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.
Tami Erin and an Ex-Boyfriend
Prepare to have your childhood ruined just a little if you were a fan of the 1988 movie The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking. The film's star, Tami Erin, released a sex tape in 2013.
By all accounts, Erin wasn't happy about the tape's release and initially fought hard to keep it off the market. When it seemed inevitable that the tape would be made public, however, the actress took control of the situation and sold the tape on her own terms.
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 because of 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.
Colin Farrell and Nicole Narain
Colin Farrell dated Playboy model Nicole Narain in 2003, and recorded a 14-minute sex tape with her that is considered relatively infamous. The tape was released a couple years after it was made, and Colin sued—an ordeal that he says was horrifying: "I was deposed for four hours explaining why I didn’t want it to be released," he said. "God forbid, it’s an on-demand movie in a hotel room and my mother says, 'Oh, I haven’t seen this work of my son's,' and hits purchase."
Things got pretty complicated when Farrell accused Narain of—to quote People—"trying to distribute the tape through an intermediary," which she denied. Actually, she claimed to have lost work thanks to the tape. "I try not to let too many things get to me, but this is definitely stressful," she said in 2005, explaining that she did not consent to the tape's potential distribution. "I really would like my name to be cleared. I have nothing to do with this."
Farrell's lawyer Martin Singer claimed that Narain had the opportunity to "join with us in stopping the tape from being exploited…and she refused," so she was named codefendant along with David Hans Schmidt, the person attempting to sell the tape. Schmidt refused to tell People how he came to possess the tape, simply saying, "I have a written agreement that authorizes me to procure the sale and distribution of the -Nicole Narain sex video."
Farrell and Narain eventually settled their lawsuit, though the terms were confidential. In 2013, Farrell joked about the tape with Sharon Osbourne, saying, "the worst thing about making a sex tape is you can't blame anyone for the bad dialogue."
Dane Bowers and Katie Price
Back in the '90s, a sex tape featuring Dane Bowers (an English singer from the pop group Another Level) and his model girlfriend Katie Price (who went by "Jordan" at the time) rocked the UK. The private tape was stolen from the apartment the couple shared and leaked on the internet in 1999.
Paris Hilton and Rick Salomon
Paris Hilton's sex tape debuted in 2003—but was not intended for release. The tape was filmed with poker player Rick Salomon, who filed a string of lawsuits, starting with the company that distributed the tape, as well as Hilton's family, whom he sued for $10 million, claiming (per EW) that they, "falsely accused him of making the video without her consent."
The impact that this had on Hilton's public image cannot be overstated, and—like Kim Kardashian—she was the victim of slut-shaming as a result. "It's really hurtful, because my whole life I really looked up to Princess Diana, all these elegant, amazing women, and I feel like [Salomon] just took that all away from me," she told Marie Claire. "I could have been like that, but because of that tape, I will always be judged and thought of as whatever they say about me because of a private moment between my boyfriend and me.... I wish I had never met him. That is actually the one regret in my life. I wish that I had never met that guy. I could not leave my house for months. I was so depressed, humiliated. I didn't want to be seen in public."
Hilton sued the company that distributed the tape for $30 million (this lawsuit was thrown out)—and in 2004, Salomon went ahead and made the decision to sell the tape himself to Red Light District Video, who named it One Night in Paris. The hotel heiress and reality star was reportedly given $400,000 and a percentage of profits during lawsuit settlements, which she's said to have donated to charity. Emphasis on "reportedly," because she told GQ: "I never received a dime from the video. It's just dirty money and [Salomon] should give it all to some charity for the sexually abused or something. To be honest, I don't even think about it any more."
Kanye West (and Maybe Kim Kardashian)
A Kanye West sex tape allegedly exists out there somewhere, but has not been leaked thus far. ET confirmed that an intimate video of the rapper was being shopped around in 2012. And we can't forget that in the song "Real Friends," West rapped the lyrics, "I had a cousin that stole my laptop that I was f*cking bitches on / Paid that n**** $250,000 just to get it from him."
