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My editor sent me to interview the band Moxy Früvous, who had been gigging around Toronto since I was in high school.
They were a terminally geeky folk band who name-checked Margaret Atwood in their lyrics for airplay on CBC Radio.
In the next breath he was plugging their upcoming benefit for the Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics.
There was something unsettling—and also engaging—about Jian’s habit of mixing the prim with the pervy.
For all his agonizing over ratings and “audience reach” at my farm that summer night, we both knew he’d found his medium on CBC Radio.
As Jian’s star rose, and we both got older, the age of many of the girls he dated stayed the same. What’s startling about the allegations against Jian is not that a seemingly law-abiding person is accused of doing terrible things. It’s the way Jian wove the most cherished and sacred liberal values of Canadian society into an ingenious disguise that he used to hide in plain sight.
One woman I spoke to for this story who is now accusing Jian of sexual assault believes his persona was a deliberate cover for his predatory behaviour.
I don’t remember us discussing my career—like most beguiling solipsists, Jian had a way of drawing the conversation around to himself.
His TV music show, , had recently been cancelled by the CBC, and he was very put out about it. He quickly lost control of the debate and let one guest steamroll all the others—a rookie error even I, as a fledgling journalist, could recognize.
He was self-involved in a way that would have been insufferable—one of those people who drone on at the party about their own tedious existential struggles—if he hadn’t also been so culturally literate and charismatic.
Also, he spent quite a bit of time buttering me up.
He owned two houses, one in Riverdale, which he rented out as an income property, a fact I found mind-bogglingly impressive in my 20s. He got a taste of fame in Moxy Früvous—jiggling his ringlets as the band busked on Queen West—and now he wanted the same thing but on a bigger scale.