Yacht accused of exploiting ‘revenge porn’ victims with sex tape hoax

Duo claimed to have been the victims of a sex tape leak

US act YACHT have been criticised by activists and fellow musicians for their recent publicity stunt, which saw them fake a sex tape leak.

The Portland duo of Jona Bechtolt and Claire Evans claimed in a post on Facebook earlier this week (April 9) that an intimate video they made together had been leaked to the public, blaming “one morally abject person”. They subsequently told fans in an update that they had decided to sell the video themselves through their own website.

After the video was revealed to be a hoax, intended to promote their song ‘I Wanna Fuck You Til I’m Dead’, Yacht released a statement explaining that their fake sex tape was a stunt intended to “explore the intersection of privacy, media, and celebrity”.

Yacht have since been criticised for what some see as a stunt that trivialised revenge porn. “This is a bullshit marketing stunt,” lawyer Carrie Goldberg, whose New York law firm helps victims of internet harassment, told The Guardian. “As somebody who spends all day, every day working with actual victims of nonconsensual porn and rapes that have videos and gone viral, I just thought: ‘Where are these guys, I’m going to come and hunt them down'”.

Goldberg added: “My fear is that next time somebody’s sex video goes viral without consent everyone’s going to stop and say: ‘Wait wait wait, we can’t believe her, this is just a stunt’”.

Best Coast also echoed the criticism, writing on Twitter that Yacht’s stunt wasn’t “cutting edge shit” but that “playing the victim and exploiting your fans” was “just a real shitty asshole thing to do”. See their tweet below.

YACHT’s PR company Motormouthmedia distanced themselves from the band’s stunt, writing on Twitter that “we are not involved in the YACHT situation in any way”.

Kim Kardashian also seemed to refer to the issue in a tweet that read: “Super random but I hate when people put out fake stories to sell their products.”

In a statement posted on their website, Bechtolt and Evans said that the ruse “allowed us to play with science fiction, the attention economy, clickbait journalism, and celebrity sex tapes all at once”.

The two said they “didn’t anticipate the outpouring of genuine support, due partially to the credulity with which this story was so extensively and immediately reported.”

Bechtolt and Evans also responded to accusations that the stunt exploited revenge porn.

“We never make light of victims of any form of sexual abuse,” they wrote. “Frankly, it’s disturbing to us that press outlets could make the incredibly irresponsible leap from “celebrity sex tape,” which is the cultural trope this project explicitly references, to “revenge porn,” which is unfunny, disgusting, morally repugnant, and completely unrelated. Even within the fictional narrative we created, there was no violence or exploitation. It was always about agency and proactive empowerment.