The legendary late Richard Pryor had a longtime friendship and working relationship with Paul Mooney.
Yesterday, ComedyHype posted a video interview with Pryor’s old bodyguard, in which he alleged that Pryor and Mooney had a falling out in the 1980s when Pryor learned that Mooney had “violated” Pryor’s son. The bodyguard, Rashon Kahn, claimed explicitly that Mooney had sex with Pryor’s son. Other details aren’t quite clear. Kahn cites arguments during filming of the semi-autobiographical Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life is Calling, which came out in 1986, co-written by Mooney and directed by Pryor. Kahn also claims Pryor was willing to pay $1 million to put out a hit on Mooney, but never went through with it, in part because he burned himself. That incident infamously happened back in 1980. Kahn also didn’t clarify what he meant by “violated.” But Khan, who also worked as a stuntman and trainer, is selling a tell-all book.
Either way, Mooney’s publicist told TMZ: “There is no validity to Rashon Kahn’s statement as it relates to Mr. Paul Mooney.”
But Jennifer Lee Pryor, Richard’s widow, countered on Twitter: “I confirmed what I know to be true: RPJr. announced at RP funeral luncheon PM seduced him.” Pressed for more details in her replies, she added: “It’s not my life, it happened to RPJr. and since Rashon said this—and you want granular details, then go speak to him, or RP Jr.”
And Jr. hasn’t said anything publicly yet on this. Although he did publish his own memoir earlier this year, In a Pryor Life. So you’ll have to read it for yourself.
UPDATE! TMZ tracked Pryor Jr. down today, and while he didn’t outright say Mooney’s name, he did confirm he was taken advantage of sexually as a young boy. “Whatever happened in my life, it happened when I was young. Way before the ’80s.” “How could any relationship be consensual when I was a teenager?”
Pryor Jr. has talked about coming out as gay, and performing in drag.
And rumors and allegations about the sexual histories of Pryor and Mooney are nothing new, no matter how famous the potential partners.
Pryor’s own website isn’t shy about even the saddest details, noting the future comedy legend had “experienced rape at the age of six (by a teenaged neighbor) and molestation by a Catholic priest during catechism.”
If there’s any light to come out of this darkness, it’s that we can remember and bear witness to this 1977 roast hastily assembled to celebrate the end of Pryor’s short-lived NBC sketch comedy series, The Richard Pryor Show. The show only lasted four weeks on the air. No wonder Pryor didn’t really know some of the cast members on his dais; among them, before-they-were-stars Robin Williams and Sandra Bernhard. Also present and accounted for: John Witherspoon, Tim Reid, Marsha Warfield, Vic Dunlop, Jimmy Martinez, Allegra Allison, “Reverend” David Banks, and Mooney.
Pryor starts by calling Mooney “Ms. Thang,” then drags him some more, accusing him of sucking dick for work, and being present for Pryor’s first sexual encounter with a gay man and holding it against him.