"Kim Kardashian, Superstar" is the most-watched X-rated video of all time, and its success makes it difficult to believe that Kardashian or her mother, Kris Jenner, had no part in leaking it.
Kardashian has always maintained that no one in her family, including herself, was involved in the leak. In fact, she originally filed a lawsuit to prevent Vivid from releasing the tape.
But there have always been skeptics. Kardashian Dynasty, a biography about the family published last year, claims that Vivid would never have announced its plans to release the tape unless they knew Kardashian would give her consent once they agreed on a price. Author Ian Halperin goes on to say that Kardashian's lawsuit was “nothing more than an attempt to portray herself as a victim of an unscrupulous thief or Ray J himself.”
We now have a much better understanding of what happened thanks to Page Six's interviews with key players from the time.
Vivid Entertainment CEO Steve Hirsch maintains that the s£x tape was delivered to Vivid by a third party.
Hirsch told Page Six that he pursued the tape not because Kardashian was a celebrity, but because of all the people she was associated with. His statements directly contradict Halperin's claims that Kardashian was involved from the start.
“The next step was trying to get a deal done. She wasn’t involved in that. It was trying to get a deal done with the people who had the footage. They had guaranteed that we would be able to distribute it. I questioned that as time went on … I think we announced we had the footage, and that’s when we started getting legal letters from Kim’s attorney.”
Hirsch also claims that neither Kardashian nor her mother were involved in the tape's initial sale.
Both Kardashian and Ray J had to sign away their rights to Vivid in order for the tape to be legally released. There is no doubt about it. However, there is some disagreement over the notion that the company would never have attempted to acquire the rights to the video if one of the participants was not interested. That, according to Hirsch, is not the case.
“It was a very difficult time, and ultimately we were able to come to an agreement. It was a very difficult deal to get done. Probably [the hardest deal we’ve done]. [Kim] did not want it to happen,” he told Page Six. “I know people have speculated on [whether she planned the release of the tape from the beginning], but the facts are the facts. A lot of nonsense has been reported over the years … [The persistent rumors about Kris Jenner, Kardashian’s mother, being involved in selling the tape are] such nonsense. I don’t know who started that. [People don’t want] the truth to get in the way of a good story … I had no contact with [Kris].”
Karrine Steffans, a former “Video Vixen” who previously dated Ray J, told Page Six that the singer believed the s£x tape would “bring him wealth and more fame.”
According to multiple sources, Kardashian did not want the tape to be made public before eventually giving in and settling with Vivid to release the video. Steffans, on the other hand, claims Ray J was convinced this would help him escape the shadow of his older sister Brandy.
“And he really, really, really, really believed — really in his heart of hearts believed — that this s£x tape was going to finally make him white-girl famous,” she told Page Six. “It’s a different kind of famous. White girls can do anything and be famous; a white girl could slip and fall in the middle of Rodeo Drive and all of a sudden she’s a star. Black women can’t do that, and certainly black men can’t do that, and white men can’t do that.”
In the end, Kardashian sold Vivid the footage so they were legally able to distribute it. It’s been reported that she was paid $5 million, a figure that Kardashian’s lawyer, Marty Singer, told Page Six is “greatly inflated.” Hirsch declined to comment other than to say the company hasn’t disputed it.
Kardashian’s tape was likely the last “successful” celebrity s£x tape, according to Jim McBride, who runs the celebrity nudity website Mr. Skin.
2007 was a far different time in celebrity culture, where the media treated invasions of privacy with gleeful abandon. McBride points out that today, after events like “The Fappening” ― where dozens of female celebrities had nude photos hacked and posted online ― it’s doubtful a company such as Vivid could ever market a s£x tape in the same manner as Kardashian’s.
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“Look at the ‘Fappening’ and even the thing that happened to Erin Andrews [the ESPN reporter who was secretly filmed undressing in a hotel room, the video of which went viral in 2009]. Every person today on their private phone has something they probably don’t want people to see, whether it be nude pics, s£x pics, or something they don’t want out there. I think when the ‘Fappening’ happened, it made everyone feel vulnerable.”