The tape was described in depth while being shopped, and reportedly features an unknown woman stating that she is over the age of 18 at the beginning. Meanwhile, Kim Kardashian has implied that she and Kanye have made their own tape together, which sure, why not:
"My husband Kanye and I have an amazing sex life. So far as the sex tape is concerned, whether or not we’ve made another...if we have, it’s never something I want to go public. I never want to make the same mistake twice. You do these sorts of things with people you trust. When someone says to me, 'sex tape,' it’s a very private thing, not something I would ever want anyone else to see but me and Kanye....I am married to an incredible man and let’s just say we do like to have fun. Have we made another? There’s nothing wrong with being adventurous, having fun and experimenting, but there’s definitely the right sort of person you should surround yourself with. Kanye and I have a very good sex life. What we do privately is private. I think let’s just leave it at that."
Jennifer Lopez and Ojani Noa
Jennifer Lopez allegedly made a private tape with her first husband Ojani Noa during their honeymoon. His attempt to release it has embroiled Lopez in a legal dispute that appears to be ongoing. Per The Daily Beast, Lopez and Noa's lawsuit over the tape spans years, and she initially claimed that its release would violate the confidentiality agreement he signed after their split. Apparently, J.Lo's team had a judge order that the tape be locked up in a safe-deposit box back in 2011, but in 2013 the former couple were still disputing settlement terms, with Ojani's team asking for $3.75 million.
On a lighter note, Andy Cohen asked Lopez about whether or not she'd ever filmed a tape, and her face is priceless.
Carolyn Murphy and Jake Schroeder
Like so many of the women on this list, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Carolyn Murphy had a sex tape she made with her ex-husband Jake Schroeder leak online sans consent. The tape was made in 1999, and Schroeder was accused of trying to sell it. He was reportedly arrested on extortion charges as a result—and get this: His bail was paid by Internet Commerce Group, the company working with him to market the sex tape. "Our position is that no crime has been committed," ICG lawyer David Gingras told Page Six. "You cannot commit extortion by offering to sell something you own."
Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly
Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding made a sex tape on her wedding night with her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, and—according to him—the pair made the decision to sell the tape together to Penthouse. They received $200,000 each as a result, plus royalties.
News of Chelsea Handler's sex tape being shopped around made headlines in 2010, but she confirmed that the tape itself was filmed as a joke, and is actually cut with footage of her stand-up. "The tape you have is an old tape that was done for a stand-up comedy bit," she said during her talk show. "I would like to say to , thanks for ruining my surprise Christmas gift to my staff. Number two, it was made as a joke. I put it on an audition tape for a comedy club, because I'm a comedian, and I've been showing it at birthday parties for f*cking years!"
The tape was never released, and Chelsea brushed it off, saying "It was not a big deal to anyone, I don't think. I mean, people were talking about it, but if they had shown it, people would see it was a joke, so I think that's why nobody actually saw it."
Eve and Stevie J
Rapper (and The Talk co-host!) Eve filmed a sex tape with her then-boyfriend Stevie J, which hit the internet in 2005. Stevie J denied leaking the tape, saying, "I’m a pioneer. I made a tape and gave it to her and she took it on the road, on tour with her, and the rest was history. It wasn’t me, I didn’t leak that joint. I could’ve leaked it. I gave it to her and one of her girlfriends leaked it, thank you very much. I don’t want my beefcake all in the street."
Meanwhile, Eve shut down rumors that the sex tape was leaked on purpose (ugh, what is up with this trend of accusing women of leaking their own sex tapes?): "When that happened, sex tapes weren't 'hot' like that, and I got the FBI involved," Eve said. "So that’s not something I wanted to happen…I respect my mother and my family and that’s not something I am okay with. And it hurt my heart that anyone who was in my circle—whether it be [Stevie] or anybody else—it hurt my heart that that went out there. That wasn’t my thing."
Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee
Pamela Anderson and then-husband Tommy Lee's sex tape from their 1998 honeymoon ended up finding its way online after being stolen from their home by an electrician. Pamela sued the distribution company, but ended up settling, and the tape continued to be available online as a result. She's joked about the incident since, once saying during a stand-up set, "Did you see that Hulk Hogan got $115 million for his sex tape? That pissed me off! All I got were some stupid Mötley Crüe tickets."
