The star of Transparent is being investigated after accusations of sexual harassment were made against him by his former personal assistant. Van Barnes, who is transgender, made the allegations against Jeffrey Tambor in a private Facebook post. Deadline reports that an Amazon investigation is underway. Tambor has described the allegations as “baseless.” Barnes has appeared in E!’s I Am Cait and Amazon’s This Is Me in 2015, according to her IMDb page.
These allegations come on the back of Amazon Studios’ boss Roy Price’s resignation over sexual harassment claims.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Tambor ‘Adamantly & Vehemently’ Denies the Allegations
Amazon confirmed to Deadline that an investigation into Tambor is underway. In a statement to the website, Tambor denied the allegations:
I am aware that a former disgruntled assistant of mine has made a private post implying that I had acted in an improper manner toward her. I adamantly and vehemently reject and deny any and all implication and allegation that
I have every engaged in any improper behavior toward this person any other person I have ever worked with. I am appalled and distressed by this baseless allegation.
The Deadline report says that the investigation into Tambor is in its infancy. It is said to be centered around a private Facebook post that Barnes made in early November. On her LinkedIn page, Barnes says that she began working for Tambor in 2014 and that their professional relationship ended in 2017.
2. Barnes Worked as a High-End Dominatrix & Call-Girl in New York City for 2 Years
Barnes told the Vital Voice in a 2011 interview about her time living in New York City. During her period in the Big Apple, Barnes lived in a “dilapidated squat.” Barnes got by as a dancer, model and by appearing in short movies. When she responded to an ad in the Village Voice asking for “transgender make-overs on cross dressers,” Barnes found herself working for a call-girl agency. Barnes performed the role of high-end escort/dominatrix/psychodramatist for two years. It was during this time that Barnes began hormone replacement therapy. Barnes says of this time:
I never walked the streets honey, I just walked into a lot of really expensive hotels and penthouses.
I always practiced safe sex when I was working as a call girl, and I never really got mixed up in the hard drugs that were all around me in the club scene.
Staying away from those hard drugs is probably the main reason I’m still alive today.
On her LinkedIn page, Barnes says she’s a graduate of Academy of Art in Chicago. During her time in New York, Barnes says on the profile that she worked at Neiman Marcus and for the Waldorf Astoria.
3. Barnes Appeared in a 2014 Episode of Transparent
In addition to being Tambor’s assistant, Van Barnes appeared in a 2014 episode of Transparent titled, “The Wilderness,” according to her IMDb page. After that, Barnes was in Caitlyn Jenner’s now-canceled reality show, I Am Cait, twice in 2015.
While in 2008, Barnes helped to produce a short titled You Will Never, Ever Be a Woman. You Will Live the Rest of Your Days Entirely as a Man and You Will Only Grow More Masculine With Each Passing Year. There Is No Way Out. The film dealt with two trans-identified women as they try to navigate their way through life.
4. Barnes Married a Cisgender Man Named Rick Cibulka in 2014
In 2014, Barnes married cisgender male Rick Cibulka in St. Louis. Barnes is a native of Hillsboro, Missouri. The wedding was covered by the Washington Post. Barnes explained to the Post about her problems getting a marriage license. The bride said:
[The clerk] saw my middle name on my driver’s license, which is Alan, even though everything legally says ‘female’ under gender on my birth certificate and driver’s license. She insisted that we be listed in the licesne, which said Party 1 and Party 2, and clearly identifies us as ‘other’ or LGBTQ.
I challenged it, but she refused. The woman next to her wouldn’t even wait on us as she grasped her cross necklace and referred us to her co-worker who got her shady jab in and said, “Girl, you look good. You almost fooled me!” I didn’t let that ruin our special moment, as getting legally wed has been a goal of my life since childhood.
Barnes added that the “LGBT-friendly” minister her husband had sourced online wasn’t really too friendly to transgender people, “She misgendered me the whole ceremony,” Barnes told the Post.
Barnes’ home life was covered in a feature for Vital Voice where Barnes talked about her preference for living in Missouri to Los Angeles.
5. Barnes Served as One of Tambor’s ‘Teachers’ Prior to the Start of Filming Transparent
The Advocate reported that Tambor had referred to Barnes as one of this “teachers” prior to winning his Emmy for Transparent. While in a May 2017 interview with Vulture, Tambor described Barnes driving him to set saying, “By the time my assistant, Van Barnes, picks me and the vultures up for the ride to the set, I can’t talk. Van thinks I’m just being actory and preparing, but I’m actually just asking myself, Can I pull this off again?”