Pamela Anderson
& Tommy Lee

The First Celebrity Sex Tape Scandal to go Viral

Pamela Anderson was a Playboy model, actress, and an iconic sex symbol. Tommy Lee was the drummer of Mötley Crüe and known for his love of partying and his gigantic schlong. Those who hadn't heard of Pam & Tommy would become familiar in 1996, when they're intimate honeymoon video was stolen, reproduced, and streamed on the internet, becoming the first celebrity sex tape to go viral.

Show Notes:

*This is not an exact transcript, but rather an outline of my notes.

This is going to be a short episode because I’ve got a lot going on. First of all, big announcement, I’m writing a book yall!! It’s based on this podcast, it’s called Broken Limelight: Shocking True Crime Stories About Celebrities. It’s going to cover a lot of the episodes I’ve discussed on this podcast so you might already know the stories if you’ve listened to all our episodes. But maybe you know somebody who’s just not a podcast person (and that’s ok) but maybe would like to read the book! The e-book and paperback will be available on Amazon this weekend, and very soon it’ll be on Barnes and Noble and other platforms. I will do an audiobook in the coming weeks, but I don’t have an ETA on that because I’d really like to be the one to do it so it’s gonna take a while. Anyway, if you’re interested just follow up on my social media pages or on the website and I will be sure to post a link to get the book.

Also my band is playing tomorrow (Friday August 19th) and it’s a free show so if you’re in Vegas, come on down! And if you’re not in Vegas, well that’s ok because I’ll be livestreaming it on Facebook Live; So be sure to follow me, Didi West, on Facebook, and catch some of our show!

Lastly, I hope you guys caught our last couple episodes about Bill Cosby, including the interview with Lise Lotte Lublin. You guys, I can’t even tell you how amazing it was to talk to Lise and her husband Benjamin. They’re the nicest people and just so passionate about what they’re doing. And Lise totally gives like favorite-teacher vibes.

Alright, let’s get on with the episode. Today, we’re going to talk about Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. I’m sure everyone remembers their drama but in case you don’t, Pam & Tommy are known for a sex tape that was stolen from their home and distributed for the entire world to see. It was the very first celebrity sex tape scandal and it caused a lot of turmoil in their relationship and in Pamela’s career.

A few months back, I mentioned that I was watching the show Pam & Tommy on Hulu. It’s surprisingly accurate and follows the timeline really closely. When watching the show, one might think that Pam & Tommy’s relationship seems sped up for television purposes, but they actually did move at an impressive pace.

Again, I highly recommend it after you listen to this episode. It stars Lily James and Sebastian Stan as Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. Seth Rogan is also in it, he plays Rand Gauthier, the contractor who stole the tape. In case you’ve already seen the show, I’ll try to point out things that the show portrayed differently so you can separate what’s fact and what was just for the show.

Pamela Anderson was born July 1st, 1967 in Ladysmith, British Columbia. She was known for her work with Playboy and the show Baywatch, but also held roles on sitcoms and movies. Pamela revealed in 2014 that she had suffered sexual abuse as a child. Between the ages of 6 and 10, she was molested by a female babysitter. At 12, she was raped by a 25-year-old-man, and at 14 she waas gang-raped by her boyfriend and 6 of his friends.

Pamela played on the volleyball team in highschool and graduated in 1985. In 1986 she moved to Vancouver and became a fitness instructor.

In 1989, Pamela attended a football game at the BC Place Stadium in Vancouver,where she was featured on the Jumbotron while wearing a Labatt's Beer T-shirt. The brewing company briefly hired her as a spokesmodel. Her then-boyfriend, Dan Ilicic, produced a poster of her image entitled the Blue Zone Girl. In 1989 she made the cover of Playboy magazine’s October issue. She then moved to Los Angeles to pursue a modeling career. She was Playboy of the Month in February 1995. Her Playboy career spans 22 years and she has appeared on more Playboy covers than any other model. She grew interested in acting and got a role in Home Improvement. She left the show to work on Baywatch.

Tommy Lee Bass was born October 3rd, 1962 in Athens, Greece. He was the drummer and founding member of the band Mötley Crüe. He got his first pair of drumsticks at just 4 years old, and his first proper drum kit as a teenager. He dropped out of school to pursue a career in music. As a teenager, he listened to Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Cheap Trick, Kiss, AC/DC and Sweet (which happens to be exactly the type of band that I listen to). In 1981 Tommy Lee and Nikki Six joined Vince Neil and Mick Mars and formed the band Mötley Crüe.

Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee first met on New Year’s Eve 1994 at a Hollywood Club called Sanctuary. Pam sent shots of Goldschläger to everyone at the club. Tommy Lee was drunk and on ecstasy, so took this as an invitation to approach Pamela, grab her face, and lick it from chin to forehead. Pamela then turned to her girlfriend and licked her face, and she turned and did it to another friend, and it became a chain reaction. Pamela thought Tommy seemed cool, friendly, and nice, but when Tommy asked for her number, her friend Melanie warned her to stay away from him. Pamela agreed it was a bad idea, but after asking 10 times, she finally gave him her phone number.

They spent about 6 weeks playing phone tag and when they finally arranged a date, Tommy purchased $400 worth of sex toys and costumes. Pamela forgot about the date because she had to go on a work trip to Cancun. He wanted to go to Cancun to see her, but she asked him not to. He didn’t listen, and instead called every hotel in the area until he figured out where she was staying. When he arrived in Cancun, Pamela’s friends were now encouraging her to go out with him, since he clearly put a lot of effort into wooing her. They went out to Señor Frogs and they felt a magical connection, and this time they were not on drugs. Tommy convinced her to spend the night with him and they spent the next 4 days partying and having sex. 4 days after that first night together, they were married on the beach on February 19th, 1995. Pamela wore a white bikini and after sharing their vows, they ran into the ocean together. Instead of getting wedding bands, they tattooed each others’ names on their ring fingers. Tommy would also later get “Pamela” tattooed on his infamous penis. It wasn’t until their plane ride home that they processed everything. When they arrived in Los Angeles, a barrage of paparazzi and reporters was waiting for them.

They went on their honeymoon in summer of 1995 and this is where the infamous tape was made. However, they didn’t make the film intending it to be a sex tape. It was more like a vacation video that included a lot of intimate moments between newlyweds. This wasn’t never intended for anyone to see, but a contractor and electrician named Rand Gauthier had it out for Tommy Lee and stole the sex tape.

Rand Gauthier had been hired to perform renovations on Tommy Lee’s house. Reportedly, Tommy Lee owed the construction crew about $20,000 and refused to pay them, and then fired them. When Rand and another contractor went back to pick up the equipment they left behind, Tommy held a shotgun up to them and said “Get the fuck off my property.” Rand had never had a gun pointed at him, and it really messed with his head. He wanted revenge.

Rand Gauthier was a guy who felt small his entire life. He lost his virginity to a hooker on his 18th birthday, and he lived in the shadows of his father, who was a Broadway actor. He grew up in Toluca Lake, across the street from Dick Van Dyke and his father was a Broadway actor. His parents were divorced and he had no access to pornography growing up. When he was young his mother became a Jehovah’s Witness and forced Gauthier to go door-to-door with her, inspiring his lifelong obsession with religions, secret societies and cults. He lost his virginity to a hooker on his 18th birthday and performed in some pornographic films, though he said he wished he had a bigger package for it. He said women liked to have anal sex it him because it wasn’t too big.

After Tommy humiliated Rand and held a gun to him, he decided to rob Tommy and Pamela. He spent the entire summer of 1995 hanging around outside of their home, plotting. He was the one who installed the security cameras, so he knew that they would pick up anything unusual. One night in October 1995 at 3AM he snuck onto the property with a white furry rug on his back and crawled on all fours to trick the cameras into thinking that he was the couple’s dog. He snuck into the home while they were sleeping and disabled the cameras before stealing their 6ft safe and rolling it out on a dolley. Rand knew that this safe was where the coulple kept jewels and guns, but he had no idea it would contain a homemade sex tape until he got the safe open, which took more than an hour.

Rand contacted his friend Milton Ingley, a pornographic film actor and producer who helped him make copies of the tape and destroy the original. They approached several companies to have the tape distributed, but no one was willing to take on the risk because Pam and Tommy had not signed a release. They eventually approached a guy named Lou Peraino. That name might sound familiar to you if you listened to our episode about Linda Lovelace. Lou Peraino was known for financing and distributing pornographic films when it was still widely illegal in the United States. For example, the 1972 film Deep Throat starring Linda Lovelace. Peraino was also involved in organized crime. But even he wasn’t comfortable distributing Pam and Tommy’s sex tape in an official capacity.

Instead, he lent Ingley roughly $50,000 to cover manufacturing and distribution of the tape on the Internet, with the expectation that he would receive interest on the loan and a cut of the sales.

