Meet the Man Who Brokers Celebrity Sex Tapes For a Living
We spoke to Kevin Blatt, the king of celeb porno, to find out how his business works and how the sex tape industry is developing.
According to his Twitter profile, Kevin "KB" Blatt is "the world's only celebrity sex tape broker, and Scandal Specialist." He's the Hollywood sex tape middle man who has helped promote videos featuring everyone from Colin Farrell to Verne "Mini Me" Troyer. Basically, if you've watched a celeb sex tape, you've probably come across Blatt's work.
His first gig was the Paris Hilton/Rick Salomon tape 1 Night in Paris in 2004. He got hold of the tape when he met a roommate of Salomon's named Donald Thrasher and eventually, with legal help, got clearance to put the tape out with Red Light District Video. As a result, Blatt became what he likes to call "an accidental pornographer." And a very rich man. I called him to find out what his job actually involves.
VICE: In your mind, how did the celebrity sex tape thing really kick off?
Kevin Blatt: It really dates back to Larry Flint and Hustler, who printed naked pictures of Jackie Onassis years ago. I think that's what fueled the insatiable interest in celebrities being nude. After the Pamela and Tommy Lee sex tape and the success of it [the couple were filmed having sex on their honeymoon; Anderson has since called it "stolen property"], it all really began with the film I had a part in, 1 Night In Paris.
I was living in California at the time, a very preppy golfing community; nobody knew what I did for a living until there were news trucks outside of my place a mile long. All the interviews and all the press relating to the Paris Hilton sex tape all of a sudden made me a target or, as I like to call it, an accidental pornographer. It kind of opened the floodgates for all these different tapes.
How were people getting hold of these tapes?
I found that a lot of people were coming to me with ill-gotten tapes that somebody found on a computer on Craigslist, or that had been stolen from an airport. People would say, I have a sex tape of Tila Tequila or someone, and I would have to do some vetting, and find out how they got the tape, and were they legally entitled to it? In most cases, people were what you would call a fifty percent copyright holder, meaning that they had sex with the celebrity on the tape, and they owned and shot the tape. This usually happens when you slept with someone who became famous later on in life.
Back then, a lot of people didn't understand the rules of putting out a sex tape, and there was a law that was just put in place called USC22457, a California law stating that to put out any type of adult product commercially, you have to have two signed documents, proving that you are over eighteen years of age and that you would like it to be disseminated. You're giving the authorization for the rights of publicity and for your license.
So if both people didn't sign off on the tape, what did you do?
I turned it into a business when I partnered up with several lawyers. They said, "Well we can always approach celebrities about copyright access and see if they would like to purchase their copyright back or their fifty percent and they could do whatever they like with it."
I know that sounds kind of murky, and it sounds like extortion, and a lot of people call me an extortionist, but no, I'm not. I'm kind of like a modern day Robin Hood—I'm really a celebrity's frontline of defense, because if you have endorsements that are in the $15 to 20 million range, wouldn't you rather be the celebrity that cut a check for $100,000 to make it go away? At least that way the person could never put it out, and if they did, you'd know who did it.
So you almost always walk away with money?
Exactly. My business is like owning a junkyard. You get salvage in, and you try to sell that salvage. All the stuff that I get is of value, and sometimes you have celebrities who are more than willing to pay you a finders' fee to get it back.
Maybe one or two times, a deal has gone south, where the lawyers for the celebrity tell you that they want to do a deal with you, then string you and your lawyer along for many months. They give themselves enough time to come up with a story to go to the media with about why this tape is out there, and then you're left high and dry.
How many big-name tapes were you getting?
At least once every two weeks. Crazy stuff. You would not believe what goes on here in Hollywood every day. I can't really tell you the celebrities that I saw because I have signed off on confidentially agreements, but very straight male actors engaging in very gay sex acts with men... I've seen very successful Hollywood directors who are into foot worship. I see stuff with funnels.
If Paris Hilton was the beginning, has the industry changed since then? When do you think that happened?
After the Kim Kardashian sex tape, the landscape of what we now call the celebrity sex tape totally changed. That became a business model for all these people I like to refer to as D-lebrities—D-listers, people who have reality shows. They are people who are trying to become famous just to be famous.
All of a sudden, young people are looking at Kim having sex, and they are going, Oh my God, all you have to do is sell your body, and you can become famous. It sent a really strange message to the youth of America and elsewhere and is an amazing phenomenon, still.
After that, you suddenly got the bullshit stories that people contrive with these tapes. They'll release their sex tape and then put out a story with it about how it was ill-gotten, when in reality they have already signed off, and we have both signatures. In actuality, they're sending over lighting teams and putting them in locations to have sex like Farrah Abraham. With Farrah, they did such a piss poor job of concocting a good story that they got caught in their own lie. Look at the Kim Kardashian story. If the general public really believes that, then the general public are dumber than I think they are.
When the Fappening happened, were you concerned for your business?
My business is one where I have a code. The code is usually: If the celebrities filmed it themselves, or they knew they were being filmed, I will get involved with it. If it is a clear invasion of privacy like the person didn't know it was getting shot, or the Fappening, I won't touch it.
With the Fappening, they were stolen, so there was no fifty percent copyright holder or permission either from the sender or receiver of those images. I always need that for what I do. When I vet people who bring me tapes, I'm very much like a private eye. Sometimes I'll question them to death to see if their story changes. When I realize that they are fifty percent copyright holders or that it was given to them, and it was all kosher, well then we'll go forward, and we'll make the deal happen.
What do you see for the future of your industry?
I've had more tapes out in this last year than in the last ten years. I see my business only getting bigger and better. If you'd asked me that ten years ago, I would have told you that after Paris Hilton, it was going to dry up, and nobody's ever going to shoot themselves having sex again, and nobody's ever going to put something out commercially.
But people still want to watch that stuff.
I think what people love about a celebrity sex tape is that it humanizes the celebrity, it brings them right down to our stature. Let's face it, we all shit, we all piss, and we all have sex. When you can see the president or a huge celebrity naked and having sex, you go, Oh my God, I'm not supposed to see this. That's entertainment.
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