It’s the Sex Tapes That Got Small

I’ve always suspected the releases of celebrity sex tapes are no accident. You’re a mid-level celeb who has decided to film yourself getting some kinky action (because it’s only real if the camera is focused on you) and somehow, when your home is burgled, the only thing stolen is the sex tape. Amazingly, the dirty criminals who made off with your homemade smut are well connected to adult video distributors, who quickly market it all over the web. Denials and horror ensue, soon followed by a piece of the action.

My suspicion was confirmed recently when, inexplicably, Saved By the Bell geek Dustin Diamond turned up in a video threesome, making many wonder how he managed to get two women. Then his manager, Roger Paul, spilled the beans: "Dustin has been trying to escape the Screech typecast. So this may help me get more bookings." But will it really help his career or will it just add a few seconds on to his “Where Are They Now?” segment? Let’s take a look and see…

Rob Lowe
Way back in 1988, a sex scandal could actually derail a career. Lowe was a sizzling member of the Brat Pack until a tape of him having sex with two women, one who was 17, emerged. That was it for him until his career was revived in 1999 when Aaron Sorkin cast him in The West Wing. He destroyed that revival by quitting the show under the mistaken impression her was talented and he’s mostly disappeared since then. Look for a new sex tape soon.
Impact: Almost a career killer

Pamela Anderson & Tommy Lee
The fact that Pam Anderson had a sex tape came as a surprise to nobody. Anybody who wanted to had already seen her spread-eagled in the pages of Playboy. The pair cut a deal with the distributor of their 1997 vacation video and Anderson’s career pretty much continued on as usual. The tape was much more of a success for Lee, a fading rock star living off the tawdry legend of Motley Crue. Once his, um, talent was exposed he became a reality TV star, appearing in Tommy Lee Goes to College and Rockstar.
Impact: Pam – negligible; Tommy – definite career boost

R. Kelly
In 2002, the Chicago Sun-Times received a tape of singer R. Kelly allegedly having sex with an underage girl, which quickly found itself on the file sharing networks. Kelly was charged and is currently awaiting trial, but continued his prolific recording career, selling millions of albums.
Impact: None so far, but a trial could change that

Vince Neil
A tape of Vince Neil, the former lead singer Motley Crue (are we seeing a pattern here?) and adult film star Janine Lindemulder was, you guessed it, stolen in 1999 and made its way to the internet. Lindemulder went on to film more porn, while Neil got a few more minutes of fame as a cast member on The Surreal Life.
Impact: Neil – Reality TV joke is better than nothing; Lindemulder – same old, same old

Paris Hilton
If there was any question that a sex tape could make a positive impact on a career, Paris Hilton’s experience erases all doubt. The hotel heiress was little know outside of party circles and paparazzi photos when she was cast with pal Nicole Richie in The Simple Life in 2003. Just before the debut episode, ex-boyfriend Rick Solomon leaked some grainy footage of the pair’s explicit coupling. Massive media coverage followed, all of which made reference to The Simple Life, boosting the shows ratings. In a remarkable “coincedence,” the DVD of the video, now aptly titled 1 Night in Paris, was released just before the second season of The Simple Life, touching off another round of coverage for Hilton and the show. Paris has since become a brand name, appearing in films, recording an album and releasing books, perfumes and whatever else she can attach her name to.
Impact: Massive – she wouldn’t have near the profile without the tape, making it appear a legitimate career move. (See South Park’s Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset)

Colin Farrell
In July of 2005, Colin Farrell sued his ex-girlfriend and former playmate Nicole Narin to stop her from releasing a recording of a sex romp he had foolishly assumed was "strictly private and confidential between them." He has good lawyers, as other than a brief surfacing on last January, the tape hasn’t seen the light of day. It’s existence had little influence on what people think of Farrell, exemplified by one of my female friends who said she would gladly wrap him in plastic and ride him into the sunset.
Impact: None, save for some fantasy material

Kid Rock & Scott Stapp
Another of Pamela Anderson’s men, Kid Rock, and former Creed lead singer Scott Stapp recorded some playtime with four groupies back in 1999, with the footage hitting the web this February. Rock called Stapp an idiot for letting the tape get out and has filed an injunction to get it pulled.
Impact: Rock – none, and who’s surprised?; Stapp – people talked about him again, however briefly

With the exception of Paris Hilton, sex tapes don’t do much for anyone’s fame and fortune. While they are no longer career killers, they either have no impact or at best get you a shot at reality TV. Dustin Diamond’s manager may be waiting by the phone for a long time.

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  1. The easiest way to get rich would probably be making the "Best Of Celebrity Sex Tapes" DVD.

  2. Hey, who told you my idea! Ok, we'll go 50-50.

  3. Brilliant post! I think you're absolutely right.

    I can't stop chuckling over the Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset! LOL

  4. Those South Park boys have a way of cutting right to the heart of things, don't they?

  5. You know, it's amazing how things have changed since the Twenties, Thirties, Forties, and Fifties. Back then an actress could end her career simply by having an affair with a married man or having a child out of wedlock. Now explicit sex tapes can be released with little to no impact on one's career (with the exceptions of Paris Hilton, whom it apparently helped, and Rob Lowe, whom it certainly hasn't). Things have really changed.

  6. I think everyone is used to sex in that industry nowadays.

    I mean seriously, a tape of the average joe and his tryst is only important to the "joe's wife", right??

  7. You left out the Pam Anderson/Bret Michaels video. That didn't do much for his career either.

  8. Excellent post. You have put the nail on the coffin. But with this latest tape...I'm just not sure what they're thinking. Does anyone really think we want to see Screech in a porn??? Oi.

  9. Yeesh, Pam Anderson is the centre of an entire amateur porn industry, isn't she? I'm sure there are many more tapes that I missed and more to come after.

    I do find it fascinating how common place these tapes have become and how little impact they have on a career. What does an actor have to do to derail themselves? Stop making money I suppose.

    As for Screech, if he was trying to get more work because of this, his manager is worse than I thought.