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Why Yacht decided to fight back and make their stolen sex tape available for $5

Claire L. Evans and Jona Bechtolt of YACHT.
Claire L. Evans and Jona Bechtolt of YACHT.
(Albert Kodagolian)

What do you do if the sex tape you recorded in private leaks? It’s a question that, whether anyone wants to admit it, speaks directly to our obsessive culture of preserving all facets of our personal life for replay or digital sharing.

And often that penchant for recording moments of private intimacy bites you in the rear, especially if you’re famous.

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FOR THE RECORD

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May 10, 12:33 p.m.: Questions have been raised about Yacht’s official statement May 9 that it was the victim of a revenge-porn plot. The Times is looking into claims that the incident is a publicity stunt to sell a new single.

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L.A. indie dance pop duo Yacht — composed of Claire L. Evans and Jona Bechtolt — found themselves in an embarrassing predicament after their private video was stolen and uploaded to the Internet on Monday.

The duo, who have been artistic and romantic partners since 2006, didn’t deny the film’s existence or cower in shame.

Instead, they opted to take some control of the breach and put the footage up for sale on their website.

Evans and Bechtolt penned an emotional statement to their fans coming clean about the stolen film, copping to its existence without attempting to “justify the reason” it was made (not that they needed to anyway).

In the open letter, which was posted to Facebook early Monday, the duo said they had begun taking legal action against the “morally abject person” but felt it was important to explain to fans why it happened.

“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 couple wrote. “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 naïve,” the letter continued. “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.”

Initially the couple pleaded with fans to “make the right decision” and not view their private act made public and asked fans who couldn’t resist the temptation to enjoy their music regardless of what they saw on the tape. “We hope you understand that this is not a delicious scandal. This is an exploitation,” they wrote.

Sensing that their explanation might actually generate more interest and curiosity in the tape, they said they wanted to take “some kind of ownership over what has happened.”

“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,” they later wrote.

Controlling how this video is seen, and who profits from it, is the only form of agency we have left over this exploitative situation.

Yacht website statement

Evans and Bechtolt said they came to the resolve after researching some famous celebrity 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,” they wrote.

They launched a site, which we won’t link (mostly because it has a dirty URL, although their bravery hasn’t gone unnoticed here).

The site has a cheeky statement too, along with a grainy night-vision photo of the two most certainly in the throngs of passion, alongside the $5 fee to download the video.

“If you’re here, it’s because you want to see a sex tape,” the site reads. “That’s okay — we’re not here to judge.”

“Controlling how this video is seen, and who profits from it, is the only form of agency we have left over this exploitative situation,” the statement concluded.

Embarrassment aside, nothing quite feels more 2016 than an indie band marketing their own stolen sex tape via social media.

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gerrick.kennedy@latimes.com

Follow me on Twitter @gerrickkennedy


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