Season Two of the podcast Tabloid starts by challenging our assumptions about sex tapes. Specifically, that whoever made them must have released them on purpose. Particularly at a time when people share every facet of their life for attention on social media, it’s hard to imagine recording anything — let alone something as tantalizing as sex — just for yourself. But that’s what Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee did.
Married after a four-day courtship in 1995, Baywatch star and icon of augmented beauty ideals Pamela Anderson and Motley Crüe drummer and notorious bad boy Tommy Lee were a couple of outrageous celebrity personalities living a whirlwind romance. But like many families in the 1990s, the newlyweds documented moments of their relationship on home videos, most of them mundane (or relatively so): Lee pointing out a tomato growing alongside the couple’s driveway, blurry footage of their wedding ceremony, Anderson getting a tattoo, them hanging out in their jacuzzi with home renovations underway in the background. Among all this, there’s a few minutes of sex. It’s boring, predictable, intimate sex. They say “I love you” at the end. Not super edgy.
Considered the sex tape that started it all — the tape that walked so Paris Hilton’s and Kim Kardashian’s could run — Anderson and Lee’s tape was actually never meant to be shared. Yet the video tape was stolen, and wound up on video store shelves. The tape became a major news story, despite Lee and Anderson suing, unsuccessfully, to fight its release. They didn’t earn much sympathy, either, as many people assumed they’d engineered the whole thing for publicity.
Drawing in part on reporting from a 2014 Rolling Stone feature by Amanda Chicago Lewis, the Pam and Tommy Sex Tape from New York Magazine and Luminary reappraises the public reaction to the video and places its release in a larger legacy of not just sex tapes but also privacy and exposure, and how one can give way to the other in an instant.
Over eight episodes, host and sex writer Lux Alptraum interviews managers, friends, and co-stars of the couple, as well as Lewis and others about how the tape got out and what it meant, then and now.