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An Arte documentary traces the sulphurous relationship between Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee

An Arte documentary traces the sulphurous relationship between Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee

The most sulphurous couple of the 1990s never ceases to fascinate. After Pam & Tommy, a fictional miniseries put online on Disney+ last winter, makes way for a 52-minute documentary, produced by ITV Studios France, broadcast at 10:40 p.m. this Friday on Arte. There is still talk of the marriage of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, sexuality, dilapidation and voyeurism too, but this time browsing this time with the help of testimonies. We hear the memories of Guerin Swing, a close friend of the couple and fellow stoner, the cold analyzes of American celebrity journalists but also the point of view of Kevin Blatt, “celebrity sextape broker” (yes, it exists ).

Because the famous cassette is of course at the heart of this documentary. We learn how this sextape, which should never have left the couple’s safe, spread like wildfire as the Internet developed. Pamela & Tommy: Sex, Romance and video, also reveals the “class struggle” that reigned in their Hollywood home, but also how the marriage of the star Baywatch in Malibu and the Mötley Crüe drummer ushered in a new era of stardom.

Rockstars vs. Workers

Before the famous theft of the sextape and its broadcast, there is a context, or rather an atmosphere, which reigns within the home of the young newly married couple (just a few days after their meeting in a nightclub, let us remember). Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson ask their friend Guerin Swing to help them design the funniest house possible in the heart of Hollywood, an “amusement park for adults”. The lovebirds and their loved ones are then forced to live with many workers who get down to the task. But the agreement is not perfect on the site, far from it. The workers are nicknamed “the lousy ones” and Tommy Lee, completely paranoid, constantly suspects them of ripping him off.

“A strange class struggle is taking place”, explains the voiceover of the documentary. Humiliated and threatened with a firearm by the rocker as he will tell later, Rand Gaultier, an electrician (who also works in a porn film production company), decides to take revenge. He manages to steal the couple’s safe but above all its contents: Pam and Tommy’s privacy.

A sex tape on the Internet

This sextape will become in a few years as famous as its authors (if not more with regard to Tommy Lee, who has since fallen into the shadows). For this, it will follow a distribution channel still very little known: the Internet. Associated with Milton Ingley, an adult film director, Rand Gaultier makes copies of the original sextape and decides to sell them physically under the coat through sites and advertisements on the Internet. The price ? 60 dollars each, it is specified in the documentary. The couple then searches for the culprit or culprits of the leak and decides to attack each holder of a copy of their sextape. But it is already too late, and its success is far from drying up…

In 1997, the film was made available for the first time on the Internet. Putting it online literally explodes the server of the site that hosts it. In a few years, Pamela Anderson becomes “the most downloaded star of all time” according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Digital virality and early buzz. Like what this sextape is also a story of technological revolutions.

Whistleblowers?

It is also a story of morals in full mutation. The rise of porn, but also as highlighted Pamela & Tommy: Sex, Romance and Video, the entry into a new era: that of voyeurism, an obsession with the private life of public figures and later the staging of his own life on social networks. The witnesses of the time thus observe the rise in power of the paparazzi, who constantly push back the limits of respect for privacy (across the Atlantic, it is Lady Di who is the victim). We now want to know where the stars live, what they eat, who they sleep with and how.

“They were the subject of a viral story, what today would be called an explosion of interest followed by judgment, shame, fame and personal attacks. Which presaged everything that is happening today”, analyzes JD Heyman, former editor of People Magazine and Entertainment Weekly, even using the term “whistleblowers” ​​to qualify Pam and Tommy. A precursor couple of the excesses of the peoplization of celebrity?

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