If You're a Black Woman on TV, a Sex Tape Is Never Just a Sex Tape

A new sex tape trailer has emerged featuring VH1’s Love & Hip Hop reality star Mimi Faust. But will her trip into porn with her co-star and boyfriend Nikko Smith lead to a Vogue cover like Kim Kardashian? Probably not.

No one — or hardly anyone — had ever heard of Kim Kardashian before her sex tape, made in 2003 and "leaked" in 2007, with ex-boyfriend Ray J. That video gave her name recognition in circles that follow celebrity gossip and was, in turn, the genesis of her reality show, her relationship with Kanye West, her Vogue cover, and her general status as a household name. Pretty much everything Kardashian starts with that tape. Boring as that thing was — she really does just lay there — her mother Kris Jenner flipped that “accident” into the Kardashian empire as we now know it. Hell, even that baby clothing line Kim just released is all because we saw her sex tape. (Sorry, North.)

It worked for Kim. But the question is, can the fickle limelight associated with unplanned (and planned) pornos translate to fame and fortune for other reality stars?

Enter Love & Hip Hop’s Mimi Faust.

I must admit up front that I don't watch and therefore don't enjoy the African American telenovella that is Love & Hip Hop. I hate foolish reality TV because I feel like my brain is melting and, on a personal note, I simply can’t watch my old Source magazine boss Benzino make out with people in hot tubs. I ain’t gon’ do it. That said, many of my friends and colleagues watch the scripted reality show. So when Mimi and Nikko’s porn trailer hit TMZ, my social media feeds exploded with memes and comments.

A running joke in the entertainment industry has long been that when all else fails, make a sex tape. Sometimes it does increase a person's star power. Remember that weird night-vision clip, One Night in Paris, with Paris Hilton and then-beau Rick Salomon? It didn't seem planned but the tape certainly didn't hurt Paris' "career." And then there's teen mom Farrah Abraham's sex tape/porno, a career-extending move if there ever were one.

The new season of Love & Hip Hop rolls toward its debut, and suddenly Mimi’s trailer leaks, Black Twitter explodes with jokes about indestructible shower rods (Mimi is hanging from one during a shower sex scene in the trailer) and many people begin shaking their heads at Mimi’s behavior. What will become of her daughter? Why did she let herself sink so low? You get the idea.

But guess what? Stevie J, her daughter’s father, has a sex tape of his own with Eve (fast forward to 2:35).

The video, which leaked by accident — or perhaps by Stevie himself — in the aughts, features the two using all kinds of different sex toys for pleasure. It even got a shout out in a 50 Cent song. But where’s the outcry from Love & Hip Hop fans on that tidbit? Maybe because Stevie’s reality show character seems to be the lowest of the low, no one expects any better of him? Or maybe society really does get a kick out of trying to control a woman’s sexuality?

As for Mona Scott, the creator of Love & Hip Hop, she knows what incites her audience. If she’s in any way involved with encouraging Mimi to do the sex tape, that was a trashy (but shrewd) move. But what were we to expect? This ain't the gospel-driven Mary Mary.

As for Mimi, I'm willing to bet that years from now, she won't have Anna Wintour tapping her for a magazine cover or E! clamoring to film her trip to Starbucks. Black women don't always get to flounce their sexuality the way others can. Ours can be a burden that works against us, thanks to old racial stereotypes that date back to slavery. While other skin colors can often be free with their sexuality, sans explanation, the sexual freedom enjoyed by black women is met with judgment and, in turn, leaves us feeling obligated to justify our own sexuality. And so a black woman's sex tape is never just a sex tape.

Mimi and Nikko's full-length sex tape is scheduled to be released next month, so we'll all get to see how this experiment in celebrity plays out.


Image via Vivid.