A Los Angeles-based musical duo who are also in a romantic relationship are selling their own sex tape, after they say someone stole it and disseminated it (for obvious reasons, they didn’t specify where the video was released or how widely it has been seen). The couple are asking that nobody view the tape but, if you must, “we beg of you to download the video, Louis C.K.-style, directly from us.”
Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans are the frontpeople for YACHT, a Los Angeles-based band originally from Portland. In a Facebook post which we saw via Fader, they write that a private video of theirs became public “due to a series of technological missteps and one morally abject person”:
Claire and I — who have been romantic and artistic partners since 2006 — made a “sex tape.” It was intended for us only. We don’t feel the need to justify the reason we made it. Anyone reading this who has been in a long term partnership understands that preserving the relationship is an ever-changing and challenging thing. It’s especially difficult when the lines between career and romance are as merged as ours are. The financial pressures that we’ve been under, which de facto extend into our extracurricular lives, created a circumstance in which we felt like we needed a bit of an escape from the day-to-day. So we turned on a camera, became naked, and had sex. We assumed that we were the only people who would be privy to that video. I guess we were naive. Now you have the option to be privy to that video. For us, that’s a shame.
We feel like art is an act of generosity. The art we make for the public is for that expressed purpose. And now we’re in an awkward situation where the art that we made for us and us alone is being viewed by anyone who has the inclination to hit play — a true and humiliating blurring of the public and private.
The couple says they’ve initiated legal proceedings against the person who stole the video. In the meantime, they add, “our hope is that you fundamentally understand that choice and you choose not to view a private act that was inadvertently made public. We hope you understand that this is not a delicious scandal. This is an exploitation.”
In an update a couple hours later, Evans and Bechtolt added that with the help of a friend, they’ve chosen to post the video themselves, on a site where it’s available for purchase:
This video is out there now. We can’t change that. But we can try to be “as YACHT as possible” about it and take some kind of ownership over what has happened. So we’re asking you one thing: if you feel like you 100% have to see this tape, don’t stream it on some tube site, or download a torrent. Instead, we beg of you to download the video, Louis C.K.-style, directly from us.
The site where the video can be purchased reads:
If you’re here, it’s because you want to see a sex tape made by Claire Evans and Jona Bechtolt of the band YACHT. That’s okay—we’re not here to judge. A video that we made privately has been released to the public. We have commenced legal proceedings against the individual who made it available without our consent. That said, we don’t have any illusion that this tape is ever going to vanish completely from the internet.
Instead, we’ve created a platform for you to purchase and download the video directly from us. If you absolutely must see this video, we ask that you refrain from downloading it from a torrent, or streaming it on a tube site. Controlling how this video is seen, and who profits from it, is the only form of agency we have left over this exploitative situation.
Please do the right thing. Thank you for your support.
With love and respect,
Claire and Jona
This is a tactic a few people have taken before: Danish journalist and activist Emma Holten had her email hacked last year and nude photos of her stolen; she responded by taking new photos and releasing them on her own terms. The artist Molly Soda, too, released her own nude iPhone photos, part of a project titled Should I Send This? that’s about emotional and physical vulnerability and the anxiety of exposure. (Soda’s zine also included poetry, journal entries and other “private” material that wasn’t constituted from the NSFW kind.)
But YACHT’s announcement feels a little different: because it’s a response to an alleged crime committed against them, and because it’s intertwined with a frank acknowledgement of the band’s financial struggles and their understanding that any legal action they take likely won’t net them a dime:
Since this happened we’ve been researching sex tapes. It shouldn’t have come as any surprise that Pamela Anderson never saw a dime from the tape she filmed with Tommy Lee, and Paris Hilton lost a court battle with the man who leaked their private video. We’re not as savvy as the Kardashians, but something occurred to us this morning: we could try and distribute the video directly to you ourselves. Lemonade?
The release of the video is getting a wave of positive attention and moral support for the band. The author and filmmaker Miranda July would like you to know she purchased the tape, and it was hot.
Duly noted, Miranda. Not really the point, and not necessarily what the band was going for here, but noted.
Update, 10:50 p.m.:
We received a tip that this is in fact a hoax, timed to hype a video the band is planning to release tomorrow.
Over at Vice’s Thump blog, Michelle Lhooq also speculates this is a hoax, pointing out that the only people who say they’ve seen the video are celebrity friends of the band.
Unlike whatever this is, revenge porn is real and devastating and has destroyed people’s lives. Trolling the innate sympathy and compassion people feel when confronted with an apparent gross violation of privacy— that would be a real, real shitty thing to do.
Bechtolt and Evans. Screenshot via YouTube/Jessica Sain-Baird