Fake Sex Tapes and You
It seemed almost impossible, but there they were: emails from multiple media outlets, asking me if the sex tape announced in a press release I had just sent out was real, or some manner of belated April Fools’ Day prank.
Even under normal circumstances, sex tape announcements have to be taken with a grain of salt. Where celebrity sex tapes are concerned, for example, one should be skeptical about the idea that the celebrity at issue is actually dismayed by the distribution of the tape, as opposed to in on the stunt from the word go and standing to profit directly from the sale of it.
With respect to the press release I was being asked about, there was even more reason for skepticism than usual, in that the “celebrities” involved were Pink Visual executives; our company President Allison Vivas, and Vice President Kristin Wynters, specifically.
Adding even more potential fuel to the skeptic’s fire, I included in the release phrases like the following one, which came in the context of attributing one of the quotes in the announcement:
“‘Not since she was recognized by Newt Gingrich as Arizona’s 2009 Executive of the Year has Allison been subjected to as much publicity as the release of this DVD will generate,’ said the spokesperson, who declined to be identified as Pink Visual’s director of public relations, citing concern for his job security and personal safety.”
(Side note to journalists everywhere: when someone declines to identify himself, then subsequently identifies himself – in a press release, no less – that person is probably not being serious.)
At any rate, faced with direct questions about my fake press release, I was in a pickle; should I come clean and admit the release and DVD were a joke and run the risk of the outlets declining to run the release, or should I double down, pornbunker-style, and claim that the DVD was the real deal, against all evidence to the contrary?
After briefly considering the potential for negative backlash, I decided on a middle course of sorts: I would stop short of saying that the DVD was real, or actually sexually explicit, but I’d give my half-denial in a way that was vague enough and sufficiently open to interpretation as to leave some doubt in the minds of the less-skeptical people among those asking the question.
Which brings us to the confessional aspect of this month’s column; this was a pretty rotten thing to do to my media contacts, quite frankly. I might have done it in jest, but that doesn’t change the fact that I was playing them, and nobody appreciates getting played.
One or two folks got a bit bent out of shape over my duplicitous tomfoolery, I’m sorry to say. Fortunately for me, these people are the forgiving sort, and after extracting from me a promise not to do them like this again, we had a chuckle about the whole thing and got back to business as usual.
As it turned out, the fake DVD was a hit at The Phoenix Forum, and our silly little stunt played out as we hoped it would. It drew attention to the anti-piracy wing of our company, DMCA Force (www.dmcaforce.com), and the attendees generally seemed to enjoy the gag (the authentic looking box cover, in particular).
Shortly after we returned from the Forum, news broke about a sex tape that reportedly included actual sex, this one involving teen mom “star” Farrah Abrams, one of a legion of Reality TV pseudocelebrities who appear to have become famous as a result of making one or more regrettable choices in their lives.
I’m guessing that the plan here was to paint Abrams’ tape as something that just slipped out there, finding its way on to the web against poor Farrah’s wishes, or something of that sort. The mainstream media would then ignore (as it typically does in these situations) how utterly preposterous that notion is, given the necessity for adult content distributors to comply with 18 U.S.C. § 2257 by having on file documents that confirm the age and identity of performers, and the risk of releasing such footage without obtaining model releases from the performers depicted therein.
Unfortunately for Abrams, the plan doesn’t appear to have been thought all the way through – or at least if it was thought through, someone forgot to cc James Deen on the memo. Deen immediately spilled the (really very obvious) beans, and you didn’t have to be a member of the adult industry to catch the telltale signs of a contrived sex tape. Among other clues, Deen said that “Word travels fast …. it isn’t even edited yet. We shot it yesterday” and “Definitely not dating. Got tested together on Friday, and then saw her on set. That is my only experience with the lady.”
Now admittedly, I don’t know much about legitimate homemade sex tapes, but this much I’m pretty sure of: if a woman isn’t aware that a recorded sexual encounter of hers is destined for commercial distribution, she probably doesn’t hire a male porn star to be in it with her, go in for STD tests with that performer, record the ensuing sexual encounter on a “set,” or visit the offices of a major porn company while walking arm-inarm with the aforementioned male porn star.
Abrams’ stunt was so blatant and so poorly executed that by the end of the first day of reporting on the video’s existence even the laziest and most gullible reader couldn’t possibly have believed it was a video that Abrams didn’t actively want to hit the market. In other words, Abrams’ sex tape stunt was rapidly becoming, as the kids these days are fond of saying, an epic fail.
By the time I left work that day, mainstream media inquiries (of which I received several, even though Pink Visual had nothing to do with Abrams’ tape and has never distributed a celebrity sex tape of its own) already had gone from the usual hunt for a salacious snippet of celebrity trivia for use as gossip column fodder to an entirely different sort of scandalous angle – one with no real prospect of being beneficial to Abrams.
Instead of speculating about the tape in ways that could be useful from a publicity standpoint, the media had become focused on Abrams’ desperate desire to stay in the spotlight. That’s not a recipe for staying ‘relevant;’ it’s a recipe for becoming a recurring late night talk show monologue joke.
On the bright side, whereas the ‘bad guy’ in this sort of story is often a porn industry figure – some unscrupulous purveyor of fuck flicks looking to make a cheap buck sullying the good name of a poor girl whose only mistake was allowing an ex-lover to record one of their sexual encounters (without her knowledge, of course, never you mind all that eye contact she makes with the camera) – in this case, most of the public scorn appears to be directed toward Abrams herself.
All that said, it is my understanding that Abrams will soon be making an appearance on Dr. Phil (or perhaps she already has made the appearance; I wouldn’t watch Dr. Phil unless instructed to do so by a person was also pointing a loaded gun at my head at the time), so maybe she can squeeze a few more minutes of fame out of all this, after all.
Still, I have a feeling that the career impact of Abrams’ illfated sex tape stunt is destined to be less Kim-Kardashianesque and more Montana-Fishburnout.