These days we throw around the phrase “breaking the internet” a lot. In our fast-paced, trendy world of endless scrolling and sharing, online phenomena die as quickly as they arise, whether it’s a surprise celebrity couple or a simple meme. But in 1996, before Facebook, YouTube and even Google existed, Baywatch Star Pamela Anderson and MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e drummer Tommy Lee found themselves at the center of an unprecedented viral sensation when their private sex tape was stolen and sold on the web.
The new Hulu series Pam and Tommy, starring Lily James and Sebastian Stan as the featured duo, revisits this show, which began when a disgruntled contractor (played by Seth Rogen on the show) working on the couple’s home planned revenge on them after being fired without pay. His plan was to steal a safe from Lee’s garage; what he found inside were lucrative footage that would lead to a real celebrity sex tape scandal.
As new episodes drop every week, we look back at some of the key moments in the saga involving Anderson and Lee’s turbulent relationship, tape theft, and ensuing legal battle.
Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee meet on New Year’s Eve at the Hollywood club Sanctuary. âI thought he was a cool, friendly, nice guy. I gave her my number,” the actress said. film line magazine, according to New York Post.
A few weeks after they first met, the couple went on their first date in CancÃºn, Mexico. And by “first date,” we mean Anderson was on hand for a photoshoot, and Lee canceled the trip, eager to see her again. After work, Anderson and Lee would see each other to go dancing and attend events. One of the nights, Lee “just proposed!” He just said, “I want to marry you!” â, said the director of the club in which they were. People. The next day, they got married on the beach with eight guests (and without shoes).
A 54-minute home video, containing eight minutes of Anderson and Lee having sex, is stolen from the couple’s Malibu home by electrician Rand Gauthier.
The contractor was laid off from a renovation job on the couple’s mansion and still owed $20,000, which his clients refused to pay him, according to a 2014 report in rolling stone by Amanda Chicago Lewis. When Gauthier and a colleague returned to the Lee-Anderson home after the shooting to retrieve their tools, Lee pointed a shotgun at them. Thus, Gauthier planned his revenge (and spent the whole summer of 95 preparing it). The burglary happened one night in October, a few days before Halloween. Gauthier said rolling stone he jumped the property’s fence, dressed up as the couple’s dog as he walked past security cameras, and emerged around dawn with a safe stolen from the garage, rolled out on a cart.
The magazine notes that there are inconsistencies with Gauthier’s 2014 account and how friends recalled him telling the story closer to the heist, as to whether he committed the robbery alone.
Inside the safe were firearms, jewelry, and an assortment of personal items, including the tape, which Anderson and Lee recorded in the spring and summer of 1995. Gauthier brought the cassette to Milton Ingley, owner of an adult film studio and friend. With a loan from porn mogul Louis “Butchie” Peraino, Gauthier and Ingley made copies of the tape and created websites where people could buy a VHS of the footage.
Anderson and Lee realize their safe is missing in January. They file a police report and hire a private detective. Soon after, they learn that Penthouse The magazine has acquired a copy of the tape but promises not to publish images of it. However, this frightens the couple. In March, they file a $10 million civil lawsuit against PenthouseGauthier and others they thought they had.
For its June 1996 issue, Penthouse puts Anderson on the cover and reports on the tape in detail. Because the outlet did not have permission to use photographs taken from the images, “they illustrated the article with the stolen Polaroids that were first published overseas,” per rolling stone.
“It’s devastating,” Anderson said. CNN while promoting his action movie Barbed wire. “But I really believe that if someone were to print these photos, because it’s stolen property, I really think they’re going to pay for it and I really believe and have faith that it’s going to happen.”
Also in June, the couple welcomes their first son, Brandon Thomas Lee.
A judge dismisses the lawsuit, saying that PenthouseThe images of Anderson and Lee had already been published elsewhere and were therefore no longer private property, according to The Los Angeles Times. The judge also dismissed Anderson’s claims that the magazine exploited his image for profit because the photos were used in a “newsworthy” article.
