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Posted at 10:28 AM ET, 08/18/2009

Celebrity Sex Tapes: A Brief History

By Liz Kelly

Celebrity sex tape success story Paris Hilton in July. (Getty Images)

This morning, "Grey's Anatomy's" Eric Dane ("McSteamy") and his wife -- one-time Noxzema model Rebecca Gayheart -- became the latest to join the celebrity sex tape club. Though, to be precise, theirs is more of a nudie fest made a bit more interesting by the inclusion of former beauty queen (and "Celebrity Rehab"-ber) Kari Ann Peniche.

Even though it's banal, the footage is definitely NSFW, so here's a recap:

A nude McSteamy and sometimes costumed, sometimes nude Gayheart and Peniche loll around what appears to be a cluttered bed discussing their porn names (Dane tries out "just Peter" before going with "Cocaine Manor.") and a mutual admiration of cowboys and being "very high" (maybe they're on the top floor of a skyscraper?). Then, the action -- if it can be called that -- moves to the bathtub where Gayheart holds forth on her drug policy. ("I'm not a huge fan ... but this is kind of fun.") Things wrap up with Peniche describing how she once "drowned-ed" a couple of unlucky rubber duckies.

I guess you had to be there.

The footage is only the latest in a growing back catalog of celebrity sex tapes. Why can't celebs get freaky without a camera rolling? Have years of finding approval in front of a lens made it impossible for them to, ahem, perform without an implied audience? Are they that obsessed with the instant replay? Is it a case of simple hubris or, even more basic, stupidity? The reasons are myriad.

And, depending on where a star falls on the celebrity continuum, so are the consequences. A sex tape can be an embarrassing career setback (Rob Lowe), spawn criminal charges (R. Kelly) or boost one to stardom (Paris Hilton). Below, a brief timeline of recent celebrity sex tape releases:

1998: Pam Anderson and Tommy Lee: The grandmammy and grandpappy of sex tapers captured their honeymoon lovemaking on film. The couple won $1.5 million in damages, but were unable to stop its distribution.

2002: R. Kelly: A tape allegedly showing Kelly (no relation) having sex with an underage girl led to a child pornography trial. After six years, Kelly was eventually acquitted of all charges.

2003: Paris Hilton and Rick Salomon: "1 Night in Paris," from which Hilton now receives profits, catapulted the deceivingly dippy socialite from obscurity to the crest of the reality TV wave.

2005: Pam Anderson and Bret Michaels: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice... Apparently pre-dating the Tommy Lee Romp, this four-minute video surfaced in 2005.

2006: Dustin "Screech" Diamond: The one-time "Saved by the Bell" co-star self-released a 40-minute tape that made the "Dirty Sanchez" (don't ask) famous, but didn't do much to revive Diamond's flatlining career.

2007: Kim Kardashian and Ray-J: Although Kardashian said she was "hurt and embarrassed" by the footage, it likely contributed to E!'s continued success with reality show "Keeping Up with the Kardashians."

2008: Verne Troyer: The diminutive actor, famed for his role as Mini-Me in the "Austin Powers" movies, was able to arrive at a settlement with distributor SugarDVD after successfully having a portion of the footage removed from

By Liz Kelly  | August 18, 2009; 10:28 AM ET
Categories:  Celebrities, Celebritology 101  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Nude Tape Leaked of Eric Dane, Wife and Former Beauty Queen; Paula Abdul Angling for 'Idol' Return
Next: Michael Jackson's Doctor Posts Video Statement; Celine Dion Pregnant


I see we will see the industrial strength brain bleach today. Then an early adjournment to the Tiki Bar.

Posted by: epjd | August 18, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Liz, this is nothing new per se. It's just the Internet that makes it possible for video to go viral. I'd imagine all sorts of stars and wannabes have been filming their exertions since, well, the invention of the movie camera. E.g., wasn't there talk that Roman Polanski had set up a camera to film himself and Sharon Tate engaged in, um, baby-making?

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | August 18, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Before you go to the Tiki bar for bleach shots, stop by the Island clinic for vaccinations and penicillin.

Posted by: hodie | August 18, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Before you go to the Tiki bar for bleach shots, stop by the Island clinic for vaccinations and penicillin.

Posted by: hodie | August 18, 2009 11:12 AM
Also, make sure you update your virus software before AND after visiting any of the tape sites.

In fact, afterward, your harddrive is going to need a Gwyneth Paltrow-style CLEANSE to rid those bots and bugs from its system.

Posted by: mdreader01 | August 18, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Absolutely right, Nosy. I limited myself to the last 10 or so years. If I'd gone back further we'd have had to talk about Tanya Harding and Bob Crane. And, believe me, we don't want to go there.

Posted by: Liz Kelly | August 18, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Oh Liz, I forgot all about Bob Crane. Ick.Nast.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | August 18, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Accordig to an article on ABCNEWs..."Earlier this year, The National Enquirer printed a 2003 photo of Gayheart that looks like a snapshot from the just-leaked "naked" tape. In it, Gayheart sits naked in a bathtub with an unidentified woman, holding what appears to be a crack pipe." If the date is correct, that would mean Peniche was only 19 at the time.

Posted by: buffysummers | August 18, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Deceivingly dippy? Are you suggesting that there is method in her madness? Can she be as subtle as Hamlet, who plays the "satirical rogue" and enumerates the debilities of age, pointedly making fun of Polonius? In the process he borrows one of Polonius's own rhetorical tricks: occupatio, or paralepsis—pretending to pass over or contemn something while actually stating it openly.


Posted by: kabuki3 | August 18, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

kabuki, Paris was amusing in that video last year responding to the ad depicting Obama as a "celebrity." I suspect she's crazy like a fox.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | August 18, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm just terrified to click on any of those links. Liz is in cahoots with the IT department to entrap me.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 18, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Maybe, Nosy, but why? If she's not as dumb as she looks/acts, why do it? It's certainly not for the money. To be a celeb? A shallow goal indeed. Can she actually like being chased around by paps? Does she need attention that much? If so, she IS as dumb as she looks.

Posted by: kabuki3 | August 18, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Does she need attention that much?

I suspect you're right. Paris is not necessarily dumb, but instead somewhat disturbed.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | August 18, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Spare me any celeb crocodile tears when their sex tapes "get out". Considering that very few actually stay private, anyone who makes a sex tape has to, at this point, be doing it to grab their 15 min. of fame. They HAVE to know the tape will "leak". And Kim K. posed in the altogether for Playboy, so I can't imagine "hurt and embarrassed" are really what she felt re. her sex tape.

Posted by: Californian11 | August 18, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Nosy, I forgot to mention that I don't find her foxy. She may be a vixen, but she's a vapid one.

Posted by: kabuki3 | August 18, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

The topic of the article must have destroyed your minds. Liz handed us a beautiful line and you all missed it. "we'd have had to talk about Tanya Harding and Bob Crane"

Tanya Harding and Bob Crane made a sex tape together. Beyond Ick Nast.

Posted by: epjd | August 18, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Screw sex tapes (ha), which wax figure is the worst?

Posted by: surlychick | August 18, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

wasn't there talk that Roman Polanski had set up a camera to film himself and Sharon Tate engaged in, um, baby-making?
yes, supposedly polanski was either allowed back into the house by police to collect certain, ahem, items or the police confiscated the time at the time of the murders and quietly returned it/them to him.

Posted by: frieda406 | August 19, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

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