Holly worked as a bartender at The Cutting Room, a New York City music venue co-owned by Chris Noth. It was 2013, a few years after his role as Mr. Big in Sex & the City had been reignited in films, but she remembers being unfazed by seeing the actor frequently hanging around. Her feelings changed one crowded evening when, as she tells Rolling Stone, she got out from behind the bar to take a break: “I’m going through the crowd when suddenly he grabs me, puts his hands around me, around my waist, and then up my shirt,” she says. (Holly’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.) She says she was completely stunned by his behavior, and, though she continued to work at the venue, they never spoke again. As time went on, Holly thought less about the incident. But then, this December, it suddenly had new significance: That’s when four women accused Noth of sexual assault.
On Dec. 16, just a week after HBO Max released the long-awaited SATC reboot — and killed off Mr. Big in the first episode — The Hollywood Reporter published the accounts of two women, unknown to each other, who claimed that Noth had sexually assaulted them in a similar manner more than 10 years apart. In the days that immediately followed, Noth, 67, was accused of sexually assaulting two more women who worked at one of his favorite Manhattan haunts, Da Marino restaurant (one allegedly at the restaurant, the other after leaving the restaurant). And now yet another pair of women have shared exclusively with Rolling Stone allegations of uncomfortable experiences with Noth that seem to fit a pattern of alleged disregard for boundaries and consent.
A representative for Noth declined to comment on the allegations in this story, and pointed Rolling Stone to previous statements he’s made denying all allegations against him: “The accusations against me made by individuals I met years, even decades, ago are categorically false,” he told the Hollywood Reporter in relation to the initial sexual assault allegations. “It’s difficult not to question the timing of these stories coming out. I don’t know for certain why they are surfacing now, but I do know this: I did not assault these women.” Meanwhile, he’s been dropped by his talent agency, lost out on a multi-million dollar acquisition deal for his tequila company, and lost his role on the TV show The Equalizer.
Noth has lived on E. 9th street since 1994 in a building located amid NYU’s campus. One dormitory, Brittany Hall, is located around the corner on E. 10th street, and on the same street as Italian restaurant Il Cantinori where Noth took one of the women he allegedly assaulted. As the allegations against Noth came to light, many said they weren’t surprised — including some alumni of New York University. One tweeted, “every single NYU freshman in the last 20 years who dared to stroll down University [Place] during Welcome Week is unsurprised by this Chris Noth news.” Another tweeted, “One time he was in an au bon pain and did that eyebrow thing through the window at me. I ran!!!”
He was “just this presence” around campus, Suzanne Zuppello, a 2009 graduate of NYU, tells Rolling Stone. Zuppello says that she and other women who went to NYU “were acutely aware of [Noth], but not in a cool celebrity way. In a ‘I’m gonna smile and walk away quickly’ way.” (Note: Zuppello is a friend of the author and has written for this magazine.) Zuppello says she and her friends took note of his presence on campus, whether it was at the local Starbucks or sitting in the window of Le Pain Quotidien smiling and winking at young women passing by. “My friends recall seeing him constantly and feeling uncomfortable. At the time they were like, ‘Why is this guy still here? He’s always here! And there’s something weird about that’.” While they all knew him as Mr. Big, Zuppello says the excitement of seeing him quickly wore off.
Jeff Strabone taught freshman creative writing at NYU’s Tisch School from 2004 to 2009 and, the day after the first The Hollywood Reporter article came out, he tweeted about what he says he heard at the time about “a whisper network” among NYU students about Noth. Strabone tells Rolling Stone that the impression three of his former students gave him was that Noth was “a creepy older man who walked around and played his [Mr.] Big card.”
Nina, the second woman who’s come forward to Rolling Stone to share an uncomfortable experience with Noth, detailed to Rolling Stone the night she met the actor around 2014. In her thirties at the time, she lived in the neighborhood and would often go to the Knickerbocker Bar & Grill, a restaurant and live music spot located on the corner of Noth’s block. She and her friends “saw him there all the time and he was always hammered,” Nina tells Rolling Stone. (Through a representative, Noth declined to comment on this.)
Knickerbocker owner Ron D’Allegro confirms Noth has been a regular at his restaurant for 20 years, and that he’d sometimes come in with famous pals like the late Philip Seymour Hoffman and his The Good Wife co-star Josh Charles. “He was always a little loud, but he was a good regular customer,” D’Allegro says, adding that he never witnessed Noth being inappropriate with female patrons or staff.