In October, the court issued an injunction against Ingley, prohibiting him from continuing to sell the tape. In November, Internet Entertainment Group founder Seth Warshavsky announced that he would release the tape on the brand’s website, Club Love (a major publicity stunt). He does so days later after a judge refused to issue an injunction against him, according to the Time.
That same month, Anderson and Lee assigned the video copyright to Warshavsky. At this point, they’re exhausted from all the legal back and forth, from rolling stone. The couple figured that if the tape was distributed online, at least it wouldn’t be sold in stores; but they didn’t realize the power of the internet back then.
Now, Club Love subscribers could view the tape on the site. âWe had thousands of sales a day, every day, for months,â sales and marketing manager Jonathan Silverstein told the outlet in 2014. Warshavsky even struck a deal to have the tape made. in physical copies and sold in stores.
In December, the couple settled a lawsuit against Warshavsky’s Internet Entertainment Group for posting the tape online. They welcome their second son, Dylan Jagger Lee, the same month.
In February, Lee was arrested after Anderson called police, accusing them of assaulting her at her home while she was carrying their two-month-old son, Dylan, Associated press reported at the time. The police report said she had a broken fingernail and red marks on her back. She filed for divorce a few days later.
In May, Lee was sentenced to six months in prison after pleading no contest to domestic abuse charges.
Anderson and Lee are apparently reuniting, with the rocker now out of jail. Weekly entertainment reported that the two were planning to remarry, with the Baywatch star saying, “I picture Tommy and I… old, toothless, on a bench somewhere with our tattoos.” But they separated again the following year.
Anderson and Lee finally get a win. They were each awarded $740,000 in a default judgment in their lawsuits against the Internet Entertainment Group, People reports. An appeals court had since overturned the judge’s original 1998 decision, allowing the case to be reopened. The total awarded to Anderson and Lee was $1.48 million, split between them, equaling IEG’s profits from the tape.
After an on-and-off relationship and brief marriage (in 2006) to Kid Rock and another brief marriage to Rick Solomon, Anderson is back with Lee. The drummer tells rolling stone that year, “Pamela and the kids moved in with me” and that their reunion “really works.” He added: “We only tried 800 times – 801, go.” But they to divide for the last time in 2010.
Two decades after filming the infamous footage, Anderson reflects on the scandal and how it was exploited to benefit other people. She says Andy Cohen to Watch what’s happening live!“I’ve never seen it. I haven’t won a dollar. It was stolen property. We made a deal to stop all the shenanigans. I was seven months pregnant with Dylan and thought that it was affecting the pregnancy with stress and i said ‘I won’t go to court anymore’ I’m no longer deposed by those weird horny male lawyers I don’t want to talk about my vagina or my sex anymore in public, of anything.
In March, Anderson came out publicly against Lee after alleging their 21-year-old son, Brandon, knocked him out. In a statement to People, Brandon responded to his father’s claims by saying, “I am devastated by the events of the past few days which were the result of my father’s alcoholism.” Breaking his silence, Anderson shares a blog post titled “Alcoholism is the Devil”, where she stands by her son and disapproves of her ex-husband’s behavior. âI pray Tommy gets the help he needs. His actions are desperate and humiliating,â she said.
Anderson adds: “I will never speak to Tommy again until he is sober and in his right mind.”
Anderson deletes a mention of the “sex tape” during an appearance on Watch what’s happening live!. When host Andy Cohen asks her, “As a sex tape star, what’s your favorite celebrity sex tape?” She respondâIt was not a sex tape. It was a compilation of vacations during which we were naked,â laughing.
Anderson refrained from addressing Pam and Tommy ahead of the show’s premiere on February 2.
In January, a source said entertainment tonighthowever, “The next Pam and Tommy The Hulu series has been very painful for Pamela Anderson and everyone who loves her. It is shocking that this series can happen without his approval.
The insider added, âTommy feels good about the show coming out and is thrilled to see it. He still doesnât understand how this incident affects Pamela any differently than he did.â
Lee himself said HEY in September 2021, “I know SÃ©bastien, he plays me. From what he told me, a very nice story. He added: “I think a lot of people would think that’s one thing, but it’s really about privacy and how crazy things got at the time. There are different laws now.
Pam and Tommy is now streaming on Hulu.
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