Apparently, the tape made $77 million in less than 12 months—in legitimate sales alone.
Hulk Hogan and his BFF's wife
In 2012, Gawker published a sex tape depicting Hulk Hogan and the wife of his then-best friend, radio DJ Bubba the Love Sponge. Hogan famously sued Gawker Media for publishing the tape, which he said was filmed without his knowledge or consent five years prior. In May 2016, the jury on the case sided with Hogan, awarding him $115 million in damages and effectively bankrupting the media conglomerate.
John Edwards and Rielle Hunter
The former presidential candidate found himself at the center of a scandal in 2008 when news of his affair with Rielle Hunter was leaked. In 2010 it was reported that a tape of them consummating their affair existed. The video was filmed around September or October of 2007, during Edwards' presidential campaign, according to The Daily Beast. Hunter was estimated to have been four or five months pregnant with Edwards' child at the time of filming. Critics were particularly upset over the fact that Edwards' wife, Elizabeth Edwards, was battling cancer at the time. She passed away in 2010.
Eric Dane and Rebecca Gayheart
In 2009, a home movie from Grey's Anatomy alum Eric Dane and his wife, actress Rebecca Gayheart, leaked. It also featured former Miss Teen USA, Kari Ann Peniche. The video shows the three celebrities naked and seemingly intoxicated in a hot tub, but stops short of featuring any actual sex.
Kid Rock and Scott Stapp
In 2006, a porn company called Red Light District tried to distribute a 1999 sex tape starring Kid Rock, Creed singer Scott Stapp, and an unidentified woman. Both men took legal action to prevent the tape's release, but Kid Rock opened up about the "fiasco" in a 2016 interview with Classic Rock:
"Euurrrghhhh… [laughs]. That’s a funny story about that whole sex tape fiasco.
It never came out, by the way, I paid the money to quash it through attorneys and things. I remember going on the Howard Stern show and he summed it up the best. He says: 'I’m not surprised you had a sex tape. As a matter of fact we had a pool going in the studio and you were my next person. I understand you being in a sex tape. But what the f*ck were you doing hanging out with Scott Stapp?' I was like: 'I don’t know what I was doing hanging out with Scott Stapp. I am the nicest guy in rock’n’roll, because I hung out with Scott Stapp and got him some p*ssy.
We were playing with Metallica back in the day. They were on stage, and this chick gets wild in my trailer and she’s naked and she’s blowing everyone. I sat there like: 'This is rock’n’roll' [leans back in his chair with a smug look on his face]. There’s a knock at the door and it’s Scott Stapp with a video camera. He’s like: 'What’s going on here?' And I’m like: 'Whaddya mean, what’s going on here?' And he asked if I minded if he got in on it. I’m like: 'Nah, of course I don’t mind, man. Come in, take your pants off. Have a beer.' And then I’m like: 'Aren’t you in a religious band?' But I was just trying to be a friend to him. He just seemed a little lost. I just figured if he hung around with a big dog he wouldn’t piss like a puppy.
I think I said to him: 'What’s with the camera?' And you just know that thing’s coming out one day. The thing is, if it did—and it almost did—I’d be a f*cking hero; it would ruin his career."
Fred Durst and an ex-girlfriend
In 2005, not long after Paris Hilton's sex tape left the world shook, Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst had a very private clip of his own leaked on the internet. The musician ended up suing 10 websites for publishing the three-minute tape, which Durst and an ex-girlfriend filmed in 2003.
Durst sought more than $70 million in damages in his suit, in which he alleged that hackers broke into his personal computer remotely to steal the footage.
Chyna and X-Pac
Professional wrestlers Joan "Joanie" Laurer (better known as Chyna) and Sean Waltman (aka X-Pac) made a sex tape together when they were dating, which was released in 2004 by the same company behind Paris Hilton's sex tape. The name of Chyna and X-Pac's tape? 1 Night in China. While it's been reported that the couple shared in the tape's profits, Chyna maintains she never earned any money from it.