The internet was brand spanking new, so it wasn’t very attractive or fast, and video streaming was non-existent. However, it was very anonymous and this made it the perfect black market to distribute the tape.

Ingley used some of the money to make copies of the tape and hire someone to put up a few websites. The sites didn’t show the video itself, but they gave instructions to send a money order for $59.95 to a T-shirt company, which would then funnel the money to a bank account in Amsterdam. Rand took care of shipping the tapes, while Ingley enjoyed the rest of the money from the loan to get himself a room at the plaza in New York, enjoying expensive champagne, escorts, and lots of cocaine. Another guy named Steve who was working with them caught on to the fact that there wasn’t any money, so he ran off with some of the tapes and sold them out of the trunk of his car for $175 each. He sold nearly 500 copies, making about $75,000.

Pam and Tommy didn’t even realize that the safe was missing until January 1996. They actually found out that Pam was pregnant around the same time as the robbery. The couple had already suffered a miscarriage and were so excited to be expecting again.

In the middle of January 1996, they noticed that the safe was missing. They filed a police report and hired Hollywood private investigator Anthony Pellicano to suss out what had happened. They were able to track down Ingley, who admitted he had a copy of the tape but claimed to have bought it from Guerin Swing, the interior designer.

Swing and a friend were hanging out at his bachelor pad when Pellicano showed up one night, wearing a white suit, and immediately shoved Swing down onto the ground. “What’s up, dude?” Swing asked. “Who the fuck are you?”

“Just tell me,” Pellicano replied. “We know you did it! We know you took the tape.”

After a short interrogation, Pellicano realized that Swing knew nothing and left. Soon after, Steve was at Ingley’s studio, doing some work with a porn director named Bobby Bouschard when all of a sudden, they heard motorcycles revving outside. Then five or six big bikers burst into the room and pointed a shotgun at his testicals. They were looking for Rand and Ingley and the tape.

The bikers started coming by the studio every few days, sometimes twice a day, looking for Rand and Ingley. If Rand was there when they heard the motorcycles coming, he and Steve would run to the roof and jump down onto the top of the auto body shop next door. Fasanella lived two blocks away, so if they could make it out a side door, they were safe.

According to Rand, Tommy Lee sent one of his porn-star friends, Candy Vegas, and her friend over to his house to try to seduce Rand into giving back the tape. But so many copies of the tape existed by then that there wasn’t anything anyone could do to stop it from spreading.

With so many people after him and the stolen tape, Rand grew increasingly paranoid and hardly slept. He started crashing at the home of a porn director who went by the name Fred Lincoln and used to manage an adult theater that was owned by the Perainos.

Rand stayed with them for almost an entire year, sleeping in Fred’s daughter’s room while she slept in her parents room. She was a kindergartener so he literally slept in a red bunk bed with a Hunchback of Notre Dame blanket.

Pamela Anderson gave birth to her son, Brandon Thomas Lee, on June 5, 1996. He was born with the help of a midwife in the same bedroom where he was conceived, according to Lee. "That was hands down the best day of my life," Lee recalls. "And half an hour later I sat down at the piano and the song 'Brandon' just came out of me."

Just as Lee and Anderson began to realize that the tape was spreading faster than they could contain it, they got word that Penthouse had acquired a copy. A lawyer for Penthouse promised the magazine wouldn’t publish any images from the tape, but they started to panic. On March 29th, 1996, they filed a $10 million civil lawsuit against everyone they thought might have a copy, including Penthouse, Ingley, Gauthier, and Swing.

The next day, news vans were parked outside of Ingley’s studio and Swing’s parents’ house. A sex tape had been stolen from one of the most famous couples in the world? Everyone wanted to know more.

The judge denied Pam & Tommy’s request for a temporary restraining order against Penthouse. The magazine put out its June issue with Anderson on the cover, along with a written description of the tape, including quoted exchanges. They didn’t have copyright permission to use stills from the tape, so they illustrated the article with stolen Polaroids that had been published abroad.

In August, a different L.A. judge refused to grant the Lees a permanent injunction against Penthouse, largely because it is unheard of for a court to bar a media outlet from publishing something before it has done so. Plus, since Pam Anderson had posed nude several times and because the two discussed their sex life in interviews, Penthouse‘s lawyer argued that the couple had forfeited their privacy rights regarding the video’s content.

(which is bullshit.)

Again, Pam and Tommy were not making “sex tape”. They were filming private moments between a married couple. I don’t care how many times Pamela showed her body in magazines and on TV; that does not mean we have the right to her intimate moments. She never consented to losing her right to privacy.