But one of Nina’s visits to the Knickerbocker stands out in her memory. One night in January 2014, Nina — whose name has been changed to protect her privacy — posted up at the bar with her cousin and his friend. After some time, Noth came in with a woman. (In 2012, Noth married Tara Wilson, whom he’d met when she was a bartender at the Cutting Room, and Nina couldn’t say whether or not that’s who he was with that night.) According to Nina, they all ended up talking. “Somehow, he was [pretending to be] a pirate, and he needed my scarf to make a pirate hat for himself,” Nina tells Rolling Stone.
That’s when Nina says he walked over to retrieve her scarf, and before she could take it off herself, Noth reached for her, attempting to untie it himself. “Ostensibly, you could have thought he was drunk and fumbling, but it didn’t feel like drunk and fumbling. Even when you’re drunk and fumbling, you’re not touching someone’s breasts.”
Nina says the alleged incident lasted ten to fifteen seconds, and admits they’d all been drinking. At the time she says she brushed it off, but looking back, she says she feels uncomfortable with how he was touching her. “It felt like he was seeing how much he could get away with and being really handsy.” In a photo Nina took that night and showed to Rolling Stone, Noth is seen winking at the camera with a plaid scarf tied up atop his head. “I wasn’t surprised when I saw the news” about the sexual assault allegations, Nina says, based on her alleged encounter with Noth.
Around the same time Holly was a bartender at the Cutting Room and had her own unpleasant encounter with Noth. Noth, a co-owner since its original founding in 1999, was often seen around the club flirting with the female staff, according to Holly, and was known to be “a little sleazy.” Then one night, she says she experienced it firsthand.
“Me and another bartender were flirting with him from behind the bar,” Holly tells Rolling Stone. At one point, she came out from behind the bar to take a break and spotted Noth out of the corner of her eye: That’s when she alleges he put his hands around her waist and up her shirt.
“I gave him [Noth] a look of complete shock, like, “are you kidding me?,” Holly recalls. She says he then backed away. As one of the bartenders serving Noth, she knew he’d had at least a few drinks that night before the alleged unwanted advance. She says the incident was an isolated one. “When I saw him after that, he would just look past me,” she said.
When asked by Rolling Stone to respond to Holly’s allegations, Steve Walter, Noth’s co-owner at The Cutting Room, said by phone that such an incident would “never happen. I would’ve gotten a complaint if it happened. There’s been so much gossip, and I doubt it ever happened.” He later followed up with an emailed statement that reads in part: “As owner of The Cutting Room I have been here almost daily since we opened, and never once did I witness, hear of, or receive a complaint about Chris doing anything along the lines of these accusations.” Heather Litteer, the head bartender at The Cutting Room, also reached out to Rolling Stone with her own statement: “I have known Chris for nine years and not once have I seen him act inappropriately nor has anyone made a complaint about him,” she says. “We are a tight family here and would have been made aware should such behavior have occurred.”
Holly’s then-boyfriend confirmed she told him about the incident at the time. “She was very upset, and said it was inappropriate,” he says, “and she felt trapped and disrespected.” A co-worker who wasn’t working at The Cutting Room that night got a call from Holly right after Noth’s alleged inappropriate advances. “I remember her telling me what happened and she was very upset about it. Very shocked,” the friend tells Rolling Stone. “She told me when she came out from behind the bar, he grabbed her, and when she was visibly upset, he stopped.” She also remembers in the following days and weeks that Holly felt somewhat embarrassed by what she said had transpired.
Because of her own alleged experience with Noth, Holly says that when she heard Zoe and Lily’s stories, she believed they were telling the truth. “I totally believe what they’re saying,” Holly says.
Meanwhile, Holly and Nina find themselves wondering where their experiences fall in the constellation of allegations against Noth. In addition to the four women who’ve come forward in the press with allegations that Noth sexually assaulted them, Heather Kristin, a former stand-in actor for Kristin Davis’s Sex & the City character, has alleged Noth once “slid his hand down my back and over my butt” and later joked in front of the crew that he wanted the stand-in for another member of the cast “tied up, gagged and brought to my trailer.” (A representative for Noth told The Hollywood Reporter that there had “never been a single complaint about [Noth] acting inappropriately on the set of Sex & the City.) In a recent Instagram post, actor and Director Zoe Lister-Jones called Noth “a sexual predator” and claimed that he’d acted inappropriately towards her on the set of Law & Order. Holly and Nina’s alleged experiences, along with those of the other women, seem to fit in with a pattern of celebrity being used to eschew propriety. “Why would someone be touching me in this way?” Nina recalls thinking. “Nobody would do that. Who would do that?”