Straight to Video

07.19.14

So You Want to be a Porn Star? Inside the Sex Tape Phenomenon

Contemplating spicing up your sex life with a homemade XXX-film? Think twice about filming that two-minute masterpiece and making yourself the next Paris Hilton (if you're lucky).

A passionate couple decides to mix things up by bringing a camera into the bedroom. Private, intimate, dirty things are captured and then—whoops! The footage mysteriously leaks and suddenly the entire world gets a thrilling look into an act that was meant to be limited to an audience of two. This concept has launched mega-careers and made headlines in a way that intentional porn rarely has. It is also used as a mechanism of revenge after a couple parts ways. The sex tape is more common now than ever, but why does everyone want to be a porn star?

You know, athletes, singers, hotel heiresses, their rich friends, reality stars, and even Joe Citizen next door.

Let’s be honest, popular sex tapes are often a business decision. They have helped fringe celebrities get famous. Remember 1 Night in Paris? Paris Hilton was just another party-hopping socialite until her then-boyfriend, Rick Salomon, released their sex tape. She turned that scandal into a reality TV show.

And that short brunette friend she had who no one remembered? That friend ended up with a sex tape of her own. And Kim Kardashian was born. Without her sex tape launch into fame there might not have been a Keeping up with the Kardashians to keep up with.

Of course there have been flops, too. Teen Mom star Farrah Abraham made a sex tape to kickstart her career. It failed to. But a key difference here is that Farrah starred in her own sex tape with known porn star James Deen, whereas Paris and Kim were both on screen with their respective boyfriends. So it’s obvious why C-grade celebs want to be sex tape porn stars, but why are normal everyday people eager to film themselves?

“In the past people made sex tapes because they were truly risky, naughty deeds and the thrill was a nice little adrenaline bolt. Now I think people just make them to keep up with the Joneses.”

Inviting a camera into the bedroom certainly adds an element of danger and exposure that can be thrilling. Which is what the new movie Sex Tape, starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, is all about. They’re a couple in a rut looking to spice up their sex life with some homemade porn. Of course it leaks to the public, don’t all sex tapes eventually? (Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee learned this the hard way as their “misfortune” paved the way for others. )

But for those not in Hollywood, technology has made it easier than ever to make your own sex tape. Now that most of our phones are equipped with HD video, the ability to capture every dirty detail at the push of a button is irresistible. Everyone is a porn star just waiting to happen. As adult actress Kayden Kross says, “In the past people made sex tapes because they were truly risky, naughty deeds and the thrill was a nice little adrenaline bolt. Now I think people just make them to keep up with the Joneses. We're all porn stars here.”

Even lesser known celebrities gamble by making these tapes. The thrill of viewing celeb sex is like having a front row seat to a show you weren’t supposed to see. When they are real (or at least less obviously fake) the tape offers a chance to see a celebrity in a vulnerably raw position. But when it becomes a transparent ploy for fame it drives fans away. Neither Dustin Diamond nor Tom Sizemore gained much respect after the release of their respective sex tapes. And it did zilch for their careers.

So next time you’re feeling the urge to film, remember that a two-minute video is never just a two-minute video. Sex tapes aren’t always fun and fortune—they can be a disastrous embarrassment. And they can be used as video incrimination or provide for some good old-fashioned shunning.

A quick glance at the tabloids will let you know whose tape might become public next. Yet, as long as there is a thrill to be had or a long shot at fame, people will immortalize their sex for future generations to marvel at.