Since Penthouse had received the tape from “a source,” and no one from the magazine had been directly involved in the burglary, they figured that writing about its contents was fair game. Plus, because the footage included a scene of Anderson rolling a joint and she had told Star the previous year that she didn’t do drugs, the tape itself was legally considered “newsworthy.”

However, because Pamela and Tommy shot the film themselves, they were able to retain copyright over the tape. So Penthouse held off on printing stills or selling the tape, even after winning the case.

In October 1996, Tommy Lee was charged with assaulting a paparazzi. He and Pamela were at a club when photographers started harassing them and pepper-spraying them on their way out. Tommy allegedly threw a cameraman to the ground, and the scuffle was caught on tape, and the videographer thrown to the ground dislocated his hip as a result of the attack.

Lou Peraino started wondering about when he would see his money. With Pam & Tommy’s attorneys coming from one direction and the biker gang from another, Ingley decided to get the hell out of New York. He went to the Netherlands, leaving Rand to deal with their debts.

Numerous websites were processing order after order for that tape. But once a few orders went out, it became apparent that if Ingley and Gauthier could steal a tape and sell it through a website without a copyright or conventional distribution network, couldn’t somebody else just buy one from them and do the same?

A wave of copycat websites started appearing in late 1996, including, and Profits slowed, and Ingley grew desperate. Peraino still needed to be paid. Rand says that Ingley managed to get the initial loan back to him, but he still owed the interest. Ingley knew that Peraino had cancer, and he thought that if he waited in Europe for long enough, Peraino would die and the debt would disappear.

Peraino was convinced that Ingley was hiding money, but he wasn’t sure if Rand was getting a cut or if he was just bringing hundreds of tapes to the post office for nearly a year, without seeing any profits.

So one night, Peraino invited Rand over for dinner. Over linguine and oysters, he snuck teaspoons of sherry into Rand’s merlot when he thought he wasn’t looking. After dinner, he brought out Bing cherries soaked in Everclear. Before long, Rand was wasted and Peraino was firing question after question at him.

“Where is the money? Where are you guys hiding it?”

Fortunately for Rand, he convinced Peraino he had done nothing wrong.

But Peraino decided that he needed to work to pay back the money that Ingley owed him. He had Rand deliver messages to some of the other people who owed him money. Soon, he was working collections for the mob to pay off his own debt.

The court issued an injunction against Ingley in early October of 1997, ordering him to stop copying and selling the tape, but he didn’t care. He sent out his batch of orders in September, and suddenly, LA was abundant with bootlegs.

The tape got in the hands of 25 year old Seth Warshavsky, who was developing early versions of pay-per-click ads, streaming video, and online credit card processing. He had a site called Club Love where he claimed to have live nude performers. He would become the founder of Internet Entertainment Group (IEG).

And yet pretty much everyone in the adult and Internet industries despised Warshavsky. He was a weasley guy who wrote bad checks and owed lots of people money. Warshavsky got a hold of the tape and on November 3rd, 1997, he issued a press release announcing that he intended to broadcast the video online. However, he never thought he would be able to show the tape; he merely wanted the publicity that would come with the announcement and the inevitable lawsuit.

On November 6th, the judge refused to issue an injunction against him, and the following day Warshavsky aired the tape on Club Love on a loop for five hours.

The internet was brand new and while a lot of people didn’t have internet yet, they went and got it so they could watch this video.

By now Pamela & Tommy were exhausted. It seemed like everyone in Los Angeles had seen the tape, and the never-ending series of depositions was invasive and stressful and did nothing to stop the tape’s distribution. Plus, they had a baby and Pamela was now 7 months pregnant with her second child, Dylan Jagger Lee, who would be born in December 1997. So they decided to settle.

Pam and Tommy were under the false impression that they could give Warshavsky permission to show the tape over the web without allowing them to sell it in stores. The couple underestimated the reach of the Internet. Derek Newman, who had just graduated from Pepperdine Law School, was serving as Warshavsky’s lawyer; he prepared the broadest possible release, hoping to get the couple to sign away their copyright over the tape. They did. Within days, anyone who bought a subscription to Club Love had access to the tape.

Warshavsky worked out a deal with Steven Hirsch, owner of Vivid Entertainment, to manufacture VHS, DVD and CD-ROM copies. By February of 1998, anyone could walk into an adult video store and pick one up. They sold hundreds of thousands of copies over the next few years.

“It was a phenomenon, and it really helped catapult this company to the next level,” Hirsch says. “We were just minding our own business, and this came along.”

