The story behind the most explosive sex tape in history plays out like a heist movie complete with a rock star, a Playboy Playmate, a disgruntled electrician and the mafia. All sex tapes have crazy stories behind how they were leaked, but the 1995 theft of footage filmed by Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee by an electrician named Rand Gauthier tops them all. Along the way, Gauthier gets caught up with in organized activity, the explicit content industry, and for a quick second actually makes a little cash off of the taking and distribution of the Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson sex tape before everything falls apart.
The world’s most famous celebrity sex tape sold close to half a million copies, and that’s only counting the copies that were sold through legitimate sources. But despite the runaway sales and high-profile lawsuits, no one really came out on top. Gauthier lost all his money, Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson supposedly never made a dime off the sale of their private video, and whereabouts of countless other people who were involved with the incident are unknown. Knowing the end of the story doesn’t make the chase any less interesting.
Rand Gauthier's plan to get into Tommy Lee's three-story Spanish-style house didn't involve a ski mask and the usual schemes. Instead, he snuck onto the premises while pretending to be a sheep dog. Wrapped in a Tibetan yak fur rug, Gauthier crawled on his hands and knees through the front yard, so he wouldn't be detected by the cameras.
After making it into the garage, which had been converted into a recording studio, Gauther disassembled an entire mixing console in order to get to the safe installed behind it. According to Lee the safe was "as big as a fridge and weighed 500 pounds when it was empty" but Gauthier claims that he moved it completely on his own.
Once he'd removed the safe from the wall, Gauthier put everything back together how he found it and brought the safe out to his truck, under the rug, by carrying it on his back. Authorities were baffled at how Gauthier moved the safe into his truck on his own.
Before the incident, Gauthier was an electrician who thought he lucked into a job working for one of the wealthiest rock stars of all time. He dutifully laid wire and set up security cameras while he watched Lee hang out around the pool and live it up.
By the end of the Gauthier's time working on Lee's house, he claims to have been owed $20,000. After failing to get his money on numerous occasions, Gauthier claims he decided to forget about it. However, when he returned to the house to retrieve his tools, an armed Tommy Lee confronted him. After that, Gauthier decided to make the rock star feel foolish.
Gauthier expected bidding to escalate between companies clamoring to distribute the Tommy Lee and Pam Anderson tape, but in 1995 that wasn't the case. While excitement for the tape ran wild in the adult community, no one wanted to deal with the impending lawsuit.
Gauthier, who appeared in a few explicit films in the late '80s before becoming an electrician, occasionally worked on film sets where he was allegedly known as a "studio troll." He reached out to his connections, but everyone balked at helping him find distribution.
Ron Jeremy explained to Rolling Stone, "[It] was so strict and scary back in those days. If you're [getting it on], you better believe you gotta have a release."
After failing to find "legit" distribution from his industry connections, Gauthier asked for money from a less reputable group of people - organized crime. He reached out to Louis "Butchie" Peraino, a member of the Colombo family, the same family who helped distribute 1972's Deep Throat.
At the time, Peraino was running Arrow Video, a company that distributed filthy features. He didn't want to outright distribute the film, so he loaned Gauthier $50,000 for manufacturing and distribution of the tape via the internet.