UPDATE: Yacht lied about this story in order to promote a new music video. Follow this link to Jezebel to read all the details. That said, we’re leaving this post up because we believe it has good points to make should this kind of thing actually happen to someone down the line.
ORIGINAL POST: Some of our readers may be too young to remember this, but the digital world changed forever when a sex tape featuring actress Pamela Anderson and Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee surfaced back in 1998. The tape, which was initially stolen from the couple after their honeymoon in 1995, quickly became a talking point throughout the entertainment world. It also signaled the start of an era where celebrity sex tapes were in high demand, earning top dollar from porn sites regardless of how they were obtained. Some thought such clips would destroy careers, but in the nearly two decades since that time the opposite has proven true more often than not. From Kim Kardashian to Farrah Abraham, there are now dozens of celebrity sex tapes available to the public, many of which were released with the sole intention of raising the public profiles of those involved, but it’s important to remember not everyone wants their most intimate moments seen by the world’s digital voyeurs. Still, if a clip does exist, the chances of it getting out are infinitely more likely than if no such footage were ever shot.
This brings us to Yacht, an indie-pop/rock group that has been tearing up the underground since 2002. Frontman Jona Bechtolt and frontwoman Claire Evans – who have been romantic and artistic partners since 2006 – revealed this week that a sex tape they created for themselves has been leaked online by quote, “a morally abject person.” The duo has already spoken to legal council about what can be done to take action against the individual in question, but they also recognize there is no way to stop the clip from circulating online. So, in a move that has shocked many in the music community, the duo has chosen to not fight the clip and instead embrace it by selling the footage themselves through a new website launched yesterday morning, May 9.
Here’s an excerpt from the group’s open letter to fans, which was posted to their Facebook on Monday afternoon:
This is an uncomfortable and pretty bizarre situation for us to be in, but it’s made better by the evidence that we have fans like you.
Since this happened we’ve been researching sex tapes. It shouldn’t have come as any surprise that Pamela Anderson never saw a dime from the tape she filmed with Tommy Lee, and Paris Hilton lost a court battle with the man who leaked their private video. We’re not as savvy as the Kardashians, but something occurred to us this morning: we could try and distribute the video directly to you ourselves. Lemonade?
This video is out there now. We can’t change that. But we can try to be “as YACHT as possible” about it and take some kind of ownership over what has happened. So we’re asking you one thing: if you feel like you 100% have to see this tape, don’t stream it on some tube site, or download a torrent. Instead, we beg of you to download the video, Louis C.K.-style, directly from us.
Huge thanks to our friend Daniel Bogan for cobbling this site together last night, and to the people that make free tools and easily accessible platforms like Let’s Encrypt, Bootstrap, and Stripe that made it much less painful. At the very least we can laugh about this URL:
It should go without saying that the link above should be considered not safe for work, but just in case you need us to spell it out: THE LINK ABOVE TAKES YOU TO A SITE THAT EXISTS TO SELL PORN. DO NOT CLICK IF YOU ARE NOT IN A PLACE TO SEE PORN.
Yacht’s decision to take control of how their leaked sex tape is distributed online marks the beginning of a new era for celebrity sex tapes. Before now, celebrities who wanted to control who saw their sex tape had also made their tape with the intent of sharing the footage with the public. This is not the case with Yacht. What people witness when viewing the Yacht sex tape is two people being intimate in a setting and situation they never expected anyone other than themselves to see. Their decision to try and profit from the leak may not be something everyone could stomach, but from their perspective as well as our it’s the only move that can be made that offers any real benefit to the group. The tape is already online, so removing it would be next to impossible, and if they didn’t sell it themselves you can bet someone else would. If not, the clip would be available for free on porn streaming sites and the site owners would make money off the advertising that appears alongside the footage. Either way, Bechtolt and Evans would get nothing.
Whether or not Yacht’s decision becomes the norm in future sex tape leaks remains to be seen, but it very well could. After all, if you cannot undo something you might as well try to profit, right?