Australian wellness festival Wanderlust drops Russell Brand as headline act amid rape allegations

An Australian wellness festival has dumped Russell Brand as its headline act in the wake of sexual assault allegations made by four women.

Brand, 48, was signed up as the main act at the Wanderlust Festival, which will sweep through Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane over three days in February next year.

“Take the comedic path to wellness with Russell Brand,” a now-defunct promotional poster for the 2024 festival read, featuring an image of Brand in a brown suit and beaded necklace, pointing at the camera.

But on Wednesday, the festival’s organisers announced Brand will no longer be leading the wellness event.

“Due to circumstances that have recently come to light, Wanderlust and Russell Brand have agreed that Mr Brand will not be appearing at the Wanderlust Festival,” Charlotte Hill, the chief executive of Wanderlust Australia, confirmed.

All marketing promotions featuring Brand and the 2024 Wanderlust Festival appear to have been wiped from the event’s website, but the company still hosts a biography page for Brand, where it describes him as “a recognised spokesperson on the subject of addiction and recovery”.

Allegations against Russell Brand, explained

On Saturday, Brand was accused of rape, sexual assault and emotional abuse across multiple incidents that allegedly occurred between 2006 and 2013.

The four accusers, who were referred to by pseudonyms in the reports, included a woman who said she was 16 when she dated Brand and alleged he “groomed” her over a three-month period.

A second woman, Nadia, described being raped by Brand at his home after rejecting his suggestions of a threesome. She was treated by a rape crisis centre following the alleged attack — the newspapers said they reviewed those medical records — but declined to file a police report.

Brand denies all of the sexual assault allegations and has not been charged with any criminal offences.

What is the Wanderlust festival?

The Wanderlust Festival targets the high-end health and wellbeing space, offering attendees yoga and meditation sessions, talks by wellness influencers and musical acts.

The company behind the festival, Wanderlust, also sells vitamins and supplements.

In recent years, Brand has reinvented himself as a spiritual and self-help guru, amassing more than six million YouTube subscribers.

One of Brand’s alleged victims condemned Brand’s wellness persona, claiming to know “the demon underneath”.

“He wants to help with meditation, he’s all in this wellness world … It just makes me so mad that he has a platform for that,” the woman, who was given the pseudonym Nadia, told UK newspaper The Times.

Backlash after Russell Brand rape allegations

Wanderlust joins a growing list of organisations that have distanced themselves from Brand since Saturday.

Brand was in the middle of a comedy tour when the allegations were published, but those appearances have now been suspended.

YouTube said on Monday he will no longer be able to make money from the video streaming site while the allegations are investigated.

The BBC pledged to investigate whether Brand used the broadcaster’s car service to pick a 16-year-old girl up from school, as was claimed in The Times’s report. It also removed all of Brand’s shows from its streaming services.

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