Weinstein, the disgraced movie-studio mogul, has been publicly accused of sexual assault and harassment by women including Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Annabella Sciorra, Ashley Judd and more than 100 others. Earlier this year, he began serving time at the Wende Correctional Facility near Buffalo, sentenced to 23 years for criminal sexual assault and rape. But he may have found the one woman in New York City who thinks he’s been given a bum rap.
Vino, a 30-year-old actress, singer, artist and aspiring screenwriter, has been linked with the former producer after she was seen canoodling with him at downtown hot spots Downtime and Socialista on the eve of his conviction for rape last fall. She was seen sitting on his lap and once even interceded on his behalf when another woman protested the presence of a “f–king rapist” at the bar.
In January, the two checked into a Red Bank, NJ, hotel and were dinged for extra charges after they lit up joints in their nonsmoking room and then ordered “several ice creams,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
While insiders told The Post Vino and Weinstein have been romantically involved, the artist and actress Vino admits to nothing more than friendship: “I’d like to keep my private life private.”
Nonetheless, she defends him more passionately than his own lawyers.
“I know what Oscar parties are like, I know what goes on,” Vino told The Post. “I’ve seen the gorgeous women throwing themselves at Harvey and other powerful men all day long. These girls in LA and New York are not naïve. You don’t hit on a guy [like Weinstein] with a track record for hitting on women. What, and then you’re all, ‘Oh I can’t believe he asked me for a back massage?’ Come on.”
Vino and Weinstein’s unusual relationship was also on display Sept. 24 at her art show on the rooftop of Bogart House in Williamsburg.
In prison, Weinstein can call people only from an approved phone list, which includes Vino, and he loses his phone privileges at 5 p.m. each day. But that didn’t keep him from trying to stage-manage her show — that he reportedly funded — and keep The Post out, during 90 minutes of high-pitched, dramatic phone calls to his p.r. representative, Vino and a friend.
“Where are they?” Weinstein, 68, could be heard bellowing over the phone, meaning a Post reporter and photographer. “Go get rid of them, take them out to dinner and I’ll pay for it.”
“I’m in a tough spot!” Weinstein shouted during another call, reportedly in reference to his plans to soon file an appeal asking to overturn his sentence. But he also seemed confused about his current status, yelling that he would “be out in a few days.” He will not be eligible for parole for 20 years.
The former power player could also be heard yelling into the phone that he had paid for Vino’s art show. She later denied this: “He hasn’t funded anything, I wish there were funding but [his money is] all tied up.”
An employee of the Bogart House said the space was lent to Vino for free and that she paid for other expenses.
Weinstein finally went silent after an hour of heated phone calls at 5 p.m. The Post then managed to get into the art exhibit — but could first interview Vino, dressed in a black Andrea Lieberman dress and YSL stilettos, only with one of Weinstein’s p.r. representatives by her side. The rep forbade her from mentioning Weinstein.
As a Bogart House waitress proffered slices of vegan pizza, Weinstein’s rep allowed a clearly frustrated Vino to talk only about her acting career (she most recently had a small part opposite Mark Wahlberg in this year’s “Spenser Confidential”), her early work (she played the “token American” in several Bollywood films) and her oil paintings, which have a woodsy fairy-tale vibe and sell for between $5,000 and $10,000.
Several days after the art show, however, Vino agreed to talk more freely to The Post.
She said she grew up in New Jersey and on the Upper West Side, splitting her time between her divorced parents. Her mother was a homemaker; her father a rock musician. She did not want to reveal her parents’ names.
Vino began acting as a child, being ferried to commercial auditions in Manhattan by her Russian maternal grandmother. She also spent months in LA when her dad was touring and working as a musician there, she said. She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and, at 17, joined the Actors Studio where, she said, she was mentored by Martin Landau.
Vino said she met Weinstein years ago while dating a man — allegedly the son of a major, now-deceased producer who made films with Weinstein — who worked for him.
“I’ve known Harvey a very long time,” Vino told The Post. “I’ve seen women competing to be with him, begging to be with him. I have seen it with a lot of men in the industry. I’ve also seen how generous he can be — what a godfather he was to people. I find it horrifying what the press did to him and I think there was an agenda. I’m all for women’s rights and the women’s movement. But can’t we give women equal pay and equal rights without killing men?”
Vino, who is a fan of the outspoken black conservative activist Candace Owens, says that she may not be politically correct but she understands what it’s like to be a victim.
Women do what they can to get the hottest, most powerful man. It’s what makes the world go round. – Alexandra Vino
“I’ve had sexual assaults in my younger years,” she said. “But I also put myself in bad positions and I think some guys thought I was leading them on.”
She also believes that the two women whose court cases led to Weinstein’s prison time bear some responsibility for what happened to them.
“Lines were blurred,” Vino said. “I’m not saying these women are wrong. They both believe their truths and get coached by lawyers for financial gain. Everyone knows men are aggressive. And women can be, too. Men work hard so they can get the hottest chick and women do what they can to get the hottest, most powerful man. It’s what makes the world go round.”
As for the sordid claims of Weinstein masturbating in front of women and ejaculating into a potted plant at Socialista?
“I think it’s kind of funny,” she said. “And if he were really a rapist, why would he bother just masturbating like that?”
Vino is savvy enough to realize that aligning herself with a man like Weinstein won’t help her career at this point.
She has 33 film and TV credits after more than a decade of working in Hollywood. But she’s still waiting, she said, for a lead role.
“People have to be so politically correct these days that I think they’re scared of being seen as having anything to do with Harvey,” she said. “They might be afraid to cast me and that’s a big concern.”
Vino said she is aware people are suspicious of the relationship — and wonder what she is getting out of it.
“Nothing is in it for me except for the fact that I’m a loyal friend to all my friends. I have a lot of empathy for him and I saw him lose his whole life. It’s hard for people to think I’d just be friends with him. We were friends before the scandal,” she said. “Being friends with Harvey has not helped me. If anything it has been publicly not good to be with someone who everyone hates.”
She reserves her venom for Weinstein’s former friends and colleagues.
“All these people just turned their backs on him — and they only did it to protect themselves,” Vino said. “So many people who stood up for him in the beginning saw they were in danger of losing their jobs because of it. So they just let him be destroyed. I say let the man f–king live. He’s not dangerous. He never was dangerous. He can barely walk.”
Another Weinstein pal told The Post that Vino is important to the convict because “all his friends have abandoned him. She is loyal to him.”
However, Vino said she is “loyal to a fault” even though it has gotten her in trouble before.
“Harvey can’t do anything for me,” she added. “He’s in jail. But I’m loyal … I want to have a good life. My work is everything to me and I don’t want to be punished for speaking up. But I have to be authentic.”
Even if that means offending many.
“I hope you tell my truth,” she said.