As we've pointed out time and time again, people have sex! And it's normal, and most of the time fun and great! And sometimes, people want to document that fun and great time they're having for a whole range of reasons. Maybe you and your partner want to watch it later and do some play-by-play review. Maybe just the knowledge that a camera is rolling makes the act hotter than hot—even if you never watch the video afterwards. The point is that making a consensual sex tape in the privacy of one's own home is nothing to be ashamed of.
But, when you're a celebrity, things get a little (and in some cases a lot) more complicated. First and most obviously, there's always the possibility that said tape might get leaked, stolen, or sold without your approval. This is why there are so, so *many* celebrity sex tapes lurking on the internet—none of which we will be linking to, btw. Watching a sex tape that you know was released without the informed, enthusiastic consent of all participants is not something anyone should be watching. But the stories of how these sex tapes were released, why they were released, and how the celebs in question dealt with their release is a fascinating chapter in pop culture worth delving into. Shall we begin?
Pamela Anderson and Bret Michaels
Obviously, Pam's most famous sex tape is her iconic romp with Tommy Lee, but Anderson also made a sex tape with her ex-boyfriend, Bret Michaels. The Poison musician spoke out about his efforts to stop the film's release in 1998, when he went to court and obtained a temporary restraining order against Internet Entertainment Group (I.E.G.) from releasing the tape, which the company said they were given by a friend of Michaels'.
Michaels reportedly spent at least $100,000 fighting the tape's release and expressed frustration that Anderson wasn't fighting harder alongside him in the crusade.
"What I'm jonesing to find out, and I can not figure out for the life of me, is why Pamela is not A) stopping this tape, or B) writing to these guys to stop the tape," Michaels told MTV News at the time. "It makes no sense to me. I can not figure out. I have the original copy. I have it. No one's ever touched it. No one's ever gotten to it. I have it, period, end of story, and it's never gone out, so I'm anxious to find out who gave them this tape or a copy of this tape and now they're forced to disclose it. And no, I've never taken a cent, not a penny. These guys have cost me a lot of money, and they're going to pay for it."
Dustin Diamond, aka Screech from Saved by the Bell, gave the world the sex tape it never asked for in 2006. The, um, film, which Diamond directed and released himself, had the cringiest name: Screeched – Saved by the Smell. The movie felt like a huge stunt when it was released and that's probably because, well, it was. Years later, during an interview for "Where Are They Now?" on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Diamond even claimed to have used a body double in the film and to have edited his own likeness into the footage after the fact.
"In my stupidity, I thought I could totally fake this. I could get a stunt person to take my place," he explained. "It’s my face but nothing else. Looking back now in my 30s, I realize that was really dumb."
So why make the video? The money, of course. Diamond explained during the interview that the idea came to him when he heard that Paris Hilton earned $14 million off the release of her infamous One Night in Paris sex tape.
"The sex tape is the thing that I’m most embarrassed about," Diamond explained. "And my buddy said, ‘$14 million? Holy smokes, where’s the Screech sex tape? You got to be worth at least a million.' And I thought, ‘Yeah — yeah, maybe.’ And that’s as simple as it was."
Turns out, however, that there wasn't enough of a market for Screech porn to make the whole ordeal worth it, financially.
"I definitely got some money off of it but it definitely wasn’t worth what the fallout was,” he said. "People to this day look down on me. There’s a lot of people [who think] ‘how disgusting of you’ — and I didn’t really do it."
Gene Simmons and Elsa the Energy Drink Model
In 2008, KISS legend Gene Simmons was the star of a celebrity sex tape that made the rounds on the internet. The video featured the musician and an Austrian energy drink spokesmodel named Elsa (her last name is never stated on camera) and was set to the soundtrack of Foreigner's, "I Want To Know What Love Is."
Simmons issued a statement about the tape on his personal website at the time, writing, "You may have heard or seen garbage that has sprung up from my past. Rest assured the proper legal team is looking at all ramifications and options."
The timing of the tape's release—just a couple of weeks before the premiere of the third season of Simmons' A&E reality show, Gene Simmons' Family Jewels—led to some speculation that the very NSFW tape wasn't an accidental leak at all, but a planned publicity stunt to generate buzz for the show.
In 1988, Rob Lowe was involved in a pre-internet age sex tape scandal that seriously threatened his future in the entertainment industry. During a 2019 interview on SiriusXM's The Jess Cagle Show, Lowe seemed to have developed a good attitude about the ordeal over the years and even credits the incident—in part, at least—with inspiring his sobriety.
"It's one of the reasons why I got sober," he said. "I, like, woke up one day and was like, 'What am I doing with my life?' People talk about it, I go, 'I think it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.' Honestly, I do, 'cause it got me sober. Sober got me married. I’ve been married 29 years, and I have two great sons. I don’t think any of that happens without going through that scandal. I really don't."
Amy Fisher and Louis Bellera
Amy Fisher, aka the infamous "Long Island Lolita," is still best known for the crime she committed as a teenager (when she was 17, Fisher shot and injured the wife of her lover, Joey Buttafuoco, who was 36 at the time).
In 2007, Fisher embarked on a major rebranding, filming several sex tapes with her husband, Louis Bellera. Later that year, several more videos and nude pictures of Fisher were released online and, by the time she was 33, Fisher had launched her own porn site, released a pay-per-view adult film called Amy Fisher: Caught On Tape, and planned a strip-tease tour of the U.S. In 2011, Fisher announced her retirement from adult films.
Farrah Abraham and James Deen
Teen Mom star Farrah Abraham's sex tape with porn pro James Deen was released in 2013.
“Now that you’re 21, you’ve pretty much been crying every night because you are single and alone. So, you make your own video, celebrate your awesome body (and) get your own sexy shots. So, the person you did this with has the urge to yell it out, when he should be professional and is not. But you have companies that are interested, so why not sell it? And that’s what I did," she said in a video statement explaining the deal she inked with Vivid Entertainment after the video hit the web.
Although the video was originally framed as a personal video that had leaked, it quickly became clear that it was, in fact, a professional production and that the "leak" was a marketing stunt.
Kim Kardashian and Ray J
Kim Kardashian is an accomplished businesswoman who's turned herself and her entire family into a brand. That fact exists separately from her sex tape. However, her career did jump-start from the tape she made with then-boyfriend Ray J in 2002. The video, known as Kim Kardashian, Superstar, was released by porn company Vivid Entertainment in 2007, and while Kim initially sued to stop the release, she settled for a rumored $5 million. The film is reported to have made $100 million since debuting.
"It was a very difficult time, and ultimately we were able to come to an agreement," says Vivid's Steve Hirsch. "It was a very difficult deal to get done. Probably [the hardest deal we’ve done]. [Kim] did not want it to happen. I know people have speculated on [whether she planned the release of the tape from the beginning], but the facts are the facts. A lot of nonsense has been reported over the years."
Kim has talked openly about the tape, telling Oprah, "I think that's how I was definitely introduced to the world, so I like to think that I am, you know, aware, I'm not naive to that fact. That's pretty much how I was introduced to the world. It was a negative way. So I felt like I really had to work ten times harder to get people to see the real me. I felt humiliated."
To this day, Kim experiences sexist backlash from the tape.
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