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How To "Win" A Sex Scandal
From Leathers to Lewinsky, which of these 5 famous scandal makers came out on top?
By Johannah King-Slutzky
Sydney Leathers, Anthony Wiener's sexter extrordinaire, has published a very bloggable and uncontrite "reveal" of courtship advice based on her relationship with the former Congressman. That got us wondering: how does one go about emotionally and financially profiting from a sex scandal, exactly? We surveyed the literature to provide you with the following advice.
If you're in it for the money, the best rule of thumb is find somebody filthy rich. One of Tiger Woods's extramarital girl friends, Rachel Uchitel, was paid $10 million just to keep quiet about her affair with the golfer. Woods's net worth is estimated at $500 million with an annual salary of $85 mil.
Other sex scandal profiteers have a less tangible income. Paris Hilton, whose net worth is currently $100 million, owes much of her success to the timely release of her sex tape in 2003. Allegedly, Rick Salomon (her then-boyfriend and sex tape co-star) asked his buddy Don Thrasher to sell the tape, which Thrasher did-- for $50,000. Thrasher and Salomon split the profits down the middle, which means the pair each made $25K. Hilton later sued Salomon in response to the tape's release and was awarded $400,000 in addition to an unreported sum of earnings from the tape's distribution. (In other words, Salomon came out in the red at -$375,000 for his role in the scandal.) Hilton, on the other hand, has profited significantly. Although Hilton's earnings from The Simple Life -- which premiered shortly after the sex tape's debut -- are not public knowledge, Hilton has reported $1.3 billion in perfume sales since 2005.
And although Syndney Leathers argues that political sex scandals don't make money, Eliot Spitzer's former call girl, Ashley Dupre, made a cumulative $1.3 million for music sales ($300K) and a feature in Hustler ($1 mil) in addition to her cool $4,300/hour as a call girl.
Perhaps the emotional and professional gains to be made from sex scandals are even more significant. Dupre currently works as a sex columnist for the New York Post as "Ask Ashley." On her post Monday night on XO Jane, Sydney Leathers explains that it all comes down to a sense of adventurousness: “With a politician, you have to remember: You're probably not going to get money. You're in it for the thrill of it ... So definitely: Find a horny non-politician to finance your politician sexting...Do things that aren't normal. Like I don't care if it's porno lashes or big heels in bed, just do it.”
Of course, this can be difficult to tally. Monica Lewinsky claims that she's "kind of known for something that's not so great to be known for," but she's also hit the emotional jackpot with intangibles like decades of A-list party invitations and a graduate level education. (Lewinsky's Master's thesis in psychology was titled "In Search of the Impartial Juror: An Exploration of the Third-person effect and Pre-Trial Publicity.”) Here's a choice quote from New York Magazine on the matter:
“Because she is Monica, she is also a sought-after guest at fashion shows, trendy restaurants, club openings, and VIP-list-only events: After spending so long as a virtual pariah, Monica pretty much goes where she's asked, from Manhattan File's '100 Hottest Bachelors' party to Vanity Fair's A-list Oscar party. She's partied at '21' with Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and engaged the likes of NBC's Dan Abrams and ABC's Chris Cuomo in a debate on media ethics over dinner at Tuscan Steak -- after all, she's a TV correspondent, too, reporting on U.S. trends for Britain's Channel 5. In one segment, she notes that 'Manhattan must be the most stressed-out place on the planet,' then relaxes with a facial and color hydrotherapy.”
She also launched a line of purses.
The ultimate sex scandal winner is Estella Marie Thompson, AKA Divine Brown, the prostitute caught giving Hugh Grant an in-car blowjob for sixty bucks in 1995. Here's how we tally it up: in the 'losses' column, there's her $1,150 fine for parole violations and the 180 days she subsequently spent in jail. In the 'financial gains' column she reports a profit of $1.6 million in publicity fees following her appearance on The Howard Stern Show, a TV commercial for an LA radio station, a commercial for Brazilian lingerie, a spread in Penthouse (only semi nude), a job as a presenter on the English porn channel Television X, a docu-drama with Ron Jeremy, and an appearance on Judge Judy in 1999.
But the real fun comes with the emotional/spiritual gains that came from her Hollywood tryst. Besides the obvious bon(er)us (sorry) of blowing Hugh Grant, the short-lived affair also saved her entire family from poverty. The full story is that Brown started hooking when she couldn't pay her family's $133 electricity bill. Post-Grant, Brown now reports that she has moved to Beverly Hills and put her two daughters through private school using the funds from her BJ publicity. From The Daily Mail:
In fact, what happened to Divine Brown reads like an X-rated version of the movie Pretty Woman. She tells how she moved from a modest apartment in her native Oakland, California, to a four bedroom home (with three bathrooms) near Beverly Hills with her 'manager' (she refuses to call him her 'pimp') and father of her children, one 'Gangsta' Brown. At one time or another, according to tonight's episode of Hollywood Lives, the garage housed a Rolls-Royce and a Mercedes Benz. She bought a mink coat on Rodeo Drive and wore diamond earrings, and diamonds around her neck, ankles, even on her feet. 'Everything turned out for the better,' she says. 'It helped me turn my life into something positive. I was blessed that it could get me out of that lifestyle.' Today, she and 'Gangsta' - known to his mother as Alvin C. Brown - are friends but are no longer a couple. In fact, she says she is engaged to a man who runs his own record label.
(I love The Daily Mail.)
To review: want to win a sex scandal? Our advice is: 1) Be a woman, 2) Don't try to profit illicitly, 3) Fuck somebody really rich, and 4) A la 23 year old wise woman Sydney Leathers, "do it for the thrills."
Find Johannah on Twitter @jjjjjjjjohannah