Woody Allen still comes off like a schmuck, no matter how you slice his eight-year affair with Babi Christina Engelhardt, who detailed their, ahem, “romance,” which began in 1976, when she was just 16 and underage in New York City.
Engelhardt said she decided to go public with her story, in part, as a response to the #MeToo movement. Dozens of women have come forward to detail their experience with sexual assault, harassment at the hands of powerful men.
The movement began following an expose last November in The New York Times detailing dozens of occasions movie mogul Harvey Weinstein used his position in the film industry to prey on actresses.
Engelhardt says her affair with Allen is different because she initiated it and pursued him. At the time, his career was peaking. Allen was 41, and had just finished a run of films that included “Sleeper,” “Love and Death” and “The Front.”
She was mesmerized by his wit and “genius.”
Engelhardt’s affair pre-dated Allen’s relationship with actress Mia Farrow, which later led to allegations that the actor sexual assaulted his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow, when she was just seven years old.
The Hollywood Reporter broke the story Monday (Dec. 17) detailing Allen’s affair. Engelhardt says she made the first move when she wrote her phone number on a napkin and told him: “Since you’ve signed enough autographs, here’s mine!”
At the time, she was an aspiring model, who had fled a poor family for a better future in New York City. At times, she says, she spent nights in the New York Port Authority bus terminal.
But Woody Allen followed up, called her and set up a meeting in his Fifth Avenue penthouse. It was the beginning of a sexual relationship that went on for eight years. She says they had sex more than 100 times, including threesomes with other “beautiful young ladies,” including, eventually, Farrow.
Four years into their alleged affair, Allen casually introduced Engelhardt to “his girlfriend,” who turned out to be Farrow. The meeting was a shocking revelation. She realized she was never more than a fuck buddy for Allen, but still couldn’t give him up.
“I felt sick. I didn’t want to be there at all, and yet I couldn’t find the courage to get up and leave. To leave would mean an end to all of this,” she writes in an unpublished memoir.
Engelhardt says she got over her “jealous” feelings and eventually bonded with Mia. She continued to see Woody until she moved away from New York several years later to pursue a career in California.
The model says she has no ill will toward the 83-year-old director. “This is not ‘bring down this man.’ I’m talking about my love story. This made me who I am. I have no regrets.”
Allen never took her out on the town, or acknowledged their relationship and refused to ever discuss his work with her. They would always meet in his penthouse bedroom with the curtains drawn. She never even saw the view of Central Park out the window.
Engelhardt speculates that their relationship was the inspiration for Allen’s 1979 film “Manhattan,” about a 41-year-old bachelor who falls for a 17-year-old girl. But Allen has never credited her.
She said she cried when she saw it. She writes in her memoir:
“I cried through most of the movie, the dawning of realization slowly settling in as my greatest fears crept to the surface. How could he have felt this way? How was our partnership not something more than just a fling? We had shared such a special bond right from the start, something magical, and now here was his interpretation of me and us on the big screen for all to see in black-and-white. How could he deconstruct my personality and our life together as if it were just some fictional creation for art house fatheads to pore over?”
Like hundreds, thousands of other women, Engelhardt lived on the periphery of fame, a face in the crowd, grasping for anything that would keep her close to power and influence.
She drops names, partying with Iman, ’70s gun runner Adnan Khashoggi and dining with Stephen King.
She also worked as a personal assistant to Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire friend of Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, later convicted for running an underage sex ring.
Later she became a companion of Italian film director Federico Fellini, before it all ended with a menial job as a hostess in the executive dining room at Paramount Pictures.
She’s currently divorced and works as an assistant for producer Bob Evans, who is 88.
What’s made her attractive to these powerful men, both personally and professionally, is in part what Allen appreciated in the first place, she tells the magazine: “I was pretty enough, I was smart enough, I was nonconfrontational, I was non-judgmental, I was discreet and nothing shocks me.”
The article calls her affair with Woody Allen “claustrophobic, controlling and yet dreamy.” She’s still processing it more than four decades later. Most experts would contend that such an uneven power dynamic is inherently exploitative, the article notes.
“He’s creepy as hell,” says one woman, also a denizen of ’70s New York City. “I could never get past his ‘attitude.’ He was another troll with money who felt entitled, not unlike Trump really…”Fugly men with money”…they would never get laid if they were poor.”