Celebrity Sex Tapes, Part 2
While it was an extremely difficult task to not defame either party and to stick to the facts legally, I set out to do my best to plug Sexbrat's URL as many times as possible. Why plug a site that no longer has the rights to promote such a video? One word: Traffic.
I appeared on Howard Stern's radio show last November and was able to generate 23 plugs to the website. Care to guess how many hits the servers got that day? I won't say, but let's just note that Sexbrat.com pushed some serious bandwidth and made some serious money.
Meanwhile, Sexbrat.com's visibility grew and traffic quadrupled every day, all over a video we couldn't show. Then, along with many other people, I got subpoenaed to testify for depositions. The unthinkable happened. They were trying to "shoot the messenger." While I sat around hiding from process servers, I was being inundated with spam email coming from all across the globe claiming that other sites had the "Hilton Sex Tape." Some were enticing surfers with illegally obtained pictures of Paris Hilton, while others hit the search engine's hard drive with search terms for Hilton's sexcapades.
A lot of these companies touted the fact that they had the video, while in essence they only had an excerpt or a snippet that was illegally obtained off the web.
What most surfers didn't realize at the time was that once they were in the member's area of some of these websites, there was no such Hilton video to be found. Many programs illegally stole the video and placed the video on their free websites, causing many surfers to trade the video via peer-to-peer websites like Napster and Limewire.
I recall being at the Webmaster Access show a year ago and having a webmaster brag to me about how much money I had helped him make by my appearances on VH-1 and "20/20." While I was flattered, the man next to me was one of the owners of Marvad and he got quite upset with this webmaster and flat out told him that he was infringing on his website.
As many of you now know, there is another Paris Hilton sex tape available and it stars, you guessed it, Rick Saloman and Paris Hilton. This one is in full color and no longer has the green tinge X-ray vision footage that made the initial Hilton tape so famous, leading many people to wonder how and why the ex boyfriend of Hilton released a new videotape after he was suing everyone else for defamation of character and copyright infringement.
When I asked Salomon those very questions upon his hiring me to do his PR for the new DVD "1 Night in Paris," he told me bluntly, "KB, the Hiltons made me out to be a scumbag, they made me out to be a monster, as well as calling me a liar and a dirtbag. And they said I was with Paris while she was under 18. They tried to ruin my life." Salomon went on to say that he felt victimized. "I'm like Mike Tyson, only with one exception, I have a videotape that bares all. I am no rapist and you can see she loves what she is doing and mugs for the camera."
Salomon is certainly an interesting man, a professional gambler who is fond of the company he keeps with A-list celebrities, and the hottest rising starlets in Hollywood. Salomon boasts having a vault with several other sex tapes in it. "I have girls that you wouldn't believe on some of these tapes," Saloman told me, and not only does he have at least five more tapes of hot celebrity actresses on film, but also now other actresses are propositioning him whose careers can really use a much needed "boost."
So who has this new Hilton tape now? Where is the site that is hosting it? Who is profiting from it? Those are great questions, so I'll give you a little breakdown of how legally one can make money off the Paris Hilton sex craze.
The new video footage that is over an hour in running time is broken down into six parts. In this video we get to see a better glimpse into Hilton's psyche, we also get to see her in some thigh-high boots that would make the Three Musketeers envious.
A lot of people ask me from time to time whether Hilton was in on this deal.
I have to laugh. You see, Hilton did in fact sue Saloman, and they did agree to an out-of-court settlement. Some people estimate that she was paid as much as $400,000 plus ongoing proceeds. Other reports have her donating all her proceeds from the film to charity.
Another aspect of the celebrity sex tape micro-niche is how these tapes find their way to brokers and companies in the adult world. There is a certain protocol one must follow when pitching these types of tapes. It usually starts at the top and works its way back down to the bottom.
Typically, the top of the heap would be Larry Flynt himself, owner of LFP Publications and the Hustler brand. Many people forget that Flynt was the original pioneer of this type of celebrity sex scandal when he made a name for his magazine back in the mid 1970s with nude pictures of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Many of us are too young to remember the fiasco that ensued back then, but some of you might remember quite vividly then governor of Ohio James Rhodes being caught by the press buying a copy of that magazine. It was great press for Hustler and helped to build his brand along with other First Amendment stunts he had pulled off in the 1970s.
Getting Flynt Involved
Once Flynt gets contacted, if interested, he'll obviously want to see a copy of the tape and ask about the origin of it. In some cases he will have a forensics expert look at it for authentication.
I have been told that Flynt usually doesn't offer anything higher than a million dollars for such a tape and that is usually a good rule of thumb. If you consider all the different revenue streams that a decent celebrity sex tape can make a rightful owner, a celebrity sex tape can fetch anywhere from $10 million to $50 million.
