There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? Wrong. Generally when one becomes “famous” (or infamous) for doing something colossally stupid, most of us would consider that a bad thing — unless you're a Kardashian or, in this case, David Anthony Temple, better know as “Chef DAT.” If you somehow missed the story this week, the chef once known for his uber-trendy underground dinners is now known to Dallasites as the guy who made a really terrible rape joke at the expense of UFC champion Ronda Rousey.
As GuideLive reported earlier this week, Temple wrote “Only Mr. Bill Cosby knows how to knock out Ronda Rousey” on a chalkboard outside of his tiny Deep Ellum restaurant Twenty Seven just after Rousey’s 34-second knockout of Bethe Correia at UFC 190. The chalkboard is frequently home to Temple’s cheeky remarks (and drink specials), but this one seemed to go beyond the pale. What has been interesting, though, is Temple’s response to criticism from diners who found the joke more offensive than funny.
In a post on Twenty Seven’s Facebook page, a woman named Elizabeth Turner criticized Temple for the joke and urged him to take it down. “As a survivor of rape, I do not feel that rape should ever be a punchline,” she wrote. “Your response has informed me, and as an informed consumer I feel that I should not patronize a business further that finds rape humor tenable or justifiable. Particularly by writing it at their entrance.”
In response, Temple (from his personal Facebook page) responded to the comment with “it’s funny ... relax and just know it's a funny punchline ... do you hate comedy?” He further doubled-down on his remarks by offering a mealy mouthed “sorry you’re offended” style apology. “I apologize for your misconception. I do not share the same feelings that you do,” wrote Temple in response. At the time of this writing, these Facebook posts from Temple and guests are still live on the Twenty Seven page.
At least a few Temple fans were happy to jump to his defense, arguing that the joke wasn’t about rape, but about Cosby’s reputation for drugging women and for Ronda Rousey’s badassness in the ring. Unfortunately for Temple’s defenders and Cosby’s now 50-plus victims, Cosby allegedly drugged those women to sexually assault them, a fact that multiple diners pointed out to Temple, but he refused to acknowledge.
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In the following days, though, Temple has clearly decided to capitalize on the controversy. On Facebook, he has posted links to stories from CW-33, CBS11, and other media outlets covering the “joke,” calling it “buzz” instead of criticism. On Thursday, he promoted his weekly half-price wine night with an image that read “Grab your Wine, It’s Scandal Thursday,” clearly not realizing that the meme is referencing Scandal, the Shonda Rimes drama that airs on Thursday nights in the fall, and not his foot-in-mouth awful joke.
The Dallas food-and-drink scene is no stranger to sexism or rape jokes. Last year, Deep Ellum Brewing Co. refused to remove the sexist “goes down easy” slogan from its Dallas Blonde Ale. In 2013, Denton bar The Garage took criticism for selling a shot called “statutory grape.” Why should Temple tread lightly? Dallas Blonde continues to be one of the city’s most popular beers, and The Garage is still packed every Friday and Saturday night. Dallas apparently offers no market-driven punishment for promoting (and profiting from) rape jokes.
This mini-controversy will blow over quickly, but one has to wonder if Chef DAT’s provocative chalkboard writing was particularly well-timed. June and July meant lackluster reviews for Twenty Seven from both The Dallas Morning News and D Magazine, and word on the street is that walk-ins are available regularly even though the restaurant is only open three nights a week.
UPDATE: One enterprising Deep Ellum local who believes that this kind of "douche bag humor" doesn't belong in their neighborhood took it upon him or herself to fix (read: remove) Chef DAT's rape joke. According to the tipster, the chalkboard has since been replaced with specials, hours, and #datfreespeech. "It's not anything magnificent, but I did what I could," wrote the anonymous commenter. "Just cleaning up my neighborhood."