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Ben Ryan, a freelance science journalist, alleged to BuzzFeed News that Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner kissed him in 2005 and offered him a 25-article contract if he continued a one-sided romantic encounter.
Ryan said that Wenner invited him to come to his apartment to discuss writing opportunities at one of his Wenner Media magazines, and then — to his surprise — kissed him while sitting on a couch. “I had Jann Wenner’s tongue in my mouth,” Ryan said. “I went along for a second but then said something to the effect of ‘oh please, I’m not that kind of girl.’”
Wenner, according to Ryan, tried to convince Ryan to stay and continue their encounter by offering him a writing deal. Ryan said he turned down the quid pro quo.
Wenner, in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, confirmed the encounter but said that an offer was never made. “I met Ben twelve years ago and I attempted to have a sexual liaison with him,” Wenner said. “He turned me down, which I respected. I had no intention of making him feel uncomfortable. His piece was subsequently published in any case; no work was promised and no work was lost. I have never and would never make an offer of this kind.”
Ryan had been offered and completed an assignment for Men’s Journal magazine, which was published by Wenner Media at the time but has since been sold to American Media Inc.
Ryan described the impact the encounter had on his confidence. “I’m not saying he killed my dreams, but it was a discouraging part of the process,” he told BuzzFeed News.
Wenner, who is openly gay, is the subject of a new book by media reporter Joe Hagan called Sticky Fingers. Wenner has disavowed the project, which he initially participated in.