Take into consideration if Hustler were to get its hands on such a tape for a million dollars, they'd need to sell only 50,000 units at $20 a pop to break even on the initial investment. That's just with DVD sales alone.
When Red Light District released "1 Night In Paris," the wholesale cost for the product was an unheard of price of $22. The average new release goes out to distributors for anywhere between $8 to $15 usually. Red Light has sold more than 400,000 copies of the DVD to date.
Now, if you take into consideration whether Flynt Digital, Hustler's web property, were to have the exclusive rights to market such a tape, that could put the tape in its members area.
Let's say that Hustler charges $34.95 and has its members retain an average of five months. You can see where 20,000 new members can make a small fortune for Flynt Digital. That's $699,000 in one month's time and $3.5 million in five months. And we haven't even gotten to the mobile/handheld rights yet. Nor have I touched upon the cable or pay-per-view rights, both domestically and foreign. There is a lot of money to be made with legal celebrity sex tapes, it's just hard to find the right criteria in most cases to market them.
That's usually where a celebrity sex tape maven like me comes in. If Flynt passes on an opportunity, I am usually the next in line, or as an attorney for Cameron Diaz once remarked, "You're usually the next rock they'll turn over to find out who is behind such a tape."
Just recently I got in some trouble when I shopped around a tape from a person in Russia claiming to have the newest, hot celebrity sex tape of Cameron Diaz.
While it wasn't exactly a "sex tape" per se, it did feature topless photos of a then-unknown actress named Diaz. The video and stills were taken back in 1992, long before Diaz became a success in movies like "The Mask" and "There's Something About Mary."
The video was short in length and featured a very young, beautiful Diaz frolicking around an S&M shoot with her hands tightly wound around a leash dragging some beefcake actor like a dog. When I asked to see the model releases, I was told it would be no problem and to write the press release and contact Howard Stern immediately. Needless to say, I grew very suspicious of this man in Russia and told him he would have to wire me my fee and show me proof of the tape's authenticity before I would commence any work on the project.
The money was then wired to my account the next day, but still no sign of the model releases in question appeared.
Then it happened, after a three-day weekend, my cell phone was literally lighting up like a Christmas Tree. It then came to my attention that this company based in Montenegro had released a press release with my name and cell phone number attached to it. The press release even went so far as to quote me regarding the ongoing case behind the tape — which I had no prior knowledge of — and made libelous statements about me viewing the tape and telling the world that I thought Diaz looked "beautiful" in it.
Shortly after, I was contacted by the law firm Lavely and Singer, the most powerful entertainment law firm in Hollywood, boasting high-profile clients like President Clinton, Gov. Schwarzenegger, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. I knew I was going to have to answer a lot of questions and fast. All I can say is that the other people behind the tape were not so lucky.
In summary, a few simple tips when attempting to promote a celebrity sex tape. For starters, keep in mind that no one has the right to use another person's name or likeness without their consent, making almost every celebrity video or picture illegal for most webmasters to use, unless, however, it is shot outdoors. But that's a whole different story you can ask Joe Francis about over at "Girls Gone Wild."
Secondly, understand the liabilities you face from being served by a high-powered law firm whose clients earn upwards to $25 million per movie. These A-listers can afford to hire attorneys for $800 an hour. I don't care if you are the biggest player in the adult web, no one can afford to go against a powerhouse law firm like Lavely and Singer. Thirdly, make sure you are fully aware of the ages of the people in question in such a tape.
I know many webmasters believe they can get away with almost anything. But keep in mind, a lot of celebrities not only have pit bulls for attorneys, but in some cases they have security forces that have trained in the Israeli Army or the U.S. Secret Service. These guys are not afraid to show up on anyone's doorstep unannounced. They know how to play rough and how to make your life miserable if you don't capitulate.
Also, bear in mind that even people who do business offshore are not exempt from prosecution. The people in Russia I had been dealing with were served by Diaz's attorneys, as were many people in other countries by Hilton's attorneys.
Remember, we live in a country that is very litigious; don't fight these attorneys if they come knocking at your door. Simply comply with their wishes and take down your links or pictures if they request to do so. Prosecutions occur every hour of everyday with a lot of these infringers capitalizing off celebrities.
A long lesson learned: It simply isn't worth using other people's names and likenesses unless you fully know what you are doing. Don't become another statistic when it comes to capitalizing on celebrity content. Be educated on your rights as well as the rights of those you are trying to profit from.
Kevin Blatt is currently working on a book about celebrity sex tapes. His consulting business, KB Consulting, is centered around exposing or promoting adult-oriented products to the mainstream press. He also represents Mensniche.