Fact vs Fiction — 'Pam & Tommy' season 1 episode 3: how did the stolen sex tape get leaked?

Pam & Tommy Taylor Schilling Seth Rogen
Taylor Schilling and Seth Rogen in 'Pam & Tommy' (Image credit: Erin Simkin/Hulu)

This post contains spoilers for Pam & Tommy season 1 episode 3, "Jane Fonda." 

“This is so private. It’s like we’re seeing something we’re not supposed to be seeing,” Uncle Miltie (Nick Offerman) says about the infamous tape in the opening scene of Pam & Tommy’s third episode. Despite this accurate reflection about its contents, Miltie also knows he has a potential goldmine on his hands. So the mere notion of privacy is something he sees as a selling point and not a reason to forget they ever saw Pamela Anderson (Lily James) and Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan) at their most intimate.

After showing the events that led up to the theft and the whirlwind romance that preceded the Lake Mead trip (where the couple made the tape), Pam & Tommy returns to the moment Rand Gauthier (Seth Rogen) and Miltie set their money-making scheme in motion. The majority of this episode is set in the present-day 1995 timeline, but a quick flashback to five years earlier reveals how Rand made connections in adult entertainment. 

A plumbing emergency introduced him to future-wife Erica (Taylor Schilling) and the porn industry, which is why he knows who to contact when he discovered the tape in Lee’s safe. In the present, Erica and Rand are separated, but he is clearly still in love with her — even though she has moved on — citing finances as the reason why they haven’t divorced. It is through a different plumbing issue that Rand gets the idea to release the tape onto the World Wide Web, which has 30 million active users at this point and is still in its infancy.     

Meanwhile. Pam is on the Baywatch set trying to propel her career forward even if those around her only see value in her looks. A big monologue she has worked hard on is replaced with the usual running and reaction shots, much to her disappointment. Pam is also preparing for the Barb Wire press tour and has no idea her private life is about to become the story. 

We are going to separate fact from fiction in the limited series Pam & Tommy. This episode-by-episode guide explores the major players in the distribution of the tape and the legal ramifications of this theft. Plus, is Jane Fonda someone Pam considers a role model?   

Who is Uncle Miltie? 

Nick Offerman in Pam & Tommy

Nick Offerman in 'Pam & Tommy' (Image credit: Kelsey McNeal/Hulu)

At the end of episode 1 “Drilling and Pounding,” Rand turns to Uncle Miltie in a bid to find out what is on the tape. The fact it was being stored in a safe suggests the contents might be sensitive, so who better than a guy whose entire business involves sensitive material. Plus, Miltie has the expensive equipment needed to play a Hi8 tape. 

In the Rolling Stone article that Pam & Tommy is based on, Miltie is described as “an overweight pipesmoking cheapskate studio owner” who Rand became friends with after he fixed some equipment for him. “Milton was the king of wheeling and dealing. He knew how to make a nickel into two dollars. Always schmoozing,” is how Gauthier regarded the man he went into business with — as well as trusted to be his "money guy."

Did everyone pass on distributing the tape? 

Nick Offerman and Seth Rogen in Pam & Tommy

Nick Offerman and Seth Rogen in 'Pam & Tommy' (Image credit: Kelsey McNeal/Hulu)

Despite knowing all the big (and small) hitters in the adult entertainment industry, it wasn’t a simple case of selling it to the highest bidder: no one wanted to touch something that had been acquired via illegal means. “They are not specifically involved in this venture, per se,” says Rand in Pam & Tommy when he is asked about the “stars” of the sex tape. 

“So you have releases?” is a standard follow-up question that the pair were met with and Rand’s claim that he “enacted a seizure” to pay for services is laughable to the men who run legitimate businesses. 

“We passed. Porn was so strict and scary back in those days. If you’re f***ing you better believe you gotta have a release,” Ron Jeremy told Rolling Stone about the legal red tape that caused everyone to turn Gauthier away. These producers also want to avoid a lengthy and expensive legal battle that will begin as soon as that VHS hits shelves.  

Who is Louis “Butchie” Peraino?

Andrew Dice Clay in Pam & Tommy

Andrew Dice Clay in 'Pam & Tommy' (Image credit: Kelsey McNeal/Hulu)

Rand and Miltie won’t let a little thing like a crime get in their way of a big payday (and karmic retribution as Rand sees it), so Miltie suggests turning to the man who helped finance and distribute perhaps the most famous adult movie, Deep Throat  as well as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre — via his legitimate business. It just so happens this choice opens them up to the mob as Louis “Butchie” Peraino’s father was a part of the Colombo crime family from New York City. 

Butchie (Andrew Dice Clay) is hesitant because “you don’t make s*** off these things,” as it will get shut down by the cops before they've made a buck. However, he is picturing a pre-internet world of incidents involving Rob Lowe, Marlon Brando and Sylvester Stallone. There have long been rumors of celebrity sex tapes featuring Marilyn Monroe and even late-night host Johnny Carson, but until the mid-90s there was no way to make any money off these ventures. 

After Rand lays out his plan to use the World Wide Web, Butchie agrees to front them $50,000 for costs, but it is a loan he will be seeking a massive return on. It is this straight-from-a-movie deal that might seem fantastical but this venture was financed in this manner.

Is Jane Fonda someone Pam Anderson considers a role model?

Mozhan Navabi in Pam & Tommy

Mozhan Marnò in 'Pam & Tommy' (Image credit: Kelsey McNeal/Hulu)

Yes! While it is unclear whether Anderson had a conversation with a publicist like this before the Barb Wire press tour, she has mentioned the legendary actress and activist in a more recent conversation. In a 2015 interview with Elle, Anderson referred to Fonda as one of her beauty icons: “I like all the old-fashioned icons. My friends are artists, so they make me up to look like certain people. I am more inspired by people like Jane Fonda or Brigitte Bardot — people who did something as activists.”   

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Emma Fraser

Emma Fraser spends most of her time writing about TV, fashion, and costume design; Dana Scully is the reason she loves a pantsuit. Words can also be found at Vulture, Elle, Primetimer, Collider, Little White Lies, Observer, and Girls on Tops. Emma has a Master’s in Film and Television, started a (defunct) blog that mainly focused on Mad Men in 2010, and has been getting paid to write about TV since 2015. It goes back way further as she got her big start making observations in her diary about My So-Called Life’s Angela Chase (and her style) at 14.