipulation. He also gave me a necklace that had an Orwells embossed bottle opener on it, as some sort of “token” I suppose.
On the subway home, I took a pocket knife out of my bag that I kept for self-defense and began to cut the insides of my thighs. The next morning, I realized that I’d lost my necklace, which had been a bat mitzvah gift, in the van. I went to message him on Instagram, asking if he’d found it, when I realized that he’d unfollowed me. By some sick twist of fate, I ran into him at another concert that very night. I walked up to him, with the intention of giving back the bottle opener necklace, which I had no desire to keep. As I approached him, he looked at me, turned away and walked quickly down the stairs. I yelled his name, threw the necklace down the stairs, and haven’t seen or heard from him since.
That night has stayed with me for years though. The embarrassment of my naivety, the fact that I never said “no” or fought him off, and the fact that I was the one who was rejected - “you can’t come upstairs,” the unfollowing on Instagram, and the avoidance the next night - filled me with so much shame when I was already incredibly vulnerable. I was the victim, yet I was the one who felt guilty for letting the twin brother of the boy I loved have sex with me.”
An anonymous account of rape by Henry Brinner
An anonymous account about the night of February 12th 2016, at the popular Chicago DIY venue The Observatory.
A few more details about the night of February 12th, 2016, shared by an Observatory resident:
Reference to Mario being transphobic
Another anonymous account of emotional abuse and sexual assault by Mario Cuomo
Mario Cuomo being complacent to abuse
An anonymous account of sexual misconduct by Henry Brinner
An anonymous account of sexual assault by Mario Cuomo
“I met Mario Cuomo in 2015 at a house party in Chicago that I attended with a group of friends. After Mario and I started kissing at the party, a girl I did not know pulled me into a conversation in the bathroom warning me about Mario and his friends’ behavior towards women, specifically stating that her friend had an unconsensual sexual encounter with Mario (I wish I knew who this girl was). He had offered to order me a Lyft to an apartment on Hoyne Street where he was with his friends. I wasn’t looking to have sex which I had told him in our text conversation, however was naively convinced that I was coming over to hang out and have a few more drinks with a group of people. It was actually just Mario and two of his friends, and after about a half hour it became increasingly apparent that all three were belligerently drunk. I left the kitchen to text my friend that things were feeling weird and I was coming back, but when I came back Mario’s friends were gone, and we were alone. He then forcibly grabbed me by the neck, shoved me against a wall, and aggressively started to bite my lower lip and neck. I tried to tell him to stop and push him away, but he grabbed me by the neck again and brought me into his bedroom. He threw me on his bed and began unbuttoning my pants and his, bit my neck to the point of drawing blood, and tried having sex with me. I was pretty successful at pushing him away, but he was on top of me and significantly bigger in size, he then just fingered me so aggressively I was bleeding through the entire next day. He rolled over and told him I needed to go home. So, I pulled my pants up and grabbed my things, but his front door was impossible to open. He stood down the hall staring at me while I attempted for at least a minute to unlock his door and couldn’t figure it out; I wasn’t sure if the door was intentionally locked or if it really was an old handle but either way Mario stared at the other side of the apartment as I struggled to leave without saying a single word or offering help. I finally gave up and left out the back and muttered something along the lines of “I’m getting out of here, bye.” When I was in my cab home, Mario was texting me extremely hostile text messages about the way I left (messages attached). Admittedly I was nervous about the situation and left briskly, but I was honestly too afraid to be rude to him. So, I was very confused by his text messages and naively responded mostly in his defense, and we haven’t spoken since. I’ve spent years diminishing what happened as simply a bad hookup, however something about this night distinguished itself in my mind to this day. It saddens me to hear about all of the fucked-up things Mario and the Brinner brothers have done to women and girls across the country, they’re such disgusting people. ”
Anonymous account of abuse by Mario:
Check the dates of these tweets.
From Mario’s old twitter: