Tuesday, December 8, 2009

#25 - Celebrity Sex Tapes

It was the decade when...

You weren't a real celeb unless their was footage of you taking it off and getting it on.

Celebrities have sex. Shocking I know. The logical and unavoidable extension of our fascination with the private lives of the rich and famous, the sex tape is a celebs most guarded of private moments decimated to a salivating public. (Maybe birth tapes with celebrities popping babies out of their swollen vaginas will be the next paradigm.) Not pornography in the strict sense of the word - I doubt the tapes are watched for sexual stimulation very often - sex tapes are instead near perfect voyeuristic red meat. (Near perfect because they would be even more voyeuristic if the celebrities didn't know they were being taped, which usually they do.) Sex tapes are unabashedly intimate experiences starring people whose stock in trade is acting and artifice. To watch a sex tape is to rob a celebrity of their mystique, to see them as just another mammal, sweating and panting and emitting fluids. Deflating the bubble of superiority that surrounds the famous is a gratifying experience for most laymen; we build 'em up to tear 'em down. "You wanna be rich and famous? There is a price to pay bitches! We get to watch your sex tape with no guilt!" Or so the thought goes. And, let's face it, catching anyone, celebrity or no, in the act of sexual congress unawares is always a good excuse for snickering. Any urbanite who has peeked through open blinds at apartment dwellers in flagrante delictio will surely attest to this. Why the sight of two adults engaged in a common adult activity summons up the 7th grader in all us is a mystery. It's probably just another one of civilization and it's discontents. But, giggle and gawk we do, unable to turn away. And, if this is how we react to strangers, then a sex tape with celebrities is bound to be as transfixing as a hypnotist's spinning wheel of mystery.

The sex tape business is booming thanks to advances in both production and distribution. Before the advent of video in the 1980's, sex tapes were difficult to make without embarrassment. With images stored only on film, getting private X-rated footage developed was no mean feat. With video, the home user could at last easily make their own private sex tapes. Mass producing a low-grade videotape, however, from the already low-fi original proved a challenge that never was quite conquered. Nonetheless, video was the first golden era for the genre; it's why we call them sex "tapes" and not sex "movies." There were legendary examples by the likes of Rob Lowe (with two girls, one of whom was 16 mind you) or the extremely graphic Honeymoon video of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, in which the couple acted as if they were, in fact, porn stars and not a married couple. Still, sex tapes sputtered out infrequently in the 80's and 90's. It wasn't until the digital revolution that society had at last found the recipe to make sex tapes easily. Spreading them to a cubicle near you was even easier.

How easy? A sex tape (how long are we even going to be using the antiquated word "tape" ) can now be shot on a cellphone and, with the click of a button, sent over the Internet to be accessed by any curious party almost instantaneously. It's really ridiculous when you think about it. Not just celebrities but even the general populace now is more willing to dally in amateur porn. (A quick google search will prove this.) It's gotten so simple, maybe too simple. Luckily, for home grown porn stars, there is little interest by the general public to see you heaving and panting away. With celebrities though, a whole lot of other people want a peek. You think a famous person would be aware enough of this fact to refrain from ever filming themselves in the act but, alas, some lessons are hard learned.

So who scandalized us all in the Aughts with their sex tapes?

  • Fred Durst proved his Bizkit wasn't so Limp when a sex video was leaked to the Internet. He ended up suing Gawker.com for posting the footage.
  • A menage a trois with Grey's Anatomy's Eric Dane, wife Rebecca Gayheart, and former Miss Teen USA contestant Kari Ann Peniche was also leaked by Gawker.com; the drunk, high, and naked threesome provide twelve minutes of Grade-A NSFW cavorting accompanied by the the kind of asinine chit-chat one would expect from a naked prom queen and stoned television stars. It's very underwhelming.
  • Though the tape itself has yet to be leaked, Dustin Lance Bareblack, I mean, Dustin Lance Black had images of a very graphic sex tape leaked to PerezHilton.com; in them the studly Oscar winner (for his screenplay to Milk) is seen having unsafe sex with an anonymous male partner. Given the writers outspoken advocacy for safe sex, the pictures were no small embarrassment.
  • Dustin Diamond, known to children of the nineties everyone as uber-nerd Screech on Saved By The Bell, also had a sex tape leaked in this decade though, given the actors willingness to do anything to stay famous, from obnoxious and contrived dramatics on Celebrity Fit Club to bottom-of-the-fame-barrel Celebrity Boxing tournaments, it's mostly likely he leaked the tape himself as yet another stab to keep his name afloat in Hollywood. Sorry Screech, but when you do that it's not a leaked sex tape, you've just descended into pornography. I'll just watch Tobey Maguire imitate you on SNL instead. Much more entertaining.

Like the one ring, there was one sex tape to rule them all. One sex tape that catapulted its already infamous star into the stratosphere of fame like few other people in history. I am of course talking about One Night In Paris, the Paris Hilton sex tape. Penetrating deep into the general consciousness, One Night In Paris was watched even by those who proclaimed a disdain for such vulgarity. It was irresistible. Even Christopher Hitchens couldn't avert his gaze. The only celebrity sex tape whose title sounds like a mid-level James Bond punchline, One Night In Paris was the moment when Hilton crossed the Rubicon and became perhaps THE celebrity of her generation. (It was also her best acting work so far...sad but true.) Though the hotel heiress gave a half-hearted cri de couer when the movie was leaked, it's hard to shake the impression that the socialite was secretly grateful for all the attention, media coverage being the staple of her diet.

But with One Night In Paris the scandal of the sex tape and the feeling of titillating violation one felt while watching it, began to wane. With the proliferation of DIY porno sites like Xtube, the entire libidinal edifice of the sex tape has begun to crumble. Non-professional sex videos are slowly becoming just another series of clips sandwiched between Saddam Hussien's execution and videos of cats playing the piano. Surely we can expect a lot more celebrity sex in our future but really, who cares anymore?

You AUGHT to remember...

1 comment:

  1. Yes!!! I'm so happy this made the list.
    keep up the good work.
    - Kath