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What We Learned About Celebrity Sex Tapes From an Expert Witness at the Hogan-Gawker Trial

Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, Testifies In Gawker Media Lawsuit
Terry Bollea, a.k.a. Hulk Hogan, takes the oath in court during his trial against Gawker Media. Photo: John Pendygraft/Getty Images

The final witness on Thursday in the lawsuit between Hulk Hogan and Gawker was a man named Kevin Blatt, a man who holds the distinction of being possibly the only sex-tape broker in the world. He was tied to, perhaps most famously, the tapes featuring Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian.

In a video deposition, Blatt shed a light on the many tactics for getting attention and getting paid that surround the cottage industry.

  • Just the existence of a tape can lead to huge traffic. Part of Blatt’s deposition explains how “when somebody hears of a celebrity sex tape’s existence, people will then go online. They will try to buy up not only the URLs with the alleged celebrity name, but would also look for keywords” to optimize search-engine performance.
  • The site paid Blatt $3,000 to write a letter to Hogan soliciting the tape. The main goal of this was not to actually acquire the footage, but to gain attention for the website.
  • People like these tapes, according to Blatt, because “in a lot of cases, it humanizes the celebrity. It brings them right down to where you and I are.”
  • Tapes involving female celebrities are worth more. “If the celebrity is a female, it can be worth a lot of money. If it’s a male, traditionally it’s not worth as much.”

Blatt’s testimony is part of Hogan’s overall strategy to paint Gawker not as a journalistic outlet, but one that unethically invades celebrity privacy for vast financial gain. Earlier in the day, an expert witness in journalism was called upon to speak about how a “traditional” news outlet would never have published the footage.

A Sex-Tape Expert Explains Their Web Economy