Warshavsky was even able to chase down copyright violators on the web, getting them to pay him a licensing fee for permission to stream the tape.

Tommy Lee had quite a temper and after Dylan was born, he was struggling with being #3 in Pamela’s life. In 1998, Tommy Lee attacked Pamela Anderson while she was holding their 7 week old son, Dylan. He kicked her backside and left her with bruises and a broken nail, and their son Brandon witnessed the whole thing. Pamela had him arrested and he was sentenced to 6 months in jail for felony spousal abuse. Pamela filed for divorce.

In 2000, the Guinness Book of World Records declared Pamela Anderson the “most-downloaded star” of all time. Millions of websites that had no content related to Pam or Tommy would include the name “Pamela Anderson” in their meta-tags just to boost traffic.

Ingley was back in Amsterdam, seething. How dare Warshavsky and Hirsch make money off of his tape? He completely lost control when he left the country and someone else picked up where he left off.

Rand also made no money off the tape. His eyes would well up every time he heard someone mention it.

Pam and Tommy were furious when they found out their tape was being sold in stores. Or at least they attempted to appear furious. But some believe that them signing away their rights indicates that there may have been a private deal behind the scenes for them to share the profits. Pam has said that she didn’t make a dime from that tape, but Ron Jeremy said he once asked her whether she’d received any money for the tape, and she simply smiled and said, “Well, you know.”

And who could blame them if they did take a private deal? All the lawyers and judges were shrugging and saying that there was nothing to be done. The tapes out, there’s no going back. Her private moments were exposed to the entire world without her permission, so cashing in on it may have seemed like the best possible option.

By 2002, when the federal suit reached court, Warshavsky had moved to Bangkok. He and his business practices were being investigated by the FBI and Department of Justice. A judge ordered his defunct company to pay Pamela & Tommy $740,000 each. Unfortunately, the couple never saw that money.

Both Ingley and Gauthier left porn for good after the sex tape debacle. Peraino died of cancer in 1999 and Ingley returned to California, disheveled and broke. He moved in with his daughter until he died.

Rand Gauthier distanced himself from the porn industry, tired of his friends assuming he was hiding a small fortune somewhere. He began focusing on his electrical work full time before moving up the coast to grow marijuana. Everyone once in a while, he’ll tell someone he was the guy who stole the Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee sex tape. Almost no one believes him. But he likes the fact that he contributed this small token to the world, and he’s always enjoyed watching the tape itself.

“It was cute. They’re in love and a couple and they’re just having fun with each other, and I think that’s great,” he says. “I’m jealous. I wish I had something like that.”

Today he acknowledges that in his attempt to destroy Tommy Lee, he inadvertently made his career.

A guy named Cort St. George, the guy who initially delivered the tape to Warshavsky, ended up managing and then taking control of the web and pay-per-view rights to the video in 2003. But in 2011, he let the license lapse. He says that he feels like there’s a lot of bad karma around that video, as his marriage started to dissolve after he brought the tape to Seattle.

Pamela Anderson’s reputation suffered a lot following the release of the tape. While Tommy Lee was praised for his gigantic penis, Pamela turned into the butt of jokes.

In 2002, she announced that she had contracted Hepatitis C from sharing tattoo needles with Tommy Lee. In 2007 she revealed that she and Tommy would still get together and have sex after the divorce, and in 2008, they announced they were rekindling their relationship. Unfortunately, that was short-lived and they split for good in 2010.

In 2018, Tommy Lee got into an altercation with his son, Brandon, who was 21 at the time. Tommy Lee was upset because he felt that Pamela was rehashing old drama from 20 years ago, referring to his assault charge from 1998. Brandon apparently felt the need to defend his mother and knocked his father out. According to Brandon, this whole thing stemmed from Tommy Lee’s alcoholism and they were genuinely concerned about him. Tommy and Brandon have since patched things up.

Anderson told The Hollywood Reporter, "The kids are adults, and they make all their own decisions. I look at the differences in their personalities and their fearlessness and their ambition and their clarity, and I'm just so proud of both of them."

I always wonder if their relationship would have lasted if not for the sex tape. Tommy Lee did have trouble controlling his temper, so perhaps their marriage was doomed from the beginning. But they had a lot of love for each other and their circumstances made it impossible for their relationship to thrive. At least if not for the sex tape, maybe they could’ve been a happy family for a little while longer. It’s such a shame that the 54 minutes they shared in loving bliss, was ripped from their possession and came back to bite them in the ass.

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