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YACHT Drop “Real” Sex Tape on Pornhub, Then Publicly Respond to the Backlash

Update: YACHT issued a statement clarifying their "sex tape" was not intended to make light of the victims of revenge porn.

by Michelle Lhooq and Anna Codrea-Rado
May 10 2016, 4:20pm

Screengrab from Pornhub

Update [May 11, 3PM]: YACHT issued another apology on their Facebook page today. They wrote: "We're sorry for our shitty non-apology yesterday, too. There's no justifying it. We clearly didn't get it then. We get it now." The band also did an interview with PAPER Mag in which they explained why they did the "sex tape project" in the first place.

Yesterday, pop duo and real-life couple YACHT got everyone in a tizzy when they announced that they'd had a sex tape leaked—and that they were taking ownership of the incident by selling said tape on their website for $5. We strongly suspected the stunt to be a hoax—based on the fact that no one (except for celebrities who appeared to be in on the joke) had actually seen the tape, as well as other inconsistencies in their story.

It turns out that our hunch was right. Today, YACHT just dropped their real "sex tape" on Pornhub—which features Claire Evans and Jona Bechtolt giggling and cuddling in a room, before ripping off their faces for a surprise (and decidedly sci-fi) ending.

According to a report from Jezebel posted today, the band had been planning this stunt for some time as part of a promotional plan for one of its music video. Quoting an email sent to an editor at sister publication Gawker in April, Jezebel said the band wrote: "For the upcoming music video for our song, 'I Wanna Fuck You Til I'm Dead,' we're faking a sex tape leak. In the days leading up to the video's release, we're going to pretend we were hacked, share and delete confessional social media posts on the subject of our privacy, then try to "get out in front of it" and sell the sex tape, fake a server crash, etc."

The revelation that YACHT's claims to have had their sex tape leaked turned out to be fake sparked outrage across social media from journalists, DJs, and fans.

Even Kim Kardashian appeared to have subtweeted about it.

Some media outlets, including Noisey and Jezebel, accused YACHT of taking advantage of people's sympathy for victims of revenge porn. The parallel drawn was that YACHT's original Facebook post described being hacked and having a video of their private sexual activities distributed without their consent, something commonly understood as the definition of revenge porn. Noisey's Dan Ozzi wrote: "The band made new fans, they sold more albums, and they got their name in the news. But at what cost?"

Jes Skolnik, Bandcamp Managing Editor and herself a rape survivor, wrote a powerful essay on Medium about how the fallout could have negative consequences for the victims of sexual violence. "You can call it a hoax, you can call it an art project, you can call it commentary on the state of media today, but it is an abuse of people's trust and faith, it is an abuse of hard-won public empathy, it sets the work that I and others have been doing for decades back," she said.

Responding to the public outcry, this afternoon YACHT issued a statement clarifying what happened.

"We did make a 'sex tape,' and we want you to watch it. We released it as a slowly-unveiling conspiracy, inspired in equal part by The X-Files, Nathan for You, and The KLF. It's a project that allowed us to play with science fiction, the attention economy, clickbait journalism, and celebrity sex tapes all at once," they wrote.

The statement went on to address the accusations that Evans and Bechtolt made light of revenge porn, saying they would "never make light of victims of any form of sexual abuse." Evans and Bechtolt pointed to the media as part of the problem, saying "it's disturbing to us that press outlets could make the incredibly irresponsible leap from 'celebrity sex tape,' which is the cultural trope this project explicitly references, to 'revenge porn,' which is unfunny, disgusting, morally repugnant, and completely unrelated."

They went on to thank their fans for their support, assuring them the band will "need to try much harder to fool you."

Anna Codrea-Rado is THUMP's News Editor and Michelle Lhooq is the Features Editor.

Sex Tape